One of the goals I’ve made for this year is to have ‘preschool’ time each day. I’m usually good about reading books to the kids and allowing pretty much unlimited access to coloring/craft supplies, puzzles, games, and playdoh (ok that last one’s a lie, I HATE playdoh, it’s one of my downfalls). Anywho, with my first degree being in early childhood education, I know that introducing a bit of structured learning time is always a good idea for preschoolers even when it’s just you and little Suzie at home. It only takes a few minutes (with the help of Pinterest) to get some activities ready to go for each day and all you need to do is make sure they’re age appropriate. Fortunately for me, including my little man, the kidos I have in my daycare are all in the 3-4 age so planning activities is fairly simple.
When I set out to plan my lessons I keep it very simple. I choose a theme based on a certain book or topic and go from there, selecting a book to use for the week (more on that later), a crafty venture, and a group game or activity. We spend about an hour in the morning having circle time and completing each of my planned activities. Then, in the afternoon, I have about 45 minutes to an hour blocked for centers. I have the variation in time because some days they’re way into the centers and stay on task for the hour and some, then there’s other days and we’ll just say being preschoolers gets the best of them. 😉
The book, I choose only one main book for the week because preschoolers learn through repetition. You know how a child will bring you the same book, over and over and over, asking you to read it even though you have 50 other books available for them to read. They do this because so much of their world is brand new and they want to learn all about it! How do they do this? Through practice, and when you practice something what do you do? Yep, do it over and over again! So, I choose to go with it. During our morning circle time we visit the same book each day. By the end of the week the children really know the book and most of the time can follow along as I read and even finish sentences! Now, that does not mean then when we’re studying ‘winter’ I have one book about winter available for the children. Not hardly. We have a quite extensive home library and when we don’t have what I feel is enough I head to the local library and check out a few extras that are out and available to the children on the topic of choice for the week.
The crafty venture, I don’t like cookie cutter crafts. Most of the time the children don’t yet have the skills necessary to complete many crafts so that means one of two things… I do a whole lot of prep work and have all the necessary pieces all ready for them to simply glue the craft together OR Miss Danielle does 5 of the same craft. Either way, the kids aren’t learning anything, with the exception of patience. That said, when I’m choosing our activity of the day I make sure it’s something they can complete at least 90% on their own. We do a lot of painting with various tools (think outside the box), activities that are opened ended (there’s no real goal they serve more as an experience), and a few ‘cookie cutter’ crafts but ones that require very little cutting and don’t end up looking much like the example (which I LOVE).
The group game, this can be very fun and the kids usually love it! Usually we just have fun playing a game that reinforces the theme or concept I’m trying to teach. Sometimes though, I use this time to push them academically a bit meaning we do an activity that I’d like to use in centers but know the kids aren’t quite ready developmentally and need a good bit of guidance. After doing it together, they usually can then handle it on their own. It really is amazing how quickly they learn new things, something could be completely new for them but if we complete it once or twice together they usually have it down!
Our centers are set up to be self guided. If they need some assistance then I’m always there to help out but, because it’s usually three or four of them and me flying solo, I can’t be handing them an activity they have no ability to complete on their own so I’m careful to choose things I know they can handle. The children spend about 10-15 minutes at one activity and then I ring a bell which is their two minute warning (you MUST give kids a warning, just trust me). After two minutes I ring the bell again and they know that means it’s time to leave and choose another activity. I shoot to have enough centers available for the number of children present plus one extra. The extra allows some room for error if one child tires of an activity before the other children are ready to give theirs up.
Now… the actual planning. I have made numerous planning sheets over the years. I like the look of a nicely laid out form that I can print and fill in but… they must be printed out, you have to find a place to store them if you work even a week or two in advance, and if you decide to change how you do things you have to design another one. My favorite method is a plain old notebook.
Yep, not anything special at all but it serves the purpose and offers the most flexibility. I usually have about a month in advance going at a time and once we complete the week I either tear the page out and put it in a folder with any leftover print outs or I type what worked well into a word document so I don’t forget any favorites.
To get you started I’ll share what I have planned for the next few weeks. Most of what is listed is self explanatory but everything is pinned to my Preschool Time Pinterest board so if you find yourself confused, just head here and I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out what I meant. 🙂
Have a great week!
Winter/Snow (Jan. 6- 10th)
Book: The Snowy Day
Centers: Snowman Letter Matching, lacing cards, winter sensory bin, and “snowball’ numbers
- Monday- “C” is for Cold (we’ll probably cover the entire letter c with cotton balls)
- Tuesday- Handprint snowflake
- Wednesday- Paper plate winter hat
- Thursday- Cotton Ball Snowman
- Friday- Snow Paint
- Snowflake matching (different ones for each day numbers, rhyming, colors, shapes, and letters)
Shapes (Jan. 20- 24th)
Book: The Greedy Triangle
Centers: Shape Matching (tape outline on floor), craft sticks w/ Velcro, iSpy shapes (hidden in a bin of salt or beans), ‘Write’ letters using a bingo dabber
- Monday- circle art
- Tuesday- Paint with shapes
- Wednesday- Make shapes with playdoh
- Thursday- Shape House
- Friday- Shapes mini book
- Monday- Shape Sort (household items)
- Tuesday- Shape sort (by # of sides)
- Wednesday- Shape hunt
- Thursday- Shape bingo
- Friday- Shape hopscotch
Transportation (Jan. 27- 31st)
Centers: A-Z parking lot, transportation sensory bin, traffic light sorting (colors), cardboard road
- Monday- Paint with wheels
- Tuesday- Traffic light w/ paper scraps (we’ll probably tear the paper)
- Wednesday- Shape Fire Truck
- Thursday- Paper Plate Boats
- Friday- “a” is for airplane
- Monday- Upper/Lower Case Wheels Car
- Tuesday- Compare Vehicles (Venn Diagram)
- Wednesday- Line up cars by size (we have a LOT)
- Thursday- Graph vehicles by land, sea, air
- Friday- Which objects roll down the ramp?