Overview: Not sure how to choose the best themes for your toddler or preschooler? This post will walk you through all the ways I choose preschool themes.
When I first started looking into home preschool, I was amazed with all the boxed curriculum. I could get lost for hours pouring over all the preschool themes, teacher guides, resources, and materials.
Finding a new curriculum was like opening a toy you really wanted on Christmas.
Okay, is this a bit much? Maybe it’s the teacher in me that likes new curriculum so much because this isn’t an exaggeration.
Point is though, you don’t need a fancy boxed curriculum to teach. When it came time to choose a curriculum, I couldn’t make my mind up.
There was something from each one that I really liked. That’s the problem with boxed curriculum, you can’t seem to find one that meets all of your expectations.
That’s why I decided to develop my own preschool curriculum around themes. Not just any themes either. I wanted to be able to choose themes that interest my daughter.
Choosing Preschool Themes
It’s important to become a detective when planning your own curriculum and themes. Observing your child will be the most beneficial tool in selecting a theme. Ask yourself:
-What has my child been interested in lately?
-What has my child been asking a lot of questions about?
-What has my child’s attention lately?
The answer to those questions will be your next theme. I know you’re probably thinking, “Well my little one LOVES trains. It’s trains all day every day.”
You may be right, but I bet he has other interests as well. When we really sit and watch our kids, we can learn a lot about their interests. Something as simple as spending 10 minutes watching an ant carry a piece of food into his hole could turn into a theme about bugs that your child will love.
Related: Child-Led Learning: How to Stay Organized with a Wonder Journal
Holidays and special days make for good themes as well. If you have a special trip planned, then choose to teach that as a theme either before or after the trip.
I recommend teaching a theme after it happens because they are more interested in the topic after the fact. For example, you might have a trip to the zoo planned. The zoo trip is like the opening act of the theme.
Take advantage of that excitement after the trip to teach about zoo animals. Teaching after the trip also gives your child a way to make connections with what you are teaching.
Trying to learn about lions when you never even seen a lion can be quite tricky for a little one. But after seeing a real lion at the zoo, they have something to connect this new knowledge too.
You also want to think about your child’s ability levels and attention span when choosing a theme. Some topics, like space, may be confusing to some kids. Make sure it’s a topic your child will understand and has the ability to focus to learn about it.
I have preschool themes, now what?
Once you settle on a theme ask yourself these questions to help you plan your activities:
-What does my child want to know about this topic?
-Can this theme be split into smaller themes?
-Is there any specific skills that this theme lends itself too? (Ocean lends itself to sink/float and volume)
-What field trips could we take to supplement this theme?
These questions will help you choose specific activities that will help your child learn the skills you want them to learn and still be completely engrossed in the topic. Once I know all of this, I like to plan activities in each of these subjects over the course of the whole theme, which can last a few days to a few months.
A boxed curriculum cannot cater to your child’s specific needs and interests. Choosing a theme that your little one will enjoy is as simple as watching your child play. Check out my child-led curriculums, The Preschool Experience and The Toddler Experience, to always have simple to prep activities with materials you can find around the house.