In early childhood we are blessed with the opportunity to spend a lot of time teaching theme units. With careful planning we incorporate the themes in every aspect of the classroom! During the summer I go over the common core standards and then plan my themes for the year. I also use an emergent curriculum and if the children are particularly interested in a unit then we will spend more time on it. When planning my themes I include activities for math, science, language, reading, practical life, art, music, gross motor and if possible field trips. By the end of a unit the kids have an incredible understanding of all that was taught.
Children learn best through hands on exploration and discovery. You can tell them about something and even show them pictures but until they see it in real life they won’t ever have a full understanding and interest in the subject being taught. One way I like to make themes come to life is by inviting special guests come in to speak and bring examples of what we are learning about. Click here to see a post about a special DNA presentation we had.
My favorite way to make themes come to life is through field trips. When we finish a unit I try to plan a field trip based on the theme. This week we just finished our pond unit. Here is a link to my pond unit.
To celebrate this we had a field trip to the pond, the feed store and the pet store. We started at the pond to see these animals in their real life habitat. We explored ducks, geese, swans and even a beaver! The kids got to use their senses of smell, sight, sound and touch to experience what a pond was really like. They were fascinated and they pointed out skills they learned in the classroom such as the beaver dam, the webbed feet on the ducks, the ducks bobbing for food, the reeds next to the pond, the honking geese and the murky pond water!
After we went to the pond we traveled to the feed store to touch and hold ducklings! We were able to discuss why the ducklings had lamps in their cages, the differences between chicks and ducklings, what they felt like, what they were eating and what a baby turkey was called.
Finally we made a trip to the pet store. At the pet store we observed the turtles and frogs. The kids were fascinated with the swimming turtles and the frogs huddled in the corner near the heat lamp.
We learned a lot from our pond unit but no amount of classroom time could compare to the amount of learning we received from making our theme come to life!