“Is this your car? Can you take me to the park?”
Pretty soon, he turned the beanbag chair into
Santa’s sack, placed all the stuffed animals on
top as the toys, and recruited four friends to jump
around in front of him as reindeer. All I had to do
was to give him an idea—and then let the play
evolve. This book was written primarily for student
teachers and new teachers in early childhood or
early childhood special education. However, it
also provides veteran teachers with ideas that will
help them refresh their love of teaching and spark
their creativity.

Most teachers are proficient in finding ac-
tivities. Although this book is activity based, it
is written to encourage teachers to think about
why they are using an activity and how to use the
lesson to enhance learning. The activities are a
foundation for lesson planning and include adap-
tations for many different skill levels. The ideas
complement curriculum and can be used with
numerous topics and a variety of literature. Each
lesson is based on common knowledge of the de-
velopment of young children and on my years of
experience working with preschoolers.

I have been an early childhood special edu-
cation teacher since 1995. I have never found a
yellow-brick path or a magical wizard to make
sure I was on track. We do need to allow children
to break out of their shells, find their wings, and
learn to fly. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could
provide them with enough wind to help them soar
over the mountains?
I stood up one day and looked around my early
childhood classroom. The volume was excessively
high, and the children were busy dumping out
boxes of toys and quickly moving on to the next
item. They were not engaged and seemed to be
constantly squabbling for attention. One little girl,
who seemed to prefer observing the scene rather
than tossing herself into the stormy sea, came
over to stand beside me. She looked up and de-
clared, “Well, we sure aren’t in Kansas anymore.”
What was happening was a lack of structure
and planning on my part. I quickly realized that
I was filling time in the day. My directives to the
children went like this:
“Go do puzzles.”
“Here is a box of blocks.”
“Go look at some picture books.”
The children were great, but I needed to
change. They deserved lessons that were created
to promote learning, functional skills, and inter-
action. They needed structure, boundaries, and
well-thought-out activities.

That was the beginning of this book. The ideas
you find here will help children be creative, learn
new skills, and build relationships with their
peers. Please know that there is a difference be-
tween overbearing boundaries and well-planned
activities. Structure doesn’t need to limit chil-
dren’s experiences.

Some preschoolers need a direction and are
then able to take the play to their own level of
imagination. Let me tell you a story about a child
like that. As this particular boy sat on the couch
watching his friends, I sat down and said to him,