Yes, we want to be spontaneous and base themes on the interests of the children, however, having a plan going into the rest of the year will keep you from pulling your hair out!
Take some time to sit and think about your children's interests as well as where they are developmentally with regard to skills and concepts.
You have been with them since August or September (or all year!) and know them pretty well now!
On a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle. Label the left side INTERESTS and the right side CONCEPTS/SKILLS.
What they are interested in theme-wise. What are they talking or asking questions about most? Do the LOVE castles and horses and trucks and dinosaurs and are fascinated with weather?
Based on the above, you might have a list that includes:
Just listen to their snack time conversations and their interest center time conversations!
Based on what you find, write a list of potential themes on the left side of your paper.
Now, add all seasonal, cultural or holiday specific themes that you know are coming up. Depending on the time of year you are doing this, it may include Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Valentines' Day, Dental Health Month (February!), Mother's or Father's Day, etc.
You should have a pretty good idea of what they know concept-wise.
This is where your Progress Reports will be a gold mine of information!
Can they use scissors? Can they identify their colors? Can they retell part of a story?
Now, on the right side of your list, write down the concepts or skills you want to focus more on:
Identifying specific colors, one-to-one correspondence, spatial awareness (what does under, next to, behind, mean).
You now have a list of themes and skills to plan for the next few months. You do not need to be a "slave" to this list! You may find your preschoolers are fascinated with Cats and Dogs or Babies or Caterpillars and you can always plan a theme on those during the year!
The point of this planning session now is to have a plan when you sit down after a holiday or school break to plan activities and lessons.
From here, do some brain/theme storming for the concepts, skills and themes you've identified. Click here for the articles on how to write up your themes!
This list, based on your current knowledge of your students, will inspire you for a fun balance of the year, based on the growth and development concepts, skills and interests of your preschool children.