Resource Review: First Steps
24 January, 2018
By Michaela Flynn, Student Teacher, Stranmillis University College
First Steps is a teaching resource created by Amnesty International to introduce human rights to children aged three to five. There are a lot of good quality resources on human rights available to teachers, but few are tailored to such a young audience, making this something a bit special.
The resource includes five themed lesson plans, respectively covering Feelings, Relationships & Belonging, Choices & Voices, Well-Being, and Bodies. Every lesson plan contains three activities, as well as lesson resource sheets. The material is designed to help teachers cover statutory requirements for both PDMU and WAU at Foundation Stage.
Each lesson theme is clearly linked to relevant articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Teaching young children about their rights is very important, especially as they get old enough to understand the underlying concepts such as fairness and empathy. Knowing about human rights will help children take action later in life and allow them to apply their own rights at family, school, community and global levels.
The focus on feelings within First Steps is beneficial for primary school pupils of all ages. Although the resource is pitched at Foundation level, there is definite scope for it to be adapted for use with older children as well. It is often taken for granted that children know how to communicate and express their feelings from a young age, even though this isn’t always the case; particularly for children with special educational needs and/or communication difficulties. The activities included in the resource encourage children to explore different facial expressions associated with certain feelings, and explore and name their own and other people’s feelings.
Requirements for Foundation Stage PDMU state that, “Pupils should be enabled to explore their relationships with family and friends”. First Steps will help you meet this important requirement through activities exploring the different types of families children can grow up in. This includes looking at how families may differ from each other, while explaining that each child has a right to belong to a family. This is important for children to understand as today families come in a wide range of shapes and sizes! However, the resource acknowledges it is also important that we are sensitive to each child’s specific culture and traditions.
Another strength of First Steps is that the activities suggested across the various lesson themes cover a wide range of subjects including music, art, literacy, PE and outdoor learning. This provides great opportunities for cross-curricular learning, which the Northern Ireland Curriculum (2007) promotes.
Overall, the main selling points of this resource are: it is clearly written and well laid out; there are a wide range of themes covered and explored; it promotes cross-curricular learning; and the lessons can be adapted for older children.
This is definitely something I will use myself in the classroom!