Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tot School: Choosing a Theme

Tot School: Choosing a Theme | Lone Star Signers * San Antonio, Texas
As a former classroom teacher –turned- homeschool mama, I get a lot of questions about which curriculum I use and how I plan our daily lessons and activities. I personally find lesson-planning exhilarating (no, really!), but I can see how it might seem overwhelming to others.

Whenever lesson-planning comes up, I briefly explain how I pull everything together. I put a lot of time and effort into both of my girls’ activities, but sometimes, I think people walk away from my explanation thinking I just “wing it” every day. I plan on writing a Kindergarten-planning post soon, but today’s topic is all about the little ones!

I have been teaching weekly Play & Sign classes since Kate was six months old. Since my own girls attend every class I teach, I tend to update each lesson as I teach it (new books, new songs, new crafts)—it’s no fun attending (or teaching!) the same class five times!

Between my weekly Play & Sign classes and my monthly exclusive grad-only classes, I have a rotating schedule of approximately 20 themes. If you decide to do a “themed” Tot School with your own little one, your first step is to make a list of topics. (I’ll help you get started!)
1. Animals
2. Transportation
3. Weather
4. My Day
5. … (your turn!)
Now, obviously, each of those “umbrella” topics can be unpacked into more specific themes. You could easily spend a whole week just on animals that live on a farm, animals that live in a zoo, animals that live in the ocean, pets, etc.

Your transportation breakdown might look like this:
1. Cars (Trucks, Buses)
2. Trains
3. Boats
4. Airplanes
5. … (keep going!)
List all the themes you can think of, and then put that list in a safe place. (I usually take a picture of my important planning papers because I am sure to misplace them at least once. Factor in spills and toddlers, and your chance of that original list lasting a whole year is practically nil.)

At this point, you might be tempted to pull out a calendar and assign a theme to each week until kingdom come. Let me caution you to hold off—your little one may become obsessed with trains or ocean animals or snow, and you may get “stuck” in a theme for a couple of weeks. Or perhaps you travel, see a movie, visit the zoo, (etc), and that sparks a new interest for both of you. Let the topic list inspire you, but don’t let it become your master!

Pick one theme off your list and share it below! 
My next three posts will be all about helping you develop that theme into an entire week of learning. See you tomorrow!

Day 2: Finding Great Books
Day 3: Online Resources & Printables
Day 4: Use What You've Got & Put It All Together


  1. Replies
    1. I cannot wait to see what you come up with for this theme! So many possibilities. :)

  2. What a great way to break the process down, Melissa. Well done. Off to pin it.

  3. One word: W-O-W

    L, M

  4. I picked food. :) Looking forward to your class tomorrow!


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