Thematic Teaching

The Three Little Pigs

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I love bringing fairy and folk tales into my classroom, I could focus on these tales all year long and still not run out of fun, rigorous, and purposeful material for my students!

These great tales are a fabulous way to study positive and negative character traits, other cultures, learn effective decision making, how to handle conflict, and natural consequences. It’s no wonder that these tales have been told for centuries!

As I begin my folk tale unit, I am always amazed at just how many students have never heard of some of my favorite stories such as the Three Little Pigs. They are in for a treat! I begin the study of such stories with a few props such as a few sticks, a handful of straw, and a brick. With props in hand, I tell the story orally. This is my favorite way of introducing these types of stories; children are captivated by the storytellers voice and steady eye contact. Listening to a story told orally is a very personal experience as students connect without distractions of pictures. They are able to visualize images mages in their own head. Listening to an oral telling will also stimulate language because the listener must process information through verbal prompts and gestures, allowing them to listen more closely to human vocabulary, grammar and syntax. They are also able to more easily connect to the real emotions of a story. These stories have lasted as long as they have because they first existed orally, with all the learning benefits which that entails, and I think it’s important to retain that history in my first telling.

My students enjoy the first telling so much and now they are ready for deeper study, such as story elements, author's purpose, and character study. After the oral introduction to the story, it is time to dive into some great book adaptations. Here are some of my favorites.


I also like to bring in this favorite video version of mine. There are actually several Silly Symphony Versions you will want to search for on Youtube.


Thematic Classroom Fun

Now it is time to bring the story alive in the classroom to make connections that will build important academic skills in an authentic way.

Here are a few of the activities that we enjoyed through The Three Pig theme week.

Dramatic Play

Read a CVC Word, but watch out for the Big Bad Wolf!

Shake a Pig. Which word will he land on next?

Making puppets for retelling at the art center.

Reading a Three pig “Just at my level” guided reader.

Retelling the story at the StoryBox Center.

Retelling the story at the StoryBox Center.

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The Three Pigs Guided Drawing

The Three Pigs Guided Drawing

Little Pig Writing at the Writing Center

Little Pig Writing at the Writing Center

Creating a Three Pig version at the STEM (Block) Center.

Creating a Three Pig version at the STEM (Block) Center.

Find The Pig Teen Number Game at the Math Center

Find The Pig Teen Number Game at the Math Center


Do you want to extend your student’s learning through a thematic study of folk tales? Don’t reinvent the wheel! I’ve already done the work for you!

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Christmas & Winter Themes For Early Learners

Look no further for some great Christmas and Winter Thematic units for your kindergarten, preschool, Pre-k, T-K or 1st grade classroom. All of these units are cross-curricular, strategically linked to the common core standards, and scripted for easy use.

We have designed these units to be cross-curricular, filled with strategic, developmentally appropriate, and purposeful activities. We know you will love the convenience of planning and lesson delivery. Everything included has been time tested with thousands of students in our classrooms. We know these activities work, and that kids love them.

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Also check out our companion sight word readers with some Christmas or Winter flair.

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Here are a few other supporting products with a Christmas or Winter theme.

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Plants: A Thematic Unit for Early Learners

Actively engage young learners in the world of plants by using this cross-curricular Plant Themed Unit. Strategically Linked to the common core, this "Developmentally Appropriate" Thematic plant unit is divided into areas of literature, media, music, art, literacy activities, math activities, worksheets, science activities, creative writing, word wall words, and guided reading. 

The activities are clearly written, easy to use, and need limited amounts of preparation. The lessons are fun and engaging and will leave your classroom or homeschool students begging for more.

Includes instructions for creating a quality "Plant Themed Science Center."

Includes instructions for creating a quality "Plant Themed Science Center."


Contents Include


Math Center Activities

Flowering Math: Joining Sets

Watermelon War: Comparing Numerals

Garden Party: Demonstrating Subtraction 

Counting Seeds: Count out items to match a given number.

Planting Seeds: Making Combinations to 10 

Adding Flowers

Garden Takeaway

Plant a Garden Ways to Make 8

Reading Center Activities

Flower Garden: Reading Sight Word & CVC Word Sentences (or alphabet recognition).

