Another question - Themes

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by SamIAm, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. SamIAm

    SamIAm Companion

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    Jun 1, 2010

    I am wondering how often you switch to new themes. This year, I had a monthly themes (like Living things) and then related weekly themes (plants, bugs animals etc.). I've had two problems with this: 1. I am on my own so constantly changing around the centers to reflect the different themes can be a little much, and 2. I feel like I want to spend more time delving into a subject and maybe even doing some longer projects based on the children's interests. So I was wondering what you all do. How long do you spend on a particular theme? How open do you leave things so you can follow what sparks the children's interests? I was thinking that I might just start doing a general monthly theme, do a first week overview and then follow whatever I think the children might like. I don't know exactly how I'm going to do this... this is purely theoretical. :p Anyway, this is my first year, and I am still finding my footing as far as teaching style and such, and I really appreciate all your help.
    Thanks!
     
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  3. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    Jun 1, 2010

    It's nice to see your enthusiasm! Ahh...themes are great! I love them, and I use many of them depending on the month...Fall is all about Apples, School, Johnny Appleseed, Pumpkins, etc...and the list goes on and on. With my "bigger" themes like study of our state, I spend at least 2 weeks.

    Changing the bulletin board & calendar can get monotonous (I'm certain that's spelled wrong, haha); but I do the best I can.

    I don't think I answered any of your questions; Oops!
     
  4. MissJennifer

    MissJennifer Companion

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    Jun 1, 2010

    I tend to go in approx. month long cycles - but don't stick strictly to a month. For example in February, I had planned a month long "Celebration of Nations" international unit - well the kids loved it SO much that we extended it and had that unit for 2 full months. Also, our current "Spring Has Sprung" (which by the way it hasn't - it's still almost wintry here in Oregon!) will end up being 7 weeks long. We've talked about weather, animals, spring activities, insects, and more! :) Here's what this year's themes were:

    September - All About Me and My Family
    October - In the Fall
    November - Giving Thanks
    December - Christmas/Jesus' Birth (I teach at a private Christian school)
    January - Dinosaurs
    February/March - Celebration of Nations
    April/May - Spring Has Sprung
    June - We're Ready for Kindergarten! (short wrap up unit)

    Next year will be similar - but I will probably change out a few of them. I think we'll do In the Winter in January, Occupations/Our Community in February, Wild Animals in March, On the Farm in April and Spring Has Sprung in May. I had to get creative this year, because I moved up from preschool to PreK with my class, and so alot my ideas I'd already used with them last year! :)
     
  5. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    Jun 1, 2010

    Jennifer, I'm really interested in your Celebration of Nations! Would you care to elaborate?
     
  6. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Jun 1, 2010

    If you create skill development as the theme, you can respond to the children's interests without compromising your schedule.

    I always try to give an example. If my theme was literacy, I would set goals of: Listening to a story, naming the characters in a book. Then, if the children are interested in bugs, I would read them stories about a bug.
     
  7. HappyLearning

    HappyLearning Rookie

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    Jun 1, 2010

    I am with Blue! I like to use a particular skill as my focus, and throw in seasonal things or student interest things to support the skill development.

    As far as changing things, I don't have a bulletin board (which I've grown to love) and although we have a calendar, I don't make a big deal out of it. Changing centers to match a theme is so time consuming! For the most part, I have themed things in large group times (read aloud, games, charts, etc) and themed activites in small group times and in special table activities. As for center activites on shelves-- I keep them primarily skill focused and change them out as kids have mastered the skills. The one exception is the dramatic play area-- I've been changing that out according to the kids' interests.
     
  8. MissJennifer

    MissJennifer Companion

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    Jun 2, 2010

    My Celebration of Nations unit was a lot of fun! What we ended up doing was an introduction to the world in general and then focused on a different continent each week. I had books from the library talking about different countries, we made passports and each week the kids got different "stamps" in their passports for the countries we "visited" (pictures of the country's flags) We learned phrases in a number of different languages. Looked at pictures of homes, schools and kids in different countries. We tried foods from a number of different countries. The kids really surprised me with how "into it" they were! They'll still talk about the foods that we ate - or different phrases. I got a Putamayo Kids cd/dvd from the library that has songs/videos from different Sesame Streets around the world. The kids REALLY loved that! We RARELY watch videos in our class, so that was a real treat! That and watching kids do Bollywood dancing! They loved that too! A few parents shared items from different countries with the kids as well!
     
  9. bex

    bex Rookie

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    Jun 2, 2010

    When I worked in a Montessori preschool, we did have several broad monthly themes at once. We'd study a certain continent, along with an animal group (fish, amphibians, etc) and the season. Every week would be a new letter of the alphabet, then after 5 letters or so we'd take a break to review. Aside from letters, there really wasn't a weekly theme, just a very broad topic that was covered over the whole month in lots of little ways.
     
