Research into brain functioning and psychology both show that learning is a process of integration. Theme-based teaching effectively promotes learning by integrating curriculum areas around a topic. Widely-used as a teaching method in the US, it helps students experience an almost unlimited variety of amazing real-life topics, which makes learning much more fun, engaging and interconnected.
What is theme-based learning at ELG Programs?
Theme-based learning is a key feature of ELG’s Programs. Program-wide themes allow individuals to learn within a meaningful context, through different activities linked together around a common theme.
At ELG, we use themes to build on interests because they provide a way to teach a range of content by connecting curriculum areas (e.g., literacy, math, science, art, music) around a topic.
Theme topics run through everything that happens in our Programs, which results in greater participation, engagement and learning!
This month, our Programs theme is The Human Senses.
Humans’ brains work as a dense network of pathways that import and put together the information we receive through our five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Engaging all five senses during learning makes information more meaningful for children. Especially for young children who are still developing their sensory processing skills, sensory learning helps to foster concentration, creativity and learning, as well as communication and social skills.
In our Programs, we also support our children’s sensory learning and development through multisensory room settings and fun activities. For example, by:
Doing some creative cut-and-paste activities to decorate our classrooms and halls.
Making paper cup phones with peers and saying “Hello”.
Thematic morning exercises: Warming-up your body through music.
Fun cooking: Today’s special offering – popcorn chicken!
Sensory crafting: Pack a rainbow in your bottle.
How can you promote your child’s learning and development at home using their five senses?
Let’s learn some useful tips from ELG’s Occupational Therapist, Jojo Liang.
Post inspirational quotes in big words: This is a good way to promote and model important positive expressions that can inspire young learners to persist and work hard.
Use colorful stimuli: Different colors are known to convey certain messages and activate associated responses. For example, red is usually used to promote attention, while blue helps people to calm down and feel peaceful. Yellow can encourage mental activity and prevent boredom.
Use pictures to promote memory: When we want to extract something from our memory, pictures or images usually come to mind. Therefore, using pictures can make it easier for people to learn and remember new concepts.
Talk in a positive tone: Praising your child often or using a happy voice when speaking can significantly encourage children’s participation, as well as build their confidence and self-esteem.
Incorporate music: Along with reducing background noise, having some music which is appropriate for learning can enhance the development of cognitive abilities, memory, language, and attention.
Scents: Smell has the strongest and most direct influence on our brain functioning. There are several scents that promote learning, such as rosemary, lavender and peppermint. These can be used in children’s learning areas both at home and school.
Cook together: Making and tasting dishes is a great way to practice life skills and become more independent. Furthermore, this also associates a physical feeling with a certain taste, helping to boost children’s memory and ability to retain information. If cooking activities are organized within a group, children can also learn to get along with others and practice their social and communication skills.
Set an ideal temperature: A good learning area should be neither too hot nor too cold. Research has shown that the optimal temperature for students to learn is 72°F (22.2°C).
Finger painting games: This is not merely a fun activity, it also helps children calm their mind and body. Also used as a technique in occupational therapy, it further benefits your child’s fine motor skills and cognitive development.
Activities with different textures: Paper, sand, slime, water, rice, shaving cream, and other materials with different textures can help children integrate tactile stimuli, become less sensitive to tactile stimuli and develop their self-regulation abilities.