Lesson Planning At Home

Hi! I’m Melissa from @storytime_mama. I love to share books and activities to bring literacy to life with children. I taught preschool for ten years until my Little Reader was born and I chose to stay home with her until she went to school.

Like many this past year due to the pandemic, we chose to keep our daughter home from what should have been her first year of preschool. It has been mostly my daughter and me 24/7 for the past 15 months!  Being a preschool teacher I had lesson plan ideas galore! However, sometimes we went through what should have been a week’s worth of lesson plans in one day (Insert toddler attitudes, exhaustion and burnout here, and that’s okay too)! 

Maybe you’ve been wondering how to engage your child this summer. Maybe you are deciding if you should keep your preschooler home another year. I get it! Engaging your child at home can be intimidating, hard, and exhausting, but you don’t have to buy an expensive homeschool curriculum or fancy materials to keep your child engaged and having fun. In this blog post I will share my process for lesson planning at home based on BOOKS and studies.

I am defining a preschool study as a well rounded exploration of a topic and using the topic to promote learning objectives such as literacy, math, science, social studies, art, language, gross motor (big body movements), fine motor (small hand and finger movements), dramatic play and social and emotional skills. Each activity you choose will touch a few of these objectives. Not all at one time, or even all in one study and that’s okay. Every activity has its own benefits and providing a variety will hit all the objectives over time. 

I choose studies based on my daughter’s interests as well as coordinating with seasons or holidays. This year we studied apples, leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, harvest, Thanksgiving, snow, bears, winter holidays, Valentine’s Day, soup, space, spring holidays, rainbows, moving, and birds! I hope this overview will help guide you as well! 

Four Steps to Lesson Planning Your Own Study At Home

Step 1:

Observe your child’s play and questions they ask throughout the day. Are they asking about why it rains? Do they like watching birds at the park? You could ask older children directly what they want to learn about. Don’t overthink it, there’s plenty of time to get to all the wonderful study ideas. The benefits of teaching at home are flexibility, learning that occurs naturally in an engaging way, and no deadlines to be met. This approach creates a calm and inviting way for a young child to be inquisitive, hands on, learn, and explore. 

Step 2:

After choosing a topic to study, I begin by gathering books about the topic: fiction and nonfiction. You could gather books from what you already have, a book swap with a friend, the library, or purchasing a couple new ones. Display the books on topic in a special basket or shelf for your child. 

Step 3:

Skim the books by yourself first and write down your ideas. If you are reading a book about birds and the sounds they make, a natural activity you might add to your list would be to go outside and listen to birds or take pictures of birds on a walk. Search Pinterest, Instagram, and other early childhood blogs and websites for inspiration (you don’t need to recreate the wheel). You might find a sensory experience such as painting with feathers or bird seed writing tray to add to your list. I focus on well-rounded activities that don’t specifically drill letters or numbers. Instead find an activity that supports multiple areas like making playdough shapes (fine motor muscle practice needed for writing, making and identifying shapes promotes math skills).

Step 4:

Organize your ideas and activities in a flexible schedule by day of the week. Fill in the blanks from other activities such as ballet, soccer, park, playdates. Now you have a rough lesson plan. If you don’t get to a certain activity on the day you wrote it down, no worries roll it over to another day. If you complete a day’s activities and still need engaging activities because it’s raining and you can’t go outside, go ahead and move on to another day’s activity. It’s always better to have extra activities to pull from even if you don’t get to them. Don’t be afraid of technology, everything in moderation. Search for documentaries or shows to watch about your topic such as Wild Kratts on PBS if you’re exploring animals or watch Finding Nemo if you’re reading about the ocean. Download educational apps for iPad to further explore your study such as BrainPop Jr. or Sesame Street to further introduce and explore topics. 

Sample Study: Apples

We went apple picking at an orchard. Starting or ending a study with an experience is a great introduction or wrap up. I brought a book about apples we already had on the car ride to the orchard. My daughter was asking questions about apples such as what they look like inside, which flavor is the best, etc. Ta Da! The study has begun! 


  • Apples Grow on Trees by Melvin and Gilda Berger
  • Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner
  • Apples and Honey A Rosh Hashanah Lift the Flap Book by Joan Holub and Cary Pillo
  • Apples by Gail Gibbons
  • Picking Apples and Pumpkins by Amy and Richard Hutchings 

You can read books at bedtime, naptime, breakfast, or even while they are doing a hands-on activity.


  • Apple orchard (social studies exploring new places, science seeing how things grow, gross motor picking the apples)
  • Labeling the apples (literacy)
  • Count the apples we picked (math)
  • Make applesauce (science observing changes and math measuring ingredients)
  • Observes the seeds (science)
  • Apple seed counting (math counting one to one, fine motor)
  • Apple graphing favorite color apple (math comparing and contrasting, literacy reading a graph)
  • Apple art stamping, making a Rosh Hashanah Card for family (art, fine motor, science exploring inside an apple, social and emotional)

Sample Lesson Plan:

I hope this gives you confidence and inspires you to lesson plan at home. Follow me @storytime_mama for more book and activity ideas! Feel free to message me with any questions and tag me in any posts so I can see what you are creating and learning! #bringingliteracytolife

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