Yes, we farm around here, but we also homeschool. And since I’ve had a few requests to explain how I teach using thematic units, I’m going to continue the current Organizational theme and show you. First, THE BINDER!
I bought this when school supplies were on sale and I love it. In fact, I want more 🙂
I have 5 tabs inside, each labeling an important aspect of my daily life. My first tab is “Calendar.” This, of course, lists birthdays, appointments, monthly goals, etc., but I also write the theme for the week on each Monday, which helps me see when we should be learning about spring or Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The key (for me) here is the more stuff is one place, the more I use THE BINDER, so add a babysitter phone number list, shopping list, whatever *you* need.
My next tab is “Brett” for organizing his homeschool curriculum, and this is where the thematic unit magic happens :-). I made these cute pages with Photoshop elements and a digital scrapbook kit. You can use mine or create your own using any simple word processing program.
As you can see, I list all the areas I want to cover. So after I choose the theme I just work on filling in the boxes with activities. Pinterest is a great resource– I have a Kindergarten theme board and I follow several others who do as well. I use www.everthingpreschool.com a lot and just make the activities harder when necessary. I Google themes, I check out library books, I use the same standard ideas and change them just a little to go with the theme. For example, each week we journal something we learned about ______ (construction, ag history, pumpkins etc.) We often make a graph, use playdough to create something theme-related, do an image search to look at pictures, write a story, sort materials, diagram and label, design an object using our collection of toilet paper rolls, boxes, craft sticks, pipe cleaners and whatever. These kinds of activities save me a lot of time but still encourage learning through themes.
And here is the great part. I subtitled my post How to Teach a Strong Willed Child because once these activities are filled in and I have completed the “to do” box I can let Brett make his own decisions about what we learn! A little bit of control goes a long way with the child who must always be right and he’s still doing all the school work I want for him to accomplish in week, so what does it matter if he wants to graph first or read library books first?! Plus I can choose topics he loves, which helps even more!
Yes, thematic teaching can be more work than teaching from a curriculum, but it is worth it! Everyone learns better when they have the proper files and folders in their brain to categorize information. Teaching with thematic units is a natural way to learn!
And if time management is a problem for you check back next Monday. I’ll post my last in this organizational series about my favorite time management tool!