Things to consider when creating developmentally appropriate lesson plans for your preschool classroom
Domains of Development
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…
- 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 – for example using tongs to pick up toys in the sand table would promote both fine motor and sensory play.
Using a Themeatic 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 Templates
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.
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.
The school provided me with a wonderful collection of nursery rhyme puppets, CD’s and posters that were incorporated into the lesson plans. Teachers were encouraged to use at least one nursery rhyme each 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 goes in to 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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