DAP Activities in a Preschool Classroom

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Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) is a term defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the organization that sets most of the standards in early childhood education. Developmentally Appropriate Practices are guidelines for what it is appropriate to teach young children, and how best to do that. To do this, a teacher must know the developmental stages of the children she teaches, as well as their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1 Child-Directed Art Activities

Provide preschoolers with a variety of art supplies: white paper, colored construction paper, scissors, glue, paint, crayons, markers, wood scraps, glitter, sequins, felt, or anything else that can be used in an art project. Place the supplies on a shelf so the children can get their own art supplies and return them when they are finished. During free play or art time, encourage open-ended art projects in which the children plan what they will make and where there is no set goal for them.

2 Blocks

Make sure there are many different types of blocks for children to build with. This means including small wooden blocks along with larger wooden blocks such as ones made of cardboard or foam. Also add cars and figures to the block area, so that the children can build roads, houses, or whatever else they wish to make. Let the children direct the activities in the block area, and when playing with them, follow their lead.

3 Dramatic Play

Set aside an area of the classroom for the children to pretend they are different people. In most preschool classrooms, this is called a "house area," but you can change it weekly or monthly so that sometimes it is a house, but other times it is a spaceship, a fire station, a hospital, or anything else the children might be interested in. Make sure there are plenty of clothes they can dress up in, as well as props they can use in their play. For instance, if the dramatic play area is a hospital, make sure to include scrubs, toy thermometers and stethoscopes, a bed to lie on, and dolls for patients.

4 Outside Time

Make sure to include unstructured free play out-of-doors each day. Ideally, there will be a playground for the children to play on, with climbing equipment, swings, bikes, and playhouses. There may also be things such as bats and balls, sidewalk chalk, hula hoops, and sand toys. Allow the children free access to all of the outdoor equipment, and let them decide what they will do, what they will use, and how they will use it.

Living in Minneapolis, Minn., Jan Radder has over eight years of experience in early childhood and elementary education. He also also spent time working in the low-budget film industry. Radder earned a Bachelor of Arts from Eugene Lang College in 1992 and graduated from Augsburg College's Licensure Program in elementary education in 2001.