Lesson planning isn’t an easy task—but it can be with the right guide. A lesson plan is an irreplaceable tool for educators. It guarantees that you cover all topics in the curriculum.
Most preschool curriculums begin focusing on math, science, and literacy skills. If your preschoolers are meant to learn the days of the week and months of the year, how will they get there? As an educator, it’s your job to create a lesson plan that gets your students to the finish line.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to create the best lesson plan—what it is, the importance of lesson planning, how to create one, and examples you can use to guide the way.
What is a lesson plan?
A lesson plan is a guide that helps you facilitate your daily instructions and activities in the classroom. It outlines what your children need to learn, how you plan to teach it, and how they will be assessed.
Consider your lesson plan like a Broadway performance. The audience doesn’t see the time the composer spends creating the score. They don’t witness the singers, dancers, and musicians practicing for hours and hours. The audience only experiences the final product, where they’re presented with an entire performance.
Your lesson plan isn’t tangible to your children. It’s not a worksheet. It’s not an introductory video. Rather, your lesson plan is the behind-the-scenes work that guides your performance in the classroom. Ultimately, lesson plans help you plan and execute your lesson; however, that isn’t where the importance and benefits of lesson planning end.
The benefits of creating a lesson plan
Creating a lesson plan can be time-consuming. Many teachers spend much of their working time on lesson planning to create successful learning outcomes for their children. Fortunately, the benefits are worth it, and lesson planning can give you and your children extra perks.The benefits of lesson planning include:
- Effective classroom management
- Consistent learning
- Lesson quality improvement
- Easy direction for substitute teachers
- Classroom confidence and preparedness
Many educators consider their lesson plan to be a map—guiding them and their children through the curriculum. Your journey as an educator continues with the six steps you’ll need to create a lesson plan.
How to create a lesson plan
As an educator, how many lesson plans will you write? The limit doesn’t exist. Luckily, once you can identify a method, the process should get easier every time. To create a lesson plan for your children, you’ll need to:
- Identify learning objectives
- Add an introduction
- Plan specific learning activities
- Assess for understanding
- Create a realistic timeline
- Include a conclusion
Identify learning objectives
Learning objectives are statements that describe what your children should be able to do at the end of the lesson. Because they describe the final goal, the objectives will shape how you approach the instruction, activities, and assessments needed to get there. Your learning objectives will also make it possible to evaluate the success and efficacy of your lesson plan at the end of each unit.
Add an introduction
Like any good book, the introduction of your lesson plan should captivate your children and get them excited for the upcoming lesson. You could tell an interesting story to grab their attention or use memorable props or music to draw them in.
In this part of your lesson plan, decide how you’ll introduce the topic to your class. To start, assess their level of knowledge on the subject. Remember that your children are likely coming from different households, backgrounds, and classrooms. Knowing where they stand on the subject will guide you through the lesson.
Once you create your introduction, you’re ready to plan the specific activities that will guide your children to the learning objectives.
Plan specific learning activities
The learning objectives help you cover what your children will learn and what they’ll be able to do at the end of each lesson. The introduction and learning activities encompass how they’ll accomplish this.
When planning your specific learning activities, consider different types of learning styles. Your learning activities should cover all the various ways children learn. To incorporate multiple learning styles into your activities, you might use:
Assess for understanding
The most important part of school is learning. As an educator, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your children are understanding the material and can apply the information.
There are different methods you can use for assessment. You might choose to assess the children informally by observing them, or in a more direct way such as asking specific questions that evaluate the children’s understanding of new concepts.
Keeping in line with the specific learning types of your class, be mindful to incorporate their learning styles into their evaluation.
Pay attention to the timing of your assessment as well. For example, you can also aim to assess the children’s progress at various stages throughout the learning process or wait until the end of a lesson.
Create a realistic timeline
If you don’t already know, it’s very easy for time to slip away when dealing with a classroom of children. With that in mind, the next step in lesson planning is creating a realistic timeline.
It all starts with managing expectations at the lesson objective stage. Having more than five objectives can force you into a tight timeline. Instead, focus on no more than three objectives for each lesson.
Once you start building your timeline, remember: everything is an estimate. Estimate how much time you’ll need for each activity or teaching point. This includes setting up, executing it, cleaning up, and leaving time for questions. After coming up with this estimate, add extra time. Your children must have enough time to grasp the information.
And if you find that your class has extra time, plan an additional back-up activity to make the best use of your time.
Include a conclusion
The last step of your lesson plan is deciding how you’re going to conclude it. Consider this like the conclusion of an essay. Aim to summarize the takeaways from the lesson and reinforce key ideas. Additionally, you can use your conclusion to introduce upcoming topics.
Your conclusion is also a great time to get feedback on your lesson. Ask the children if they enjoyed the topic and have them share their favorite part. This is a great way to learn where your lesson plan was successful and if you need to make any adjustments in the future.
As an educator, lesson planning is an essential skill to have. Check out our free daily lesson plan template and customize to suit your teaching style and children's needs.
Present your lesson plan
Once your lesson plan is complete, you’re ready to present it. While you have a guide to the lesson, it’s important to keep your children and their families engaged and informed too. You might include general details of your lesson plan in your monthly newsletter or send home a worksheet that previews your lesson plan.
Evaluate your lesson plan
Evaluating your lesson plan will give you a ton of useful information. Did you run out of time? Were the majority of children able to successfully execute the learning objectives? Were there certain learning activities that worked better than others? This is the time when you decide what worked and what didn’t. And for the things that didn’t work, give yourself a break—no lesson plan is perfect. As time goes on, you’ll find ways to tweak and improve them. Remember, lesson plans are about being flexible and catering to the needs of your children.
Lesson plans for teachers
The more experienced you become in teaching, the more personalized your lesson plan will be. If you haven’t reached that stage, it’s always useful to have a guide to help you get started.
Weekly preschool planner
The above lesson plan template is organized by skill area with space to list activities and learning goals for each day of the week.
Themed lesson plan
This lesson plan example incorporates a weather theme to teach various skills and includes a section for required materials.
Bring curriculum visibility to families
You can meaningfully engage families by bringing visibility to what the children are learning daily. Share your weekly lesson plan and daily activities with families to partner and build strong home-to-school connections. With access to the weekly lesson plan, families will be better equipped to support their children's development at home.
What’s the lesson here?
Lesson planning requires a lot of work. Fortunately, that work is often balanced by active, engaged, and learning children. If you’re new to creating lesson plans, it helps to know that there’s a method you can follow. Start with what you want your children to learn and follow the six steps above to create successful lesson plans in no time.