TIPS! Creating Meaningful Activities and Schedules

Here are some ways to create a daily schedule that gives children opportunities to learn as they play and participate in daily routines.

Provide whole group, small group, and individual learning experiences

Whole group activities provide interaction with all children in a program. Circle time, morning and afternoon exercise, family-style snacks and lunches, and fun transition times are all examples of how children can spend time learning together. Consider including a mix of calm group activities and more energetic ones.

Small group activities give children time to work with each other in a teacher-directed or child-directed environment. You can create cards for games like alphabet bingo, use traditional board games like Chutes and Ladders, build structures using props in the block area, or set up a more high-energy round of musical chairs.

Individual learning experiences address a child’s unique abilities and skills. Teachers can adjust their lesson plans for specific children. Teachers can also take the time during small group activities to provide these one-on-one learning opportunities with children.

Use information from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

If applicable, the daily schedule and activities should support the goals referenced in a child’s IEP or IFSP. When these plans are requested and received from families, accommodations and modifications to routines, play, and learning activities can be made so that each child is able to participate and be successful.

Include adequate time for transitions

Providing a smooth flow from one activity to the next throughout the day is key. To help children adjust to new activities, consider giving them reminders that the current activity will be ending soon so they can prepare. Simple transitions such as a cleaning-up song, a line-up dance, or a “Word of the Day” chant are engaging and provide time for children to finish their activities and get ready for something new.
Provide literacy and reading opportunities

Programs and providers should include literacy and reading opportunities every day. Engaging children through story time and read-alouds, encouraging exploration of books in classroom libraries, and teaching emerging literacy skills through drawing and labeling drawings are all ways that will give children a good foundation in literacy.

Design domain-based activities

Domain-based activities contribute to early literacy skill development and promote school-readiness. A well-thought out activity often addresses more than one domain. For example, preparing for a craft project to create a tree using glue, twigs, and paper could address the following:

  • Physical: going outdoors and hopping around to trees and shrubs
  • Scientific: identifying leaves or tree types, asking why the leaves are turning brown, discussing what leaves do
  • Mathematical: counting the number of twigs and leaves gathered, then arranging them by color or size
  • Language and Literacy: asking how to spell “tree” and “leaf,” reading a poem about leaves
  • Art: encouraging children to arrange their leaves and twigs into trees on construction paper or poster board

These TIPS are designed to assist you with creating a purposeful and individualized schedule using domain-based activities. Consider these tips when developing your daily schedule to meet criteria in the Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice (DAP) content area of the Maryland EXCELS Standards.