Use a Theme Table for Preschool Learning

theme table for learning

Some days running a home daycare with multiple ages can be very busy.  It can be challenging to provide the older children with the extended exploratory play opportunities and extended information they are seeking on various subjects when you also have a group of toddlers. Providing a theme table is one way that helps me find a good balance for a variety of ages.

Our theme table changes when our group is in the middle of exploring a specific topic.  It often starts with some inquiring questions from the children; then extends to us heading to the library to borrow some books on the subject.  If the interests in the subject holds I’ll dig around my daycare supplies and put together a theme table for the children to visit at their own pace.  Three year olds seem to love theme tables.

IMG_2429-resizedI might decorate the table if I have the right materials.  I always include books, toys and hands-on objects to touch and explore. This theme table is all about outer space and we made a simple science star viewing tube that I added to the table.

IMG_2430-resizedMy little toddlers will clear the table in seconds but after we straighten it again and again, they eventually lose interest.  A strategically placed shelf, high up but not too high up would make a great theme table as well if you have lots of toddlers.

Sometimes a holiday will be coming up and I’ll set up a theme table to launch interest in the event. All holidays are relatively new to preschoolers and they enjoy learning about the traditions in their lives.

IMG_2654-resizedI have a small shelf above the theme table where I hang little decorations.  Up there I also put objects, games or delicate pop-up books that I want to show the children at circle time.  It’s a safe place (because they can’t reach that high) and it helps me remember to share it with the group.

IMG_2656-resizedSnowman theme table.  The children loved playing with the snowman puppet and acting out the stories we read together.

IMG_2589-resizedHere is an example of a very simple Spring time theme table that only took a few minutes to pull together. I will add to it as the days pass.  Sometimes the children will collect items from outside (a leaf or a flower) or we will make a craft that applies to the theme and decorate the table. The children loved playing with the dolls and wearing the boots in their own indoor pretend play.

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Happy learning everyone!

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