If I haven’t mentioned this before, I am a big believer in preschool themes, as well as themes for other early childhood classrooms. Below are the various themes on Fun-A-Day so far, as well as some important things you need to know about using themes in the classroom.
What are themes, anyway?
Preschool themes are sometimes referred to as “theme units” or “thematic units”. They are centered around a specific topic — like “insects” or “transportation” or “snow”. Once the topic has been decided, much of the learning activities are planned around it.
Here’s an example for you. When planning for a gingerbread man unit, I included literacy, math, science/sensory, building, pretend play, and art activities around the main theme.
What’s so great about kindergarten and preschool themes?
I like having themes when I’m planning for my students, as it makes learning more meaningful to them. If I’m teaching a variety of skills/concepts based around the same category, it helps their brains make connections faster.
Themes also allow me to include my students’ interests as I plan. One year, I may have a group that just loves dinosaurs, so I’ll plan around that topic for a few weeks. Another year, I may have children more interested in space exploration, so I’ll include that for a month.
With Engineer, I tend to use very casual themes for our activities. These themes almost always revolve around what he’s interested in. This way, he’s getting meaningful learning experiences that help expand on his interests. He and I do tons of free play, of course, but sometimes we just want to learn more about certain things!
Important things to keep in mind about themes
Yes, I love using themes when planning for my students (and my son). However, there are some things you need to remember when it comes to thematic planning:
- The theme isn’t the most important part of planning. Yes, it makes activities and ideas more cohesive when you’re planning. But mapping out behavioral and learning goals, teaching standards, and meaningful learning activities should take precedence to whatever your theme is.
- Every little activity doesn’t need to pertain to the theme. If you can’t think of a science lesson around one of your themes, that’s okay. Just choose a science activity that is meaningful, engaging, and developmentally appropriate to your kiddos.
- It’s not about the “cuteness” factor. It might seem cute to have a farm theme because the kiddos will look darling wearing overalls in the dramatic play center, but cute isn’t the point. If your class isn’t remotely interested in really learning about the farm, there’s no real point in planning a farm them.
In addition to Fun-A-Day’s preschool themes, I have a treasure trove of thematic unit ideas saved on Pinterest! Pop on over and see what catches your fancy . . .