Literacy Themes

Unit 1: Welcome to Pre-K!

In this unit, our goal is for students to feel welcome in their classroom, to get to know the children and the grownups in their class community, and to have a healthy adjustment to the beginning of the preschool experience.

For some of our students, this is their first time leaving home and saying goodbye to a parent for a full day. For others, this is a very familiar experience. But for all students, it’s important that they learn what school will look and sound and feel like in our building.

Through read alouds, class discussions, and play experiences in centers and outside in our schoolyard, we work toward the following enduring understandings:

My classroom is a safe place where I learn, play, and have fun.
I am an important member of my classroom community, and my thoughts, needs, ideas, and abilities matter.
My family, my teachers and other children make up my classroom community; their backgrounds, thoughts, needs, ideas, and abilities matter.
The teachers and other adults at my program keep me safe, care about me, and support my learning.
In my classroom, I use materials carefully and make choices about where I work and play.
Classroom rules and routines help me learn and stay safe.

Some of the books we read in this first unit are:

The kissing hand by audrey penn
On monday when it rained by cherryl kachenmeister
Chu’s first day at school by neil gaiman
I like myself by karen beaumont

Unit 2: my 5 senses

In this unit, the students explore their 5 senses – hearing, touch, smell, taste, and sight – and they learn about how we use these senses to explore our world, to learn about things, and even to stay safe. The children also learn that some people are able to use all of their 5 senses, and some cannot, but that actually if one of your senses is impaired, the others often work even harder to help you stay safe and enjoy the world!

By this time, most students have adjusted to the routines of the classroom, and the students will have a wider variety of materials and explorations to choose from during center time. While all students are invited to participate in a few key learning experiences that dive into the theme of the study, students are encouraged to choose and plan their own play across the week, and teachers meet with students in small groups on individually to teach into the content of the theme, or the development needs of the student. (see more under our tap, developmental stages in the pre-k year)

Through read alouds, class discussions, and classroom experiences in centers or in the schoolyard, we work toward the following enduring understandings:

There are five senses: smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing
We use our senses to understand our bodies, to learn what they need, and to keep us safe.
We use sour senses to learn about people, places, objects, and the environment around us.
We experience and interact with the world differently when our senses, such as vision or hearing, are impaired.

Some of the books we will read in this unit are:

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see by eric carle
Tap tap boom boom by elizabeth gluemle
Rah rah radishes!: a vegetable chant by april pulley sayre
The five senses by aliki
Press here by herve tullet

Unit 3: all about us

Now that the students have had time to get to know their classroom and explored their senses, we take a deeper look at who we are, individually, and as a community. In this unit, students explore and express what makes them important and unique, they learn to notice and name feelings that they have, and they explore what makes their classmates and all of the families of the classroom unique. This unit carries us through thanksgiving and leads up to the winter break, where many students celebrate a variety of holidays.

Across the day, we work toward the following enduring understandings explored through play:

I am unique; there is not one who looks, feels, thinks, and acts exactly like I do.
I feel different ways at different times for different reasons.
I am part of a family and a classroom community.
My family is important and unique.
My classroom in a community. All of the people in my class are important and unique.
I can help make my classroom a fun, safe and exciting place.
Here are some of the books we will be reading together:

Little elliot, big city by mike curato
I love my hair by natasha tarpley
The feelings book by todd parr
Friendshape by amy krouse
I love saturdays y domingos by alma flor ada

Unit 4: where we live

In this unit, students expand their focus from their own selves and their classroom community to the homes and neighborhoods outside the walls of the classroom and school. We study homes – homes of people and homes of animals – and learn about how everyone needs a home to meet their basic needs, and that homes can look very different depending on a variety of factors.

This is an exciting time in our classrooms, because by this time of year students are increasingly independent in the way they imagine, design, and plan for their work and play. They are also given access to an increasingly wider variety of tools and materials, so the topic of homes can be studied through books, through art, through building, and through play, all making for a very exciting classroom indeed!

Throughout the units we are working toward the following enduring understandings:

Homes are the places where we live.
Animals and people have many different types of homes.
Some animals live with people.
People and animals make homes.
Some of the books we read in this unit are:

The big orange splot by daniel manus pinkwater
A house for hermit crab by eric carle
The three little pigs and the somewhat bad wolfe by mark teague
Iggy peck architect by andrea beaty

Pre-K Mathematics

Our PreK math program follows the Building Blocks Curriculum.  Building Blocks develops the power of young children's mathematical thinking.  Using their bodies, manipulatives, paper, and computers, children engage in activities that guide them through fine-tuned research-based learning trajectories.  These activities connect children's informal knowledge to more formal school mathematics.  
Learning Trajectories

Learning Trajectories are the observable, natural developmental progression in learning.  There are three parts to a learning trajectory: a mathematical goal, a developmental path along which children develop to reach that goal, and a set of activities matched to each of the levels of thinking in that path that help children develop the next higher level of thinking.  Thus, each learning trajectory has levels of understanding and skill, each more sophisticated than the last with tasks that promote growth from one level to the next. 

Big Ideas in Early Childhood Learning
Number and Operations

  • Numbers can be used to tell us how many, describe order, and measure; they involve numerous relations, and they can be represented in various ways.
  • Operations with numbers can be used to model a variety of real-world situations and to solve problems; they can be carried out in various ways.


  • Geometry can be used to understand and represent the objects, directions, locations in our world, and the relationships between them.
  • Geometric shapes can be described, analyzed, transformed, and composed and decomposed into other shapes


  • Comparing and measuring can be used to specify “how much” of an attribute objects possess.
  • Measures can be determined by repeating a unit or using a tool.

Patterns and Algebra

  • Patterns can be used to recognize relationships and can be extended to make generalizations

Data Analysis and Classifications

  • Objects can be sorted and classified in a variety of ways.  Data analysis can be used to classify, represent, and use information to ask and answer questions.

Pre-K Resources

Khan Academy