Writing a Lesson Plan: Anticipatory Sets

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To write an effective lesson plan, you must define the anticipatory set. This is the second step of an effective lesson plan, and you should include it after the objective and before the direct instruction. In the anticipatory set section, you outline what you will say and/or present to your students before the direct instruction of the lesson begins.

The anticipatory set provides a great way for you to make sure you're prepared to introduce the material and can do so in a way that your students will relate to easily. For example, in a lesson about the rainforest, you could ask the students to raise their hands and name plants and animals that inhabit the rainforest and then write them on the board.

Purpose of Anticipatory Set

The purpose of the anticipatory set is to provide continuity from previous lessons, if applicable. In the anticipatory set, the teacher alludes to familiar concepts and vocabulary as a reminder and refresher for students. In addition, the teacher tells students briefly what the lesson will be about. During the step, the teacher also:

  • Gauges the students' level of collective background knowledge of the subject to help inform instruction
  • Activates the students' existing knowledge base
  • Whets the class's appetite for the subject at hand

The anticipatory set also allows the teacher to briefly expose students to the lesson's objectives and explain how she will guide them to the end result.

What to Ask Yourself

In order to write your anticipatory set, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • How can I involve as many students as possible, piquing their interests for the subject matter to come?
  • How should I inform my students of the lesson's context and objective, in kid-friendly language?
  • What do the students need to know before they can delve into the lesson plan itself and direct instruction?

Anticipatory sets are more than just words and discussion with students. You can also engage in a brief activity or question-and-answer session to start the lesson plan in a participatory and active manner.


Here are a few examples of what an anticipatory set would look like in a lesson plan. These examples refer to lesson plans about animals and plants. The goal of this section of the lesson plan is to activate prior knowledge and get students thinking.

Remind the children of animals and plants they have studied earlier in the year. Ask them to name a few of each and tell you a little bit about them. Ask students to raise their hands to contribute to a discussion of what they already know about plants. Write a list on the blackboard of the characteristics they name while prompting them and offering ideas and comments as needed.

Repeat the process for a discussion of the properties of animals. Point out major similarities and differences. Tell the children that it is important to learn about plants and animals because people share the Earth with animals and each depends on the other for survival.

Alternatively, reread a book that you have read to the students earlier in the year. After finishing the book, ask them the same questions to get them thinking and to see what they can remember.

Edited By: Janelle Cox

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Your Citation
Lewis, Beth. "Writing a Lesson Plan: Anticipatory Sets." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/lesson-plan-step-2-anticipatory-sets-2081850. Lewis, Beth. (2023, April 5). Writing a Lesson Plan: Anticipatory Sets. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/lesson-plan-step-2-anticipatory-sets-2081850 Lewis, Beth. "Writing a Lesson Plan: Anticipatory Sets." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/lesson-plan-step-2-anticipatory-sets-2081850 (accessed May 29, 2023).