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Themed Learning: Stimulating Learning Across the Curriculum

28 May 2015

Over the course of the next few weeks many of our classes will have learning showcases where children have the chance to share their learning with their parents. 

We know that parents will be amazed by just how much the children know about their Themed Learning topics and also be highly impressed by the creative and confident ways that they present their learning. Our Themed Learning topics across the year have provided very stimulating contexts for children to develop and apply key skills across many different curricular areas such as History, Geography, Science and Art. We have had wonderful learning that has stemmed from a diverse range of topics such as Space, Building a Village and Chocolate and so these showcases will be exciting and informative events.

We use this Themed Learning approach because we want the children to be involved in deep learning. We know that children don’t learn in boxes; they learn most effectively when they, themselves, can make links in and across their learning and when their learning is motivating, exciting and connected. This is why we adopt an approach that involves a blend of rigorous subject teaching, mixed with effective cross-curricular links and themed learning contexts.

A Themed Learning approach to the curriculum is where teachers choose contexts which provide the opportunity for explicit links to be made across the different subject areas, ensuring an in-depth understanding of the learning. Teachers plan the learning carefully to ensure that key skills and content are taught, and themed learning contexts are mapped out across the school to ensure balance and progression in children’s learning. An example of this approach would be where the children have the themed learning context of Building a Village and learning in different subject areas would link to this theme. Geography skills would include focusing on factors impacting modern and ancient settlements and how they change over time. Science learning would be looking at water sources, filtration and purification while computing skills would involve using 3D mapping programmes such as AUTOCAD and Google modeling. Children would read stories set in different geographical locations and compare life in different places and might even become architects, builders or town planners on design or construction projects.

Through this approach, children are encouraged and guided to make meaningful connections across their learning, and to apply the knowledge and skills learned in one subject to others. This cross curricular approach also engages the children in a mixture of factual learning and hands on practical work, which challenges them to think, to research, to solve problems, to take risks and to reflect –as an individual but also with many opportunities to work collaboratively as a group. It is a lot of fun and gets young learners really engaged!

At this stage in the year we are reviewing our Themed Learning topics for next year, to ensure we continue to select relevant and motivating contexts for each year group that enable deep and progressive learning throughout the year and as the children move up through the school. We will share these new topics with you at the start of the school year so the whole family can get involved.

Over the summer months, however, you might want to have your own family Themed Learning project that exploits the exciting places your will visit in the summer, tapping into geography, history, science, media….the possibilities are endless and the learning could be really powerful!

Niki Meehan, Head of Primary

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The British International School Shanghai, Puxi

111 Jinguang RoadHuacao TownMinhang201107Shanghai


金光路111号华漕镇上海市 闵行区201107

Nord Anglia Education

4th Floor, Nova South
160 Victoria Street
LondonUnited Kingdom

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