classroom management

Easy (and free) Preschool Lesson Plan Template

Lesson Planning...

do you love it?  or do you loathe it?

Either way, for teachers {including preschool teachers}, planning is a way of life.  

You know what they say (or more specifically what Ben Franklin said)

 "Failing to plan is planning to fail"

I happen to truly believe in this statement, as I have tried (and failed) the whole 'fly by the seat of your pants' thing.  #majorconfession  I thought...'I got this, I will just wing it and it will be fine.'

I mean it was 'fine', I kept the children alive.

But... I didn't accomplish much and I felt all over the place.  Not only that, but I didn't have the materials I needed once I did think of what we were going to do that day.

So, to me - planning is a must. 

Have a path, you might get off the path, since working with preschoolers is never straight forward, but at the very least - have a path.

Now, all this talk about planning leads me to share with you the lesson planning template I use!

It is simple, easy and straightforward.  It is also created for a play-based learning setting, where limited time is spent in teacher directed activities.

To some, it might seem bare.  Not enough. 

But, I encourage you to really dig deep into what children need most in their day.  In my mind- it's opportunities to learn with peers in a way that is natural to them.  Yep, that natural way is play It is how they were made to learn.

Please feel free to take this template and tweek it - it is editable (but you must use Adobe Reader, fyi).  All areas can be changed that are in blue.

Tell me about your lesson planning process in the comments below!

Preschool Classroom Jobs

You can give every student in your classroom a job easily and fit them into your preschool classroom!

 Kids love feeling special and I love helping them feel special!  That is why in our preschool classroom each and every child has a special job every day.  For us, having preschool classroom jobs is not just about children helping out in class.  Jobs help cultivate a feeling of community.  Plus, when each student gets a job everyday he or she fills a special spot within that community.  For preschoolers, jobs are super fun!

I like to create jobs that fit easily into our day.   Some of the jobs I assign are carried out through the day.  Some examples of these jobs include: 

-Door Holder

-Light Helper

-Snack Helper

-Lunch Helper

-Materials Helper

-Line Leader

I also like to incorporate some jobs that promote learning and community that we carry out during our circle time.  Some examples of these jobs include:

-The Greeter (see picture below)

-Weather Watcher

-Calendar Helper

-Estimation Helper

-News Reporter

-Survey Taker

Some of these circle time jobs I like to bring in and out throughout the year to give a little variety to the jobs and to our circle time.

Are you thinking...a job for everyone- that sounds like a lot of work?!  Trust me when I tell you, once students learn the jobs, it flows so nicely.  Give it a try!  

Do you already incorporate a job for each student everyday?  Tell me about it in the comments below!


Are you looking for a classroom jobs kit that is already made for you?  You can check out the one I created and use in my classroom here:

Keep Preschool Circle Time Lively with these Quick Tips!

Do you struggle with to keep your preschool student's attention at circle time?  Are students distracted and un-engaged?  These quick tips to keeping circle time lively might help!

preschool circle time tips

Imagine with me if you will....

It is mid-year in your preschool classroom and it is time for circle time.  You are feeling a little dread because circle time is not your favorite time of the day.  It is supposed to be an engaging time to build a class community and review some core skills.  But, anymore it feels just routine.  Kids are rolling, pinching, picking and talking.  < None of which are a part of your circle time plan.

You started wondering why even bother with circle time.  It seems like some 'right of passage' for preschool.  But, you aren't feeling it.  So, you do less and less of it.  But, then you start wondering when you and your class are going to review some of those key skills like letter recognition or counting.  There is small group time, but you feel like you need to do some review daily.  You are also starting to miss that comradery that your circle time had at the beginning of the year.  The class coming together and learning together - it can be such a powerful experience!

So maybe you'd like to have some sort of circle time with your class, but it needs some revamping.....

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Does this experience sound at all familiar to you?  Are you ready to make some changes in  your circle time routine to keep it a fun and lively learning experience?

Check out these Quick Tips to Keep Circle Time Lively:

  • A circle time that lasts too long can result in negative behaviors from students.  How long is your circle time?  Do you extend the time frame as the year goes on?  At the beginning of the year I like to keep circle time short and sweet at around 10 minutes.  As the year goes on I extend the time as student's attention spans increase and by the end of the year our circle time is roughly 15-20 minutes (at most).

 

  • Consider your physical space.  Do children sit on one large rug?  If so, could you take the proactive route and add names to tape and create designated spots for each child.  Or, do children have their own carpet squares which help define their personal space?  Sometimes considering the space you have for students to sit can help management issues.  Hearing "He is touching me!" or "She is sitting where I want to sit!" stops when spaces are defined.

 

  • Keep students involved in circle time by giving out jobs within your circle time.  Like, a calendar helper, weather watcher or song leader.  You can also keep students involved by encouraging conversation and asking for student input.

 

  • Shake up your routine by changing it up.  Decide some 'core' activities you plan on doing every day (like calendar, weather or greeter) and change up some 'add-in' activities.  For example, you could add in an estimation jar activity, nursery rhymes or student surveys.  Bring in different add in activities every several weeks/months to keep things fresh!  

I have found, after making some adjustments to my circle time that this time together can stay a positive learning experience with just a little bit of planning on my part.  With an intentional plan in place my class is now rockin' circle time and loving every minute of it!

If you'd like, I have my sample circle time schedules for download below:

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Things to Consider when Setting up Preschool Circle Time

When planning out circle time for your preschool classroom, set-up of your space is a key component.  Read on for more!

