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Early Learning Lesson Planning

Joanna is a hands-on teacher, who has spent many years using the following activities. Her methods have kept children from falling behind.


Embrace creativity as part of the learning process. It doesn't matter if it doesn't go as you planned, what is important is that they enjoy it.

Techniques that Make Hands On Activities Work

Choose activities that meet individual student needs. To do this, make sure you have done a checklist and observations on the children in your care. Think about one child who requires help learning a skill. Now think about what interests him/her the most. Take that interest and find a way to use it as a group activity.
Wait, not done yet, keep reading.
Now do that with two other children. Then combine the three and make a hands-on activity that you are willing to do with them. The messier, the better. [The children will love cleaning up the mess].

Don't make them join any activity, let them decide to join you.

If they decide on their own, they will participate more. The more you test this, the better the result. Don't expect overnight success. Once they know you are letting them decide, they will pick time with you.

The more you test this, the more comfortable you will become with it. I know that as grown-ups, we are programmed to be mature, but as a teacher, you are allowed to have fun.

Keep track of the things you try and what happened. At the end of the month, review all your little notes. Then you will see how your classroom has changed into an inclusive classroom.

Ask The Children

Throughout the day, ask different children what they would like to know more about. Write down what each child says and who said it. At this point, don't rely on your memory.

At the end of the day, look at the list and see how many topics you have on that list. How many can you combine? Now, for each combination, think of one key element.

Example: bears, pigs, birds. Now, what do they have in common? Footprints. Can an activity be made from this?

Now take various supplies from each of your ideas and put those items on the table.

Example: dirt, glue, paper, crayons, etc.

Now step back and watch the children. This will help you see what they are interested in playing with. It will show you their creative side. Now sit down with them and start putting different things together on a piece of paper. Ask the child next to you,

“What are you making?”

“I'm making a…”

Make sure to write down how this went and what you learned.

Inclusive Vs Natural

Inclusive learning becomes normal. Inclusive teaching becomes a habit.

With everything you read and learn, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want the child/children to learn?
  • Why should the children learn this skill?
  • How should children learn this skill?
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Then take what is important to these questions and make it your own.

I will explain this later in this article.

Social Skills

Now, take two minutes or so, and play what they are playing. Pretend you are a kid again. This helps children learn social skills and the words they need to interact with other children.

Example--Block Center--Two children are building towers, and there is a car close by.

Sit down, pick up the car, and start driving it around. Then say something like this, “I want to drive my car across the river, but there is no bridge.” Before they respond, start humming and building a bridge.

Try this and see what happens. I know it sounds silly, but children can and do connect on this level.

If the children see you being silly, they will be more willing to try new stuff. By silly, I mean, play dress-up, read a book with a strange voice while holding a teddy bear, use a small animal, and have it ride around on a car smaller than it is.


The best time to interact is during center time. So, before center time, set out an activity in each center.

Example: In Dramatic Play, set the table up for a tea party, put dress-up clothes on the chairs, and food on the table.

During center time, visit each center while the children are playing. Start naming what they are playing with. [hey, is that a hat your wearing]

Then ask what they are playing. [don't be surprised by what they answer, act like it's normal.]

If they can't answer, say something like “Oh, you are having a tea party, Can I join you?” Children love this.

Teaching Tips

Now I will show you what it will look like, and then give you an activity I used in the classroom that kept their interest in a while.

Example of your paperwork:

First child: Likes playing in the science center, with the dinosaurs.

Second child: Likes Home Living and feeding the stuffed animals.

Third child: Likes Home Living by bringing toys from others center in for the dolls to play with.

Now your turn, think about an activity that involves all the senses and messy hands-on. What did you come up with?

  • Identify the strengths and needs of the children in your care.
  • Guide the children's progress forward.
  • Provide experiences and activities

By following your heart, your classroom will be inclusive without thinking about it. How? Because you have figured out what each child needs, and you are providing what they need.

By teaching this way, you teach children how to:

  • Cooperate with others
  • Make choices
  • Use words to communicate needs
  • build their friends self-image
  • build their own self-esteem

You teach them how to function in the real world.

The teacher's role:

  • Make learning real.
  • Use hands-on
  • Integrate other subjects.
  • Be fully involved.

Example: Dinosaur Land

Toy Dinosaurs on the floor.

Toy Dinosaurs on the floor.

Dinosaur Land Step by Step set up Instructions

Steps to set it up

1. Bring from home, leaves, dirt, branches, and rocks

2. Get a plastic table cloth

3. Make a big empty spot in the classroom

4. Have the children put the table cloth on the floor.

5. Place rocks on the corners

6. Scatter the supplies all over the tablecloth

7. Have children get dinosaurs, cars, blocks, other plastic toys

8. You sit down and start playing

9. Wait, don't make the children join you

10. They will join you

One Final Note

Think about what you have read and learned.

Think about the child you are trying to help.

Answer these questions honestly:

What do you expect the child to do?

How do you think this activity will help this child?

I understand how hard it is to be a preschool teacher. Most of the time, you take your work home, just so you can come up with something new to try. My goal is to make it where you don't have to take your work home, just save the activities and use them.

My next article will include other hands-on activities.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Joanna Blackburn

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