Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education
A thematic unit is a zenith of all areas of early childhood development explicitly geared around a central topic. In most early childhood centres activities and based on a theme and is an interesting way to engage students in learning. Moreover, a thematic unit is one in which instruction is based on a central topic in an integrated approach across subjects in the curriculum.
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A thematic unit is beneficial to both teachers and students in that it employs students’ interest, allow them to make connections with the real world, incorporates other subject areas and life experiences.
A chosen thematic topic for three (3) years old children is animals. This topic was chosen because although some children may interact with some of these animals in everyday life through play they need to become knowledgeable about sounds common animals make, identify some animals along with their family names (parents and baby name), and some products we get from (farm) animal.
Also, because children have an innate interest in animals whether they have animals at home or not in which they will bring to life previous experiences through different activities. Children will develop fine motor skills and enhance their cognitive, physical, and creative development.
The topic is age-appropriate because the theme will involve numerous skills and hands-on activities such as milking the cow, farm animal playdough exploration, manipulation through puzzles, matching farm animals, having students bring a stuffed animal to talk about a certain animal during circle time, colour pages based on theme during art and craft, role-play, dramatic play, music and motor skills, etc. These will be tailored for this age group of different learning abilities.
Some children have pets at home and are not aware of why each may have a different skin covering, e.g. some scaly or furry as well as their contrasting lifestyle. This unit will make children aware of such. Similarly, thoughtfully plan field trip to a real farm or zoo will augment students understanding. This would be instrumental in helping children to understand the difference between farm animals and zoo animals.
According to paediatrician Dr. Harvey Markovitch, “interacting with animals is enormously excellent for children”. The theme animal is individually inappropriate in that students will get a better understanding about feeding and the needs of animals. Children at the age of three can be thought how to take care of an animal. Even at this tender young age animals can boost the social skills and self-esteem of children.
They will boost their attendance in early childhood centres with fewer children being hesitant in going to day-care/preschool. The bond children build up with animals helps in developing a sense of respect; conquer fears by becoming less fearful of animals, show appreciation for nature and empathy.
At the conclusion of the unit some children may ask their parents for a pet, hence, what they learn from the lesson will help them to be good caretakers. Experiences with animals’ help children become curious and appreciative of living beings and are therefore a trait children can surely gain from.
Socio-culturally the theme animals’, for children with the absence of animals in the home environment due to personal, religious or cultural reasons may be able to make a connection with the wider world, enlighten parents about farm animals or a particular animal. In the course of this unit via dramatic play, some children’s social attitude will be impacted positively.
A chosen thematic topic for eight (8) years old children is transportation. This topic was chosen because transportation is a part of children’s everyday life as they interact with them through play, as they commute to and from home whether by foot or riding, or simply vacationing in another country. Also, because children have an innate interest in it in which they will bring to life previous experiences through different activities. Their general knowledge and language growth will be engorged during this unit.
Whether it is math (the length of a car), English (words used to describe a car or a verb to talk about travelling), Art (creating road signs, creating or drawing of a type of transport) or Science (what kind of fuel a car uses) students will approach learning with eagerness and curiosity.
This unit is age appropriate because children at this age will be ready to learn about safety practices when using different forms of transportation, learn about traffic signs, how transportation has evolved, identify some workers in the transportation sector. These would be cemented by engaging in field trips to the different transportation center, dramatic play, music, watching videos, reading stories, learning vocabulary associated with transportation and inviting a police officer to talk to students about road safety tip and practices when commuting.
They will develop skills in problem-solving related to transportation when riding public transportation; if they miss the bus or caught the wrong bus. All these will be done to strengthen the curriculum taking into consideration the varying learning needs and abilities of students (including students with disabilities). To foster inclusion students can be paired with different students where they will share their inimitable perspective and relay how the unit apply or relate to them.
This unit on transportation will be individually appropriate because it will allow students to make wise choices when traveling by adhering to safety practices and rules learned to protect themselves thereby reducing the risk of accidents. They will be able to apply decision-making skills and self-management skills in this aspect. Through the integrated approach, students’ retention will increase due to closely related content and making connection to the real world which leads to elevated proficiency in content standards.
This unit will appeal to diverse students of dissimilar background through the linking of content to assessment with students’ ancestral and current cultures. Socio-culturally students will gain an understanding of how some country try to minimize the negative impacts transportation have on a country such as an increase in pollution. Through life skill, students suggest ways they can help curb these effects to preserve the environment. On the other hand, in some cultures, there are certain areas where persons are restricted from using motor vehicles.
- Kostelnik, M. J., Soderman, A. K., Whiren, A. P., ; Rupiper, M. L. (2015). Developmentally appropriate curriculum. Boston, MA: Pearson.
- http://www.giantleapchildcare.co.uk/glc-blog/post/11/the-benefits-of-animals-for-children.html retrieved on 16/07/2018
- https://www.petsintheclassroom.org/benefits-of-classroom-animals/ retrieved on 16/07/2018
- file:///C:/Users/Alex/Downloads/animals-07-00045.pdf retrieved on 16/07/2018