Saturday, July 5, 2014

School theme ideas

What are some things that would be good themes for an elementary school semester?
Here are some ideas with brief explanations of related activities and sub-themes.

1. Myths/folklore
Study a collection of mythical stories from around the world. Related activities could involve:

  • learning about the place where (geography) and time when (history) each story originated.
  • For many, they will be attempted explanations for natural phenomena so we can compare against the modern understanding.
  • writing our own mythical stories in parallel with modern scientific explanations for the phenomenon they attempt to explain
  • Crafts illustrating the stories or location from which they originated
  • Perform some of the myths
  • Underlying this would be a lot of language activities around reading, performing, discussing, and comparing the stories.

Possible subthemes: stories from a particular place (especially Thailand), ancient stories

2. World religions
Introduction to the major global faiths

  • learning about the place where (geography) and time when (history) originated.
  • What are their major stories?
  • What are their major messages with respect to morality?
  • How are they similar? How are they different
  • how have the interacted with each other: conflict/exchanges of ideas/absorbption
  • do they change over time and how?
3. Brain and learning
4. Linguistics
5. Investments: overall project to build an investment portfolio and see how it performs
6. The financial system
7. Making instruments (scientific or musical)


  1. Some of the ones I remember from elementary school were Medieval Times (geography, history, and games like chess were introduced/used, you could also incorporate into math and science by learning about some of the discoveries & misconceptions from the time period); Space Exploration (we learned about working in teams, different professions/specialties required on the team, astronomy, space environment...); Danny Champion of the World (I don't think this was a whole quarter, but a lot of activities were built around the book including building our own caravan in class).

  2. Variations from above: pick a particular error of time (I remember also learning about Japanese internment camps and re-enacting one of the famous trials), pick another book to build your them (phantom tollbooth would be good...or flatland), pick another environment or ecosystem (the rainforest, the desert, under water)