Early childhood lesson plan ideas for educators

Many preschool and early childhood centers utilize prepackaged lesson plans from a specific content and curriculum specialist. This type of unified curriculum is especially useful for preschool classrooms within a larger public school district. For small or single private preschool or daycare program, daily lesson planning can present the unique challenge of creating interesting and developmentally appropriate curriculum on a daily basis for children in infant to preschool transition groups.

Early Childhood Lesson Planning Resources

There are many different places to find inspiration for quality lesson plans.

  • Reference books: There is a vast number of early childhood lesson planning reference books available. Some of these are more general in nature, and others cover specific content areas such as art, literacy development, or science. These can be found in book stores, online book selling sites, or at a public library.
  • Free lesson planning content: Free lesson planning guides and materials are readily available online. Try an internet search for a specific theme, age group, or curricular area. Another great source for lesson planning starting points or activity ideas is the NAEYC website. This site contains information on developmentally appropriate practice, evaluation and assessment, and publications such as Teaching Young Children.
  • Teacher lesson plan sharing: Others teachers can be a fantastic source of information. Join a professional group, network during workshops, or speak to other educators within the same school for tips and ideas. These lesson and activity plans have often been classroom tested and modified.

Adapting Lesson Planning Resources for Individual Preschool Classroom Needs

It may be necessary to adapt activity materials for those teachers who choose to use a pre-made lesson plan from a resource book or online publication. A reliable lesson plan created by one teacher, may not entirely work in another classroom. Several different aspects of classroom lesson implementation may come into play when adapting resources.

Adapt lesson plans for age. An imaginative painting exercise for preschoolers may be perfect for toddlers, with some minor changes. Do not disregard a lesson simply because of the stated age range. Additionally, child development is variable. A plan that worked for one teacher with four year olds, may be completely acceptable for another classrooms’ three year olds.

Adapt lessons plans for significance and familiarity. This may be community or culturally contextualized. Make sure that the lesson plans contain activities that are relevant and can be understood by the class.

Seek out specific themes, and then alter the plans to fit a classroom need. For example, a cat shape collage may be listed under an animal theme in a teacher resource book. This activity could easily be adapted to fit a shape or famous artists theme.

Be creative when adapting pre-made plans. Think about the class, and what the lesson objectives are. Consider the possibility of extending a science lesson into the art area, or using literacy activities within a music class.

Teacher Created Lesson Plans

One of the best resources for creating lesson plans is the actual teacher. Use the early childhood development knowledge that has been gained through years of school and/or experience to create unique class specific plans. A good lesson plan does not need to come from somewhere else. Many teachers feel very confidant in creating excellent, well structured plans themselves.

When forming a self-created lesson plan remember to:

  • Have fun!
  • Utilize child development theories and research.
  • Create developmentally appropriate plans.
  • Be specific in terms of plan format, goals, and time line.
  • Plan in advance.
  • Work with other teachers within the school or center.

Lesson planning for preschools and child care centers can be a fun, rewarding experience. Watching a well formulated plan enacted in the early childhood classroom is a wonderful sight to see. Utilize resource books, free online content, and other teachers in order to create positive, developmentally appropriate plans.

Preschool Thanksgiving Art Lesson Plan

Finger paints are a great way to introduce art to the young child. This preschool lesson plan outlines the steps to create a finger print paint Thanksgiving turkey in the early childhood classroom. Using simple materials and a bit of imagination, this art project can help young learners to create a holiday masterpiece.

Thanksgiving Turkey Print Art Lesson Objectives

  • Explore art materials and process.
  • Develop fine motor skills.
  • Investigate animal facts.
  • Connect pictorial representations to a holiday theme.
  • Build color recognition skills.
  • Explore shape, texture, and pattern.
  • Develop pro-social behaviors such as sharing and taking turns.

Age/ Grade Level

This art lesson can be used with children ages three and up. Adapt the plan to fit specific classroom needs or a variety of ages.

Materials Needed to Create Thanksgiving Turkey Art

Washable finger paint or tempera paint
Construction paper

Steps to Create Holiday Hand Print Paint Art


Before beginning this art activity try reading a selection of Thanksgiving themed books to the class. Make sure that the books contain vivid illustrations of turkey characters. Ask the children to identify different parts or features of the turkey such as the eyes or the beak.

Additional pre-activity steps include preparing the materials and the work space. Set out a variety of paint colors (in puddles) on palettes, trays, or other washable surface. Make sure that that the paint is placed in an area where the children can easily share. Using shared paint palettes or trays can add in a lesson on social skills.

Process Steps

  • Invite the children to dip one hand into a puddle of paint palm down. If the children are having a difficult time covering the entire hand large paint brushes may be used to paint the hand.
  • After each child has dipped his or her hand in the paint, ask them to firmly place the painted hand down onto the construction paper with fingers spread. The fingers will be the turkey’s feathers and the palm will be the body/head area.
  • Ask the children to use their fingers (dipped in the paint) to create and define the turkeys face and facial features.
  • Additional feathers in other colors can be added by repeating the steps.

Preschool Art Lesson Wrap Up

This art lesson is meant to be a paint process exploration. The hand print turkeys may not result in realistic looking birds. In fact, these colorful creations may end up appearing more like blobs, lines, and squiggles. Do not force the children to make specific shapes or pictures with the paint. As long as the general idea is understood, the lesson has been a success.

After the artwork has dried, initiate a discussion with the class about the process. Ask questions about how the art was made, what colors were used, and how the paint felt.

Enrichment Activities for the Thanksgiving Turkey Lesson

This art lesson plan can be used alone or combined with other classroom activities. Additionally, it can be integrated into a broad curriculum area or theme.

Examples include:

  • Science: Explore the science behind paint. Examine color and texture.
  • Animals/Birds: Create a nature based lesson by using this art activity with an animal themed unit.
  • Holiday Decorations: Turn these thanksgiving themed masterpieces into bright decorations for a holiday party.
  • Self-concept: Combine this printing activity with a lesson on body parts (such as hands).
  • Colors: Build color recognition skills while allowing the children to create their own shades and hues. Start with only a few colors of paint such as the primaries and whites, and ask the children to mix them up.

The Thanksgiving turkey hand print paint activity will promote artistic imagination and creativity in the preschool classroom. This processes based lesson will help young children to explore paint as a medium, while making holiday themed art. Use the finished turkey print art as part of a thematic lesson or as a fun decoration for a Thanksgiving party.


Author: knowledge herald

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