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Thematic Curriculum - A Format for Meaningful Learning

The thematic curriculum provides for engaging, in-depth learning. Engaging, because the material is new to every child in the school every year; at Lake and Park it is never the case that a teacher would teach the same material in the same order year after year. This is critical because children typically have more than one year with a teacher due to the multi-age makeup of our classes. Because the entire school focuses together on the same topic, content may be referred to from one year to the next with real meaning, i.e., “Remember when we looked at how The Days of the Dead were traditionally celebrated in Mexico last year? How do you think that way of honoring the dead compares to what we are learning now in terms of the approach to death of the Ancient Egyptians?”.

The topic often begins in the child’s active world of the concrete: look up to see the sky before beginning a unit where we learn about a scientist creating a taxonomy for clouds, bend down to pick up cones which lead to a study on primitive plants which don’t produce true seeds, bring in a light bulb of any kind from home as we seek to focus the children’s attentions on electricity. The topic often returns to the concrete, but along the way, the abstract and symbolic have been brought in. This is what we mean by in-depth, as the approach we take is to go to the heart of a topic. In doing so, children at Lake and Park are exposed to intellectual abstractions and theoretical concepts more commonly reserved for the secondary student.

2018 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

Themes are chosen by the faculty, under the guidance of Director of Thematic Instruction, Eileen Hynes. Teachers look to provide a balance across the disciplines as well as to respond to events that occur culturally and seasonally in the city and region. They make room for the emergent as a theme may present itself from the experiences of an individual child or of the class as a whole. In a given year, a carefully planned array of topics will be presented. There will be an annual balance of Physical, Earth and Life Science. The Humanities – Social Studies and Literature, will each in turn be brought into focus. While the Arts – Drama, Music, and Poetry – are integrated into topics. There are times when a component of the Fine Arts becomes the central theme. We respect the need to pay attention to Craft as well – Sewing, Woodworking, Cooking, Weaving, to name key aspects. A theme may be chosen from the field of mathematics, such as a study of circles. When that is the case, the abstraction of geometry becomes a central focus, with the concrete brought in under the rubric of the theoretical.

2016 Year in Review

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3201 Hunter Blvd South

Seattle, WA 98144