How to Construct a Themed Unit of Study for a Kindergarten

Kindergarten teachers should include hands-on activities.
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Kindergarten teachers use thematic units to teach specific objectives in their curriculum. The materials and activities are organized around a theme which is usually a topic of interest to young students. Thematic units are effective for teaching multiple skills and introducing children to concepts in more than one subject. Many schools have reading and language programs with thematic units already created. If you have to design your own, many online resources are available.

Choose the theme. You can select themes based on a concept you are teaching, such as transportation, farms, insects or fish. You might want to focus on themes that correspond with holidays in the current month such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day. Choosing to emphasize special observances such as Black History Month or a season is another option.

Develop a lesson plan for the time span of the unit. Kindergarten units usually last two weeks, but can also be one week or a month long. Indicate what goals and objectives are being taught. These can be found in your curriculum guide or your school district and state department of education websites. Write the tasks you will complete each day with specific directions for yourself.

Gather resources you will need for each day. Collect worksheets from your files, or use websites such as The Virtual Vine and Kinderkorner that have lists of materials already available at no charge.

Choose hands-on projects that reinforce the theme. Kindergarten students enjoy them, and they are effective learning tools. For example, take your students outside to collect leaves in the fall or visit a local farm to study animals and gardens.

Address several subjects in one unit. Teaching across the curriculum is a good way to introduce your students to social studies, science and math skills while teaching language and reading at the same time. For example, during a valentine unit, have your kids graph candy hearts according to color, and then count them. A President's Day theme gives you the opportunity to share a brief background of some of our most famous leaders.

Develop an assessment that will help you determine the effectiveness of your instruction and the unit materials. This can be an informal observation or a checklist. You should assess the skills that you outlined when designing your unit.

  • Incorporate songs into your units. They are fun and help your students remember what they are learning.

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.