Presenting a theme




Chris Lawrence explains how to present your theme : 

Presenting a theme

Setting up the environment of the classroom

Organise the classroom to set up a central display, perhaps a model or a large wall display, so there is space around your theme area for the children to sit close to it during talking and listening time. It is easier for them to imagine the events going on if they can see the setting, (and why should the teacher always have the best view?) Then the fun starts!

Setting up the model

This could be “Bottle Village”, or a space station, a shop, an underwater scene, a restaurant, a home corner.

Cover the wall or display area with anything you have available that can be used as a background.

Be imaginative and creative about how you build up the display using boxes, coloured paper, fabric.

Think 3 dimensionally. Displays are more exciting if they are not placed flat and squarely onto a wall. Think about this when displaying sheets of paper with written work on too.They don’t have to be set flat on the wall, but can be waved with a space under the “wave”.

Clearly, and using lettering appropriate to the child’s reading ability, label the main things on the display. Later, a child can collect up the labels and put them back in the correct place. With good quality labeling, the children can refer to the labels or go and collect and return them when they are writing and want to be sure of a spelling.

(Or provide each child with a thumb indexed word book, an exercise book in which they collect the words they want to use.This way they feel grown up, independent and need only ask once for each word.)

Once the display is ready

Invite the children to sit around the display and discuss it. Allow them to invite children from other classes to come in and see it.

Give ample time thinking and talking; both are important facets before the start of writing.

Talk about what they see in the display, what it is about, how it makes them feel, what they might add to it.

If it is a place, talk about the sounds, the smells, the way being there would make them feel.

Encourage adjectives and adverbs from younger children, similes and metaphors from older ones.

Please note….The children should feel familiar with the display and should not feel it’s a “Don’t touch” place.

Explaining the theme

The setting

Have the children around you and near to the model as you explain the theme. Get them to practice carefully moving from their seats to the theme area, so that a calm atmosphere is created and maintained. Once there, they need to be in the best possible position that will encourage them to give you their full attention and not be distracted.

An important point for creating this is that there needs to be lots of two way eye contact. If they can see you looking at them and giving them your attention, they are more inclined to look at you and give you theirs. (Also they need to have opportunities during their school day, to be in different parts of the classroom and moving to the display area is one opportunity to put this into practice. They need to see the room from different aspects.  Well, would you want to sit in the same place all day and everyday?)

Be brave and use different voices for the different characters who might speak. Put lots of expression in your voice and try to make sure the children are visualising as you go.

Point as you go, to the various things on the display.

Children like to look as well as to listen and the two activities aid the memory and concentration process.

When you are not reading the book, leave it in a place where the children can readily pick it up to read themselves. (They must promise not to tell the ending to others if they get that far in the story).

Never hide a book you are reading away in a drawer for another time. By doing that you are missing out on an ideal opportunity to encourage someone to read, and we never want to do that!

The best thing is to prop the book on a stand, (maybe made from an old wire coat hanger), and keep this on the actual display to temp anyone to have a read.

Make the whole thing fun.


Thinking about Writing

Visual memory promotes independent writing and good quality displays promote visual memory.

Once writing has started, allow children to leave their seats to go to the display for words.

They can copy the word they need, but they should, when ready, be encouraged to go and look,“write the word in their brain” and return to their work, remembering the word shape.They can always go back again and check.This is important. It encourages visual memory and improved spelling.

The children need vocabulary word lists (a word wall) to refer to when they are writing.A word wall will make the children more independent, less frustrated and more constant in the focus on the theme of their writing. A line of children lining up at the teacher’s desk for words is time wasting for both you and them and it is distracting for the others who are trying to work.

Leave some wall or shelf space nearby for labeled additional displays that enhance the theme and that then becomes a gallery for the children’s work to be displayed and celebrated.

Putting pencil to paper……


Remember, always pre-empt this with lots of looking, thinking, talking and discussing.

As E.M. Forster said,

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”

1. For younger ones

Get them to draw a picture and write a sentence about it. The youngest ones will need you to write the words so that they can copy your writing. Offer a variety of ideas for the drawing, but do not impose your own. After all, how do you know what they are thinking of drawing?

