Toddler Lesson Plans for 12- to 18-Month-Olds

Young toddlers are curious, explore enthusiastically and are in the beginning stages of developing their own identities. Creating developmentally appropriate lesson plans that encourage skill development across the four domains -- cognitive, social, emotional and motor -- for 12- to 18-month-olds means incorporating play with learning and making adaptations for beginning learners.

1 Young Explorer

Exploration is a key facet of the young toddler's life, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children's "DAP With Infants and Toddlers." Whether you're creating a content-based plan in science, the arts or literacy, the activities should provide ample opportunities to explore through hands-on processes. For example, give the toddlers a science sensory bin filled with differently textured objects to touch and investigate.

2 .Literacy and Language Lessons

The building blocks of reading start well before the young child can identify words in print or write sentences. Toddlers are developing pre-reading skills and building literacy abilities such as learning new vocabulary words and using a combination of sounds and actions to show their feelings, according to the national early childhood organization Zero to Three. Literacy lesson plans should encourage the young toddler to use her words to identify objects or actions. For example, read a picture book with a theme such as animals, and ask the toddlers to point to a specific creature and name it. You can also try a similar lesson with environmental print. Point to common signs -- such as a stop sign -- and ask the toddlers for the correct word.

3 Social and Emotional Skills

The 12- to 18-month-old toddler has limited social and emotional regulation skills. That said, he is developing the ability to act independently, imitate others and understand the concept of self, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' website. Lessons that help to build these and other social-emotional skills include sharing, taking turns and feelings activities. For example, have the tots take turns rolling a ball to each other or point to pictures of people's faces and say the feeling name for the expression.

4 Get Physical

Toddler lessons don't just include learning in an academic sense. Twelve- to 18-month-olds are developing physical skills such as walking unassisted, kicking a ball, running and scribbling. Gross, or large, motor lesson plans may include activities such as walking without adult help, kicking a ball outside or moving objects -- such as toys -- from one area of the classroom to the other. Fine motor lessons can cover multiple content areas such as art, science or math. For example, the toddlers can try out different thicknesses of crayons, play with clay or sort through a natural objects bin with leaves and flowers.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.