So what is “theme”ing anyway? This is a process I have used off and on for years, both in my adult life as well as with my kids. It is a great way to get your kids to start seeing things with a bigger picture in mind.
“Theme”ing is a process where there is an overarching uniting concept to your day, week, month, school work, or, well, anything actually. For younger kids or unit study homeschool families, you often do this already. A unit study is a great example. For the month of February, the whole group studies presidents, for example. The books read deal with presidents, as well as handwriting projects, history, even science and math potentially are tied into the study of presidents.
Theme for a Day
The easiest and most fun way to apply “theme”ing is to throw in theme days every so often. It is a great way to break up monotony or to add a little spark to your week or month. I also use it a ton in the summers when we want a little uniting structure but not so much that it interferes with the feeling of a break. One of my favorites was a surprise pirate day! I pulled out a pirate map table cloth, had bandanas and eye patches in the center of the table (left over from a birthday party), made “pirate” food, had a scavenger hunt to find this week’s spelling words (nicely stashed under a big “x”), books scattered around about pirates, and an evening starting with a pirate board game and ending curled up in our pirate gear to watch a pirate themed movie. It was a totally fun day and the kids weren’t distracted by the fun. It actually helped them to be more productive!
The theme can be anything and can easily include things the kids are already working on. For example, have a plant day, a foreign country day, or a day focused on a time period. Don’t forget, Pinterest is a great place to come up with creative ideas for your themes.
Theme for a Month
Another way to use “theme”ing is to choose a theme for a month. Each month you can choose one or even several themes. For example, March could be long division month yet also gratitude month. In this example, you can have both an educational theme as well as a character theme. I actually love the character themes the most! We experienced the most growth as a family exploring these themes! This method creates a beginning and end to the idea, allowing for exploration and experimentation. The kids know that at the end of the month it will be time to move on, yet we as parents know some of it will stick.
During the month though, go all out. Anything is possible and everyone is more open to trying different things in relationship to the theme. For example, during a long division month you could have speed trials and tests, a song to learn and sing, division “war” cards games or bingo, and/or extra worksheets to go along with your regularly scheduled curriculum. For gratitude, you could have a gratitude journal for the kids to write in everyday and/or a day each week where one family member is the person of the day and everyone tells him why they are grateful for him. Konos is a great curriculum that focuses on character unit studies that could provide some great ideas as well.
Theme for a Year
I also like to have yearly themes as a way to supplement our curriculum. We usually pick a yearly theme such as classical musicians, artists, scientists, athletes, or classic books. Each one or two weeks, we would have a new focus. For example, one week would be Mozart and the next Bach. I would play a little of their music each day for them while they were working and we’d read a biography or watch a movie. Reading the bio on Wikipedia was all we could get to some weeks, but my goal was exposure and not anything particularly deeper unless they showed a deeper interest.
Not Only for the Kids
Personally, I like to take this a step further though. Let me tell you about my “theme” right now. Currently, I have chosen themes both for my year as well as for my months. My theme for the year is “Implementation and Abundance”. This year I am setting my goals, choosing educational conferences, subjects to read about, etc. around this uniting theme. I make my major decisions with this theme in mind. It clarifies where I am heading this year and keeps me focused and enhances momentum. Each of my monthly themes compliment my yearly theme. I have found this to be a great way to keep me focused and make my decision making significantly easier. It totally helps to eliminate some of the “bright shiny object syndrome!” I know I am drawn to with every new course or curriculum I find out about. I now have a way to easily choose things that follow my theme and then stash the other great ideas for later.
The thing I love the most about “theme”ing is that it is an excellent way to get all of your kids involved in studying the same thing together regardless of where they are in their set programs. Besides adding fun and interest to your homeschool days, “theme”ing is a great skill to give your kids. It is yet another high productivity, happy life skill that is just another super tool for their life toolbox.
We would love to hear about your “theme”ing adventures! Are you already using this concept? Are you going to try it soon? Share in the comments below or in the Facebook group!