Do not be the teacher who asked a child what she was drawing and the child said “God”

The teacher inappropriately said, “But no one knows what God looks like!”

The child answered ,”They will in a minute!”

Cloze cards This is usually a card with a picture on it related to a few sentences, each sentence having a word missing. (Making these is where your Picture Library comes in handy!)

At the bottom of the card, maybe in different colours, is a jumbled list of the missing words.

1.First stage cloze procedure cards, usually have the missing word at the end of each sentence, progressing to later cards with the missing words being in the middle of each sentence and finally to the more difficult cards being with the missing word at the beginning of the sentence.

Cloze work encourages children to take contextual clues, an essential reading skill for all readers.

Cloze also allows the children to work independently.

Make a sequence of cards getting the children to work through this sequence, so ending up with a complete story.

This could be a shortened version of the theme story, or it could be the Christmas story , in which case the teacher can illustrate this set of work cards by using a sequence of Nativity pictures from old Christmas cards.etc. The cards will last for years if each one is protected in a see-through plastic bag whilst the children are working from them.

If the children work on a sheet of exercise paper to do their writing and illustrating, a sheet for each work card, then, the completed pages can be stuck on a long sheet of paper that has been zig zag folded and the final result would be a Christmas Story zig-zag book that will stand up as a display. Children like to take this home for Christmas and the fact that they know this will be special and looked at by visitors, encourages them to make a particularly good job of their work

2. Question cards

For the next stage, progress to question cards, insisting that the answers are given as complete sentences.

Remind the children of the three main characteristics of a sentence:

A sentence always starts with a capital letter.
A sentence always ends with a full stop, (or question mark, or exclamation mark).
A sentence always makes sense.

(And teachers should make sure that all the sentences they write follow this rule.)


Indeed! Wow! Thank you Chris for inspiring teachers!

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Thematic approach to teaching? How?




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 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.”

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A thematic approach to teaching and learning

What is a thematic approach?

This is a way of teaching and learning, whereby many areas of the curriculum are connected together and integrated within a theme.

It allows learning to be more natural and less fragmented than the way, where a school day is time divided into different subject areas and whereby children practice exercises frequently related to nothing other than what the teacher thinks up, as he or she writes them on the chalk board.

It allows literacy to grow progressively, with vocabulary linked and with spelling and sentence writing being frequently, yet smoothly, reinforced.

It guides connected ideas to follow on easily.

It is, after all, how we, as adults, learn new things. Don’t we start at a point of interest and branch out from it like ripples from a stone thrown in the water?


The result of working the thematic approach way is that often children:

will have fun,
will be more actively involved,
will develop learning skills more quickly, as each one is connected to and reinforced by the other,
will be more confident and better motivated,
will present fewer discipline problems.

The result of working the thematic approach way is that often teachers:

 will find teaching more fun,

will find teaching less hard work….

………but will still find teaching exhausting!

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Education, Moedertaal, OnderrigAugust 14, 2018

Moedertaalonderrig – die suksessyfers


Skole met onderrig in Afrikaans as moedertaal het ‘n jarelange rekord van deurlopend uitstekende prestasies in die matriek-eindeksamen. SOS, die Skoleondersteuningsentrum (Solidariteit) se 2017-oorsig van matriekuitslae skryf dit toe aan ‘n kombinasie van internasionaal bewese faktore: die bepalende invloed van moedertaalonderrig, gehalte van onderwys en onderwysopleiding en leerderingesteldheid op leerderprestasie.

Dit skep vir leerders aan ‘n Afrikaanse moedertaal-skool* ‘n vrugbare, opvoedkundige tuiste, waar die suksesvolle afhandeling van ‘n skoolloopbaan feitlik gewaarborg is, en is die Afrikaanse skole ook beduidend meer suksesvol om “deure tot B-graadstudies vir leerders te open as ander skole in die land” ,aldus die SOS-verslag.

* SOS definieer Afrikaanse skole as dié wat Afrikaans Huistaal as vak aanbied; dus alle Afrikaans enkelmedium-, parallelmedium- en dubbelmedium-skole. In 2017 was dit 10,1% van alle hoërskole in die land.

