How to create lesson plans for toddlers

Do you feel like your toddler is missing out by not going to some type of daycare? That’s how I felt. My son is home and school/daycare is not an option for us.

I felt I was taking something away or he was missing something by him not going to a place where teachers had all these fun developmental activities to do for him.  

This post is part of our homeschool series. We spent a full month talking and getting ready to homeschool our toddlers.

Homeschool toddler series include:

  I changed that, I learned what I needed to do to create a homeschool plan and created my own lesson plans (Which are now available for purchase). I didn’t realize how much went into creating a lesson plan and how much time it consumed to develop the plan, create the activities around it, and any worksheet that referenced it. Today, I’m going to summarize the best I can how you can also create your own lesson plans at home. If you’re a mom with a 1 or 2 years old, then you need personalized play-theme based lesson plans for effective & interactive learning.

A lesson plan for toddlers must be Play-based

Toddlers have a very limited attention span, so they need to be engaged in interactive play-based lesson plans. It keeps them engaged for a longer period, helping them learn effectively. They learn through play so we need to meet them where they learn the most. Mothers need to create a toddler lesson plan that revolves around toddler playing activities. To create a quick, playful, and engaging lesson plan for your toddlers, play must be the center of the plan.

How to Create A Toddler Lesson Plan

To create a toddler lesson plan, a few considerations come into play. Below is a step-by-step guide that teaches you to create a toddler lesson plan that’d be highly personalized for your tot. So without further ado, let’s start!

  1. Start By Reference Age Milestones

The first thing you need to consider is the age of your baby.expect a one-year-old to accomplish? what should your two-year-old reach during the second year?

Recommended: What to Milestones for 1-year-old? what should your Milestones for 2 years old?

You can’t expect a 1-year-old baby to do certain tasks. A child takes around 2 years before he/she starts to grab things, say complete words, kick large balls, start to walk on both feet, and perform several other activities. make sure you start with referencing what you want or expect your child to accomplish this year. To create a toddler lesson plan, you need to consider the tasks your tot can do and what they should do. If your toddler is between 2-2.5 years, then he/she should do the following things:

  • Can say 50 words
  • Starts running without falling
  • Starts to jump
  • Starts to kick large-sized balls
  • Can play on swings, slides, activity towers
  • Can paddle a tricycle
  • Start to bend to pick up things from the ground
  • Take off shoes & pants on his/her own and co-operate when you dress him/her up
  • Can ask you to take him/her to the toilet
  • Starts to grab things
  • May/may not share toys
  • Likes to get attention and give affection to those who stay around him/her

Learning about the toddler milestones can help you create a toddler lesson plan your kid is more likely to follow. Without considering the age reference milestones, you might create a lesson plan that’s hard for your kid to follow. Hence, ensure to consider the milestones and create a lesson plan that includes appropriate and doable activities. If you’re someone who’s very concerned about kids and want to ensure that your lesson plan is perfectly appropriate for your toddler, then consult an occupational & pediatric physical therapist. It will help you find out what kinds of activities your toddler can perform.

  1. Identify Learning Goals

Once you know what milestones they will reach this year, now look for academic goals. What should your child learn this year? what will get them one step closer to the stuff they will learn in Pre-K?

Recommended: Learning goals for 1 year old | Learning goals for 2 years old

Creating a lesson plan for your toddler is a tedious task and requires you to consider a lot of things before you come up with an appropriate plan. Once you’ve figured out what kinds of activities/milestones your toddler can do, the next step is to determine learning goals. There are several kinds of skills that are developed at an early age, which include conversational language, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, pre-kindergarten readiness concepts, and many others. You can’t expect your teeny tiny toddler to learn everything at once, that too when he/she has a very limited attention span. Therefore, you need to create a toddler lesson plan that’s very specific and aims at developing certain skills. Let’s say you want to develop fine motor skills in your toddler, it requires you to create a lesson plan that’s not only according to the age reference milestones but bode well with your goals as well. To create a toddler lesson plan that aims at developing fine motor skills in your kid, include one or more activities from the following suggestions:

  • Add a playdough activity to the lesson plan
  • Water play with basters, strengthening your kid’s hands while squeezing and releasing the water
  • Tape peeling from a surface
  • Transferring water from a bow to ice cube trays

Your goals may vary from developing fine motor skills, but the idea is to have some achievable objectives. Other goals may include conversational language learning, gross motor skills, and recognizing alphabets, numerics, and items. Depending on what kind of skills you’re aiming to strengthen in your pre-kindergarten kind, set your goals, and create lesson plans accordingly. Before setting the goals, make sure that the activities required to achieve the skills can be performed easily by your toddler.

