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Developmentally-appropriate Instruction

Ashley L. Moose

Regent University


To be completely honest, I had never heard of or studied the developmental milestones of

children before my senior year of college. I did not realize how important it is to be aware of the

social, emotional, and academic stages of growth that children go through in different grades.

Developmentally-appropriate instruction is defined as a teacher offering students instruction that

meets their individual needs. Developmentally-appropriate instruction considers the

age-appropriateness, individual appropriateness, and cultural and social appropriateness of an

activity, lesson, and classroom (Early Childhood Network, 1997). I have had the opportunity to

student teach with two very different groups of students with very different needs. My first

placement was in a 4th grade class that was very culturally diverse and located in a semi-urban

neighborhood. My second placement is in a Kindergarten classroom where the developmental

needs of the children is much different than any other class I have worked in. Developing lessons

and activities that are both age and culturally appropriate for each of my classes has been a

challenge, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Rationale of Selected Artifacts

“Bunny Belly” Literacy Station

The first artifact that I have chose to show how I create developmentally appropriate

material is a station activity that my Kindergarten students did to practice decoding Consonant

Vowel Consonant (CVC) words. I printed and cut out nine different pictures of bunny rabbits

with a picture of an object on their belly. I then taped the bunny pictures in various spots around

the classroom. The students had to walk around the room and find the bunny, look at the picture

on their belly, and then sound out the CVC word and record it on their recording sheet. This

activity is developmentally appropriate because it got the students up and moving rather than just

having them sit and do a worksheet. This activity is also developmentally appropriate because it

gives the student’s freedom and choice. They were able to choose which bunny they wanted to

start at and which bunny they wanted to go to next. Sandra Crosser (1996) says that an

age-appropriate schedule for early childhood education is built around “blocks of time during

which the children move freely about the classroom and self-selecting activities” (Crosser,

1996). I have found that the best time to give kindergarten students free choice is during literacy

stations. When they are not in a guided reading group, I normally try to give them a station

activity that allows them to get up and move.

Second Artifact

The second artifact that I have chosen is the student diversity survey from my first

student teaching placement along with a photo of my students participating in a novel study of a

book called “Bud, Not Buddy”. I helped plan the novel study along with my mentor teacher and

reading specialist. We chose that particular book because we wanted something that the boys in

our class could relate to and connect with. As I spent more time in 4th grade, I noticed that many

books for children in that grade have a female as the main character and seem to catered towards

young girls. There were many young boys in our class who needed a positive role model in their

life and needed a character that they could connect with. This novel study was a hit with the boys

and I was able to see some of my toughest students become passionate about reading. The book

was also chosen because it deals with a young African American boy and how he was treated in

America back in the 1800’s. There were many African American boys in my class who were

able to truly connect with the main character and it was one of my favorite things that I got to be

a part of with my 4th graders.

Reflection on Theory and Practice

Developmentally-appropriate practices are defined differently depending on which grade

a teacher is working with. Developmentally-appropriate instruction for Kindergarten, as defined

by the ​National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), “asserts that

children learn actively through physical and social experiences to construct their own

understandings of the world around them. In order to accomplish these goals, NAEYC

recommends that educators in early childhood programs provide opportunities for work with

peers and for exploration with manipulatives and hands-on activities” (Parker &

Neuharth-Pritchett, p.66, 2006). Though learning standards and expectations of students in

Kindergarten have gotten tougher recently, it is important that teachers continue to maintain a

student-centered classroom focused on giving children the movement, interaction, and

free-choice that they need at their age.

Developmentally-appropriate practices are also defined differently depending on the

cultural makeup and background of the students in a classroom. Bredekamp and Copple describe

developmentally-appropriate instruction as “teachers making informed decisions based on their

knowledge of child development, individual children and cultural and social context (Bredekamp

& Copple, 1997). It is the responsibility of the teacher to become familiar with the cultural and

social needs of their students and to shape their instruction around those needs. I certainly have a

lot more to learn about creating a developmentally-appropriate classroom, but I am thankful for

the chance to student teach and learn how to teach in a variety of different grades as well as

schools in different neighborhoods with different socioeconomic statuses.



Charlesworth, R. (1998). Developmentally appropriate practice is for everyone.​Childhood

Education, 74(​ 5), 274-282. Retrieved from


Crosser, S. (1996). The Butterfly Garden: Developmentally Appropriate Practice Defined [Web

log post]. Retrieved March 30, 2019, from

Early Childhood Network. (n.d.). Retrieved from ​

Parker, A., & Neuharth-Pritchett, S. (2006). Developmentally appropriate practice in

kindergarten: Factors shaping teacher beliefs and practice.​ Journal of Research in

Childhood Education, 21​(1), 65-78. Retrieved from