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Tara's Toyland Home Daycare

Where Learning is Fun and Friendships Flourish



How to Plan a Curriculum

Posted by tarastoyland on 17 December, 2019 at 18:50

I love planning curriculum.  I think in college I should have gone into that as a field of study but I had no idea it was even an option. I did an independent study on why thematic teaching is the best method and developed my own theme as a college Senior. Coming up with creative ways to make all the spokes of learning connect together makes me so excited.  Often I think of a theme I want to do and start collecting items to go with it so that when I have enough I can dive into a new set of ideas.  In home daycare I will have the same kids from birth till kindergarten and I don't like to repeat themes for those kids so that means that I usually do about 10 themes a year for 3 or 4 different years before I repeat.  Sometimes I combine themes like Pirates and Under the Sea went together and Outer Space can go with Star Wars and sometimes it's a small part of a bigger theme that I concentrate on like Pets instead of just Animals. And with some groups the ages just don't work out to do a lot with a theme, right now I have 3 very young kids in the group who don't take a morning nap anymore so actual teaching is haphazard and it's more one on one with the older three as they need it.

Because I love doing curriculum plans I often will do them for other people that ask. My curriculum uses stuff almost all of us already have in our daycares and take very little prep really.  I hear of people spending hours getting things ready or printing stuff out and it just perplexes me as I never considered those things as a need for preschoolers. I might print out a dot to dot or an emergent reader but that is about it. Art is what I prep the most for really and that is only to make sure I have figured out the way to keep mess to a minimum and clean up the easiest (so having soapy washclothes ready if we are doing feet painting type of thing.) I end up retyping the same thing over and over and figured I could just make a blog post instead.

Step 1 - Decide on a theme, there are literally thousands of options. Any object can become a theme, there was a podcast on a preschool that did a whole theme on balls that lasted many months and was quite amazing with the kids analyzing the materials that the balls were made of and doing comparisons. They also did one on boxes that was very involved.

Step 2 - List the subjects you want to teach.  There are a lot of different ways people approach teaching in their own minds.  If you have infants you may want to do Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, Smell.  There's the traditional Math, Science, Social Awareness, Large Motor, Small Motor, Reading Readiness, Writing, Music, Art.  So here are some other options:**Illinois Early Learning Standards ** Benchmarks – Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Physical Development and Health, Fine Arts, Foreign Language, Social/Emotional Development **Early Childhood Centers** sensory table, art, songs/music, math, science, large motor, fine motor, hands on center, dramatic play center, block center, self help, getting along with others and self (social/emotional), books/language/literacy **Early Learning Accomplishments Profile (ELAP test)** Fine motor, Gross motor, Cognition, Language, Self-help, Social-emotional **Areas of learning ** Personal, social and emotional development; Communication, language and literacy; Mathematical development; Physical development; Creative development; Knowledge and understanding of the world ** Dispositions to Learning ** Self-regulation of attention and behavior; Effective social skills to develop a positive relationship with others; Positive attitude toward learning; Self-motivation for learning; Listening skills; Ability to set goals and develop and follow through on plans; Understanding, accepting, and following rules and routines; Finding more than one solution to a question.

Step 3 - Make a chart where you write the subjects down one side and days of week across top or a spider graph where you put the theme title/goal in the middle and spokes out to boxes for each subject.  Now it's time to fill in the boxes.

Step 4 - Look for things to teach, or come up with them on your own, that cover that theme and those things. Do not search for workbook type pages. Do not search for cookie cutter art projects. Search for open ended art things and toy/game related activities. Put those in the boxes for each subject. Some themes will be heavy on one subject more than another. That's ok, just do the next theme as one that is heavier on a different subject and by the end of the year it will even out. Pinterest is a treasure trove of neat ideas as long as you are thinking of hands on and not worksheets or heavy prep things. In these blogs I have lots of different themes as examples. If you aren't sure what preschoolers need to learn search for that.  There are lots of free trainings on that type of thing and it is literally a deep enough subject that you can spend decades learning it, but it is preschool, not rocket science, just break down any skill to the smallest bits.  Writing their name?  Well first they need to know what a line or circle is, then be able to draw those, then to recognize those as letters, than have the fine motor skills to combine them into something recognizable.  Adding and Subtracting?  Well first they need to learn what numbers are, what order they come in, what "2" looks like when you have different objects (not the written number but the quantity), how to count out objects saying one number per object, to understand that you take away and go down in numbers, or put in more you count up. It is lots of different steps for each thing but it's intuitive if you think about it.  

Step 5 - teach! I like to start each lesson with a book (or two or five) that is on a certain subject within the theme.  So if I want to work on numbers I would read books that have numbers in them.  Want to do a lesson on dogs, read books with dogs in them.  Just so the lesson relates to the books in some way.  Then do an activity from your chart.  You can do a few of them - you just read dog books, talk about the /d/ sound or how to sound out d-o-g, find the word dog in the book and keep track of how many times you see it, count out all the stuffed dogs you have, sort them by type, or color, or size, do a running game where you put a dachsund over here and another across the room in a pile and they have to run down and find the match - all that combined would take less than 20 minutes.  Then I like to finish off with an art project.  Read my blog on art for what to do with that.  With our dog example I may use plastic dogs to walk in paint and make tracks on paper.  I may use dog toys to paint with or paw print cookie cutters.  I may have them glue fur down onto a dog shape.  And there you are, a quick lesson that covers all you need, with supplies you probably already own, in a way that will make sense to the kids and they can tell their parent when they give them the dog art project that they counted dogs that day and that dog starts with the d sound and are brown or black or white.  It will all tie together in their mind and not just be random.


Categories: Preschool, Kindergarten Readiness, Themes!