Tip Toe Through the Tulips: Alphabet letter sound fluency (or sight word fluency)

Run Rabbit Run: Alphabet Letter Fluency

In the Garden: Naming Sight Words

Greenhouse Words: Reading Sight Words

Blooming Words: Isolating Phonemes & Writing CVC Words From Dictation

The Garden Show: Writing Color Words

Science Activities

Building a Science Center

A Seed Grows: Planting a seed in a bag

Kitchen Science: Edible Dirt

Plant Parts: Observation of Plants

The Thirsty Stem: Capillary Action In Plants

Seed Sorting: Using the Scientific Process

Art Projects

Plant Parts: Portfolio Sample

Artful Flowers

Mother's Day Flower

Fingerprint Flowers

Songs

Watermelon Pie 

Inch by Inch (adapted) by David Mallet

Plant A Seed

Guided Reading

The Little Seed

Writing

Plant Word Wall Words

Prompts: All About Seeds,What I Know About Plants

I Can Writing: Label it, list it card it

Supporting Materials

Further extend the learning with these Jack and the Beanstalk themed materials

*Purchase below from our secure Squarespace store. Save $2.00 on the thematic unit by adding the code plants at checkout. 

 Or, if you prefer, find us here on TPT.

 
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Learning With Play Dough

If you want to improve your students’ handwriting, give them some playdough! Paper and pencil practice will help, but kids in kindergarten and other early grades need to continue strengthening hand and finger muscles. Manipulating playdough is a great way to do this! Handwriting Without Tears and other handwriting programs promote the use of playdough with supplementary letter and number cards.  Students not only develop muscles while using the cards, but they can also review letter names and letter formation at the same time.

Even if your students have great handwriting, playdough has a place in your classroom. Playdough is a great “tool” for Word Work activities. Forming each letter of a word helps students focus on the spelling of that word. The creators of The Daily 5 program recommend playdough as a material to keep in your Word Work or phonics center all year long. The tactile sensation of playdough helps students remember the words that they make.
 

Although you can purchase playdough, it’s fun to make it, too! Students can be involved in reading the directions and measuring the ingredients. If you make it in January, keep it white to resemble snow; if you make it in February add a little red food dye to the water for a pretty pink playdough. By using a different color each time you make it, this material will be “new” and exciting each time!

This unit has a great activity called "Snow Dough" that uses homemade dough to teach a Language Development 

Thanksgiving: Teaching Thematically

Looking for a great Thanksgiving Song?


    I'm a very fine turkey and I sing a fine song.
    Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble.
    I strut around the barnyard all the day long.
    And my head goes bobble, bobble, bobble.

    And when Thanksgiving Day comes round,
    Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble.
    I'll go and hide so I can't be found.
    Then my head will still bobble as I gobble.

And check out this great Thanksgiving Unit:

This Thanksgiving unit is strategically linked to the Common Core Standards! It is divided into areas of literature, media, music, art, literacy activities, math activities, worksheets, science activities, creative writing, word wall words, and guided reading. The activities are clearly written, easy to use, and need limited amounts of preparation. 



Literacy Activities:
Hop To It: Identifying Letters and Sounds
Turkey Lurkey: Producing and Generating Rhymes.
Turkey Twist: Kinesthetic Practice With Letter Recognition
Dinner Rush: Naming & Generating Beginning Sounds
Thanksgiving Races: Developing Fluency
Rhyming Worksheet


Math Activities:
Turkey Guesses: Making Estimates
A Feast For All: Counting Objects to Show Physical Representation of Numbers
Thanksgiving Feast: Counting Forward From a Given Number in a Set of 10
The Turkey Dance: Identifying Numbers and Recording Results.
Thanksgiving Parade: Ordering 1-10 Ten Frames
The Turkey Bowl: Comparing Groups of Objects

Songs
Gobble Gobble Gobble
5 Fat Turkeys
I Like Turkey
A Very Fine Turkey


Writing Prompts/Word Wall (Style Choices)
Thanksgiving
I am Thankful For
Thanksgiving Word Wall

Art Projects
Handprint Turkey
Easy Construct Pilgrim
Construct Indians
Tangram Indian
Draw a Turkey

Guided Reading Books
Happy Thanksgiving

Social Studies
Pilgrim Kids: Compare and Contrast Facts

Writing Center Task Cards: Famous Tales

I love thematic teaching and I look forward to each new adventure. Right now, my students are enjoying exploring, comparing, contrasting and discovering folk tales. 


