Are you a childcare provider or parent providing Pre-K learning experiences, who is looking to set up your own theme based learning calendar for the year? You are in the right spot!
Below you will find tons of support to help you create your own calendar-including a free copy of my editable 2020 calendar template to help you get your planning off to a great start!
Why I love themed based learning
I truly believe that using a thematic curriculum allows young children to make deep learning connections. Learning is an integrated process and thematic units support how the brain works. Theme based units allow children to benefit from connections made across the lesson plans. Check out Early Childhood news for a great article on this topic.
Thematic units serve as a jumping off point to expose children to a variety of new topics, and concepts. Using a theme as a base for your curriculum also makes it easier for you to pick and choose a variety of activities that will work well for multiple age groups, or children at different learning stages.
2020 Pacing Calendar
Each year I update the Pre-K Printable Fun Pacing Calendar on our site. To save you time setting up your own calendar, you can download your own free copy of our 2020 pacing calendar, as well as a blank editable copy that is ready for you to fill out at the bottom of this post!
To make it easier for our readers to plan their lessons, you will notice each of our suggested themes align with the free lesson planning pages on our site. On these pages, our readers can find a free sample lesson plan, and supplemental activities that support the development of your Preschool aged students in a variety of key learning areas such as: cognitive, social, physical development, and creativity.
These pages also contain Pre-K Printable Fun Products related to each theme, book recommendations, and material suggestions to help make it easier for you to set learning spaces in your environment.
before you start scheduling
Before you start scheduling your themes, it's helpful to cross out the weeks on your calendar where you are on vacation or closed.
After that, you'll need to determine how often you plan on rotating your themes. The most popular options are monthly, every two weeks, or weekly.
Remember this is just a jumping off point. After you choose a rotation, you may find that it needs to be adjusted. When I first started providing childcare, I noticed many programs were using a "Monthly" Theme unit.
This made sense to me! I would only have to "rotate" items every 30-days.. What a breeze! Unfortunately, 2 weeks into my second month I realized that a month long theme rotation was far too long and boring for me (and my kiddos).
I felt like I was having to scrounge for weeks of related crafts, and activities. Ultimately I ended up deciding that a weekly theme, where I could fit in more variety was a better fit for me and my program.
tips on picking your Themes
Now that you know how many themes you'll need to plan for the year, let's talk about what to consider when choosing specific themes.
Whenever possible, choose themes that are based on the interests of your students, or subjects they are familiar with. Think about the questions they've been asking you, or what has their interest.
Let nature be your guide! Planning your themes around the seasons makes learning more concrete. Children will be able to experience falling leaves in fall, and build snowmen in the winter!
According to Piaget, children don't start understanding abstract concepts until sometime after 11. Therefore, it's best to choose concrete themes that will allow young children to have meaningful learning experiences.
Meaningful learning allows young children to link their own experiences to new concepts, and ultimately allows them to begin to have a better sense of their world.
Although it can be done, planning a snow based learning experience for your program in Los Angeles, will not be as effective of a learning experience as it would be for a program in Minneapolis.
Base your themes around the monthly rhythms in your own home, and in your community. If you participate in the cabbage festival in your town each year, plan a gardening or vegetable unit to align with the week of the festival. Then, when your student attends the festival, they will be able to more effectively connect the concepts they've been learning about in your program with their experience of attending the festival.
If you celebrate Holidays, they are a great jumping off point! They will provide you with an instant "Theme" week.
pencil in your themes
Although our calendar is already prepped and ready for you to use, you can also use a blank calendar, or even create your own free website to document and preserve your ideas for your future years.
download your free template
Need more help planning?
What can I help you find?
Get a year of free sample lesson plans for preschool!