  10. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    Jun 2, 2010

    WOW; that sounds like alot of fun! :thumb:
     
  11. SamIAm

    SamIAm Companion

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    Jun 2, 2010

    Thank you so much for the great responses! I'm still not absolutely sure what I am going to do, but you've definitly given me a lot to consider.
    Thanks!
     
  12. sarzacsmom

    sarzacsmom Groupie

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    Jun 12, 2010

    my themes are usually weekly,but sometimes I go two weeks, I don't change my centersaccording to my theme,though I might supplement them with theme related items and books. My bulletin board I do by the month and change the things on it as I feel like it--usually when a project turns out really cool---
     
  13. Preschool_Rocks

    Preschool_Rocks Rookie

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    Jun 13, 2010

    We can work on a unit anywhere from one week to a month. I don't think I've ever gone longer than a month. I try using the project approach so when the children show in interest in a specific subject we go fully in depth. All my centers are transformed using the subject matter. The children love it and they learn so much more when the subject matter is something they are interested in and something they can manipulate and is hands-on learning.
     
  14. teacherR

    teacherR Companion

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    Jun 14, 2010

    I do a broad monthly theme on a very general topic like, "animals". That way I can do a bunch of activities that touch on that topic. Sometimes the kids take me in a whole new direction and I just go with the flow. If I am talking about mammals and they want to talk about dinosaurs we do that then. I figure they will learn more if they are asking the questions then if I am just throwing a bunch of mundane facts at them. I also think that as time goes on you will see what works for you and what does not. You will find your own groove.
     
  15. KarenPreK

    KarenPreK Companion

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    Jun 16, 2010

    When I 1st started teaching I did weekly themes, but that just did not give us enough time on a topic. I now do a theme for a month. I've been doing monthly themes for several years now & this really works for me & the children. It gives us time to really explore a topic & it feels more relaxed. We have time to explore what the children want to explore in that topic. I don't do really narrow themes for a month, but I don't do really broad ones either. Some of the month-long themes I do are Bugs, Trees, Water Animals, Plants, Farm. I encourage you to at least try doing month-long themes. Don't think that you have to have a theme-related activity every single day. It's not necessary. There are plenty of great activities you can do that are not related to any theme. Just look at your curriculum guidelines/goals to decide on activities.

    I also don't recommend changing out your centers to match your themes. I have some theme-related materials in centers, but I leave them there as long as the children are interested, & a lot of our center activities are not theme-related.
     
  16. sarzacsmom

    sarzacsmom Groupie

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    Jun 26, 2010

    I have weekly themes usually, and if the children are really into a particular theme I will carry it over by incorporating it into free play activities. I don't change my centers around for each theme--- I might add items that relate to a theme to a center but my centers pretty much stay the same all year. I find that the children will often incorporate the theme into their play,usually in a much more creative way than I could make the centers anyway
     
  17. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Jun 27, 2010

    I taught at a center that did school-wide weekly themes. For some temes, a week was plenty of time... but for some themes, the kids were SO interested that I hated moving on. What I tend to do now is have a broad theme for a month or so, then sub-divide within it. So after the beginning of the year stuff, I might have a focus on Fall... within that, we might study apples, trees, pumpkins, scarecrows, etc. Or when we come back in January, I typically have "Winter" focus, but it might involve discussion about snow, winter clothing, winter animals, etc... it allows for non-thematic or overlapping activities and means kids can get omre involved. If i find that kids are really interested in sometihng, I can stretch the theme out longer, or can end it quicker if they don't show interest.
     
  18. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Jun 27, 2010

    We do the same as most of the posters. We start with a general theme and then some topics underneath. Then the centers and decorations start to change as the projects start. Then once we have gotten going for the first week or so I can see if the children are interested or not. If not....we scoot along. If they are interested then we will take the item they are interested in and turn it into a full on exploration and project lesson. The longest I have ever spent was..............drum roll...........all full year in forest. That sounds scary, but think about it. We were still talking about the "farm at the edge of the forest" at pumpkin time using a story that brought a deer into the farm for a visit. We were talking about ice during the winter, there is ice in the forest. Spring happens in the forest too. So we were doing the same things....I just NEVER got the forest toys and books off the shelf nor did we get the big fall tree of the door. We just kept changing it and adding to it. That was a group of ON TASK KIDS---they were fun!
     
  19. punchinello

    punchinello Comrade

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    Jun 28, 2010

    Themes are helpful because there are SO many fun activities out there and a theme keeps me sort of focused. Sort of. ;)

    I keep the theme pretty broad, also. You don't have to literally have apples in every activity. I spent my first year trying to make the theme so obvious, but the kids don't really see it and I was making myself crazy.

    That's a funny story about the forest theme. The kids really do take you for a ride, don't they? That's what is fun about this job! It's like "A Night at the Improv" every day. :)
     

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