Preparing the preschool environment

There was a time in my teaching career when I spent the majority of my preparation time researching and writing out my daily lesson plans. This was time well spent, make no mistake about that. Because of all those years writing and implementing my own lesson plans, I built up a library of ideas that I can now draw from in a pinch. From fingerplays and children’s books on just about any topic to ideas for art, math, science – I have years of experiences I can pull together at a moments notice right off the top of my head. However, where I used to spend my time writing lesson plans, I now spend the majority of my time creating and organizing the classroom environment..

Preparing the preschool environment by Teach Preschool

You see, it isn’t the lessons that I have planned that ultimately teach my preschoolers how to get along, make good decisions, and work independently. It’s the environment that fosters this type of learning…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

And it isn’t the lessons that I have planned that will ultimately teach my young students to be creative, mathematical, scientific, critical thinkers. The environment teaches that too…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

So I spend much of my time making sure every area of my classroom is carefully considered and that each area is as intentional in design as I can possibly make it…

However, now I spend the majority of my time creating and organizing my classroom environment. Today, I want to share a few of my reflections on the classroom environment...

From what goes up on the walls…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

To what sits on each shelf around the classroom…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

To what is on the back of a bookshelf….

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

To what is down on the floor…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

Everything has a purpose or reason for being there…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

So what are my lesson plans for? They help me come to preschool prepared to assist the environment in the teaching and learning process, but not to take over the environment…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

I think both the lesson plan and the environment add value to the preschool classroom as long as one understands the value and role each play in helping children find success…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

The lesson plan and the environment must work in partnership…

The lesson plan helps the teacher come prepared for a successful day

but the environment helps the children prepare for a successful life!


By |2017-03-29T11:40:04+00:00February 28th, 2016|

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. Caroline Triplett February 29, 2016 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Thank you for your enlightening email on the importance of a stimulating interactive environment in preschool. I will apply your ideas to my “grandchildren’s corner” in my home!
    Caroline Triplett

  2. Susan February 29, 2016 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing. What great ideas.

  3. Joy February 29, 2016 at 10:29 am - Reply

    So engaging! I want to play in your class!

  4. SUELI February 29, 2016 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Wonderful ideas, Deborah I´m from Brazil and I´m learning a lot with you !! my preschool
    is has a great environment, I´m Always looking for good ideas and get a lot in your site!
    Thanks for helping me be a good teacher !

  5. Wendy, Vermo t February 29, 2016 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    I love the way your classroom is set up. This article made me take another look at my classroom in terms of what purpose each item has. I may be removing some items and rethinking my space. Thank you for your insight, always love reading your notes.

  6. Jill February 29, 2016 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Hi Deborah,
    I always enjoy reading your blog, and this was another great one! I wanted to inquire about the picture with the colored water bottles–are those eggs in the cups in front of them?! In the spring I always talk about growth, and put an egg in vinegar and one in water, and last year I tried an egg in Coca-Cola as well. But it looks like you’ve put them in way more things I would have thought to try!! Can you tell me more about them? Thanks!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 29, 2016 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Hi Jill,
      Yes, we were actually talking about teeth. We dropped the hard boiled eggs in different colors of liquid (coke, water, tea, coffee, soda, and juice) to see if they would stain the eggs (or our teeth). The coke won by a long shot! Ha! Then the children used tooth brushes and toothpaste to clean the eggs and the coke all came off. It was super cool actually!

  7. Susan Sirigatti March 1, 2016 at 3:06 am - Reply

    Wonderful advice for preschool teachers — so clear and practical. I always believe in doing what works best and your years of experience offer just that.

  8. Caren Stocks March 1, 2016 at 11:44 am - Reply

    This is all very well said!!! Thank You

  9. Sandy Garcia March 1, 2016 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Great article! Thanks! Would you share the template of your lesson plan sheets?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 1, 2016 at 11:36 pm - Reply

      They are really specific to my environment so I am not so sure they would be all that helpful to others.

  10. Carol Greenberg March 1, 2016 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    Love all your ideas. I have been teaching for a very long time and am always looking for new creative experiences. I find a lot on your site. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  11. Janet T. March 4, 2016 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Deborah, I’m so glad to see your posts. It’s so stimulating to see good Early Childhood Education practiced in such attractive ways. I come away from your entries with great enthusiasm. Now I’m wanting to know about every photo. There’s a wealth of great ideas there!

  12. Lonetta March 4, 2016 at 11:25 am - Reply

    I am also interested in your lesson plan template. We all know you also are super busy with your preschool. But in investigating in zoom view that would be perfect for me to use in my home daycare.Please conider posting a blank one for those interested. That would free up some time for PLAY !!!!

  13. Isabel z March 6, 2016 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Your posts ALWAYS inspire me to think of ways to improve my teaching and the learning environment in my classroom. Whenever I see a new post I get SO excited; I really do. I would love to learn more about the game that the boys are playing with the dust bins. Of course, I would like more information on each photo but realize you are a super busy person.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 6, 2016 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      What a sweet comment to read Isabel! The boys on the floor are playing broom hockey! We were doing a unit on tools we clean with and thought this would be a fun way for the children to practice their sweeping skills.

  14. Tiffany March 12, 2016 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    This was a very good read. Thank you!!!

    Can you tell me what curriculum you are currently using in your Pre-K classroom?

  15. Jodi March 16, 2016 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Do you write lesson plans and then collect items needed to create your environment or do you assess the materials you have for the environment and then create your lesson plans around those materials? If you wrote a book about lessons based on the environment I’d surely buy it!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 16, 2016 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Jodi! I should write a lesson plan book based on the environment then! Ha! I do a little of both – it depends on what the focus is. If we are exploring nature, we definitely use the environment as our basis for lesson planning. But if we are exploring something like the dentist, I would need to bring items in for exploration. I hope that helps:)

  16. jackie March 17, 2016 at 1:39 am - Reply

    Oh, Deborah. Every time I look at your classroom, it inspires me to make positive changes in mine. Thank you for keeping us on our toes, and striving to offer our children and students the most engaging and stimulating learning environments that we can.

  17. pamela black February 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    hello Deborah
    I’ve enjoyed following your blog for quite some time i get a ton of great ideas and inspiration for my own classroom and for me as a teacher as well. i currently teach at a non-profit private preschool i have my own classroom i average about 8 kids we operate year round offering families a summer program each summer then start the school year along with side our school system. I’ve been teaching for close to 20 yrs now and been in my current position since the 2012-2013 school year.

    recently I’ve been more curious and inspired to perhaps begin (open) my own program preschool in my home. my question to you is any advice tips how to and what not to for me? i appreciate your encouraging words and wise advice.
    i recently watched all of your videos in the invitation to play series. i was truly inspired as an ece educator. blessings Mrs black

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Pamela,
      Let me give it some thought and send you suggestions by email. I generally don’t give “business” advice because I am terrible at it but I can give you some thoughts on the process that may be of help.

  18. Tricia October 22, 2017 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    I love your ideas. Would love to see a sample of your lesson plans and did you create the format for them?

  19. Cindy Salah December 18, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Wow, such creative ideas that can be implemented easily. I am a current Kindergarten teacher who is inspired by you to rethink my space. I am taking an online class that has asked us to find teacher websites that are worth sharing with our classmates. I will definitely be sharing yours. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful ideas!

    • Deborah Stewart December 19, 2018 at 5:52 pm - Reply

      Thank you Cindy!

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