How to Lesson Plan and Create Game Ideas

When I first started writing lesson plans I easily got overwhelmed – how do I decide what to teach? Where do I start? Here are some tips from my own experience as a perfectionist, easily-overwhelmed, and not-good-on-the-fly person.

But first off, why lesson plan?

  • It’s professional. You can show their parents you’re thinking about each lesson. PATH advocates it.
  • It keeps track of the student’s progress.
  • It gives your lessons purpose and direction, and can keep you on track.
  • It helps you improve your teaching skills, thoroughness, and learn to lesson plan on the fly.
  • It gives you something to deviate from. Lesson plans rarely go as planned, so imagine if there wasn’t a plan to begin with! It would meander all over the place!

How to lesson plan

When I first started teaching, this is what I did starting a few days before the lesson day.

  1. Determine your goals for each student that day.
  2. Brainstorm potential activities for the day.
    • I like to “brainstorm” because I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to do things perfectly the first time. I found it worked best if, instead of trying to come up with the perfect activity right away, I brainstormed as many ideas as I could first, and then decided which one to do. Brainstorming was fun and gave me lots of ideas to “keep in my back pocket” for other lesson plans.
  3. Pick the one/s you think is/are best.
    • As a new teacher I found it easiest to use the same one activity for each class and modify it depending on the students, rather than having a separate activity for each class and having to rearrange the arena between every lesson. Then, as I felt more comfortable with teaching and time management and remembering my lesson plans, I was able to switch it up more between classes. I also liked using the same activity for each class because each time I found slightly different/improved ways to teach it.
  4. Rough draft your lesson plans.
    • Again, the pressure to be perfect the first time. It helps me to “just write a rough draft” of the lesson plans on one day, give myself time to think about it, then edit it the next day if needed.
    • I go right down the list of the The Basic Lesson Plan and fill in the blanks.
  5. Edit your lesson plans as needed.
    • Right before class I would review my lesson plans and goals. Editing often took place during class. In fact, for the 7 week session I taught, my lessons rarely went exactly as planned!
  6. Repeat
    • If you think this is a lot of work – it is! But it is a good thing to do because you are training your brain how to think and plan. The process of brainstorming, rough drafting, and editing is something that will get easier and faster, and eventually you’ll be able to do it “on the fly” – which is often necessary when you don’t have enough volunteers, a horse becomes unusable, you suddenly pick up a new student, etc. When plans change, you can quickly brainstorm some ideas, pick the best one, make a simple lesson plan in your head, and edit it as you go along. I was not initially good at thinking up things “on the fly”, and training myself to think in this order helped – that and collecting a good bag of activity ideas!

How to come up with game ideas

  • Brainstorm! I bet you saw that one coming. Often one idea leads to a next and better one.
  • Research. See the resources page!
  • Ask other instructors.
  • Search the internet. You may find ideas or pictures that inspire you. For example, when I was looking up pictures for the Rings Games post I Googled “toss rings” and among many images found the one of a blow up cake ring toss game – what a fun idea!
  • Adapt school games found in teacher resource websites and books. I find these especially helpful for holiday game ideas – most of the ones on my Valentine’s Day Games post were adapted from teacher websites!

Those are just some thoughts I’ve been wanting to share. What tips do you have for lesson planning and game idea creation?


Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!

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