Prestasie en sukses deur moedertaalonderrig gaan nie ongesiens verby nie

Daar woed steeds ‘n fel debat in Suid-Afrika oor die voordele van moedertaalonderrig. Op universiteitsvlak is Afrikaans reeds dramaties afgeskaal en feitlik al die land se universiteite het heeltemal verengels.

Jean Oosthuizen berig op die nuwe Afrikaans-Nederlandse webwerf Voertaal oor die minister van basiese onderwys, Angie Motshekga, se onlangse uitlating tydens ‘n mediakonferensie oor die stand van basiese onderrig in Suid-Afrika.

Sy sê dat Afrikaans een van die land se mees ontwikkelde Afrikatale is en dat die regering inderdaad geen planne het om dit af te skaf as taal van onderrig nie.
Haar uitlating volg op toenemende druk uit sommige oorde dat Afrikaans as onderrigtaal in alle staatskole deur Engels vervang moet word.

Die toekoms van Afrikaans as onderrigtaal is opnuut in die kollig nadat die hooggeregshof ‘n versoek deur die Gautengse Onderwysdepartement tersyde gestel het dat die Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging (wat ‘n Afrikaansmediumskool is) verplig moet word om 55 bykomende Engelse leerders te aanvaar.

“Afrikaans kan nie net weggegooi word nie.”

Motshekga sê daar is ‘n plek vir almal en elke taal in Suid-Afrika. Sy sê Afrikaans is nie net Afrikaners se taal nie, want daar is meer mense wat nie wit is nie wat Afrikaans praat en die taal moet bewaar word.

Sy het vrese besweer dat Afrikaans as onderrigtaal op skole afgeskaf sal word. Sy sê niemand het nog die reg vir Afrikaans om as ‘n taal te bestaan bevraagteken nie. Meer as die helfte van die bevolking in die Wes-Kaap praat Afrikaans. Motshekga sê Afrikaans het al die vereistes vir ‘n onderrigtaal.

Die voorsitter van die Afrikaanse Taalraad, Conrad Steenkamp, sê ‘n Veldtog teen Afrikaans berus op ‘n foutiewe stereotipe van Afrikaanssprekendes en Afrikaanse skole.
“Ons moet ook praat oor die onbedoelde gevolge van ‘transformasie deur Engels’. Wie word deur verengelsing bevoordeel en wie word benadeel? Wanneer sluit taal in en wanneer sluit dit uit? Hoe pas taal en meertaligheid in by die Suid-Afrika wat ons almal wil hê? Hoe rym dit alles met internasionale beste praktyk?”

Die bestuurder van die Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersontwikkelingstrust in die Wes-Kaap, Danie van Wyk, sê die tyd het aangebreek vir ‘n gesprek oor onderwys, veral Afrikaanse onderwys, “Dit moet help om Afrikaans en Afrikaanse onderwys te depolitiseer en te destigmatiseer. Ons kan nie toelaat dat Afrikaans as ‘n konserwatiewe eksklusief Afrikaner-reaksionêre taal voorgestel word nie.

“My deurlopende betrokkenheid by skole – veral bruin Afrikaanse gemeenskappe – het getoon dat Afrikaanse moedertaalonderrig die beste oplossing is vir die swak prestasie van baie van ons kinders.”

Twee bruin skole wat veral beïndruk het met Afrikaans, was die sekondêre skole Tafelsig en Aloe in Mitchells Plain. Tafelsig het die toekenning ontvang as skool wat die beste in Afrikaans as huistaal in die Wes-Kaap presteer het. Aloe se uitslae het met 50% verbeter, omdat hulle op moedertaalonderrig gefokus is.

Van Wyk sê dit is ‘n wanopvatting dat Afrikaanse onderwys uitsluiting, diskriminasie en eksklusiwiteit beteken.

Lees die volledige artikel hier.

