Toddler lesson plan overview

Several years back, I was contracted with a local childcare program to write toddler lesson plans. In all my years of teaching, I had never worked in a toddler classroom. I raised my own toddler which helps but I know it isn’t the same as managing 10 toddler all at once. To prepare, I did some observations in the classroom and read up on toddler growth and development. I thought I would share with you a a brief overview of the lesson plans I developed and the format in which I gave it to the teachers.

First I wanted to include important developmental areas that a toddler needs to develop during this stage of growth. I broke down the lesson plan into sections which included…

  • Sensory
  • Speech and Vocabulary
  • Creative Art
  • Music and Movement
  • Large and Fine Motor Skills
  • Daily Life Skills

Often times the activities I created to promote these different developmental areas would overlap. One activity may actually promote several areas of development – such as using tongs to pick up toys in the sand table would promote both fine motor and sensory play.

I also took more of a thematic approach…
I based all themes around a concrete object or group of objects rather than abstract ideas. It was important to identify specific objects that would be meaningful and tangible to the child. For example, I wouldn’t include a theme about friendship because this is not a tangible concept. Instead, friendship is always being taught through daily interaction with the child. The themes I selected were to highlight more specific concepts or objects that the child could connect with verbally and physically.

Here are some of the themes I included…

  • Dig, Dig, Dig: tools we use and plants we grow in the garden
  • I like to Eat, Eat, Eat: the fruits and vegetables we eat
  • Ring-A-Ling: musical instruments we can play
  • Beep, Beep, Zoom, Zoom: trucks, cars, airplanes, and boats

The reason for choosing cute titles was two-fold. First to keep teachers who would read the lesson plans thinking in terms of toddler age children. Second, so that when the lesson plan was sent out to parents or posted on a parent board, they too would view preschool for what it should be – fun and engaging.

Lesson plan forms…
I created my own lesson plan forms based on the developmental areas I wanted to make sure I covered throughout each week. Here is a partially completed sample of the lesson plan overview form…

In each space of the form, I would write the title of the activity I planned to use each day. Then attached to each outline of the overall plan would be several pages of information describing the details of each activity highlighted on the overall plan.

Here are two examples of detailing the lesson plan:

Consistency and repetition
The lesson plans remained consistent in format so the teachers could more easily follow them. The lesson plans included many activities that were repeated weekly; for example the treasure box activity was presented to the children every week but the items in the treasure box were rotated based on the theme of that week.

Daily Life Skills
I always included daily life skills such as washing hands in the sink or helping to sweep up the floor.

I always included sensory activities including water table, sand table, shave cream, feely boxes, and so forth.

Music and Movement
I always included fingerplays or songs that children could move to and sing with.

Circle Time
Age appropriate books were suggested for each day. Many were read all week long and the term “circle time” was used more as a guide for the lesson plan form rather than a guide for how to present a book in the toddler classroom.

Nursery Rhymes
The school provided me with a wonderful collection of nursery rhyme puppets, CD’s and posters that were incorporated into the lesson plans. One nursery rhyme per week.

What about the ABC’s and other basic concepts?
These concepts were introduced or reinforced through the various themes on a daily basis. Rather than having the children sit down and have a lesson on the color red, for example, the color red and the sound of the word red was used through casual interaction with the toddlers on a daily basis. A print rich environment where toddlers can explore these concepts was also part of the overall program.

This truly is a very brief overview of what all goes on in developing a lesson plan but it gives at least an idea of the potential that can be planned or provided for in a toddler classroom. Keep in mind that the classroom or learning environment itself is an extension and key aspect of any lesson plan.

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By |2010-03-20T08:00:57+00:00March 20th, 2010|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Terri Emberling June 28, 2017 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    I am tasked with setting up a toddler and me class. Do you still sell the toddler lesson plans you mention inToddler lesson plan overview
    Posted March 20, 2010 ?

    • Deborah Stewart June 28, 2017 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Terri! I sure don’t have any toddler lesson plans for sale. If I can be of further assistance, fell free to email me at [email protected]! Good luck with your new task!

  2. pam August 18, 2017 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    any ideas for august and september lesson plan for one year old class

  3. Lily September 10, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    If you had any interest in selling these lesson plans on teachers pay teachers I would definitely purchase them! I love the layout of the plans and the consecutive pages of information for each week. Thanks for your ideas!

  4. Deborah Deese March 29, 2018 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Hello this is Deborah! I am a retired teachers who never have work with TOODLERS and I need HELP with the LESSON PLANNING AND THE domains . Please help me!

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