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Organizing Your Preschool Small Group

lesson planning small group teacher tips

Whether you love or loathe organization, the act of being organized in our classrooms make us more effective teachers.  When we don't have to spend time and frustration looking for materials or lesson plans- we feel better. And when we feel better- we teach better.

This is no different when doing small groups in your preschool classroom.  The organization piece is what keeps all the ducks in a row. << Cause we all hate the feeling of squirrels at a rave!

Organizing small group can be broken down into three buckets: 1. Organizing Activities 2. Organizing Data 3. Organizing Materials

I love to plan (what I can) ahead time... before the year even starts.

So, I put together notebooks for myself of skills that I would most likely teach in small group and store my activities within them.

I have 10 activities per notebook/skill and I can just pull a notebook out and have an activity ready in no time flat.

By front-loading these small group activities I have saved myself so much valuable time during the year. You can check out the exact activities I use here.



Keeping straight who is in which small group and what progress they are making can be a challenge.  If you're not careful, you could have a sticky note explosion on your hands!

Here is how I organize the record-keeping side of my groups:

  • Lesson Plan template: I plan out the who, what skills, which activities, materials needed and instructions.
  • Observation Log: Here is where I make notes about what I see students doing during small group. For example, I might observe a child naming several shapes, so I would write that down during our small group time (before I forget)!
  • Group Folders: I use manila folders to store the Observation Logs by skill. I also use these folders to place icons with student names and photos to remind me of who is in what group. Eventually, I plan on adding velcro so I can move student icons from one group to another based on their needs.


Keeping small group materials near you and your small group area can be super helpful.  I found a metal rolling cart that has become my small group cart and I love it! 

I found it at Sam's Club and it works perfectly.  I just roll it on over to the small group table!  Plus, I found a small easel from the Target Bullseye Playground last year that fits perfectly on top!


Inside this cart are common things that we need during our small group (see the list below). Plus, this cart has some nifty little containers that attach to the side and can be pulled off (see the photo) - cool right?


Inside my cart (or nearby) I make sure to have the following materials:

  • Dice
  • Crayons/Markers/Pencils
  • Mini Erasers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Playdough
  • Dot Paints
  • 'Feed Me' containers
  • Magnetic or Foam letters and numerals
  • Fine motor tools (spatulas, pinchers, scoops)

I'm a lover of rolly-carts!  And having one for small group has been amazing!

Now, go check out the Small Group Lesson Plans, so you can get prepped for small group too!

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