Whether it is for a month, a week, a day, a session, I love building off a theme. It doesn’t matter if I am planning for a preschool music group, older adult music therapy session, or an intergenerational session, I love using a theme. Why use a theme? Here are the top four reasons .
Themes provide structure to the session. They help me determine sensory items to bring, songs on the topic, sound clips, pictures, questions.
Themes challenge me to try new things. Often themes push me out of my comfort area. Leading a session for older adults to expose them to different cultures, different countries makes me learn new information, new music, to think out of the box. I love asking for their ideas, too. Putting them in charge gives them purpose.
Themes make it easy to incorporate others materials. While I maintain my general format for groups, using a theme gives me an excuse to share something new with the members of the group. I use various tools/methods of presenting to make the most impact for that group. This was especially true when I worked full-time in Activities. I could find movies, word games, books, famous people, food, art work all on themes. It meant everyone could gain exposure to the theme by participating in their favorite activities.
Themes make planning easy. It means gathering a set of materials for use on that day, week, or month. I feel I get more bang for my buck if I purchase something I can use several times. Now that I provide services to a variety of clients (older adults and preschoolers) I can still find ways to connect many of the materials. My aim with using a theme is to create continuity for myself and my clients. Themes have guided who I invited for guest presentations. I could go to one website and use the material in multiple ways.
I hope these ideas on themes have helped create some interest in the topic. My July 23, 2011 issue of SPARKSwill be dedicated to this topic. It will be filled with some of my favorite resources and lots of help for others wanting to try planning their own themes. Also, you can click to hear my conversation with Janice Harris, MT-BC on this topic!