Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Have a Question...

So today was an exciting crazy day.  It snowed!  Actually it's still snowing, see?

I didn't have time to change my fall decorations before the season changed, apparently!

Ok, now I have a question.

With the Common Core, it's really being stressed that we integrate the subjects we teach.  We need to use social studies/science in reading and writing and vice versa.  I was struggling a tad with this.

Then...lightbulb!  After reading all of your wonderful, wonderful blogs, I realized that so many of you do this by having theme weeks (if there is a different term for that, let me know).   I love how you do a "bat week" before Halloween or an "apple week" around Johnny Appleseed's birthday.  I want to try this!  

How does it all work??  I've never been in a classroom that has done theme weeks before.  What kinds of activities do you do?  Where do you get your materials?  Is every week a theme week?

My goal is to get this up and running before Christmas.  I am hoping that it will keep me more organized and give me some direction with my teaching.  Sometimes I feel as though I am grasping for ideas at the last minute.  I am also hoping this is something I will be able to carry over from year to year.  I am looking to make learning more fun (and meaningful) for my students!

I'm off to explore some more blogs to research this.  Do you do this in your classroom?  Let me know how it works or if you can direct me towards some teachers who do!  Thank you, thank you!

P.S. ~ I hit 1000 followers - yay!  Expect something soon... 


  1. Hi Sara~
    The longer I teach, the more I see things come back that I did in the old days when I first started teaching in 1986!
    There is no right or wrong way to do a theme, but I would start with common core. Look at what you need to teach in Science and Social Studies. Then gather books, videos, Brain Pop, Jr., and assorted other materials that are related. Check Pinterest, Pro Teacher and all the teacher blogs too. If you have a story in your basal that ties in use that as well. Look for your Reading and Languauge Arts Common Core requirements too. Maybe compare/contrast would work well, or cause & effect. Create a writing assignment that fits well either for expository or narrative. Discuss author's purpose and fiction vs nonfiction, reality and fantasy, text features of non fiction, etc...
    Once I get everything gathered together, I start to type up a cross curricular lesson plan organizing everything in a cohesive manner that fosters learning and student engagement.
    Hope that helps. I teach 2nd grade. If you want to email me, find me at or
    Good luck!

  2. I remember LEARNING in themes. When I was in 2nd grade (as a student) I remember doing LAND/SPACE/AIR for months! It was always so much fun. Now I feel like it's the best way to go (imagine that!). Maybe I should dust off some of those theme binders up on the shelf of our teacher work room and align them to common core. You know, in my spare time. Good luck with your theme planning. Keep us posted! =)

    Emily @ Second Grade Silliness 

  3. I love doing themes & it's the perfect way to get all the Sci/SS stuff integrated when there is such a push for meeting the ELA, Rdg, and Math standards. I take a theme (which is usually dictated by the season or a Sci/SS standard) and start looking for ways to integrate across the curriculum. For instance, we are doing Lewis & Clark and Sacagawea this week. So, we are identifying non-fiction text features in our stories, retelling & comparing fiction to non. In math, we had to pack a "suitcase" and figure out how many items we needed to take for our long Voyage of Discovery. We added, subtracted, and counted to 120 (our max of things to take because of our standard), etc... I hope this helps. I teach 1st, but I'm more than welcome to help anytime! Also, like Debbie said above - Pinterest is a goldmine!

    Good luck!
    First Grade Fairytales

  4. I love, love, love teaching with themes!! We don't have a reading/language arts or math basal/curriculum, so we are able to use the ccss and make our own lessons and activities that go along with the themes we're doing. It makes it so easy to get in S.S. and science. Since I'm in Kindergarten, I probably wouldn't be much help in implementing it in 2nd, but I'll be on the look out for some good ideas just because I know you would love it!!

  5. I set aside a portion of the day to work on the theme of the week. I usually come up with my own stuff or find it on Pintrest. Some activities have to be repeated because kids hear about it from old siblings and can't wait to do it, too! I love having a theme that the kids can research and bring material from home in to share...They love to bring in books and toys that have things to do with what we are studying.
    Owl Things First!

  6. I used to teach in themes before my district changed to following a program. I HATE following a program by the way... Anyhoo..
    Think main Idea and supporting details. I used to organize my units into monthly big ideas with weekly supporting themes. For example, November's Big Idea was Thankfulness, December was on Holidays of the World, January was on Winter changes....etc. I taught Kindergarten at the time. If I were to do it again in my second grade classroom, I would probably choose some more grade appropriate themes, such as character traits which we could study different texts where characters displayed those traits, or I would just break down my science curriculum, and we would do units on matter, soils, nutrition, space, fossils etc... Good Luck!

  7. Hey Sara!
    I love your post because I've wondered the same thing. I'm in Texas so we don't do Common Core but we still have our standards which are very similar. I used to teach Kinder and feel like it's easier and more appropriate to do themes in kinder. I'm in second now, and love it...but have no idea where to start with integrating science and social studies. I would love to do that but feel like I would be starting from scratch. I feel like the worst teacher when it comes to S.S. especially because it's the first thing that goes if I am short on time.

    I'd love to see what you come up with. I do like the idea of incorporating themes too, it would be so efficient for covering standards! Good luck!

    Teachin Little Texans

  8. Hi Sara,
    Congrats on 1000 followers! Great accomplishment! I'm being trained on the common core right now - FINALLY here in CA. We are suppose to implement it next year. :o)
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  9. Hey Sara-

    I love teaching in themes and it helps my students in so many ways. I normally spend 1-2 weeks on a given theme and incorporate the concepts that I am teaching into the given theme. For example when I had my bat week my curriculum had us writing informative texts, reading non fiction books and working on a certain phonetic sound. I taught these concepts through teaching about bats. { I hope that makes sense. } I gathered a bunch of bat books, and created a packet to go along with what we were studying. The students were so excited to write about bats because we were learning all about them and they loved reading books about them, too.

    I also do what Debbie does and compile Brain Pop Jr. videos, Reading A-Z books, Scholastic readers, youtube videos, songs and books and crafts to help my unit.

    You can read some of my blog posts and look at my visual plans to get a better idea of what I do. If you have have any questions, please feel free to email me!!

    A Day in First Grade

  10. I know this is 1st grade, but here are some theme ideas :)

    I like to think first of the science or social studies topic, then look for resources, and then see what language arts/math standards can also be taught with those resources.

    With my last reading series, though, I picked either a science or social studies topic that sort of related to the story, so that way works, too.

    I would probably transition to thematic learning bit by bit. Maybe alternate weeks. It takes time to put the units together, but I love it when it's done! :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad


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