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  #1  
Old 05-18-2015, 03:15 PM
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Abigail Abigail is offline
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Default Creating Weekly Themes

If you create your own weekly themes for a curriculum instead of a purchased kit, what do you try to fit in each theme? Arts/Crafts/Math/Books are really simple to work into any theme, so I'm just wondering what you have as your personal goals of themes. My themes go two weeks at a time because one week just isn't enough time! I choose my themes based off the season and things around us.

How do you choose your theme?
Do you make it a goal to have 3-5 open ended questions?
Do you always have songs/finger-plays associated with the theme?
Do you always have science/foods that relate?
Do you create a sensory bin/table for each theme?


Currently our themes in two week increments are Bunnies/Birds/Creatures in our yard.............Gardens................Bugs............Independence Day which brings up all the way to the 4th of July. Then when it gets closer we'll choose a few more weeks of themes so we can plan ahead.
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Old 05-18-2015, 04:07 PM
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kendallina kendallina is online now
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I make my own curriculum based on a theme. My themes typically come from the children's interetsts, which are often 'inspired' by things happening outside, at home or by new materials or books in the room. I can often inspire their interests just based on what's in the room, so if there's a direction that I'd like to go with something, I'll put a few things in the room and see where it takes them.

Themes usually last 1-2 weeks for me. Often themes are strung together, like we've been doing spring-type things for several weeks now (first birds, then bugs, then sidetracked to reptiles, then flowers, now weather).

I've been finding lately that having themes too broad can be difficult in terms of staying on track (for me at least). For me, a theme like, "Bugs" is too broad. We narrowed it down to bees for a few days and ants for a few days, based on what they were into.

When we start a new theme we usually take a whole day to figure out what exactly about it interests us. We'll read theme related books (this is the biggest thing that drives conversation and their specific interests), have free play with theme-related materials, etc. We might do art around the theme or totallly unrelated to the theme. At the end of the day we sometimes talk about what interests us about the theme or the kids will have specific questions that they want answered over the next week or two weeks. We write down those questions and read lots of books, etc over the couple of weeks. At the end of the theme we revisit our questions and make sure we know the answers to them. Sometimes we create a chart in the beginning about what we already know about the topic and do the same at the end (and hopefully we know more!). These charts get hung up on the walls with any artwork or projects we did around the topic, so parents can see our learning.

I don't usually do differently fingerplays/etc for themes. Sensory table sometimes changes for the theme, but not always. Sometimes we do different snacks and things related to our theme, but not often. Our themes are often science related, but I do often have to come up with specific math activities to incorporate.

I don't usually plan our themes in advance, except in the summer as I have some families that choose certain weeks and I run it more like a camp.

That's how I do it. I always like hearing from other people that plan their own, too!
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Old 05-18-2015, 05:11 PM
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MarinaVanessa MarinaVanessa is offline
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I plan general themes that follow a general timeline based on the season, holidays etc. but I leave it flexible just in case the kids aren't interested or they suddenly get interested in something else. I have a couple of planned themes already with activity ideas in all "subjects" like math, science, cooking, writing/literature etc. This way if something comes up that they're interested in I usually already have the lessons planned out, it's just picking and deciding on what activities to do.

I always have my sand area out so as far as sensory are goes all I do is add toys relating to the theme and offer suggestions (like if we're talking about transportation I might add cars to the sandbox and suggest they build roads etc.)

Not really sure what you mean about open ended questions. I have morning meeting time which is like circle time and we discuss what we're going to do during the day so when I introduce the day's topics I do ask questions and usually we read a story so I'll ask them to guess what the story is about or if we've read the story already I ask them to recap etc.

I try my best to do some type of movement/music activity every day at some point. The kids love it and it's fun. I typically introduce an easy song, poem or rhyme and use it a lot so that they can memorize it.

I don't always have food that can relate but when it's easy to incorporate then I do. If we're learning about a color then I may serve something that color, or if we're learning a shape then I might provide food in the same shape etc.

My themes usually last 3-4 weeks and are broken down into sub-themes. If we're doing an All About Me theme for example I'll break it down and one day we'll do activities about what our hands can do, the next day can be about what our legs can do etc.

You can see a general plan of what my activities are here on my website:
http://myhelpinghandschildcare.webs....-1-1-2-5-years
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Old 05-18-2015, 08:35 PM
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I still love themes! I know they have fallen out of favor with some people. Themes keep me motivated and I love how they seem to celebrate the things around us. They keep me energized and interested in my job.

