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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Toddler lesson plans

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.

Photo was taken by Karena Michelle DeMerchant and permission granted to use it in this post.


Miller Moments said...

Thank you for the great information. This will be really helpful to me in planning for my toddler.

April said...

You have some great points. I love the treasure box idea and I want to use that. I started doing little themes with my daughter a few months ago. So far we have done trains, Valentine's Day, Chicka Chicka/Coconuts, and we are starting on berries. I have been doing fingerplays since she was born. I just started trying to incorporate more instruments. I read a great book called 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities and it has really inspired me. I hope you share more of your toddler themes in the future, I would love to see what you came up with.

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

I will be sure to share more of the toddler themes for sure. I have at least a year's worth!

homeschool101 said...

Thanks for sharing this. We do things like this to. :) This lesson plan would be great for my friend also she has 2 children struggling in sensory areas. Thanks again.

Colleen M said...

I love this. I am a childcare provider and care for children infants up till they start Kindergarten. This lesson plan is the general idea of what I've been wanting, how I want to put together my own. I've tried all sorts of purchased curriculum. Found alot of great sites full of wonderful information/plans. But too me, so many of them were a little "over the head" of a typical toddler. I'm a firm believer in play as a learning experience. I agree with so many points that you made. Thank you for sharing this.

Carla S said...

Hi and thanks for stopping by my blog! I love all of your great ideas for young children!

Looks like you are a fellow Hoosier, too! (I'm a Butler Bulldog transplanted by the Army to Texas! GO DAWGS!) :)

Again, thanks for taking time to stop by and commenting!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Butler is just a few miles away from me:)

Elise said...

Oooh I love looking at how educators put together lesson plans and also learning from their creative ideas. I really like the titles of your themes.

Your art with toddlers post was also a great read. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that it is all about the process and not the outcome; in doing so we ALL have a richer experience. My little girl loves to talk and when she is creating. It is fascinating hearing her talk about what she is creating. I love that young children have no inhibitions, no predertimed idea when it comes to creating something - they just jump right in. I am very conscious of not stifling my children's creativity and wanting to keep that creative, enthusatic spirit alive and flourishing.

Michelle said...

I love this post. As a childcare provider of a multi-aged group it is tough to get those little ones engaged. I try to plan across the board, so the concepts can be adjusted for ability. You do a great job in giving a mental picture of how a day would go with your Toddler Lesson Plan. Most Toddler Curriculum books just give examples of activities and no information on how to implement multiply activities to keep their short attention spans occupied. I find myself coming back to your site everytime I plan my lessons for the week. Thanks for the great resources!!!

Launa Hall said...

These are treasures! Makes me want to teach toddlers! Thank you for sharing them.

Teacher Tom said...

I've never taught toddlers either, but there is a movement afoot to add a toddlers program to our school, so I might need to get up to speed fast! This post really makes me want it to happen.

It really is interesting to see how a proper curriculum is written. It kind of makes me feel a little inadequate in that I generally do my planning on the fly.

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