Kindergarten students do not have textbooks. They learn through units that teachers use to deliver instruction based on kindergarten learning objectives focused around a specific theme. These units form the year's curriculum. The time spent on each unit ranges from one week to a month. Some kindergarten themes are teacher-created; others are produced by publishers of kindergarten reading programs. Many teachers use a transportation theme because it allows children to learn about the many ways people travel.
Kindergarten students do not learn social studies as a separate subject. Instead, it is embedded in the themes they study all year. In the transportation unit, students learn to classify different modes of transportation according to where they are used -- sky, sea or land. Teachers also emphasize the importance of vehicles in people's daily lives.
Teachers focus on reading skills during the majority of the school day. Thematic units give them many opportunities to incorporate reading objectives, such as blending vowel-consonant sounds orally to make words. In a transportation unit, teachers help students sound out words such as "jet", "truck" and "bike." Teachers read stories and poems that use these words so children can hear them being used in the correct context.
Kindergarten teachers help students build vocabulary and language skills through a transportation unit. During whole- and small-group discussions, students learn the names of various kinds of transportation and how to use these words in complete sentences. This type of activity improves their ability to communicate, too.
Kindergarten students begin writing letters at the start of the year and then progress to words and sentences. In the transportation unit, the teacher may have students draw or color a picture of their favorite kind of transportation and write a sentence about it. This reinforces knowledge that language is written and read from left to right, while giving students the opportunity to practice correct letter formation.
Kindergarten students take math as a separate subject, but thematic units incorporate math skills for reinforcement. Students can make trains from colorful, interlocking plastic cubes, and kindergarten teachers can use this lesson to reinforce mathematical concepts. Teachers can have students make their train with different colors to teach patterns, or they can let students have train races. For a race, two students take turns rolling a die. Each student moves his train according to the number he has thrown on the die. The student whose train reaches the finish line first wins.
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