  1. Identify Child’s Current Interest

Are They Into Dinosaurs? Cars? Unicorns? If you’re a mom looking to create a lesson plan for your toddler or even a preschooler, then pay attention to what his/her interests are at the moment. One of the most important considerations for creating lesson plans is to acquire engagement from the kids. If the activities include in the lesson plan aren’t according to your child’s interest, then they could have a harder time engaging with an activity. But for example, if you child is into dinosaurs, and you create an activity based on dinosaurs to learn shapes then it is more likely that your child will engage with the activity. Let’s face it; if your toddler isn’t interested in the lesson plan created, then it’ll be ineffective. When you’re creating a lesson plan, keep in mind the interest your child has at the time.  

How to Identity Interests?

You probably already know what peeks their interest the most, but if you need some help here are a few tips. Start by observing him/her closely for a few days. During those days, offer them a few items like toy figurines to play or try to involve them in certain activities you think they might be interested in. The more your child spends time with a certain activity/theme, the more he/she is interested in that. According to a teacher, “Another way to identify their interests is by showing animated expressions of interests to them when they want to catch out attention while doing a particular activity. If the child responds to the expression with visible pleasure, it shows that they want more of it.”

Incorporate the Interests In The Learning Plan

Once you’ve identified their current interests and most-favorite toys, include them in the lesson plan to keep it fun and enjoyable. It will increase the effectiveness of the lesson plan. You may be tempted to include a certain activity to the lesson plan just because it appeals to you. However, your toddler might not react to it the same way. So always follow their muse instead of yours. Child’s interests keep changing until he/she reaches a certain age. Therefore, make sure your lesson plan is flexible, and you can change the activity if your toddler doesn’t find the activity or toy interesting anymore.

  1. Create Themes Or Categories

If you want to reap desired results from a lesson plan for your kid, then create themes or weekly categories for each month. You can do a week or even a month where it is all about learning body parts for a one-year-old. Each week you can do a different body part and do activities around that. or maybe for a two-year-old, you can do a theme about firetrucks, and Planning ahead is the key to keep the plan running smoothly and effectively. It allows you to plan your schedule accordingly and gather the required material and items required for the next week. Another important part of planning properly is to create themes or weekly categories. Doing so would help you stay on the right track and prevent slipping off the plan. When you keep a particular theme for a week, you wouldn’t need to make any special or separate arrangements within the same week. It will not only save time but help you stay organized for the whole week or even month. Let’s say you keep the “fine motor skills” theme for a week; you wouldn’t need to gather different sorts of material because you have already gathered the whole material. Dividing your lesson plan into weekly categories, ensure consistency. When you keep your kid involved in a certain type of skill development activity, his/her attention span improves. With consistent learning, you’ll be able to prepare your pre-schooler better. Another benefit of creating themes and planning for the whole month is that you get to spend more time with your kids. Rather than spending a lot of time in preparing for the upcoming weeks, gathering material for the activities, and planning how to do them, you can spend more time with your kid. It saves you from running behind things you’re going to need in the coming weeks.

Here are a few theme ideas

  • Body Parts
  • Shapes
  • Colors
  • Family
  • Fall
  • Apples
  • Pumpkins
  • Spiders
  • Forest
  • Farm
  • Halloween
  • Leaves and Pinecones
  • Five Senses
  • Thanksgiving
  • Jingle Bells
  • Gingerbread
  • Christmas
  • Winter
  • Snow and Ice
  • Hibernation
  • Arctic Animals
  • Penguins
  • Opposites
  • Day and Night
  • Shadows
  • Feelings/Emotions
  • Valentines
  • Community Helpers
  • Around the World
  • Dr. Seuss
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Rainbows
  • Dinosaurs
  • Spring
  • Easter
  • Spring Animals
  • Bugs and Butterflies
  • Gardening
  • Worms
  • Frogs
  • Birds
  • Weather
  • Recycling/Earth Day
  • Pets
  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Space
  • Deserts
  • Zoo
  • Bees
  • Summer
  • Beach
  • Water
  • Sharks
  • Sun
  • Sand
  • 4th of July
  • Bubbles
  • Camping
  • Water
  • Watermelon
  •  Ice Cream


  1. Search For Age-Appropriate Activities

Once you have decided on a weekly plan or a theme, then the next important point to follow is to search the right age-appropriate activities for kids. This is a very important thing to work on as if the kids don’t find a particular too challenging. They will end up getting frustrated and wouldn’t show any interest in further activities. The reason for this could be an inability to understand particular activities, and that could only result if you choose the wrong activity. While considering the developing child and the various ages, age-appropriate activities play a key role in their emerging sense of self, others, and, of course, their environment. Whether infants, toddlers, preschoolers, or school-age children, they all grow and develop over time with amazing potential and opportunities. However, these opportunities could be founded in self-expression, connection to others, building, sharing, and experiencing various stuff, and having an understanding of themselves is an important part of activities. According to the development psychologist: Jean Piaget, our kids build their own understanding. How they take particular information and organize it, how they perceive their environment, and what they experience is all depends on age. So age-appropriate activities are all about adapting to the child’s level of understanding. It helps to identify the readiness and picking ability of a child to learn, and then you can follow the best and effective way of teaching.

