Monday, June 21, 2010

To Theme Or Not To Theme...

As I get ready to plan for the coming school year, I look at my previous years of planning and know they worked, but wondered if there were new ways I could plan/implement/etc.  
I know what to put in my plans, but want to seek possible new ways on how to plan and present my curriculum.  Do you use Weekly/Monthly Themes?  Use a letter of the alphabet each week? How about using a web system with the children giving you ideas?  I know there are so many ways to go about planning out all the developmental what do you prefer?  What have you tried and thought didn't work? 

 Help me out fellow educators!  I need new ideas!  :)


  1. Hi Jessi,
    You are right - there are so many approaches early childhood educators use to teach in their classrooms. I guess I like them all:) Themes allow for a broad spectrum of creativity and introduction to a broad spectrum of ideas. Webbing helps to keep you focused on each developmental area. If I web, I still tend to start with a theme first then web out to the various developmental domains. I do like to focus on a letter each week but not be confined to the letter of the week as my theme or all that I do - instead, I like to integrate basic concepts such as letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and so on into the thematic ideas. As far as lengths of themes, I prefer to base it on how interesting the theme is and how far I can stretch it. I rarely go past two weeks on any theme.

    There are so many different approaches out there and I enjoy elements of them all! I look forward to seeing what you decide - good luck!

  2. Jessi
    I'm with Deborah on a lot. Its funny you posted this. I am going through the same thoughts right now. I need to change things up a bit and even simplify what I've done in the past.

    I do monthly themes but don't focus too much on it every day. Friday is when I usually do a little more focus on the theme itself. Usually a craft of some sort. I don't do letter of the week but they do learn 2 letters a week. Then I also integrate shapes, colors, numbers an other basic concepts within.

    I am interested to see what you get in response to this because like I said, I am trying to do the same thing. Good luck figuring it all out!!

  3. I always plan using themes. I use the same theme all term but I will often have two themes running- kind of like a major study and a minor study. Through which I try to integrate almost all subject areas, especially literacy. I always make sure I have a big focus on subject specific vocabulary development, oral language development and some writing practice, which obviously includes all the letter knowledge and phonological awareness.
    Happy planning :)
    From Alissa@ Excuse Me Mrs.C!

  4. Congratulations! I think most seasoned teachers go through this. Getting new ideas and new ways to impliment is a sign of maturity (we look for that in our kids, after all). For me the most effective way is webbing with the children. I don't stop there, though. If there is a subject or project I am really passionate about I will include it in the planning-Enthusiasm is contagious!
    The way I web with young children is to carefully watch their play- An idea for a web is a spring board. Whatever the majority is doing or topics of interest (a new baby etc.) we include in webbing.
    Best wishes Ms. Jessi. You have some awesome ideas, I'll bet it will be a great year for you!

  5. Oh, sorry. I forgot to mention I do a sort of ambiguous theme approach. Loosely named themes are key for me-esp. in webbing. If I see the childrens interests are leaning towards insects and the babies I will start if the web title (Theme) with,
    "Big and Small"
    This can incompass so many topics from seration to upper and lower case letter, measuring, etc.
    Of course our regular areas of learning are in there as well.

  6. I found you on Elise's Doughnut post-I'm the doughnut gal ;) I have two books to suggest: Big As Life, The Everyday Inclusive Curriculum Volumes 1 and 2 by Stacey York.

    I like to have some focus on Nature throughout the year, talking about the environment and how it changes, how to be environmentally friendly.

    Follow the childrens' interests, and allow space to explore subjects that come up, that you haven't planned for...

    Check to see if your library has Stacey York's books. It's great that you are considering these questions; examining the way you are teaching, and thinking about how children learn best. Continue to do that, every year and every day. Best of luck!


I'd love to hear what your thoughts are...leave a comment! :)