Are you looking for some great writing activities, ready to print and go!

My students love these "Folk-Tale" based writing activities. Complete with "I Can- Task Cards."





Use these to complement our full Thematic Unit:

Strategically link the Common Core Standards to your curriculum by using this fun fabled unit, Giants, Trolls & The Big Bad Wolf! It is divided into areas of literature, music, art, literacy, math, science, creative writing, word wall, and guided reading. The activities are clearly written, easy to use, and need limited amounts of preparation.

Table of Contents

Songs/Fingerplays

This Little Piggy
The Big Bad Wolf 

Literacy Activities
Up the Beanstalk: Writing Simple Words
The Three Little Pigs: Decoding CVC Words
Shake Little Piggy: Reading & Writing Sight Words
Big Bad Bingo: Identifying and Matching Consonant Digraphs
Cross The Bridge: Relating Verbs & Adjectives to Opposites

Shared Reading Whole Group Activities:
Identifying Story Elements
Beginning, Middle, End: Story Structure

Math Activities

Measuring-- Tall or Short: Comparing Size By Length
Measuring Giants and Trolls: Comparing Size 
Giants, Trolls & Wolves, Oh My! Writing Numerals
Going To Grandma's House: Counting Forward From Any Given Number 1-100

Art Projects

Cooperative Giant
Shape Giant
Billy Goat Hat
Puppets: Story Retelling

Science Projects
The Giant's Eyes: Using Scientific Tools

Writing

Word Wall
If I Met a Giant!
Up the Beanstalk?
The Big Bad Wolf

Geading Books
The Little Pigs



Teaching an Effective Guided Reading Lesson: Building Background

Building Background

After the mini-lesson portion of a guided reading lesson, it is time to activate student’s prior background knowledge. For example, if the book is about the ocean, ask students what they already know about the ocean or sea life (you can simply accept responses and make it an oral conversation, or you may want to record responses and make a list or a spider graph. Next, make connections from their responses that will draw their interest toward the text that is about to be read. 

You may wish to follow student responses with a personal experience that you have had with the subject. My students always love to hear these personal stories, they find the notion that teacher’s having a life outside of the classroom is suspect, at best. I might relate an experience such as the following. (Holding a shell) I might say. “One time I was able to sail on a giant cruiseship across the ocean.” (I will show a personal picture of me on the ship). “One day as our ship was cruising, right out of my window I saw a large whale jump into the air.” “This trip on the ocean was so exciting for me, I brought back this seashell so I can better remember it and all of the great ocean creatures I was able to see.”

The kids are now ready! They want to know more about the ocean! At this time, show the students the selected book (teacher holding the copy), and take a "picture walk" (an important tool which builds confidence and support for the reading strategy of using pictures as context clues). To do this, turn through the book page by page calling attention to the pictures. Ask questions such as “What do you see on this page?”; “What do you think is happening on this page?” and “Do you know what this is a picture of?”


Before you turn the last page, allow students to predict what picture might be on the last page to represent the ending of the story. Remember to guide this activity with great care and thought, intentionally implanting important vocabulary words along the way.

Check out these great thematic guided readers:

                       


Fill the Classroom With Music

With Christmas around the corner, music can be heard up and down the halls. Whether you are practicing for a program or just enjoying the sounds of the season, music can greatly impact your classroom. Music can help set a mood. With music, you can calm down...or speed up...the actions of your students. The shared experience of listening to or singing a favorite song can also create a stronger bond within a class. 


Incorporating music into your instructional plan has additional benefits. Through music you can build vocabulary and develop language. Music can reinforce concepts that your students are learning in science or social studies. Songs can also be used to teach letters sounds, sight words, and even math facts.


If you’re looking for some musical resources, check out Singlish for help with language development and Heidi's Songs to promote sight word recognition. Because of the importance of music as a learning tool, we also include songs with each of our cross-curricular thematic units. Music should have a place in every classroom; make this a reality in your school during the Christmas season and beyond.