  • Especially when it comes to toddlers, they like to enjoy physical activities that come from their new mobility in their environment.
  • They enjoy exploring the relationships between different objectives and how to control them.
  • They could build their understanding of object permanence, like hide-and-seek.
  • Toddlers can work on using symbols.

Your lesson plan can have activities like:

  • Ball Play
  • Water play
  • Sand play
  • Mesy Play Sensory Bins
  • Playdough
  • Slime
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Puppets
  • Rhymes

When toddlers start playing with age-appropriate toys and activities, they can get strong support for all areas of development and start acquiring security and independence. A good activity will help to learn children in different ways. For instance, blocks can help them learning geometry, counting, and much more, while stuff like LEGOS enhances their ability to organize and disarrange, and so on. But keep in mind over time kids interests keep on changing, and it’s our responsibility to understand what they like and dislike, and what enthuses them to show their creativity.

  1. Use Printables And Sensory Bins For Quick Activities

Sensory bins work best for kids to improve their sensory senses, work on fine motor skills, and learn math and vocabulary. It is one of my favorites types of play for young toddlers. I did an Instagram story to teach you the 101 of sensory bins and how to get started. You can watch this mini-lesson here. Kids love playing with sensory bins. Imagine dipping hands into a bind full of marbles and the colors striking the eyes as you pass hands smoothly through marbles discovering the new exciting objects. While your nose smelling to extremely soothing lavender oil covering those balls, it sounds amazing, and surely would definitely work for the kids. All these senses of smell, touch, etc., get activated during sensory bin play. Kids use their senses to explore things, and this keeps them engage.

Benefits of Sensory Bins

  • Sensory exploration: As mentioned above, sensory bins help in activating various senses, including sight, sound, touch, and smell, for toddlers to learn and explore.
  • Play skills: It promotes cooperative play, which helps children learn easily. These bins could be used in class or at home with friends to improve kid’s socialization. A kid can learn how to communicate, share, and participate with others in gameplay.
  • Language development: It helps in increasing language development. When kids engage in finding stuff, they communicate to discuss hidden objects.
  • Fine motor skills: Toddlers can easily improve fine motor skills through scooping up, grasping the items, stirring the water, and pouring with a variety of useful tools.
  • Cognitive task: It enhances the learning experience with a sensory box filled with items. The kid works to sort items by color, size, shape, and search the hidden items.

Similarly, Learning Printables worksheets let the toddlers grasp the concepts in a non-messy-quick-to-setup way. It helps them learn through different activities. It gives mom a break to be able to sit down and it takes less than 10 minutes to work through it. It is the perfect addon to a mom that is tired, needs a break or works.  You could find various types of learning printables for 1 or 2 years old kids full of fun and work on important academic concepts to get them ready for Pre-K. Those printables could be the shapes, numbers, alphabets, opposites, etc.

  1. Save Time By Getting Premade Lesson Plans To Get You Started

I get it, everything I said sounds overwhelming and super time-consuming. It is not easy to find age-appropriate activities for younger toddlers. It takes time and effort to brainstorm activities. I know because I spent months developing our own curriculum. having lesson plans give you something to look forward and some type of plan to follow while keeps the kids excited to learn and discover new things that they otherwise wouldn’t. However, if doing all the lego-work is not something you want, you can always save time by getting premade curriculum/ lesson plans to help you and toddler, in learning effectively and constantly this year. You could have a pre-made lesson plan, which could be implemented at home for toddlers to learn through play. Those premade lesson plans are carefully crafted to reach milestones, academic goals, and keep it interesting. All the activities in our curriculum and lesson plans are full of FUN. I’m like a little kid so I need to be as excited to create slime and dinosaur tracks as my toddler. These lessons are tried and tested to make sure they are engaging and age-appropriate. The activities are solely based on play, inviting your toddler to explore, understand, and learn through senses. It would be exciting to see your toddler learning new stuff and building skills.

Final thoughts

I hope that this gives you the tools to create a homeschool plan for your toddler this year. Remember, kids, learn by playing so make sure that is the center of your lessons. best and effective ways to create a play-based lesson for your kid. These tips would help you find the most engaging and skillful activities while at the same time, ensure that your kid will learn, develop, and grow. But always keep in mind, interests, and likings keep on changes from kid to kid. So, it’s parents’ and teachers’ responsibility to figure out what lesson plan or theme to do each week to create creativity and excitement at home.