The Importance of Teaching Preschoolers Using Themes
Scientists have proven that children from birth to age five are developing lifelong skills in five key areas earlier than once believed. They are also learning more than anyone had ever thought they could at such a young age. The five key skill areas include:
- Language skills
- Thinking skills (cognitive skills)
- Social skills
- Physical skills (gross and fine motor skills)
- Emotional skills
The early years of a child's life are the best time to instill a love for learning. Preschool themes, also known as thematic units, need to be interesting to children. Each day's activities should stimulate their curiosity as they learn about the subject and develop skills that further their development. Each activity and learning experience should relate to the overall theme. These activities could include:
- Reading a book or story out loud that relates to the theme.
- A discussion about the story and how it relates to the preschoolers' daily lives.
- Art and craft projects relating to the theme could include, coloring, painting, gluing or cutting
- Music activities such as singing, dancing and finger plays
- Gross motor development including movements, exercise, dancing and outside activities
- Food, snacks or simple cooking projects that relate to the theme
- Math activities and projects
- Science activities and projects
- A discussion of letters, words and concepts that tie in with the theme
- Plan a trip or nature walk that is relevant
Preschool Theme Ideas
A preschool theme can cover a general concept such as feelings orsharing or a specific subject, such as pets' or colors. Themes can be changed on a weekly or monthly basis, or they can be based on a special event or holiday. Often monthly themes are broken down into weekly themes that relate to one another.
An Example of the Preschool Theme Feelings
Most of these examples are from Activity Idea Place, a great resource for themes and ideas for preschoolers.
- Talk about different situations with your preschoolers, and ask each person how he or she feels.
- Look at a picture and talk about how the person in the picture is feeling.
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
- The Pigeons Has Feelings, Too! by Mo Williams
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
- The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster
- Mr. Pusskins by Sam Lloyd
- Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
- Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
- "The More We Get Together"
- "If You're Happy and You Know It"
- Movement Activities
- Let the preschoolers stomp around to act as if they are mad. Then, explore the actions they would use for other feelings.
- Play different types of music and let the children dance and move the way the music makes them feel. Talk about the different feelings.
- Math and Science Activities and Projects
- Use circles as a face and let each child draw either a happy, angry or sad face. Sort the faces into face groups and count each group.
- Make a large graph showing different types of feelings and track the result on the graph.
- Make a memory game using different feelings. This can be done using index cards and drawings or stickers.
- Craft and Art Activities and Projects
- Use old magazines and let the children cut out pictures that show different feelings to create a collage. Glue them onto paper or cardboard, and then discuss how the people in the pictures are feeling.
- Have each child create a project to show either happy, angry or sad.
- Use precut facial features from old magazines and have each child make a "feelings" face by gluing the features onto a paper plate. Discuss the finished projects and let each child explain his or her choices.
- Give each child paper and let him or her use stickers or stamps that depict different feelings.
More Theme Ideas
Preschool themes can be based on almost anything that you, as a teacher or parent, feel is worthy of being a theme. Examples of themes include:
- The alphabet
- Individual letters
- Sun, moon and stars
- All about me
- Groundhog Day
Resources for Preschool Themes
There are numerous preschool theme ideas, along with lesson plans that support many of them, available on the Internet.