In this section we will feature articles, videos and publications that will assist in the provision of School Age Childcare (SAC)

National Standards have been developed and we will be able to share a copy of them here with you shortly

 Here is a booklet of activities for school age children

Serious fun Activities     

Here are some of the posts that appeared on the NCN Play Hub Facebook page in case you missed them

Copying Nature       Diary Keeping


Map activity               Create with Cardboard   

 NCN Family Tree               NCN Homemade Hooplar   

Rollerball               Scavenger Hunt with a Difference

Scrapbook             Sock Puppet Show    

Spell your Name         Xs and Os

 Spell your Name           Irish Sign Language







In preschool, children will learn to strengthen their social and emotional development. Preschool provides an environment for children to explore, gain a sense of self, play with peers and build self-confidence. 
Children learn they can accomplish tasks and make decisions independently.

On this page we hope to inspire you with activities both indoor and outdoor and provide you with resources that will help with your practice. If there is anything in particular that you wish us to feature please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Pre-Schoolers and the Arts


Music in the Preschool

Music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness, including intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. It helps the body and the mind work together. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words.

Why music1     






Music in the outdoor environment

Here is a video that will show you how to make your own musical instruments from upcycled or recycled materials


Creative Movement

For young children, dance and creative movement can help improve their cognitive development, building skills necessary for success later in life.

There are many benefits to using creative movement with children. These benefits vary depending on the activity and age of the child. Some benefits of creative movement include:  

  • Helps children develop body control
  • Children gain coordination and balance through varied movements
  • Children are able to respond to music and rhythm
  • Encourages children to express their creativity in physical ways
  • Children learn that movement can communicate actions and ideas
  • Gives children a different way of expressing themselves, especially if it is difficult for them to articulate what they are communicating
  • Encourages participation
  • Allows for exploration of cause and effect
  • Develops listening skills
  • Encourage social skills

    Creative Movement                Creative Movement2

    Here are two excellent resources for Indoor and Outdoor Play
    click onthe image to download  >>

    learningthroughplay                      learningoutdoors

Loose Parts in Preschool courtesy of Play Scotland

Click on the image to download >>

Loose Parts                          Loose Parts Play Poster


 Loose parts1           Loose Parts2           Loose Parts3


Here are some of the posts that appeared on the NCN Play Hub Facebook page in case you missed them

NCN Small World Play        Annotation 2020 04 07 215648

NCN Chalk Activity           Den or Fort

NCN Jelly Dig             NCN Pasta Necklace

Make Some Friends              NCN BOUNCING BUBBLES

NCN Construction           NCN Discovery Bottles 

NCN Home Cinema        NCN Ice World   

NCN Indoor Obstacle course            NCN Insect Obs   

NCN Self Image Drawing Activity             Spell your Name

 NCN Painting Activity            NCN Laser Game




Did you know that the most important interactions you have with a child can happen through play? By engaging in playful serve and return with a child, you can literally help build stronger connections in the brain. Strong neural connections are the foundation for all of a child’s future learning, behavior, and health. In this Mini Parenting Master Class from UNICEF, Center on the Developing Child Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., explains the importance of serve and return interactions like play—and how easy they are to do, especially through practice!



 The importance of Tummy Time

Tummy Time helps your baby develop the neck, back, and shoulder muscles needed to meet infant developmental milestones. It may also help prevent early motor delays and conditions such as flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (positional torticollis). 

This short video will explain the benefits of Tummy Time and will show you how to engage your baby in Tummy Time from birth

 Tummy Time from 3 months

Tummy Time 3-6 Months

The following resources will show you how babies move through different stages of play Click on the images˃˃

 The Development of Play Skills From Birth to 3 1                                                The Development of Play Skills From Birth to 3 2


Reading with talking and singing to your baby

Ten ways that babies learn when you sing to them - click on the image˃˃

Babies and music  

Parents and Carers listen to this short video to discover how important reading, talking and singing with your baby or young child is

Reading to babies and young children promotes children’s development under the four themes of Aistear Well-being, Identity & Belonging, Communicating and Exploring & Thinking   Click on the image˃˃

Aistear Babies Reading

From the moment an infant can hear – which we now know is long before birth itself – that child begins to respond to sound and music. This newborn infant then enters a buzzing, full-spectrum audio world containing every sound imaginable from soothing whispers through to disturbing bangs and crashes. Each of these elements evokes an emotional response, and soon a vocal one as the child realises he can initiate as well as receive these audio messages.

