Learn how to write preschool lesson plans the easy way! With a few simple steps taken in the right order, you can easily plan an entire year’s worth of preschool lesson plans prior to the first day of school.
You read that correctly: I’m going to show you how to create yearly lesson plans for preschool in a single afternoon. Be sure to grab all the FREE printable templates, too!
How to Write Preschool Lesson Plans
I used to be a hyper lesson planner.
When I taught public school, I was that teacher who spent her summers lesson planning and treated it like an 8-5 job. My first summer I wrote 5th grade science lesson plans, since my school didn’t have a curriculum in place. The following summer was spent lesson planning for writing instruction.
Even when I was participating in a very relaxed preschool co-op, my lesson plans were detailed, exact, and left not a minute to spare. I crammed as much in as I possibly could in a single day.
But those highly detailed daily lesson plans were not appropriate for preschoolers.
Preschoolers need time to absorb the information they’re given; they’re not designed to sit still and listen while you check off all the boxes in a lesson plan.
In an early childhood classroom setting, the teacher should be facilitating and guiding instruction, not demanding specific products. Preschoolers need time to explore and question–and to play–with all the knowledge you’re trying to give them.
Since then, I’ve changed my way of planning and developed a new process.
So why do I still plan an entire year at once, you ask?
I plan a year in advance because having it all planned out allows me to focus on the implementation instead of stressing about what I’ll teach the next day. I like having all my ideas recorded in one place so that I don’t forget that one brilliant idea before I have a chance to teach it.
By writing my preschool lesson plans in advance, I also already know what to teach and when so that my “lesson planning time” is only spent gathering materials and manipulatives.
Now that saves a huge amount of time!
What this means is that I get to spend more time with my family and less time planning for preschool.
Keep reading and you’ll see that having preschool lesson plans laid out for a year does not mean I’m scripting my teaching; there’s still plenty of room for tweaking and change as my students’ needs demonstrate.
My system is straight-forward and easy to follow; just a few steps and a few hours and you, too, can plan your lessons for an entire year.
How to Write Preschool Lesson Plans in Four Easy Steps
The first step is to create a calendar of your year. Having a yearly calendar is critical to keeping parents informed. I use a blank calendar specifically for preschool and start by writing down important dates.
Things to consider include:
- when school begins
- holiday breaks
- personal breaks or appointments
- holiday parties to celebrate as a preschool
- other possible interruptions (i.e. maternity leave for me)
I also include in this calendar a general scope and sequence for the year. A scope and sequence is a list of skills to teach and the order in which you plan to teach them.
I number each week that I’m teaching and then label those weeks according to what I’m teaching in reading and math. At the top of each month I write down monthly focus concepts, like the theme, number of the month, and also the shape and color of the month. I also have that same information printed into a table, laying out each month’s focus concepts.
I’ve written my own preschool curriculum that is affordable and proven. These lesson plans are a critical piece to my being able to lesson plan a year in advance.
They are derivative of this post on how to write preschool lesson plans.
You, on the other hand, might be looking for something different.
There are basically two schools of thought when it comes to teaching reading in preschool: phonics or whole language.
What’s the difference?
Here’s a simple explanation. Phonics instruction systematically introduces pre-reading skills and alphabetic knowledge. Whole language relies on naturally integrating those skills into play.
Both approaches have their merits in a preschool setting, and you’ll find successful teachers using either approach. My preschool literacy curriculum is a phonics-based curriculum that is supported by whole language activities.
What about teaching math in preschool?
Most people think that math lessons in preschool are comprised mainly of counting, sorting, and patterns.
This is inaccurate.
A complete preschool math curriculum includes teaching in all five disciplines of math.
The five disciplines of math are:
- number sense
- data analysis
I spiral through each discipline. A spiraling curriculum means that key concepts are repeated throughout the curriculum. Each time a key concept is taught, the content goes a little deeper.
For example, in week one I focus on number sense skills, week two algebra skills, week three geometry, and so on. Then we loop through those disciplines again and the activities build upon the previous content.
You can read more about how I spiral the disciplines and write my math lesson plans in this post.
My preschool math curriculum includes several whole and small group activities, as well as two new centers each week so preschoolers can get plenty of independent practice in the target skills.
You can use the following lesson plan template to organize your own spiraling math lesson plans. You can also write in activity ideas in this template.
Some teachers and homeschooling parents prefer to plan themes only a month or so in advance because they use the input and interest of their students to guide those thematic choices.
I don’t do this so much.
I prefer to select themes based on what is appropriate for their age, what I know will interest my students based on their age and developmental skills, and what I am interested in.
I believe this last point is as important as the first. The teacher must also have a strong interest in the content. I’ve found that the more enthusiastic I am about a theme, the better I teach it. I use my own enthusiasm to get my students super excited about the topics and activities.
It’s worth mentioning that not every theme is appropriate for every group of preschoolers, so you have to use your best judgment.
The final step is to develop a list of suggested activities based on the themes you’ve selected.
Make a table displaying the month and theme with a list of activities related to that theme. Knowing that I typically have eight teaching days in a given month (because I teach preschool twice a week), I make a list of ten to twelve activities. These are simply suggestions I’m making for myself; they can be changed or ignored when necessary.
Once the month is upon me, I pick and choose what activities I’ll teach based on how my students are responding to the theme.
I try to keep the activities simple, yet still valuable to learning. You can see all my ideas here!
As you can see, these activities are relatively simple; there’s nothing overly elaborate that requires extensive materials and planning, but they’re still valuable experiences in the education of my preschool class.
Okay, I fibbed. There are actually five steps, but the last step is a bonus!
Want to know how to organize everything into a single binder? Once you have your lesson plans in place, it can be hard to know the best way to organize them. I just use a binder, which you can see in this post.
Recap on How to Write Preschool Lesson Plans
Step 1: Create a Calendar
Step 2: Decide How to Teach Reading and Math
Step 3: Decide on Themes
Step 4: Create a List of Suggested Activities
Step 5: BONUS! – Organizing Lesson Plans
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.