Tips for teaching themes
Teach themes with an interesting environment
Foster creativity in your classroom when teaching themes. Read the following theme teaching tips to create a more interesting classroom environment.
Watch your students' interest levels rise as they touch and explore theme related objects, listen to books about the subject and engage in activities about the topic.
Choose the smaller part of a larger theme
Choose to teach a theme about tide pools, rather than the ocean, a wildlife tree rather than the forest.
I live on the west coast of Canada, have access to beaches and can bring a collection of limpets, mussels, chitin, crab and other shells (not alive!) into the classroom. Wildlife trees are in the schoolyard. Field trips that are close by do not require a lot of driving or expense.
Choose themes from your local environment
Integrate as many theme topics as possible from your local environment. Students can learn many concepts from your local school, parks and communities. Introduce as many real objects, things and animals as possible.
Play is important
As well as structured activities, plan play as part of teaching themes. For example, let the children play with the objects on the science observation table or provide rubber animals that match the theme content.
Allow time for skill practice when teaching themes
Plan for opportunities for literacy activities, science experiments, thinking skills and processes such as observing, classifying, measuring, recording and for learning scientific and math vocabulary.
Read non-fiction and fiction to the children about the theme
Teach theme content in the setting of fictional stories or non-fiction books. Eric Carle's, A House for a Hermit Crab, presents content on the characteristics of the hermit crab and also introduces other sea creatures as the story progresses.
Use your imagination and follow up with an open-ended literature-based activity that allows the children room to share what they have learned during the theme. In this case, each child could create a page for a class book showing another animal that the hermit crab could have met on his journey.
Integrate other subject areas within the theme topic
When teaching themes, use art, music, and drama to introduce new information. The activities capture the children's attention and reinforce new vocabulary.
Use projects to measure the children's learning
For instance a mini-tide pool made of a sturdy paper plate and modeling clay critters is a great way to measure what information the children have learned. Have a parent type and print the children's descriptions to place beside their tide pool displays.
Plan opportunities for students to share
Plan for two or three children a day to show pictures, models, or other accomplishments and to talk about what they have learned. Train the other children not to interrupt and have a short time for questions after each child's turn.