And so a sonorous dance of delight begins; the baby cooing, babbling and gesturing, and parents echoing, elaborating and ever extending the child’s efforts. Musicians call this deeply satisfying interaction ‘call and response’, a universal pattern which underpins musical performance and composition in all cultures, as well as providing a basic framework forlanguage. This discourse initially requires no words, and the child will remain receptive to music’s strange primaeval power to influence our thoughts and feelings at sub-language levels throughout life

Messy play

can provide great development opportunities for babies and young children and we have inlcuded a resource full of ideas for messay play for you here. These ideas are directed at parents and early years staff to give them encouragement to engage children in many beneficial activities. Click on the image˃˃

Messy Play

Here is a  video describing the benefits of messy play with babies and young children engaging in activities

This resource was compied by NCN and will provide lots of play ideas for babies toddlers and preschoolers


Here are some of the posts that were on our facebook page in case you missed them

NCN Play Box       Tummy Time NCN 

Treasure Baskets 6 12months       Treasure BasketA

Treasure Basket3A           Benefits of Treasure Basket 


Treasure Basket No. 5      NCN Shape Sorter


NCN Water Play2        NCN Stacking Cups




Play is the most powerful medium through which young children learn. Through play their intrinsic motivation to learn is most readily satisfied. In play children learn about the world, about how other people live and feel, about creating things and ideas, about making plans, taking decisions and solving problems.

Whether in a group setting or at home, children’s play should address all their developmental needs. Good play provision respects children and their interests and strengths, it challenges and supports them, soothes and stimulates, satisfies and excites and above all extends their learning. It meets their need for creativity and aesthetic development. It helps them process difficult life events. It develops their sensitivity to other people and cultures, ages and abilities. It enhances their resilience   (Barnardo's 2002)

The resources below will demonstrate the stages of play that the toddler goes through and the sklls that they acquire through play

The Development of Play Skills From Birth to 3 3                     The Development of Play Skills From Birth to 3 4

These indoor and outdoor play resources will suit both paents and practitioners in their understanding and porivison of play - click on the image >>

learningthroughplay                                 learningoutdoors     


Here is a short video that will take you through the stages of play

 The Value of Block Play

Playing with blocks provides the opportunity for children to learn elements of science and math, like problem solving, counting, adding and subtracting, and helps them build both gross and fine motor skills. Block play also supports other key aspects of development, including language learning as children talk about the structures they built with the adults and children around them, creativity, imagination, self-esteem, and social and emotional growth. (NAEYC)

Block Play for an 18 month old is different to block play for a 5 year old. Children go through various stages of block play. As they work through the learning of one stage they are ready to move on to the next stage of play. As skills advance, it is typical for children to combine several stages. The stages are developmental—each one building on the last—but children advance at their own rate regardless of their age.

  • Stage 1: Discovering Blocks
  • Stage 2: Stacking Blocks
  • Stage 3: Complex Stacking
  • Stage 4: Making Enclosures
  • Stage 5: Creating Bridges or Arches
  • Stage 6: Combining Enclosures and Bridges
  • Stage 7: Building with Patterns and Symmetry
  • Stage 8: Building Block Structures that Represent Objects for Pretend Play

    Here is an NCN resource that will give you many play ideas for babies, toddlers and preschoolers


Here are some of the posts that appeared on the NCN Play Hub Facebook page in case you missed them

NCN Playdoh2             NCN Farm Play

 NCN Tube Play             NCN Sticky Ball Play

 NCN Shape Sorter              NCN Jelly Dig

Water Play for 24 36 months                        

Observing Processes


NCN Ice World            NCN Hopscotch          

NCN Schema No. 4          NCN Schema No. 5 Positioning

NCN Rotational Schema           NCN Transporting Schema

NCN Trajectory Schema           NCN Schema No.6

NCN Schema No. 5 Positioning              NCN Slime Activity

NCN Toddler Sensory


Transition time is here again! Transition to big school can bring a range of emotions for young children and families.  Some may feel excited, others scared or worried. Moving on is a big change for children and one that needs careful management and support 

Following a very successful first roll out of the transition postcards last year we would like to invite all service providers to engage with us again in supporting children transition to big school. Thank you to all of you who took part last year, we had some wonderful examples of the voice of the child supported by early childhood settings.

It is very important to NCN that children have their voice heard as they take this step to school. Transitioning to school is such an important time in children’s lives. Like you, we would like the children’s new teachers to know about what is important to children.

In working across the country to deliver the Healthy Ireland Smart Start programme, NCN has seen lots of fantastic examples of settings supporting children and families transition to big school. We know that you work hard to enable smooth transitions to take place.

 As part of supporting transitions again and helping children to have their voice heard during this essential phase of their lives we are sending all services a postcard template for children moving on to big school. The postcard shows teachers what is important to children.  In supporting schools listen to the voice of children NCN are supporting the idea of ‘ready schools’.  “Ready schools are schools that are prepared for children who are already strong, competent and confident learners “(NCCA, 2018). 

 We envisage that each child will have their own postcard to take to school either for the school’s open day or on their very first day there. Children can draw or paint the most important things they want their new teacher and school to know about them.

We have included some examples from children from the Ballyhaise Pre-School in Cavan who continue to support us in our work.

If you would like to be involved, please download the card, enable children have the materials to draw or paint and support them by writing what they have said underneath their pictures.  Children can then take their postcards with them and let their new teacher know what is important to them.

In doing this we feel that this will enable the children to communicate very important things about themselves to their new teacher and school and enable new relationships to build.

Please let us know what the children have said.   Don’t forget to ask the children if they would like to be involved first and ensure you have children and families permission to send us their work.

Thank you for getting involved!

 Transitions 1 x    Transitions 2 x

Transitions Blank Template          Transitions Template Irish