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Flexibility is the Key to Success
The most important concept to keep in mind when creating a daily plan for a toddler classroom is flexibility. The daily plan will outline the activities toddlers will participate in during the day and the approximate times these activities will take place. It is essential to have a plan in place as a guide to the day. Toddlers thrive on routine and having a daily plan can help you stick to a routine. See the attached sample daycare daily plan for toddler rooms.
Toddler attention spans are notoriously short, so keeping the pace of the day quick will help you. Be sure you have a good mixture of fine motor and gross motor activities, as well as time for one on one activities and small group activities. Most toddler plans will consist almost entirely of gross motor activities such as climbing, running, and jumping but there should also be some time set aside for fine motor activities such as scribbling with crayons or dramatic play.
Any large group activity should be kept very short. Five minutes or less is more than enough time to expect toddlers to function happily as a large group. Also, large group activities should include some gross motor activity such as dancing, clapping or jumping because toddlers cannot be expected to sit still, hands in their laps, to listen to a long story.
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While the daily plan will dictate the schedule of activities, you also need a simple lesson plan. A lesson plan for toddlers should include the objectives you would like to meet for the week. Sometimes, it is best to plan individual lessons for each child. For example, your lesson plan could state that you will use playdough with Lauren because she is working on her pincer grasp. Ryan is interested in filling and dumping, so your lesson plan will note that you will provide him with opportunities to play in the sensory table with sand and buckets.
Toddler lesson plans rarely revolve around a theme. Most art projects should focus on the process of making the art rather than the product created. Books should be chosen according to the brevity of the story and its appropriateness in a toddler classroom. Board books and bathtub books are best, as both can withstand rough page turns and toddler teeth.
Keep your daily schedule flexible, yet make sure there is time for routines. For example, be sure to note time for lunch and snacks, diaper changes and potty visits, and time for naps and resting. Toddlers thrive on routine and being sure that these primary care activities happen at the same time each day will provide that.
Be sure to take a look at the sample daily daycare plan for a toddler room. Use this document in your own classroom, or as a guide to creating your own unique daily plan.