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.
Using Thematic Units printable Using Thematic Units printable 2
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!
Thaanks for writing this
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These look great! I use thematic units too and it helps keep ME focused and learning – if I have a theme I can come up with LOTS of stuff to go with it. I don’t use a binder, but I keep a running doc. that I plan in, date by date, (pasting links I want to visit and writing down ideas to do) and then can easily add/adjust each day depending on what we ACTUALLY got through and did; (the doc is always open on my computer to easily add and edit what we’ve done) which then becomes our homeschool record for the state too. I try to plan each day for at least 1 week ahead. Things that didn’t get done that day, that I still want to do, I just copy and paste up to the date above it, so we’re always near the top of the page.
For example, my google doc. has an entry like this for each day:
January 8, 2013: Themes: Letter N/n, nap, night, nurse
-Morning devotional: Sing, pray, then each child recited our scripture verse, Moses 1:39. Sang Article of Faith #3 and #4. Recite family motto and Pledge of Allegiance. Read scripture and quote from Gordon B. Hinckley’s Standing Tall book.
-Isaac practiced writing the letter N/n with paints.
-Isaac painted a picture.
-Watched clips about “napping” and “noise”, Bert’s nap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G0OdKLZstI, Celebrety lullabys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc20vMz0V7Q Abby’s Flighing Fairy School Nap Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA012RQa1dY
-We read, “The Napping House” Audrey “Best Friend’s Sleepover” “My Goodnight Book” Eloise Wilkin, “The Going to Bed Book” Sandra Boynton, “Care Bear Book of Bedtime Poems” Selected by Bobbi Katz
-Read a couple science pages from, “I Wonder Why Star’s Twinkle”
-We reviewed/tested on what we learned about Florence Nightingale yesterday.
-The girls wrote 3 things we learned about Florence Nightingale in their Writing books. Calculated her age based on birth/death date.
-We all took a “nap” on mom’s bed and listened to Beethoven, “Moonlight Sonata” (Adagio) 7:42, Debussy “Claire De Lune” 4:30, Pachelbel “Canon in D Major” 3:58, and Mozart “Piano concerto No. 21” (Adagio) 5:30.
-Anabrie did math on Khanacademy.com – it keeps track of where she is and what she needs to practice.
-We made pictures of the “night” with our own constellations.
-Anabrie watched, “How the States Got Their Shapes: Big vs. Small” while the youngest 3 watched a story book VHS (Boa that ate the wash etc.)
-Julie read me lesson 7 of “It’s a Joy to Learn” reading book.
-We read 2 chapters of “Anne of Windy Poplars” (the chapter book we’re currently reading out loud.)