A Thematic Approach to Toddler, Preschool and Pre-K education is one where themes guide the planning and activities of the day, month or year. Beacon Center includes monthly themes to guide daily activities. The themes can range from “Famous Artists and Composers” to “Water Cycle” to “How Things Change”. The theme is the guide and the activities are extrapolated going in a variety of directions to meet the learning goals for each child.
An activity using the theme of “How things change” could look like this:
Making pancakes is a fun, interesting and delicious way to see change. A conversation would be had about the different ingredients needed to make pancakes and the children would use their senses to determine the similarities and differences in the ingredients. The children would follow the recipe, measure ingredients, and mix the batter. During the process, the children would answer questions like,
- is ½ a tablespoon of flour the same as ½ a cup of flour,
- or if only a cup of flour is added to the recipe instead of 2 cups, would it make a difference,
- or have the ingredients changed now that they are mixed together,
- what was the first change,
- what will milk do to the dry ingredients? What would happen if we use too much?
- and what would happen to the batter when placed on a heated vs. an unheated griddle? Greased vs. ungreased?
- what would happen if we add food coloring or juicy blueberries?
“How things change” was the starting point for this activity and Language Arts, Math, Science, sharing, communicating, fine motor/gross motor skills and so much more would be learned.
Activities using the theme of “Musical Composers” could look like this:
Music is part of every day at Beacon Center and would be taken to another level through learning how music is composed. The children would be exposed to a variety of music, be it classical, world, jazz, rock, blues, or big band. Music would be dissected so the children understand rhythm, melody, etc. and how they are put together. The children would discuss how the music made them feel and would express it through movement.
The sounds of different instruments would also be explored. The children would hunt for the sounds of different instruments in the music played in class. They would use a variety of objects to make their own instruments. The children would group the instruments by size, sound, material, age, shape, or whatever distinguishing character they chose. Children could take turns being a conductor of their own “orchestra”.
Composers and their styles of music would be discussed. The children could add lyrics to classical compositions as well as create their own. The children could share their musical pieces with an audience.
Parents are always welcome to join our explorations and could share favorite music, play an instrument for the group, or provide helping hands while building instruments.
When a child reaches the preschool level (3-6 years old), the class attends a concert series geared to preschoolers, called “Sound All Around” at the Academy of Music, just a short ride away. They attend 5 concerts which introduce them to the parts of the orchestra with lots of fun audience participation.