When I first started teaching 3-5 year old kids, it didn’t take me long to realise that the approach I’d been taught in my TEFL training course just wouldn’t cut it in the very young learner classroom. I searched high and low for ideas on how to structure a lesson for this age group but there just wasn’t much out there. So today I’m sharing with you the outline that I use when planning. You’ll notice it has many elements from mainstream early childhood education and but with an extra focus on language development. There are lots of other ways to structure a lesson depending on the methodology that you have adopted. However, if you’re looking for a place to start with your VYL lesson planning, I think you will find this is an easy to follow framework. This is based on a programme which has daily lessons of 45 minutes. Adapt it as you wish and if you try it out, let me know how it goes!

Lesson Framework:

Greeting with a familiar song to start the lesson.
Try this simple Hello Song from Super Simple Songs

Verbal greeting – practice social skills of greeting others with different games or finger-plays.
There are some great ideas at the Our Everyday Life website

Today’s schedule – use flashcards/images to go through the main activities that you will do that day.
Ideally you will take photos of the kids doing the different activities and use these but until you can, Sparkle Box has some great free printables.

Look at the weather, date and day of week on the calendar.

Introduce or revise the topic of the week – this could be done with images or a special display with objects somewhere in the room – Invite students to guess what they are going to look at that week or remember the key language they have been working with.

Circle time – Engage with something real/new – pull out of a bag.
I have a really easy song to go with this to get them guessing which is sung to the tune of ‘The Farmer In The Dell’. We clap our hands and sing: What’s in the bag? oh, what’s in the bag? E-I-A-Laddie-Oh, What’s in the bag?
Flashcards
Realia
Art project which will be made that day
Photos
Sing a song or read a story to extend the theme.

Topic related language work:
Day 1: Language support – games to provide context, exposure and some controlled practice of some key language

Day 2: Input with technology – video clip/images to show language or concept in real life context/game/activity with them taking photos or videos/etc

Day 3: Project based activity – this could be where you have your drama, science, or literature

Day 4: Sensory & Artistic Activities – craft or sensory play to encourage language production

Day 5: Free Play with topic related resources/toys/materials

Tidy up classroom

Goodbye song
You might like to have a couple of songs to use here to prevent yourself from going crazy after the first month! Again, Super Simple Songs has a good one you could try.