Thematic planning can be a challenge as well as a great creative outlet.  I enjoy curriculum development so much that I sometimes feel I am mentally planning ideas as I sleep.  Once you start you will find this addictive.. as is coffee.  So, grab a cup of coffee and relax as you review this web page.   




     Themes and units should be based on concepts.  A unit on "bears", "circus" etc. is not driven by concepts.  However, units on "how animals live", "immigration", "communities" are concepts that provide a foundation for units.  Thematic units are powerful in building and maintaining the interest of students. Reading activities can be leveled but all are reading and learning about the same topic An advantage to using thematic units is the teacher's ability to expand the ideas and content.  Contrary to teaching from a file cabinet that is used year-to-year, thematic units of study never stagnate.  As a beginning, select one unit and build.   Begin with concepts, objectives, materials, and a time element.  Ask students what they like  or about their interests. I am more of a constructivist in this approach and encourage students to make interest lists. Their responses will vary with each new class. Additionally, students should be allowed  evaluate their learning and the unit content. Use this information to "tweek" the unit in deciding where modifications and revisions in the  mini-lessons or materials are needed. Layering curriculum, concepts, and learning enables students to learn in a developmentally appropriate way.  Through diverse activities and experiences, differentiation is provided as a natural approach rather than in momentary group time. Students develop deeper understandings, a sense of ownership in learning, and are able to explore new concepts as activities reach all learning modalities.



                  WHERE TO BEGIN               

     Pooh looked at his two paws.  He knew that one of them was right, and he knew that when you had decided which one of them was the right, then the other one was the left, but he never could remember how to begin.


                                       THINKING TIME........................

     1.  Length of the unit.. a week, two weeks, four weeks, etc.  How much time do you have for the implementation of the unit?

   2.  Content areas to be integrated.  (if social studies, what concepts are you using that you need to coordinate with the literature, science, etc.)

   3.  Curriculum expectations of your school district.. Checklist of skills and concepts integrated into the unit as introduced, maintained, mastered, etc. What are your standards of learning? (Virginia SOLS).  Correlate standards to mini-lessons, unit planning, and objectives.

   4.  Availability of materials, both those provided by the district and supplemental materials you may have to purchase or find.

   5.  Centers - what activities will be used to reinforce the skills at centers.  How to manage centers.

   6.  Computer software that will integrate into the unit.  How are you going to use technology in the classroom.

   7.  Songs, poems, music.  - finding the resources that can be used for morning meetings, poetry journals, circle time, phonemic awareness.  Review materials that include specific themes but also the phonemic skills you want to use in the unit.

    8.  Art and projects - to extend the unit.  Will there be an art center each day, each week, or at the end of the unit a project?  What type of hands-on experiences will you provide?

    9.  Space - how will you work with your big ideas in a tiny space?  

  10.  Students needs - diverse learning styles, language (oral language in their home language and school language).

  11.  Scheduling your unit activities... working with special classes, pull out classes, and absent students. 

   12.  Guided Reading - What books and book levels do you want to integrate into this unit?  List nonfiction and fiction books.  Include poetry, rhymes, songs, and other language learning opportunities.  Created guided reading "scripts" for the books in this unit for volunteers to follow.  What word work activities can be included in daily group activities?  This is a huge chunk of your planning and development time.  What is wonderful is that it grows until your basement is full of stuff!!!!!!!

   13.  Technology connections - what activities will include technology?  Web quests?  

   14.  Evaluation of unit and students.  What is the criteria? How can all students achieve a feeling of success and be successful, responsible learners?  Accountability.

         The Primary Nook offers several integrated themes for the early childhood classroom.  The selections can be found at the main menu. 

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