Sukses deur moedertaalonderrig

Enkele van die Afrikaanse skole se prestasie-hoogtepunte uit die SOS-oorsig sluit in:

  • Gemiddelde slaagsyfer: 86%, teenoor die nasionale gemiddelde van 75,1%, waar Afrikaanse skole gemiddeld 100 kandidate per skool gehad het teenoor die nasionale gemiddeld van 79.
  • B-graadtoelating: 42,4%, teenoor die nasionale gemiddelde van 27,8%, en 18,9% van die totale toelating tot B-graadstudies.
  • Top 20-skole: Twaalf van die skole op die lyste van skole met die meeste totale aantal onderskeidings asook die meeste onderskeidings per kandidaat, is Afrikaanse skole. Wat die kernvakke betref (Wiskunde, Fisiese wetenskappe, Lewenswetenskappe en Rekeningkunde), is nege van die Top 20 met die meeste totale onderskeidings vir al hierdie vakke Afrikaanse skole.
  • Afrikaans Huistaal: Onder die Top 5-huistale met die meeste kandidate (Afrikaans, Engels, isiXhosa, isiZulu en Sepedi) is Afrikaans los voor met 36% van al die onderskeidings in hierdie groep; oftewel 6,1% van alle kandidate wat Afrikaans Huistaal geneem het. IsiXhosa is tweede met 26% van die totaal (4,3% onderskeidings), gevolg deur Engels (17% van die totaal; 2,9% onderskeidings), Sepedi (11% van die totaal; 1,8% onderskeidings) en isiZulu (10% van die totaal; 1,7% onderskeidings).
  • Wiskunde: Gemiddeld 2,9 onderskeidings per skool, teenoor die nasionale gemiddeld van 1. Tien van die Top 20-skole met die meeste onderskeidings in Wiskunde is Afrikaanse skole, en 11 van die Top 20 met die hoogste persentasie onderskeidings in die vak.
  • Rekeningkunde: Tien van die Top 20-skole met die meeste onderskeidings in rekeningkunde is Afrikaanse skole, en 9 van die Top 20 met die hoogste persentasie onderskeidings in die vak.
  • Fisiese wetenskappe: Agt van die Top 20-skole met die meeste onderskeidings in fisiese wetenskappe is Afrikaanse skole, en 11 van die Top 20 met die hoogste persentasie onderskeidings in die vak.
  • Lewenswetenskappe: Sewe van die Top 20-skole met die meeste onderskeidings in lewenswetenskappe is Afrikaanse skole, en 10 van die Top 20 met die hoogste persentasie onderskeidings in die vak.

Om die volledige verslag te lees, klik hier.

Internasionale Moedertaaldag – 21 Februarie 2018

Hierdie spesiale dag is in 1999 deur UNESCO ingestel om mense bewus te maak van die belangrikheid van moedertaalonderrig en veeltalige opvoeding.

Op 17 November 1999 het UNESCO (die Verenigde Nasies se Opvoedkundige, Wetenskaplike en Kulturele Organisasie) die heel eerste Internasionale Moedertaaldag aangekondig. Sedertdien word Moedertaaldag elke jaar op 21 Februarie gevier. Die datum verteenwoordig die gebeure op 21 Februarie 1952 toe vier jong studente in Dhaka, die hoofstad van Bangladesj, dood is weens konflik tussen Bengali- en Urdu-sprekers. Die studente het geveg vir die reg om in hul moedertaal gehoor te word, en die datum is ook tot openbare vakansiedag verklaar in Bangladesj.

Internasionale Moedertaaldag beklemtoon die belangrikheid van moedertale regoor die wêreld en moedig mense aan om ingelig te wees oor hul moedertaal en die belangrikheid van moedertaalonderrig en laat val die fokus op die bewaring van kultuur en erfenis. se interaktiewe lekker-lees Moedertaalonderrig-blad is beskikbaar! Hier beantwoord ons jou vrae oor hoekom moedertaalonderrig so belangrik en broodnodig is vir toekomstige sukses, vertel jou meer oor veeltaligheid en besweer sommer ook ‘n paar bekommernisse en mites oor moedertaalonderrig. Ons nooi jou uit om jou vrae te vra sodat ons die kundiges kan raadpleeg en saam met jou ons kennis oor hierdie belangrike onderwerp kan uitbrei in ons strewe na suksesvolle opvoeding en opleiding vir ons kinders in ‘n veeltalige, multikulturele land.

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