Using Thematic Units For Instruction

Thematic or theme units are great for helping teachers organize their day and lesson plans. When used to plan for lessons and activities across the day, it immerses students in the vocabulary and concepts.


Thematic units can be for a particular topic or seasonal. Regardless of the theme, these units make lesson planning so much easier!!

To introduce the theme unit, we begin by going over the vocabulary cards for that week. We go over the cards one by one so I can see what students already know about the vocabulary and concepts. As we introduce each word, I hang it on our while board. Here is an example from our apple & pumpkins thematic unit.


During morning meeting, we use these words when we make up sentences for our sight word of the week. We also use this theme for our daily mixed up sentence. For example, our mixed up sentence for this theme may be, "Pumpkins grow on vines." or "Pumpkins do not grow on trees."

During vocabulary or group writing, we work on coming up with sentences for each vocabulary word. This is a great way to instruct in mixed level groupings. Click HERE to read more about instruction in mixed level groups.



Each theme comes with a full group book that we read during one of our reading groups. Each book comes with visuals to match each of the pages in the book. This helps students remain engaged in the activity and adds an interactive component.

After the whole group reading, we work on the student copies. For students who are at the emergent level, we use the level 1 books. With level 1 books we work on one to one correspondence by pointing to each word as we read. We incorporate listening comprehension by coloring the pictures, too. Students have to listen to find out how to color the picture. For example, "Color the apples red."




For students who are reading to read and fill in missing words, we use level 2 books. Students have to cut and paste or write the missing word. This is a great way to teach and reinforce looking at pictures for cues.




During language groups, we reinforce the vocabulary concepts using pictures and photos of the vocabulary. This helps students develop a better understanding and flexibility. It teaches students that an item can look different, but still be the same thing.



We use the math resources in the theme unit during math centers and task boxes.




Put research into practice with write the room and count the room activities. There are 2 levels of recording sheets so all of my students are able to participate.



We supplement this thematic unit with books our reading comprehension books and other picture books on our theme. Click on the pictures for more details.






We also use our Fall interactive books in guided reading centers, read to self and task boxes.




Here is a look at some of the other activities we do during this unit...








As you can see, using thematic units helps to organize and focus your lessons and instructional groups. Immersing my students in the vocabulary and concepts has greatly benefited their learning!

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Thematic or theme units are great for helping teachers organize their day and lesson plans. When used to plan for lessons and activities across the day, it immerses students in the vocabulary and concepts.



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