Question Detail

Planning thematic units

Apr 20, 2013 8:38pm

When one is planning a thematic unit, is it necessary for each activity to fit the theme? I'm involved in planning a summer camp which includes academic tutoring and themed activities. There are three separate themes that last for two weeks each. The first theme is "Who is your hero?" It is an easy fit to plan themed art, writing, music, reading, and guest speakers. Do our field trips have to fit into the theme? Do outdoor play activities have to fit into the theme?

How much does one 'stretch' to make an activity fit? For example, we have several activities planned around the question "Are athletes heroes?" We will then go on a field trip to Centennial Olympic Park, which is an easy theme fit with Olympic history. Our other field trip is to Stars and Strikes for bowling and arcade games. Do we need to call that a 'hero party' or just go have fun and not worry about fitting everything into themes? If we have a good activity in mind that doesn't fit a theme, can we still use it?

  • Arts / English Language Arts / Math / Physical Education / Science / Social Studies / Technology
  • Pre K-8
  • Planning


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    • Apr 22, 2013 7:43pm

      I agree with Eric, that the theme can be more broad which would allow different interpretations. For example, in 7th grade, we have created themes this year around perseverance, the importance of kindness, and tolerance. If you focus on heroic qualities instead of "Who is your hero?" it's not a stretch at all to include athletes. As for the field trips, the question is whether or not all activities have to be standards-based or just themed based. If you're focusing on academic standards in addition to theme, you may have a more difficult time incorporating some of the activities. If the camp doesn't have to be aligned to standards, you can certainly deviate. It's really all about the guiding principles of the camp. Do parents and camp directors expect all activities to align to academics or are the fun activities a part of the camp experience? That would determine what you can stretch. Let me know more about the camp and I'd be happy to share my thoughts.