Theme-Based Learning

River Farm students love nature

The River Farm Cooperative utilizes an integrative, theme-based approach to learning. Educational researchers are learning that students are better served when provided opportunities to develop deep knowledge about a few "big ideas" rather than a superficial knowledge of a broader range of ideas and information. At River Farm, we aim to integrate learning across subject matter as much as possible (with the exception of Math and Spanish).

The following example helps elucidate the idea of theme-based learning:  

Theme: Native American Culture

  • Language arts: Students read Native American literature, folk tales, and myths. Then they write their own myth, illustrating it with Native-American-inspired pictures.
  • History: Students learn about the history of Native Americans in our country.
  • Science: Students learn about the crops that Native Americans grew. They study the grow cycle and learn about harvest time. They plant a sample Native American garden.
  • Public speaking: Students present a topic of interest on Native Americans to class.
  • Geography: Students locate the tribal regions on the map.
  • Art: Students make handicrafts or prints.
  • Field trip: The Smithsonian’s Native American History Museum.