The Maker Institiute of Terrible Innovations (MIT-i) has made a wonderful arduino project. Using a couple of LEDS, resistors, a IR receiver and a TV remote control. They cover off on the basics of IR communication in a really fun and unique way.
All the products you need (except for the TV remote, that's on you) are linked below:
If you wanted to use a different arduino board, we have you covered along with all the different accesories you might need to put your own spin on a similar project!