Toddler Lesson Plans

Getting an early start with educational development is a great gift to offer to your children. Here are some toddler and preschool lesson ideas.

Creating lesson plans for toddlers and preschoolers can give a parent or caretaker a chance to help with vital early childhood development. Bored children are generally not happy children, so take some of these suggestions or furnish your own, but help build a good foundation for a lifetime of learning by starting early.

1. Teach with games. Any game you can think of that will help with counting and number recognition or learning colors and shapes will be a good choice. This may be a game where you walk around the house with the child while asking him or her to find "the blue chair" or "the square mirror" or "bring me three books, please." Incorporate these identification games into other things you do with the child. For instance, part of this particular lesson plan could be carried into cooking (will you get two eggs for me?), math, and science lessons (how many robins are in the yard? What color are they?)

2. Most children enjoy singing, so collect some learning songs. These would include songs such as Ten Little Indians; One, Two, Buckle My Shoe; and the ABC Song. Parents often parents enjoy making up their own songs and rhymes to teach the basics of a preschool or toddler education.

3. Research some finger plays that you may enjoy doing with the toddler. There are many ideas for this activity on the internet and in child development books, but it is also a good idea to author some of your own where you can use things familiar to your young student. A preschooler will enjoy helping write these short skits to be acted out with finger puppets or just with his hands.

4. Give the child a stack of old magazines and explain what a collage is. Be sure to make the choice of theme educational. If it is something such as "kinds of dogs" then have a lesson prepared, after you have made the collage with the child. The lesson plan will include things like "how many pictures of dogs have you found?" and "how many of the dogs are black?" etc. Another good theme choice is "fruits," in which case you can incorporate the theme of the collage into the area of nutrition and taste different fruits with the child. If you want to have a theme of vegetables for the collage, take it into another area by planting some vegetable seeds with the child's help.

5. Construct things with paper. Familiarize yourself with origami (the Japanese art of paper folding) and use it in a lesson plan. Talk about what other games Japanese children enjoy, or about the object that you made from paper. Make sure that it is an age-appropriate project so the child can follow along and make the same object on his own.

6. Make a list of lesson plans that can be used with the child's favorite books. An alternative to this is to buy a few new books and prepare your lessons around them. Point out colors, shapes, animals, etc. Have the child count items in the illustrations or tell the story in his own words after looking at the pictures. After reading it a few times, you will be able to stop at certain places and the toddler will fill in the next word or phrase. Try acting out the book with the child, possibly even in costume to make the "play" more fun.

7. Children enjoy working with clays and doughs, so instead of just buying some of it, look for recipes and make it yourself. The child will enjoy mixing and kneading the dough, followed by learning activities will be done when the clay or dough is finished and ready to use. Just one idea is to make beads (not very small) to count and then decorate them and construct them into a necklace. Some doughs have just three or four very basic ingredients, so find a recipe that will work best with the type of project you intend to do. (Of course this suggestion is only for a child old enough to know beads are not to be put in one's mouth.)

8. Have the child draw a picture and then mount it onto thick cardboard with glue. Cut it into puzzle pieces. Be sure he knows before drawing it that you will be cutting it for a puzzle, don't use a picture the child didn't know would be "altered" in such a way. To make it more educational, just make a blank cardboard puzzle and write numbers on the pieces, paint splotches of colors on the puzzle pieces, or draw shapes onto them. The child will be telling you what he is doing, such as "I connected the green square to the red circle" or "I matched the pieces for the 1 and the 3." If using the numbers idea, math can be used, also.("And what does 1 plus 3 equal?")

9. Even the youngest children enjoy learning about music and music appreciation. Look around the house for things that can be used to make instruments for your own "band" with the child. Play CDs that introduce an assortment of music styles including world music and pay attention to which styles the toddler seems to enjoy most.

10. Make a picture book with your young student as the author. The theme should be an educational one such as an alphabet book. The child will be naming something that begins with the letters on each page and then drawing the objects. For younger toddlers not yet skillful with artwork, tell him some words beginning with the letter on the page. Give him a choice of which word to discuss and have him say something about that word or object. Transcribe what he says and illustrate the book yourself according to what was transcribed, or ask an older sibling to do the illustrating.

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