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    themes for a different purpose
    By gina

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    I have taught elementary (4 through 7) for the last 14 years. I use themes so that students can NEVER say they have nothing to do! I collect pictures and posters, puzzles, small toys, etc. and use them in conjunction with a bought theme package. For example, when I decide to do a fish theme I include boxes of shells (bought at a variety of garage sales for next to nothing), books on the subject (also bought at many of the same garage sales for a tiny fraction of their original price), plus worksheets from KGR Teaching Aids theme packet. The theme packets also usually include many activity pages. I color them, or get the kids to color them, then glue them onto colored construction paper and have them laminated. I tack these to a bulletin board near where the other things are set out.
    An example of the difference between a worksheet and an activity page is a worksheet would be reproduced en masse for students to work on - usually short answer, T/F, matching - that sort of thing. An activity page makes suggestions of activities that the student completes on their own using other supplies - create a diorama of an undersea garden - that sort of thing.
    Over the years I have amassed dozens of theme boxes, from animal friends to ponds to Ancient Egyptians. I love being free to change them as the students get bored, or leave them up if the interest is high.
    Since the students work on the theme to "fill up" their extra time (that seems to occur just when you need the students to be occupied), they have really come in handy. So, although my idea of using themes might not be what other teachers do, I highly recommend you start collecting and use themes this way throughout the year? Happy hunting:) !

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