Preschool-aged children are full of energy and have a strong desire to learn. These qualities can make planning lessons for this age group an enjoyable challenge. Because preschoolers tend to have a short attention span and can't sit in one place for too long, lengthy lessons that consist of lectures and structured activities are not ideal. Instead, when planning lessons for this age group, incorporate activities that grab students' interest, get them moving and allow them to explore and investigate the topic in a hands-on manner.
Select a topic for the lesson. Choose one topic for the lesson, rather than trying to focus on several topics at once. For example, when teaching a lesson about letter-sound recognition, focus on one letter at a time rather than several letters at once. In a given example, focusing on more than one letter at a time may confuse students and interfere with their comprehension of the lesson.
Set goals or objectives for the lesson. Determine what you want students to learn and gain from the lesson you are planning.
Take into consideration the ability, interests and learning styles of the students. Children learn in different ways and have different background experiences. For example, one student may be a tactile learner while another is a visual learner, or one student may have experience with the topic you are focusing on, while another may have no background knowledge related to the topic.
Locate and acquire resources to achieve the goals you have set for your lesson. Look through teaching resource books and educational websites. Visit teaching supply stores and department stores and look in the school and your home for resources that can be used to reach the desired goals.
Incorporate a variety of activities that engage students and offer different experiences. Include activities that offer students opportunities to listen, see, touch and move. Stay away from activities that will take longer than five to 10 minutes, because preschoolers have a short attention span and tend to become distracted and fall off task. Include backup activities in your plan in case the lesson takes less time than you expected, or in case one of the activities is unsuccessful.
Plan a succession of activities that makes sense for your group. For example, you may choose to introduce the focus topic through a story or a discussion while students are seated, move to an activity that allows students to have a hands-on experience with the topic, and then complete the lesson with an activity that allows students to move around. Plan activities in a way that best fits your students.
Include a way to assess what students have gained from the lesson. A craft project or a simple discussion are effective assessment methods for students at this age.