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Planning Developmentally Appropriate Activities

Training Module

This 3-hour training explores ways to plan for activities through each stage of a child's development.

Planning Developmentally Appropriate Activities

Daily Schedule
  • Daily schedule
  • Balance with activities considering the child's total experience
  • Both written and pictorial
  • What happens before, during, and after the activities
  • Outdoor play when weather permits
  • Both quiet and active play daily
  • Balance of large and small muscle activities daily
  • More than one option for grouping, such as individual, small group, or large group *infants and toddlers are not expected to participate in a large group
  • Balance of child initiated and adult initiated activities * time spent in large-group, teacher initiated activity is limited
Materials and Equipment

Materials reflect the lives of the children and families served including...

  • Books
  • Dolls
  • Toys
  • Dress-up props
  • Photos
  • Pictures
  • Music

Materials reflect the diversity found in some society in general Equipment project diverse

  • Racial attributes
  • Gender attributes
  • Age attributes

Developmentally appropriate materials and equipment for infants

  • Simple, lightweight, open-ended, easily washable toys such as containers, balls, pop-beads, and nesting cups
  • Rattles, squeak toys, action/reaction toys
  • Cuddle toys
  • Toys-to-mouth such as teethers, rings
  • Pictures of real objects
  • Crawling area with sturdy, stable furniture to pull self up

Developmentally Appropriate materials and equipment are available for toddlers

  • Push and pull toys
  • Sturdy picture books
  • Toys for pretending, such as a phone and doll
  • Large paper and crayons
  • Sturdy furniture
  • Sand and water toys
  • Manipulatives
  • Stacking toys
  • Large wooden spools
  • Beads/cubes
  • Pounding bench
  • Simple puzzles

Developmentally Appropriate materials and equipment is available for preschoolers

  • Play equipment for climbing and balancing
  • Puzzles and manipulatives
  • Art materials such as finger and tempera paints, crayons, safe scissors, and paste
  • Sand and water toys
  • Unit blocks and accessories
  • Picture books, audio recordings/tapes, musical instruments
  • Dramatic play materials such as dolls, dress up clothes and props, child-size furniture, and puppets

Developmentally Appropriate materials and equipment are available for Pre-K

  • Equipment for climbing and balancing
  • Construction materials
  • Picture books for early readers
  • Musical instruments and recordings
  • Writing and complex art projects
  • Unit blocks and accessories, such as figures, signs, cars, trees
  • Complex puzzles and manipulative toys for counting and sorting
  • Appropriate computer software
  • Dramatic play materials and props
  • Board and card games

Developmentally appropriate materials are available for school age children

  • Materials for organized games
  • Woodworking material, unit blocks and accessories
  • Musical instruments
  • Computer software
  • Board and card games
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Materials for hobby and art projects
  • Science project materials
  • Dramatic play materials
  • Cooking project materials
  • Complex manipulatives (connecting or interlocking)
Use of Passive Media (TV)
  • Limited to developmentally appropriate programming
  • Programs are viewed by an adult first
  • Another option for activity is always available
  • No child is required to view a program
  • Teachers discuss what is viewed with the children
  • Passive media is only used in during special occasions
Developing Emotional Skills


  • Hold and touch, make eye contact
  • Talk and sing
  • Initiate rolling and sitting
  • Develop self-help skills
  • Support toddlers pulling up self, walking, and climbing
  • Listen and respond to children


  • Allow time for children to talk about what they see, do, and like
  • Use children's name
  • Display art work and photos
  • Encourage children to draw pictures and tell stories about self, family, and culture
  • Encourage children to control their bodies and self-help skills

Pre Kindergarten

  • Variety of ways to group children
  • Allow collaboration and cooperation
  • Coach children to problem solve
  • Allow children to set classroom rules
  • Support the beginning of friendships

School Age

  • Have planned and spontaneous activities in team sports, group games, and clubs
  • Allow time to sit and talk with individual children
  • Focus on activities rather than outcome
Encourage Children to think, reason, question, and experiment

Infants and Toddlers

  • Infants and toddlers are allowed to explore in safe area
  • Light colorful objects for infants to reach at and grasp
  • Play naming and hiding games, such as peek-a-boo
  • Toys that initiate cause and effect
  • Toddlers are allowed to dump and fill containers
  • Avoid interruptions of children's activities