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I finished my school year up about 3 weeks ago and no matter how hard I try to take a little break from school.  My mind always seems to go to next year.  It is like my teacher brain just can't shut off!  {do ya know the feeling?}

I thought..maybe... you might be looking to the future too and thinking about next year, but if you are not - PLEASE pin this post to read later - for when you are ready.  Teachers deserve a break #takeitgirl

So... planning is like one of my favorite things.  Planning vacations, planning lessons, planning my year, planning for well...anything!

Time and time again I use my summer to plan out my year.  It just makes me happy.

Are you a planner too?
 

Circle Time Set-Up: the environment

One thing I did last year is sit down and plan out my circle time set-up.  I was in a new room and wanted to get the set-up right the first time.  So, I drew myself a little sketch of where in the room I wanted my circle time to be.  I knew that I needed to keep in mind the number of students I had to fit in the space and the number of distractions the space had.  I sure didn't want my kiddos watching out the door while we were trying to do some serious learning together!  I also didn't want my kiddos squished like sardines (can you hear the 'he touched me' whining that would be going on?).  After lots of consideration, I put my circle time in a corner of my room.  It actually worked out perfectly last year.

Circle Time Set-Up: the board/wall

Another thing I did in regards to planning out my circle time set-up was creating a sketch of where things were going to go on the board.  I absolutely hate running out of bulletin board space just because I didn't take the time to think it all through.  I split my circle time activities into 2 groups.  1- skills I wanted to cover the whole year (calendar, weather, counting) and I called these CORE SKILLS.  2- skills I wanted to cover for a short time or when children mastered the skills (colors, shapes, estimation) and I called these ADD-IN SKILLS.  I knew that I needed room on my bulletin board space for items that were going to last the whole year (core skills) and a place for items to come and go (add-in skills).

Of course while planning I made little sketches and some notes in my notebook.  But, I love to create things for other teachers... so I created a 'Circle Time Set-Up' mini-workbook (if you will).
This mini workbook provides you with ideas and things to consider when planning the physical space for your circle time.  It also gives you space to sketch it out!

circle-time-set-up-2

Head to the RESOURCE LIBRARY to get these planning printables!  

Not a member of the resource library?  Sign-up below - it's free!  Plus, there are many more free resources inside- all in one spot!

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Streamline Your Assessment Process

Sooo... you know that feeling when things aren't fitting together right? It is like a feeling of disorder and it brings an uneasy feeling... like you can't wrap your brain around how it all is supposed to connect.  Please tell me it isn't just me!

I remember the time at the beginning of the school year, last year, when I felt this feeling.  I struggled to map out how my assessment pieces would fit together.  Like, I knew I needed some sort of sheet to record data and I also knew I wanted to have student portfolios.  But, how they connected and the pieces that were missing were bring me that 'disorderly feeling'.  

Unfortunately for me, I drive myself completely crazy until I find a 'map' to the problem that makes sense for me.  So, last school year, at the beginning of the year, I was driving myself crazy!

But folks...I got it done and I feel so.much.better.

Want to go through the same process I did to get my assessments streamlined?

Let's go!

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SECTION 1: Your Goals and Standards: Learning Goals or your State's Standards are at the center of the assessment process.  These goals are what you are working towards helping your students learn by the end of the year.  These standards are the EXACT skills you should be assessing and reporting on.  

Think it Out: What Goals/Standards do you use? Do you use your State's Early Learning Standard?  Or do you use a set of goals given to you by your administration?

SECTION 2: Collecting and Recording Data: This is where you will take the Goals/Standards you are using and decide which skills you are going to collect data on.  In my state, the number of standards was a bit overwhelming, so I had to narrow them down to make my data collection realistic (here are the goals I use).  You will need to decide how you plan on collecting data for the goals that you have established. This is where you find out from students what they know in relation to the standards. Recording the data you have gained is the step that I was struggling with the most.  I knew I needed an all-inclusive list of the skills I was assessing for each student.  Finding the right one for me was what was giving me a problem.  Eventually, I had to create my own.

Think it Out:  Will you complete some whole class assessments? Will you do individual assessments?  Will you try to make your assessments as play-based as possible?  How will you record the data that you gained during your testing? Will you have individual student recording sheets?  Or, a class recording sheet?

SECTION 3: Using and Communicating Results: This last section (I feel) is the most important. Now that you have data on your students, it is time to use it!  Finding discrepancies of a certain skill in all or most of your students may mean that the skill needs to be brought to light again (and probably several more times) in whole group.  If you are finding just a couple of students struggling with a particular skill, it may mean that a small group time with those students, focusing on that skill, may be in order.  You may also find that one student is struggling with multiple skills.  Choosing one skill to focus on and working with that child one-on-one may be the best route.

The last step is to decide how you plan on communicating the results with parents and caregivers.  Our preschool uses portfolio-based reporting, so the decision was easy for me.  Perhaps you have a certain way to report to parents as well.  But if not, go through the 'think it out' questions below.

Think it Out: How do you plan on using the results from your assessments?  Will you use results to guide whole group instruction?  Will you create small groups or work with students one on one?  When do you plan on working with the groups?  How do you want to communicate results with parents?  Will you use a report card style info sheet?  Will you use portfolios to show progression?  Or will you just report to parents during a conference?

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Streamlining your assessment process is a lot to think about.  But, I hope this post has helped you get your thoughts in order for a successful year of using assessments to guide instruction!