Scarecrow Thematic Unit

Looking for some great pre-Thanksgiving fun? Give Scarecrows a try.
This year's family take-home project: Scarecrows 

This year's family take-home project: Scarecrows 



Complement our harvest, fall, Halloween, or Thanksgiving units with these great scarecrow activities inspired by the book "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" - by Linda Williams & illustrated by Megan Lloyd

The Scarecrow unit features activities that are clearly written, easy to use, and need limited amounts of preparation. Each activity has clear objectives and are strategically linked to the Common Core Standards.

Unit includes:

Literacy Activities:
The Little Old Lady: Story Elements/Sequencing
The Scarecrow: Using Metacognition
Yummy Pumpkins: Word Substitution
Spin a Scarecrow: Blending Onset and Rime
The Sound Maze: Identifying Initial Sounds
Catching Crows: Identifying Letters
Scarecrow Rhymes: Matching Rhyming Pictures
Find the Crow: Writing Capital Letters
Scarecrow Sounds: Identifying Initial Sounds


Math Activities

Scare-A-Crow: Creating a Picture Graph and Recording Data
The Scarecrow: Using Pattern Blocks to Make a Larger Shape
Scarecrow Scare: Comparing Numbers
Scarecrows Count: Counting Forward
Counting Crows: Counting Cardinality
Team Scarecrow: Comparing Groups

Art Projects
Pattern Block Scarecrow
My Shape Scarecrow

Kitchen
Scarecrow Snack
Scarecrow Supper

Writing
Scarecrow Word Wall
If I Were a Scarecrow
How to Scare Crows
Label-It Scarecrow
Classroom Book: My Scarecrow

Guided Reading Books
The Scarecrow

Songs/Fingerplays
The Scarecrow
Little Scarecrow
How Scary Can You Be?
Scarecrow Turn Around
Dingle Dangle Scarecrow


Apple Unit Newly Updated

Our Apple Thematic Cross-Curricular Unit has been updated! It includes an updated look on one game, a new game, new apple songs, a new "photo" word wall. 




Contents Include:

Shared Reading Lessons:
And Apple is its Name Oh: Enjoying Songs & Poetry
Way Up High in the Apple Tree: Enjoying Songs & Poetry
Yummy Apples: Word Substitution

Literacy Activities
ABC Apple Orchard: Identifying Alphabet Letters
Apple Tree Rhymes: Producing Rhyming Words
Eating Apples: Identifying Beginning Sounds
Color Word Worms: Matching and Writing Color Words
ABC Apple Trace: Tracing Alphabet Letters

Math Activities
Willy the Wandering Worm: Identifying Numbers
Apple Number Memory: Matching Numbers
Bobbing For Apples: Working with 5-Frames
Math Journal Sticker: Draw an Apple Story

Writing
Apple Wordwall (Realistic Pictures)
Apple Parts: Labeling Activity
The Way I Like Apples
Johnny Appleseed
Aa Handwriting Sheet

Guided Reading Books
I like Apples
Apples Guided Reading Supports

Science
Apple Taste Test: Making Comparisons & Recording Data
Apple Life Cycle: Portfolio Sample

Art Projects
Apple Tree Art
Apple Mosaic

Songs/Fingerplays
Eating Apples (Be careful, this one will not leave your brain)
Five Little Apples
Have You Ever Seen An Apple
The Apple Tree
Apples
Applesauce



Using Thematic Units


Taking a thematic approach to the teaching of young children allows students to be more confident, better motivated, and more anxiously engaged. Above all, it allows instruction to be more natural, less fragmented, child centered, and academic skills developed more quickly as they are connected to topics.

Some of our Thematic Unit offerings

Today we were talking about spiders. After reading a spider book and taking some key ideas from the book and writing them on stickies for our big idea chart, one of my students said “I think we should make a spider using paper. We will need to make two body parts and eight legs. Then I am going to put 8 eyes, but everyone can choose their own number for eyes like 0,2,4 or 6. You can get black paper, but we will need other colors too.”

