DAP: Developmentally Appropriate Practice

If you teach child development or a related course where students are learning about or developing materials for young children, you are most likely teaching about developmentally appropriate practice.  We all know as educators that children and activities are not all created equal!  This lesson introduces students to this concept with an interactive introductory activity and then continues with student exploration of the concept and what it entails.  Students also explore what can happen when developmentally appropriate practices are ignored.  Finally students participate in a variety of activity stations to determine if DAP or not!


  • Provide pairs of students with an apple, a plastic knife, a paper towel and a piece of composition paper.
  • Students are instructed to interact with their apple using all of their senses and the butter knife, to explore what they can learn about apples. Students are to record what they learn on the composition paper.
  • Students share everything they learned as a class.
  • As per teacher directions, students are to cross off what they can’t learn from each “apple illustration” the teacher provides.  See attachment below.
  • Ask students what’s left on their list?  Ask students what they can deduce about the types of activities needed for young to learn best, based on this activity.  Share responses.  Hopefully, students get that young children learn best hands-on interaction with objects that are geared to their age.


  • Apples, Plastic Knives, Paper Towels
  • iPads or Laptops
  • Projector & Screen
  • Toys/Activities for Stations


  • Explain to students that the apple activity just introduced them to something called Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP).
  • Ask students to read this explanation/definition of Developmentally Appropriate Practice and then summarize the definition in their own words. See assignment sheet below.
  • Set up activity stations with actual items.  Using the Developmentally Appropriate Practices with Young Children handouts found in this link, students are to visit the activity stations, manipulating and playing with each to determine if DAP or NOT for preschool aged children.  If students get stuck, have them refer to the questions in the link/handout.  See the assignment sheet below.
  • Next, we look at what happens when DAP is ignored by reading this article.  Students identify key points and we discuss as a class what the effects are.
  • The final exit slip I give my students is to show them a “picture/quote” and ask them to explain how it reflects DAP in a minimum of 5 sentences.  I pose this in Google Classroom and link to the picture.  Students respond directly on Google Classroom and turn it in when finished.



Image courtesy of sattva of Free Digital Photos.

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