The beginning of the game is the most critical to the villager's survival. Here is my strategy:
First session of playing:
Drop 5 villagers on the herbs.
Drop the builder on the well.
Drop the builder on the debris on the beach. If you start the builder on the beach before the hut then while you are away the builder will finish the beach and the hut before you return. If you let the builder work on the hut like he/she wants then while you are away he will finish only the hut and sit around doing nothing until you return.
Drop all the other non-builders on the bush. Keep putting them back on the bush until you get 2 villagers (or only 1 if he/she is a runner) who successfully filled their baskets.
Click details and set those 2 villager's preferences to farming, set the builder's preference to building, and all other's preferences to science.
Drop the others on the research table.
Stay with them until they each learn something about their new jobs.
Do not have any babies for a while. They will take an adult away from their job and the babies will eat the food.
At this point if you want to continue playing without a long break, jump into the future. See the tips and precautions above on how to do this.
Second session of playing:
Buy Level 2 Farming.
If the child is at least 14 years old, teach him/her science at the research table.
Set 1 or 2 of the adult women's preferences to breeding and stay with them until they have their first baby.
Third session of playing:
If the population increased to around 15 you will see sawhorses for the second hut.
Switch a few of the villager's preferences to building and stay with them until they start the hut project. Click the sawhorses to see if the project is underway.
Future sessions of playing:
After you buy Level 3 Farming then set an 18-year-old male's preference to breeding and stay with him until he is a trainee.
Continue making tech points, buying more Levels of Technology, and increasing the population.
Then you can start on the other puzzles below.