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Friday, August 5, 2011

Back-to-School Theme Ideas

It's that time again. Time to start planning for those first weeks of school. Naturally, we are going to be doing a lot of introducing the classroom type themes at the very beginning to make all your new (and returning) children feel comfortable. But what happens after that? Here are some themes that you can start including in your classroom early in the year while you are introducing centers, job charts, name tags, etc. to gauge children's interest in them and see if they want to take their studies in any of these directions.

1. Fall- Sorry to state the obvious, but it's almost fall and there are so many activities you can do surrounding leaves, changing of the season, weather beginning to cool off and get windy... Make it a part of your everyday routine when you go outdoors to ask the children some questions about some of these things and see what direction they take it, if any.

2. Apples- This kind of goes along with the last theme, but you can take it in it's own direction. Tasting different apples is a great activity to get started. This can be done anytime from the first week as a snack. Go from there by asking questions pertaining to the 5 senses. Just get a feel for what the kids already know and if it would be worth expanding on this theme.

3. Bugs- Maybe like some of you, I tend to think of bugs as more of a Spring theme, but having been out in the woods this week, I am gonna say bugs are out in full force right now (at least in Ohio). Anyways, I saw TONS of fuzzy (and not-so-fuzzy) caterpillars of all shapes, sizes, colors, textures, etc. This would be an awesome research project for kids to find out the different types and what they might change into. Obviously, this could lead to a unit about butterflies. Sorting, categorizing, grouping, counting, graphing and classifying are just a few skills that come to mind when talking about bugs.

4. Bubbles/Water- Great idea for sensory table. Nothing makes a new 3 year old student forget that mommy just left them in a strange place better than a table full of water. And add bubbles, you've got yourself a party! Let the kids do their own experiments with the bubbles and water using various soaps and detergents. But, as my Education Specialist would say, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!!! Take photos, dictate what children think will happen and what does happen, allow children to record their own results in their science journal. One really cool activity that I want to try this year is the Ivory Soap in the Microwave Experiment. I would definitely recommend to anyone who has a microwave in their classroom!