I have a confession to make…I have an obsession with books. I’m talking hundreds of books, mostly preschool age. My basement houses two of the largest tubs you can find full of books, and that’s just the preschool ones. I have another huge tub full of chapter books. Books lend themselves to so much learning, but why should the learning stop at the book? Developing preschool book themes that you love makes planning easy and gets the kids more involved in their learning.
How many times have you read a book and your little one was really excited, but that was the end of it? We can build on that initial excitement by planning out a whole unit (or theme) on a topic from the book. Using the same themes year after year in your home preschool can get boring, especially if your little on isn’t interested in that theme. Reading a book before hand can help you gauge whether your preschooler will enjoy a particular theme or not.
Related: How to Home Preschool
Why Create Preschool Book Themes?
A child needs to hear words multiple times and in different contexts in order to truly understand the meaning and use the word correctly. When we create themes around books, we give them more chances to hear and use the vocabulary.
For example, if we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar a child will be introduced to chrysalis, caterpillar, egg, and butterfly. Some of these words they may know, but what about chrysalis? That’s a hard word to understand just by reading a book.
When we create a 2 week to a month long theme around this book we could provide opportunities to experience each of these words in real life by growing caterpillars into butterflies. Playing a gross motor charades game where your little one has to act out these words also helps them internalize and better understand the words. You could do a snack with foods that represent each life cycle stage. Do you see how your child will get more chances at learning and using vocabulary words when you plan more activities around books?
There are so many skills we want our little ones to be practicing in the younger years. You have fine motor, gross motor, math, literacy, and writing skills. Not to mention the music, science, and cooking skills we want to expose them too. But sometimes practicing those skills can be a bore. We set out an activity on the table that we worked hard on and know will help them with that pencil grip, but they want nothing to do with it. I’ve spent countless hours creating activities for Sicily that she has no interest in. But once I started implementing these skills into activities that revolved around the books she loved, I noticed a huge increase in engagement. Why? Because the activity was not skill focused any more. The activities were focused on things she loves and can relate to.
Better Chance to Internalize Information
Have you ever read a book and remembered every little detail? Most likely not. Kids are the same way. Based on their cognitive development, they need symbols or objects to play with in order to truly learn something. Most young kids are not auditory learners. They need to be working their muscles and brains at the same time. After reading a book, we can provide activities that get them moving and get them thinking. The more chance they have at practicing what they were exposed to, the more they will learn.
I remember reading The Three Little Bears to my preschool class a few years ago. When I looked up, I saw one of my little girls wasn’t paying attention, or so I thought. She was messing with some rice on the floor that had spilled from our sensory table. I took a few minutes to watch her as I finished reading the story, and I was surprised by what she was doing. Instead of fooling around like I thought, she was using those rice pieces as characters from the story. She was acting out the story as I was reading it. I thought “What a smart idea! And to think I was going to yell at her for not listening.” She needed those rice pieces to help her understand the story. She had a better understanding of the story than anyone else in the class because she was given a chance to play and internalize the information.
How Do I Create A Preschool Book Theme?
1.The first thing I do is choose a book. Find books that interests your child. Sometimes I like to read a book at bedtime to gauge interest. If she seems interested, then I will use it to create a theme. If she doesn’t seem interested then i won’t waste my time planning activities she won’t be engaged with.
2.Good books have many takeaways. Some times they may not learn about a particular topic, which most themes are created around, but it may be based around a life lesson. For example in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the book lends itself to learn about caterpillars and butterflies. But a book like Ladybug Girl doesn’t lend itself to a topic. However this book would be great to create an All About Me or Self-Esteem theme.
3.The last part is to plan. I plan activities based on what I consider the “core preschool subjects.”
–Literacy (other than reading books)
It’s that simple. Pinterest is a great way to find ideas for any book or theme. I have a board for almost every preschool subject on Pinterest.You can also check out the Literacy Connections I’ve created.
Your Turn: What is your favorite picture book?
Monthly Print and Play Calendar
Enjoy the quality time with your kids while learning and having fun!