Teaching with kindergarten themes helps children connect ideas...
What makes good kindergarten themes? Lots of interesting content.
A thematic unit on the seaside has to be more than asking children to sing a few ocean songs, draw pictures in a booklet that is shaped like a starfish and color and fill in blanks on countless ocean worksheets.
A good kindergarten unit has subject matter that will engage young children and lead to observations and inquiries.
Why use themes when you teach?
Content rich kindergarten themes:
- hold the children's attention
- create excitement in the classroom
- encourage talking and new vocabulary
- offer opportunities to teach skills in an interesting context
Benefits of teaching with themes
Teaching with themes encourages students:
- to learn new information
- to share what they already know about the theme
- to be enthusiastic about new ideas and things
- to enjoy investigating the world
- to ask questions and come up with ideas
It is exciting when children hear concepts repeated in different subject areas and make connections between them.
Teach with real things...
Whenever possible, choose kindergarten themes where real things are available. If the central idea is the food chain, visit the woods and bring a slug or snail in for the day to show the children and discuss what snails eat and what eats snails.
Young children are much more attentive when presented with the real thing than if they were studying the food chain with books and videos. They will stay involved longer in the theme topic if they can use their senses to learn about it.
Easy ways to share with parents...
I add parent information on the booklet pages (see top image) to help parents have a conversation with their children about the theme when they take their work home.
Click here for suggestions for yearly kindergarten themes.
Sample Pond Unit Content
Here is a sample of the content possibilities in a unit about ponds.
- observe animals and plants in jars of pond water in the classroom
- record their observations in booklets
- learn the characteristics of one or two pond animals
- compare similarities and differences in pond animals
- learn what pond creatures need to stay healthy
- learn about the life cycle of one or two pond animals
- be introduced to the concept of the food chain
Use kindergarten themes as an opportunity to
reinforce basic skills
As you teach the content of a theme, there will be many opportunities to point out language arts basics and math facts to your students.
In a natural way, point out to children that tadpole begins with the letter "t" or that the dragonfly nymph has 6 legs or that frog rhymes with log.
Learn how to use Show and Tell sessions to enhance math and science concepts about the theme.
Often children get excited about one part of a theme, so leave room for student ideas and detours in your plans.