Now, little did he know, that particular activity was exactly what I had planned for center time. But, what a great opportunity to make the students active participants in their own learning. “Great idea!” I said. Let’s make a list of supplies that I can gather at recess. So together, the students and I listed the supplies. The activity was now theirs and they were excited to do it.

This is but one example of how thematic instruction benefits young learners. If you are are looking for some great thematic units, that are a perfect fit for developmentally appropriate teaching, you will want to check out our thematic unit packets. Each unit is packed with activities and learning. Here is an example of the Spider Unit.




Shared Reading Activities
I’M A SPIDER: Building Metacognition Skills

Scripted Literacy Activities:
Spider Soup: Identifying Alphabet Letters
The Sneaky Spider: Producing Rhyming Words
Home Sweet Web: Matching Alphabet Letters
Spider Walk: Beginning Sounds
Web Treasures: Sorting Objects into Categories

Independent Language Arts Activities
Category Sort: Identifying Word Meanings & Nuances
Spin a Web: ABC Order

Scripted Math Activities:
The Hungry Spiders: Identifying Numbers
Spider Shapes: Identifying Shapes

Independent Math Activities
Spider Frames: Counting and Cardinality
Spider Legs: Decomposing Numbers
Fill The Web: Ten Frame Hunt

Writing Prompts/Word Wall
Spider Word Wall
Writing Prompts:
Eensy Wensy Spider
Do I Like Spiders?


Guided Reading Books
Are You a Spider? Level A
Are You a Spider? Level C

Kitchen
Spider Cookie


Science
The Arachnid (Science Journal Labels)
Spider Facts
Sticky Spiders

Art Projects
Glitter Spider Web
Spider Construct
Spider Hat

Songs
Spin, Spin, Spin a Web
A Spider Song

Ten Little Spiders



Ocean's of Fun





Students love to study the wonders of the ocean and well, so do I! That is why we developed three Thematic Units that use that natural curiosity and love of the sea to practice important early learning skills! Check out these great early learning units, you will not be disappointed! 
All activities are researched based and strategically linked to standards. 







Kindergarten Has A Fairy Tale Ending

I have ended the kindergarten year many different ways, but probably my most favorite is to end the year with fairy tales. Besides being a lot of fun, fairy tales are filled with great examples of bravery, persistence, problem solving, ways to react to adversity, and much much more! We then list what we have learned from fairy tales to help us find our "Happily Ever Afters."



We sell a great unit filled with fun and learning that is, as all of our units are, strategically linked to the Common Core Standards.


Dinosaurs at Kindergarten

We are digging for dinosaurs in our kindergarten classroom! Our playhouse has turned into a dinosaur museum and our science center has become a paleontologist dinosaur dig. If you want to see more dinosaur activities that we are doing in our classroom, click here!

Today we studied illustrations of dinosaurs by researching books that have been written by experts. Then we created our own illustrations that will accompany our "research paper" on dinosaurs that we will write tomorrow.

If you are looking to add some dinosaur fun to your classroom, check out this cross-curricular thematic unit that is strategically linked to the common core standards. Check out all of our dinosaur projects available below, or at our Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

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Plant Investigations Thematic Unit

Plant Investigations Thematic Unit

Most states have a science core standard about the living environment in which we live. Teaching the life cycle of a plant using hands-on plants themselves is a great way to meet the standard in a fun way. One of my favorite things is to fill my sensory table with potting soil with a few plants the students can dig out - and carefully view the parts of a plant. Kids love feeling like real scientists as they take their magnifying classes to find all of the plant parts. I also have a bowl of seeds the students can plant and water in the same soil. It is amazing by the end of a week or two, a lovely flower garden begins to grow!

The Ocean: Teach Thematically!




Whether you live near the ocean or not, your students will love learning about it! The ocean is full of many wonders. With books, pictures, and/or hands-on artifacts you can grab your students attention and interest.

As your students investigate the ocean materials, you can play math and reading ocean-related games. Use the theme to develop writing skills. Read books,  fiction, non fiction, and guided readers, to learn more about the ocean as well as to practice reading. Sing songs, design a fish, and make a wave bottle to round out this unit.

The ocean and all that is in it will fascinate your students! For games, directions and other materials, check out our Ocean Thematic Unit: Strategically linked to Common Core Standards.