  • Plan sorting activities
  • Discuss routines
  • Extend children's thinking
  • Observe natural events, such as seeds growing
  • Use numbering and counting activities
  • Take and talk about walks around program
  • Encourage sand and water play

Pre Kindergarten

  • Learn basic science and math skills through sand and water, constructing with blocks, using levers, pulleys, scales, and other simple machines
  • Observe natural events, encourage to draw and discuss what they see
  • Have children work with tools
  • Use lots of drawings, writing, and speaking to tell stories

School age

  • Provide activities such as cooking, money-making projects, gardening, science experiments, etc
  • Provide time to complete homework
Encourage Language and Literacy

Infants and Toddlers

  • One-to-one and face-to-face interactions
  • Look at simple books and pictures
  • Talk in a pleasant, calm voice
  • Verbally label objects and events
  • Respond to sounds infants make, imitate often
  • Respond to toddlers attempt at language in supportive ways

Pre School

  • Read books and poems, tell stories about experiences, talk about pictures
  • Provide time for conversations
  • Answer children's questions
  • Add more information than what the child says
  • Label things in the room with words
  • Use flannel boards, puppets, songs, finger plays
  • Encourage children's interest in writing

Pre Kindergarten

  • Actively work to increase children's vocabulary
  • Read books and poems, tell stories about experiences, talk about pictures
  • Help children develop book-handling skills
  • Help children develop a full range of strategies for reading
  • Provide opportunities for children to write or draw about what is important to them
  • Give children practice in composing and editing stories
  • Continue oral language development

School Age

  • Provide opportunities to read
  • Share experiences with adults and friends
  • Use audio-visual equipment
  • Make own films an recordings
Enhance physical development and skills

Infants and Toddlers

  • Allow children to learn to roll, sit, and walk at their own pace
  • Encourage children to crawl
  • Have equipment for children to pull up on
  • Take infants outside when weather permits
  • Provide objects for infants to reach and grasp
  • Plan activities for non-mobile infants
  • Provide simple puzzles, nesting toys, stacking toys, and pop beads for toddlers
  • Provide objects for toddlers to carry

Pre School

  • Provide time and space for jumping, running, balancing, climbing, and riding bikes
  • Creative movement activities
  • Fine-motor activities
  • Art, modeling, and writing

Pre Kindergarten

  • Group games
  • Creative movement and recordings

School Age

  • Physical excercise
  • Group games and team sports
  • Time for hobbies
Encourage and demonstrate sound health, safety, and nutrition
  • Cook and serve a variety of foods
  • Discuss good nutrition
  • Develop safety awareness
  • Encourage hand washing, brushing teeth, exercise, rest
  • Talk about doctors and dentist
  • Describe health routines as they are implemented
  • Study topics on the human body nutrition, and life skills
Encourage an appreciation for the arts
  • Use music and movement, sing to children, Dance
  • Display artwork to look at
  • Encourage scribbles with crayons
  • Art activities with brushes, collage, sponges
  • Process vs. product
  • Multi-cultural
  • Have children express themselves through art
  • Take trips to galleries
Respect cultural diversity
  • Bring home culture into the classroom
  • Provide books and music
  • Initiate discussion, talk in a positive way
  • Cook and serve foods
  • Avoid stereotyping
Allow time for children to select their own activities
  • Infants and toddlers have materials for free choice
  • Several activities available at a time
  • Teachers respect children's selection
  • Teachers pick up on activities children select and show interest
  • Pre K and School age kids help prepare materials
Teachers plan and conduct smooth transitions between activities
  • Children are given advance notice
  • Children are not always required to move as a group
  • New activities are prepared and ready before the transition
  • School age children help plan and participate in the change in activities
  • School age children have time to adjust from public school to program
  • Teachers are flexible enough to change planned activities as needed
Routine task are incorporated into the program
  • Routines are used for a time of pleasure and learning
  • Routines are handled in a relaxed manner
  • Teachers work with families on routines
FAQ about DAP?
  • Is it a curriculum?
  • Is this for every child?
  • Can this be for full day or half day programs?
  • ...other?


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