The learning activities are created based on a monthly theme and this thematic based learning approach has worked amazingly well for us! There are so many benefits with theme based learning:
1) Children Become Active Learners
I remember a period of time when my son was obsessed with cars and cars only. We have all been there before right? It’s cars/ Elsa/ dinosaurs or nothing else. And I thought, if cars were all what he wanted, why don’t I harness this interest (or obsession) for cars in his learning? I used cars as the vehicle (pun intended) to explore other subjects in a fun and meaningful way. We counted the number of wheels on a car, learned about circular wheels, counted and made a graph of different color cars we see in a carpark, read countless books on cars, made a cardboard box garage, painted with cars, learned letter C is for car, sang the Zoom Zoom Driving in the Car song together, read about where petrol comes from and so on.
When we tap on that natural curiosity the children have for things that intrigue them, learning becomes so natural and teaching becomes efficient. They are motivated and excited to find out more on their own. They become active learners. When the children get older and they can even choose the next theme and decide what they like to learn about next.
2) A Central Theme Helps Children Make Connections
Learning is an integrated process where the brain is constantly trying to make connections from one experience to another. Theme based learning supports and mirrors this natural way of learning. The big theme connects different topics, subjects and skills and helps children see and make connections between them.
Just look at how the various activities from our cars theme provide the opportunity for my children to work on skills and connect information from different learning areas (language, math, art, music, science).
3) A Fun and Meaningful Way to Learn about the World
Themes can come from anything the children are connected to, things they see around them, their favorite storybooks, special events happening in their lives and so on. These themes are great platforms for the children to discover more about the world. As the children follow their interests and move on from one related area to another, they uncover new and interesting knowledge about their world! There was a month last year where it rained a lot so we set up weather theme shelf to learn more about the different types of weather. The weather theme got my son thinking about what happens if there is too much rain, wind, sun or snow. That was a wonderful chance for us to read about natural disasters and how they affect people’s life. Learning becomes fun, relevant and purposeful.
Why a shelf?
The shelf itself is partly inspired by Montessori learning. I love their idea of an activity shelf, a dedicated space for learning activities and toys to instill a sense of organization and respect for belongings. We have a pretty small homeschool room and a learning shelf was perfect for that small space.
Having the activity trays set out on a shelf and accessible to the children means that they get to make active choices on what they like to work on, when they want to do each activity, how long they want to spend on each activity. Children love having choices and they need them too. These daily choices go a long way to develop our children into independent self-motivated learners.
I hope these resources will inspire you to give theme based learning a go. Write to me if you have more questions or feedbacks, I love to hear from you!