Lesson planning—some teachers love it, and some teachers dread it. Whether you’re the type to create your preschool lesson plans months or even a year in advance or the type to wing it by the week, lesson plans are a crucial part of your role.
Abraham Lincoln is often quoted as saying, “Give me eight hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first six sharpening my axe.” He meant that preparation is key, and our best chance of tackling our assignment is to spend ample time preparing.
Benefits of using a lesson plan template
Instead of starting from scratch, you can customize a lesson plan template to suit your teaching style and children’s needs. The benefits of a thoughtfully outlined lesson plan include:
Ideas are organized and structured. With a lesson plan, you’re prepared to teach and can confidently walk into the classroom daily.
You can more efficiently manage classroom time. Lesson plans allow you to maximize classroom time and ensure the children have fun learning and are on track to meet their learning goals.
On-task teachers and children. A lesson plan helps teachers visualize what and how children will learn and execute that plan on schedule. This carefully prepared schedule assists with keeping children focused and provides guidelines for substitute teachers.
Recording learning objectives and outcomes for children. Your lesson plan template allows you to intentionally set learning objectives and track your children’s progress in one place.
Reflection on teaching practices. In addition to being where you plan what children will learn, lesson plans are also a space to record how children responded to what they learned. By reflecting on how well you were able to teach a lesson, you can better prepare for teaching the skills or concepts in the future and you have notes to reference that show what worked or didn’t work in the classroom.
Bringing curriculum visibility to families.You can meaningfully engage families by bringing visibility to what the children are learning daily. Sharing the activities of the day with families is a great way to partner together to build a strong home-to-school connection.
Download our free daily lesson plan template to identify learning objectives for each lesson you create and customize it to suit your teaching style and children's needs.
Before using a preschool lesson plan template
Before choosing the best lesson plan template for your preschool class, you'll need to decide on several factors to determine the best template for your specific needs.
Here are a few things to remember before using a lesson plan template:
1. Goals for the year
Think about the goals you’ve set for your children this year. Your monthly and weekly lesson plan should reflect these goals. How can you use each week of the year to help your children grow toward these goals?
2. Monthly plans
In addition to a weekly plan, consider creating a monthly lesson plan that can feed into the weekly ones. A monthly lesson plan can help you stay on the theme (if applicable) and make your weekly lesson plan creation process faster.
3. Individual goals and preferences
A lesson plan should always be child-focused. Keep your children’s unique interests, needs, and goals in mind as you create a lesson plan to have the most significant impact.
4. Plan your approach
As you customize your lesson plan template, keep your approach to each lesson in mind. Will you regularly switch up your approach to the same activity? Would beginning with play be a better approach to the lesson? Child-led learning activities and play are considered the best approaches for keeping children engaged and helping them retain what they learn.
Selecting the best lesson plan format
Many teachers choose to format their lesson plan by starting with an area of focus, then selecting art, sensory experiences, stories, or songs that best fit that focus area for the selected time period.
For example, here are a few options:
- Goal-based: All learning activities on the lesson plan are built around meeting a specific learning goal.
- Themes: An overarching theme (like the five senses, colors, or space) guides each section of the lesson plan.
- Activities list: Teachers create a list of activities, and the objective of the lesson plan is to check off as many as possible that week.
If you’re a part of a program or learning environment that allows you to create your own lesson plan or modify a lesson plan template, remember that some elements are essential.
- All lesson plans should include:
- The objectives for every lesson
- A description of the activity
- The materials you’ll use to teach the lesson
- A lesson procedure that outlines how the lesson will develop
- An assessment method to determine how well children grasped the lesson
Additionally, other sections that may be included in a preschool lesson plan include:
- Motor skills
- Independent playtime
- Read alouds/circle time/story time
- Small group work
- Whole group work
- Guided activities
How to save time lesson planning
Consistently using lesson plan templates can benefit both you and your children in the classroom. Not only are templates an organized landing page for ideas and notes, they can be a valuable timesaver, too.
Your lesson plan template can be an organized space to group your thoughts, add ideas and notes as they come up, and avoid forgetting important action items along the way. No need to hunt for last week’s notes or create new documents—it’s all within your template. Also, if your district or program has lesson plan requirements, all of those details can live here for easy reference.
Keep a routine
Once you’ve decided on a lesson plan template that fits your style, be consistent. By devoting focused attention to your lesson plan template each week or month, you may start to see a rhythm and routine for yourself. Ideas and feedback can be more easily accessed, and having a lesson plan routine to reference will save you time. Searchable templates also allow you to find activities and skills quickly, and to copy and paste ideas from previous school years into a clear format.
Share and collaborate
Templates are easily customizable to suit your needs, and they offer a simple structure for feedback and collaboration. Share with peers and colleagues, and utilize the reflection or feedback sections for quick notes. What worked for your classroom may help another teacher (and vice versa), saving you both time in planning and giving you some tried-and-tested fresh ideas.
How to improve your lesson plan templates
After you’ve downloaded a lesson plan template and started to make it your own, there are always ways to improve how you plan and teach. When you’re ready to upgrade your lesson planning process, give the following tips a try.
Diversify your learning strategies
When you’re including learning objectives in your lesson plan and using these objectives to help the children in your care reach their learning goals, you might be inspired to try other strategies.
Push yourself to experiment with various learning strategies for lessons and activities. As you define your new objectives, they will bring a fresh approach to the lesson you want your students to learn and help ensure that the lessons continue to be valuable for their development.
Set SMART goals
How can you know if your lesson plans are effective? First, use SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) to evaluate how well your lesson plans are working.
Ask for feedback
One way to boost your lesson plans is to ask your administrators and colleagues or peers for feedback. For example, invite a fellow teacher to review each other’s lesson plans. Your colleague may notice something you missed or have helpful ideas for improving your lesson plans.
Incorporate a reflective practice
A section to reflect on the lesson is one of the most valuable pieces a teacher can include in a lesson plan. As you continue to improve your lesson planning process, you’ll view these notes as an important asset that helps you create more effective lessons. In the reflection section, note how engaged the children were, if the children met the objective, whether any part of the lesson seemed to be unclear or confusing to any children, and how satisfied you were with the way you taught the lesson (e.g. the activity, the amount of time it took, the format).
Lesson planning success
A carefully prepared lesson plan is one of the most powerful tools a preschool teacher can have. By taking the time to create and better your lesson plans, you’re equipped to teach focused, effective lessons that help children learn and grow.