Chris Lawrence explains thematic teaching and learning :
You just allow the idea into your head and start to let it grow in the way a teacher can look at an empty cornflakes box and ask “How many different ways can I use it in the classroom?”
You need to think:
Which areas of grammar can I glean from the theme? (Punctuation, sentence construction, speech marks etc.)
Which areas of spoken and written vocabulary can I work on for spellings within this theme?
Which different genres can I get the children to write in, using this theme as the starting point..like letter writing, imaginative writing, recorded writing, play writing, how to writing, poetry writing, reported writing etc?
Which other curriculum areas can be easily and naturally connected to this theme?
How can I make this theme have a visual impact on my classroom?
How can the pupils and I present the work so that everyone feels they want to say “Wow”?
How can we let others know about the work we are doing. like parents, other teachers, other children..(School Assembly, inviting another class to visit, doing a play etc)
A simple example of starting and developing a theme is of a Pre K class of 12 children, where there were limited opportunities for imaginative or creative play. I suggested making a home corner by swiveling a book case so it made a right angle to the classroom wall and adding two old plastic easels where the paper supports no longer existed and were now spaces! These spaces became the house “windows”. The children made plant pots and flowers for the “window boxes” (the old paint pot trays). They helped draw and colour a third window to stick on the wall. We worked out how many curtains we would need for our three windows and I made six simple curtains on which they did sponge prints. They incorporated sorting skills when we found some plastic fruits and vegetables and they each made a paper plate which we stuck on a painting of shelves and they talked about how many of the 12 plates would go on each shelf if we had 3 shelves.
Then we made a book about all this using low reading age score words in simple sentences. The book was put in the book nook and individual children could be found spending a long time “reading” the pages of the book called “Our little house”.
“How long should the theme last before I drop it?” ask many teachers.
The answer from me is “As long as it is useful in the learning situation! Don’t stop before you have given time to thinking out all its possibilities. And on the other hand, don’t make it last so long that it is becoming stale. Like anything you use in the classroom, you have to be aware of the interest level of the children and take this as your yardstick.”