Kids have short attention spans. That will come as no surprise to any parent! And the younger the child, the less attention they can give to anything. That’s why a huge part of teaching younger kids is through play, with small concentrated learning throughout the day.
But even then, after a few weeks of doing the same thing in those 5-10 minutes of concentrated learning, your young child will start to get restless. “We’ve already done this! This is boring!” Once a kid says something is boring, you can pretty much forget about it, they are done. And when there’s no fun in your homeschool, everyone seems to suffer. This isn’t why you kept them home. Every moment of every day isn’t going to be kittens and rainbows either, but when the whole day sucks, you start to forget what made you want to keep them home in the first place. We want them to find learning fun, we want them to be interested in what they are learning!
Teaching with themes
This is where themes become a big part of teaching younger kids! Themes help you change things up a bit every few weeks, and you can incorporate the themes into many areas of your child’s learning through each week!
So, here’s a list of what I’m planning for our themes for kindergarten this year:
- August: Seasons. August is a bit of a transition month. It’s still warm enough to go to the beach and play in the sprinkler, the nights just start to get a chill, but it seems like more and more stores have already brought out all of the fall decorations. This makes August a good time to talk about the different seasons. Start with summer, and talk about the fun activities you do in the summer, how the air feels, the tips to have safe fun during this season. Then go on to fall, talk about how next month it’ll be fall; what can you expect, what changes will there be to trees, and how will the air start to feel then? Move on to winter and then spring. Read books on the changing seasons, count how many different seasons there are, what’s their favorite season? What’s your favorite season? Find some fun songs about the seasons on youtube and learn the words to them!
- September: Apples/Farming. Every September, right around the first day of fall, we go to the apple orchard! But even before then, we spend time talking about farming, and harvesting. Why farming is important, what our favorite fruits and veggies are. We also dissect an apple! You can find printables on Pinterest that help you diagram an apple. We read books on farming, apples, and Johnny Appleseed. There are of course songs and videos about all of this on youtube too. By the time we get to the apple orchard, my kids are apple experts! We visit with and feed the animals, there are always fun games to play, and we buy a bunch of apples and go home and make apple sauce and apple butter that we always plan to can, but we finish eating before we get the chance too. Ha!
- October: Halloween. We’re Halloween people, there’s no doubt about that. We have been counting the days until the Halloween stores in our area start to open, we love to watch Halloween movies, the big discussion in the house right now is that the boys are trying to figure out what they want to be for Halloween (yes, it’s only August…). But if Halloween isn’t your thing, you could always use pumpkins or leaves as your theme. We will be going into the history of Halloween, and what other cultures do during this time of the year. You could talk about candy, how different candy is made, what candy is popular in each state, that can lead you into talking about dental hygiene. Art and crafts projects, read books on it, and of course songs (I feel like kids learn best with really simple, fun songs!). Count pumpkins, measure with pumpkins, bake yummy desserts!
- November: Native Americans. We discuss the culture and history. The story of the first Thanksgiving. In past years we have built mini teepees, find some recipes of traditional foods and make them. We also watch Pocahontas, even though it’s not 100% accurate, it does help show small kids the atrocities that occurred. You could also go into current events and talk about what’s still going on today if you are doing these themes with older kids in the house. We watch plenty of documentaries, and of course, books, but if there are museums in your area or local places to take your kids, do it! Experiences teach even better than songs do!
- December: Holidays. We only do school for a couple weeks in December, so we spend that time talking about the different holidays that are celebrated during this time of year. What do other people celebrate, eat, or do during this time? What do we like to do? As we get closer to Christmas our homeschool pretty much centers around baking!
- January: Artic animals. It’s finally snowy and cold where we live so it’s a fun time to talk about animals that like to live in these conditions. What different kinds of animals live in the artic, what do they eat, where do they sleep?
- February: GERMS. We always manage to get sick this month. So we review why washing our hands is so important. Do the bread experiment, this really helps them see what we mean about germs! Talk about hygiene in general and what needs to be done to stay healthy! (The magic school bus also has a great episode on being sick and how our body fights germs!)
- March: Seasons. It’s that time again! This time start with spring, and work your way around the year again talking about the changing seasons, what do they remember from August? What are they looking forward to in the spring? How many months is each season? How many months in the whole year?
- April: Flowers. How do flowers grow? What are the different parts of aflower? Introduce them to the word photosynthesis. How do we care for flowers? What do flowers need to grow? Why is rain so important for flowers? Look at different types of flowers and maybe even plant some when the frost stops in your area, can you put what you’ve learned to use and grow beautiful flowers too?
- May: Community helpers. Lots of different people are needed to keep the community going. Who are community helpers? What can we do to help community helpers? (Staying safe, fire danger, etc.) Of course lots of books and songs on the subject too!
- June: Ocean. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never changed this theme. June has been all about the ocean since I started themes years ago… Maybe I’m just ready to get into the water after a long, cold winter. But we concentrate on the ocean and water during this time. Great time to remind your kids about water and sun safety too! We talk about the different parts of the ocean, what we need to do to help the ocean, all of the ocean animals, and different systems of the ocean.
- July: American History. This one is pretty simple, we talk about the constitution, revolutionary war and basically why we celebrate independence day!
This isn’t our whole curriculum for kindergarten this year. We teach them to read and I like to use the Life of Fred for math in K. But themes help me give them more of a variety of learning throughout the whole year, without overwhelming or boring them. You can use themes to incorporate important topics throughout the year (like water safety during your ocean theme), and there are too many songs and books on each of these subjects for me to even try to link for you! Themes help you simplify, but also gives you a road map for the year to help you keep going!
Until next time friends!