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Themes As 'starting Points'


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In her book, 'Planning for the Foundation Stage', Penny Tassoni states that 'themes should reflect children's experiences, particularly around objects that they can see and touch'. I am overhauling my planning and read these ideas with interest. She advocates that the danger of using a concept such as 'opposites' is that children may not make the connection between the various planned activities; themes planned around experiences and objects, i.e. more 'concrete' and real are more likely to have relevance for children.

So, I am looking for simple topics to be used only as starting points. After Easter I will have the topic of 'Wheels'; over the next two years I will also included 'Me', 'Toys', 'Bags', 'Seeds', 'Shells' and 'Boxes'.

I'd be interested to know what topics/themes others use. :o

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How i choose my topics is in september i do a me topic to help us get t know the children and their interest then from that point the topics relate to the childrens intresest. We monitor this my both my TA and myself have a little note pad in our pocket, in this we write/ scribble notes/ words about what the children are playing/ doing/ talking about and what we have taken pictures off (the book is used only for child initiated stuff)


example page from my book:

Wed 16th march

** using table as puppet theatre

police/ robbers

science experiments - washing up liquid

looking at Tiger and Holly book

making little books

out- assult courses/ playgrounds

dinosaur world

motorbike person


At the end of the day we sit down for 5 minutes and i scribe onto a sheet what we have observed.

If something stands out i add it too my planning for the week e.g. assult courses above lead to apparatus when had use of the hall/ mini books lead to more plain paper being added to writing area.

but if something recures lots or they keep coming back to it we do a topic on it/ relate the adult focus activities to it/ add relevant resources and the topic can last 1-6 weeks depends where the children take it. So i don't decide the topic for the term i use the observations of what the children are doing/ playing to decide on the topic. i also pick and choose as you can't do everything and sometimes hold things if it is not an appropriate time to do it. I don't know if this is the right way to do it but i have found the engagement of the children to be better. Now sometimes it doesn't work, the children were obsessed with playing vets/pet so we did a topic on it and they were not interested one bit, it was like drawing blood from a stone so we gave up on it. My TA was worried that we wouldn't cover traditional topics because the children wouldn't show an interests but what do you know just before we broke up for easter two girls started makng easter eggs! one boy asked could we grow something in the flower bed as the plants looked dead and another found a spider so theres the traditional growth, minibeasts and easter themes!

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We have very loose themes of autumn, winter, spring and summer and take our lead from the world around us for adult-led activities, these are balanced with children's interests as and when they occur these might be spontaneously enhanced or involve planning to enhance children's interests/experiences.



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We are the same as Deb, with an odd festival thrown in as well where appropriate.


We have just had a parent query what theme are we doing after 1/2 term, she is back with us from leaving with her 1st child 4 years ago when we had very rigid themes. Having told her about moving along with children's interests, we could tell she wasn't really that impressed :o !

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we moved away from themes a few years ago, but from our QIA assessment we need to find a way to include parents more in our planning process :o so are going back to broad topics to give them a starting point as i'm not sure they're going to understand themes/commitments, how does anyone else get their parents involved in having input on the planning sheets, I thought id put up a large sheet of paper in the cloakroom, with our mid term topic (Animals), prompt a few parents that we know have farms or an animal connection ie vetinary nurse to add a stick it note to sheet and hopefully this will encourage other parents/carers to add to it..........but any ideas would be most welcome ...thanks

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