Preschool teachers can use thematic units to engage children in the learning process by offering a variety of lessons and activities surrounding a common theme that is integrated into all content areas.
From art and music to math and pre-reading skills, thematic teaching provides a vessel for all the core subjects to be taught in an engaging and effective way.
Let’s explore preschool education themes.
Preschool Themes Ideas
Explore Preschool Education Themes
The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing a theme for a preschool unit. Dinosaurs, winter, and farm themes are always popular, but you might be surprised at how much your preschoolers will love bridges, color theory, or deserts, too.
Here is a list of our most popular preschool themes. Click on the link to be taken to the archives of activities and printables for preschool and kindergarten themed lessons.
- All About Me
- Around the World
- Back to School
- Community Helpers
- Cooking & Baking
- Fairy Tales
- Family & Pets
- Feelings & Emotions
- Fire Safety
- Five Senses
What is Thematic Teaching?
A theme is a preschool topic that is explored in the classroom in multiple ways.
Teaching by theme keeps a child’s learning focused on a broad touching on specific knowledge within the umbrella topic.
Most preschool teachers agree that thematic units provide one of the best avenues for integrating content areas. This is important because integrating content among subject areas helps children make sense of otherwise segmented bits of knowledge. It helps them make connections to transfer knowledge, they learn and apply it in meaningful ways.
How to Pair Preschool Themes with Foundational Content
The Complete Daily Lessons in Preschool Literacy & Math Curriculum has everything you need to teach your preschoolers literacy and math in a fun and engaging way, without all the boring worksheets!
The curriculum uses proven, systematic strategies to teach reading and math fundamentals. Use this curriculum as your base in preschool and then supplement with fun preschool thematic activities.
How to Plan a Thematic Unit
When planning thematic units, teachers integrate literacy, science, social studies, math, music, fine motor and art all around the thematic topic.
The children’s culture and environment should be taken into consideration since in the preschool years sharing experiences and participating in shared experiences is an important part of learning. Ideas may arise from the children’s natural curiosity about a subject, such as dinosaurs or the weather, or themes can be created around topics of discussion that naturally arise in the classroom, such as pets, families, or the five senses.
The most successful preschool education theme units are those where the children can be involved in the planning stages and voice their questions. This gives them a sense of ownership and motivation to learn.
When inviting your preschoolers to help plan the next preschool theme, come prepared with a few popular ones to choose from based on what your students like. Once your students have helped you narrow the focus of learning, you can move forward with integrating the content areas.
Benefits of Thematic Teaching in Early Childhood
Cross-curricular connections are only one of many benefits of thematic teaching. Planning preschool activities that are all theme based are also good for learning because of the following advantages.
- Children can make connections with the real world.
- When planning learning activities that thematic based, preschoolers get to experience the theme in multiple ways, from direct teaching to dramatic play.
- Thematic teaching builds on prior knowledge.
- Preschools come to the classroom with a range of knowledge, and teaching using themes in preschool helps preschooler access what they already know.
- Students stay actively engaged in the learning process because themes make preschool fun.
- There’s nothing like coming into the classroom and seeing the dramatic play center turned into a flower shop, for example. Preschoolers play flower shop while simultaneously learning environmental print, number identification, and a host of social skills.
- Teachers can create more authentic learning experiences.
- Preschool worksheets are not an authentic way for preschoolers to learn new content. Reading books centered around a specific preschool topic, then doing a process art activity, and followed by science experiment all on the same theme is more authentic.
- Students have can have a choice in what they learn.
- When all the learning experiences and preschool activities are theme based, preschoolers can learn new content in the way they choose, which means they will learn the content more easily.
- Students can better see” the big picture”.
- This is especially helpful for second language learners, or refugee children who may still be developing knowledge of cultural norms.
- New vocabulary is used more frequently and in more natural settings.
- For example, if doing a preschool bird theme, new vocabulary will be used repeatedly in circle time and preschool centers.
- Preschool themes allow children to demonstrate understanding in multiple ways.
- We know that children might not be able to repeat trivial facts, but watch a children strengthen the build of his bridge and see how he understand the concepts of weight.
Drawbacks of Thematic Teaching
As with any method of teaching, there may be a few drawbacks. These might include:
- students may lose interest if the theme lasts too long
- students may miss connections if absent
- some themes may be less accessible to children based on culture
An Example of Preschool Education Themes Unit
This is a basic outline of what a thematic unit about plants might include:
- reading books about plants
- learning about the letter “p”
- discussions about caring for the earth and environment
- caring for plants by planting and tending a flower or garden
- observing and measuring a seed’s growth
- counting and sorting seeds
- comparing different types of plants on a nature walk
- singing songs about plants
- using flowers or twigs to paint, rather than traditional paint brushes
- exploring parts of a plant with a magnifying glass and science journal
Get Free Preschool Lesson Plan Themes
All the preschool learning activities are quick and easy to set up, designed to save time, requiring hardly any (if any at all) prep and only requiring the most basic of household materials. This makes them especially easy for parents to implement…and this makes preschool teachers especially happy, too!
Just glance over the lessons each day, gather the very few materials needed, and you’re ready to go!