Preschool teachers work hard in the classroom by trying to cover the fundamentals of learning, while making it fun for the children. Teachers work with 3- to 5-year-olds, and before the children reach kindergarten, the children must learn certain skills. Teachers must teach the children their alphabet, counting and patterning skills, how to recognize and write their name, fine motor skills including cutting and pasting during art time, and familiarize them with classic stories.
Preschool teachers often try to coordinate their lesson plans around weekly themes. These themes may vary from the seasons and holidays to more interactive themes, including: all about me, nursery rhymes, people and countries or different plants. Preschool teachers will plan different lessons for their different centers that incorporate the weekly theme.
The preschool classroom contains a multitude of learning opportunities at different centers. If the teacher chose the nursery rhyme theme, she may read some rhymes from a Mother Goose Treasury, such as Baa Baa Black Sheep, during story time. The teacher may ask the children to draw a picture of their favorite nursery rhyme at the art center, and provide puppets for them to act out the nursery rhymes in the dramatic play area. During the music center, the children and the teacher could sing and dance to certain nursery rhymes like London Bridges or Ring Around the Rosies. If a preschool teacher prefers, she could choose a seasonal theme like fall. She can combine a math and an art project by having the children collect leaves from the playground and glue them on construction paper. After they are complete, the teacher and her assistants will help the children count how many leaves each of them have. They can also do a science and color project by studying the different varieties of apples and comparing the taste and color of each kind. She may wish to read the book "10 Red Apples," which discusses how to subtract apples from the tree.
As noted, teachers may not be able to cover every center with their chosen theme. Therefore, they must still schedule in some time to teach the fundamentals of learning. Teachers may have the children practice their names, either by clapping out each letter at circle time, or by tracing their name on paper, in the writing center. They will provide several patterning cards, complete with teddy bear manipulatives for children to practice counting and patterns in the math center. Children may also practice measuring skills in the water and sand tables. Teachers also schedule free play time into their lesson plans for the children to have unstructured play time. This allows them to play creatively, often building towers in the block area or playing house or dress-up in the dramatic play center.
With special themes, teachers often schedule field trips to symbolize a theme's importance. Most preschools visit an apple orchard during the fall, allowing children to pick some of their own apples. Some allow them to tour the cider press and then they can taste freshly baked doughnuts and apple cider.