Planning an Integrated Thematic Curriculum Unit Who am I in the Lives of Children? Feeney, Christensen, Moravcik Prepared by Dr. Carla Piper
Organize curriculum around a theme
Umbrella overarching interest area
Integrates different developmental and subject areas
Contributes to child’s growing awareness and understanding
Provides opportunities for child to learn by doing and have direct experiences with the world
Helps children understand that learning is connected to life.
Reflect on and recreate experiences through :
Graphing and Mapping
Children develop skills through:
Playing with others
Select a Topic
Look at a child’s life for the theme:
Sense of uniqueness Pride in their families Understanding Community
Primary Question: Can I give children direct experience of this topic?
Should reflect children’s interests, abilities and issues of concern
Should involve concepts and skills at the right level of challenge for the age group
Topic should be complex and interesting enough to be explored at some depth
Plan to focus on topic for several weeks to several months
Criteria for Theme Selection
The topic can be taught through direct experience.
Children can explore it with their senses.
Concept is developmentally appropriate for young children.
Concept can be organized to move from:
Simple to complex
Concrete to abstract
Interesting, meaningful, and worth knowing about.
Helps children acquire understanding and appreciation of themselves, others, and the world in which they live.
More Criteria for Theme Selection
Many things can be experienced and learned
Generates a variety of activities and learning in all areas of development and in a broad range of subject areas.
Harmonizes with program philosophy and goals and is interesting to the staff.
Realistic in terms of resources (funds, materials, people, places that are available)
Allows for and encourages family input and participation.
Consistent with family and community values.
“ Major Understanding” of the Theme
The important ideas you wish children to acquire
Brainstorm the purpose and goals
Gather the resources and materials
Create a mind map or curriculum web
Ask the children:
What do you want to know?
What would you like to learn?
Mind Map Creative Movement Field Trips Dramatic Play Blocks Family Activities Games Songs and Rhymes Books and Poems Art Activities Cooking THEME
K-W-L Chart K What do you KNOW? W What do you WANT to know? L What did you LEARN? Brainstorm!
Outline for an Integrated Thematic Plan
Theme: the topic or focus
Children: age and characteristics
Goals: 3-6 broad statements of desired ends
Major Understandings: 4-6 important ideas you want children to construct
Books and Resources
Vocabulary Building Strategies
Center Planning - Literacy Learning Spaces
Environmental Additions and Trips
List of materials to add to each learning center
Support awareness of theme
Help develop the ‘big ideas’
Include ideas for:
Blocks, manipulative toys, puzzles, games
Dramatic play, art, writing center, library, science area
How will you introduce the study to children?
What activities will you do to build awareness of the topic?
Activities to build understanding
Activities that encourage exploration
Activities that build skill
Activities that develop understanding
Activities help children express and generalize what they’ve learned
Activities to bring closure to the unit
How do you document children’s learning?
How do you know if children understand the big ideas of your unit?
Photography or video
Collection of student work samples
A class book, newsletter, scrapbook
Social event where student work is shared
A sunburst graphic - see page 353-354
Sunburst Graphic Curriculum Plan Pages 353-355 Family Involvement Activities Learning Trips Literature Extensions Story Books Fingerplays and Poems Sensory Exploration Dramatic Play Blocks Language Charts Discussions Mapping and Graphing Science Workjobs and Games Child-Authored Books Language Games
Curriculum Focus on Food Cooking Songs, Creative Movement, and Drama Art Reference Books and Cookbooks Big Idea #4 Food can be prepared in many different ways. Big Idea #3 People like some foods and dislike some foods. Big Idea #2 Food comes from different places and we eat in different places. Big Idea #1 Everyone needs food to live, grow, and stay healthy. Animals need food too.
Ideas for Enriching the Environment Art Area Library Reading Corner Blocks Manipulative Toys Dramatic Play Writing Center Puzzles Hollow Box Discovery Table Light Table Sensory Table Open Area