My themes generally revolve around seasons/time of year but a theme like pets gets thrown in wherever.

I have a song board with index cards. One side has a picture and the other side has the song. The super star picks a few songs from the board and we sing them. These change each month. I have a super star each day.

The super star gets to do all kinds of things during the day.

I have a very simple science area. I have younger kids now. I may have a basket of shells and magnifying glasses or other simple things. This now sits on our lunch table(I have two dedicated child care rooms). I used to have a separate science table when I had older kids.

My sensory bin has the same thing (oatmeal) all the time, but I put in seasonal bins/containers, etc. to change it up.

Books in my book corner get changed once a month and relate to all the themes for the month if I have an older group. With a younger group I just have out board books that I rotate. I don't have these by theme.

The stories I read aloud relate to the theme. I also do Weekly Reader. They usually relate to our seasonal themes. Some I save for a different week.

Our creative art which is very open ended relates to our theme.

We do some cooking that relates to the theme such as making applesauce during our apple unit.
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Old 05-18-2015, 08:44 PM
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I do monthly themes. It might have to do with a holiday, season, space, bugs, ocean etc. We also do 2-3 letters a month. I have a storage bin for each month. I stick stuff in them as I find it. There are books, sensory ideas/props, toys, etc. in each bin. I like have 4 weeks for a theme. For a month on space we can do a week on stars, a week making rockets, a week talking about planets etc.
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Old 05-18-2015, 08:44 PM
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Alo, during the summer I cut way back on organized activities. We do have themes like bubble week, watermelon week, sand week sun week, ocean. It's very basic. We spend lots of time outside.
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarinaVanessa View Post
I plan general themes that follow a general timeline based on the season, holidays etc. but I leave it flexible just in case the kids aren't interested or they suddenly get interested in something else. I have a couple of planned themes already with activity ideas in all "subjects" like math, science, cooking, writing/literature etc. This way if something comes up that they're interested in I usually already have the lessons planned out, it's just picking and deciding on what activities to do.

I always have my sand area out so as far as sensory are goes all I do is add toys relating to the theme and offer suggestions (like if we're talking about transportation I might add cars to the sandbox and suggest they build roads etc.)

Not really sure what you mean about open ended questions. I have morning meeting time which is like circle time and we discuss what we're going to do during the day so when I introduce the day's topics I do ask questions and usually we read a story so I'll ask them to guess what the story is about or if we've read the story already I ask them to recap etc.

I try my best to do some type of movement/music activity every day at some point. The kids love it and it's fun. I typically introduce an easy song, poem or rhyme and use it a lot so that they can memorize it.

I don't always have food that can relate but when it's easy to incorporate then I do. If we're learning about a color then I may serve something that color, or if we're learning a shape then I might provide food in the same shape etc.

My themes usually last 3-4 weeks and are broken down into sub-themes. If we're doing an All About Me theme for example I'll break it down and one day we'll do activities about what our hands can do, the next day can be about what our legs can do etc.

You can see a general plan of what my activities are here on my website:
http://myhelpinghandschildcare.webs....-1-1-2-5-years
Open-ended questions are questions that you can not answer yes or no. Example:
What is the weather like today? The answer will be open ended because it's going to be cold, hot, sunny, rainy, etc. Anything they come up with themselves will be the answer.....not necessarily the right answer but they have to think of the words themselves.

Is it cold outside today?.............CLOSED ENDED because the answer can ONLY be yes or no or uh-huh or maybe, etc. It's always best to teach yourself to ask open-ended questions vs. not.


I guess my main point was like if you have a theme, like "Spring Time!" do you have a goal in mind where you want the kids to be able to answer 3-5 open-ended questions like "What is Spring"?, "What do you wear in the spring?" or if your theme is "Sharing" do you have a list of open-ended goal questions like "What is sharing?" "Why should we share?", etc? Maybe I'm thinking of a list of objectives?
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Old 05-19-2015, 04:28 AM
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Josiegirl Josiegirl is online now
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I don't do themes but might get back into it this coming school year. I did for awhile and we all had so much fun with it.
I know 1 of my dcgs used to come here after prek last year and she'd always tell me the question of the day from her class. They'd post an open-ended question for the kids to answer every a.m. when they walked through the door. I thought it was a cool idea. And she seemed to like it cause it was the 1st thing she'd tell me when she got here.
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Old 05-19-2015, 07:09 PM
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My goal is not really for my kids to answer any questions about the topic.

It's just for exposure and fun! Of course they learn a lot and remember a lot and could probably answer lots of questions.. I'm not really concerned about retention.
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