Toddler Tuesday: Tot School

Toddler Tuesday: Tot School

Hi friends,  as I mentioned last week, I’ve been placing my focus on Tot School set up in the past couple weeks, so I’ve been less active here on Life’s Tiny Graces.  I hope you haven’t missed me too much!  If you did, here’s a LONG post to make up for my absence! 😛

When hubby and I first started dating, he mentioned that he wanted to possibly do home school with his children.  When we got engaged, and I joined Pinterest, I started looking further into the concept of home schooling and what that would mean for me and for our family.  I came across a term I’d never heard of before and pinned a few things on it to go back and look at later.  This term came back up recently while I was looking for activities to use with Junebug (24 months old).  The term was Tot School.  Being a former daycare teacher, I liked what I was seeing and decided to give it a shot with Junebug and see how she liked it.  I’ve been following the blog 1+1+1=1 for a lot of my ideas and to learn more about Tot School, since she and her kiddos were the ones to coin the term.  http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/  She’s got a TON of awesome information and a bunch of great printables that I’ve been using to get our Tot School running.

So far we’ve done a full planned out week (Pond Theme) and she loved it!

Since Junebug has shown a TON of interest lately in babies, I thought a Baby/ Baby Animal Theme would be perfect to study next.  Here are some of the activities that we played with over the weekend!  We hadn’t even officially started the week and she was head over heels for all the new stuff we had out!  We’re pretty relaxed about Tot School, and since it’s not really about teaching, per say, as it’s about learning through purposeful play, I think that’s perfect.  We are pretty intentional about doing calendar time in the morning and talking about the weather, but Junebug finds that fun, so we have incorporated it into our day.

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(Yes, she’s in her Elmo jammies for these pictures- she couldn’t wait to jump in and play and I wanted to try to get a photo of the first time she played with each of the Tot Trays)

Junebug had a blast coloring in the tracing sheet.  At nearly 2, she isn’t quite ready to trace letters, so she just free colored the sheet, which is absolutely perfect.  I told her what it said (A is for animals) and which animals were featured on the sheet and that was perfect for her interest level.  She loved matching the baby animal cards to the ones on her Tot Tray.  She got a bit frustrated because the pieces kept sliding around, so I ended up putting some magnets on the back this morning and she was much happier with it the second time around.  I love her focus and curiosity about which animals were on the cards.  The third activity I definitely had to help her with, but she was super excited about it and wanted to do it again.  It’s hard to tell from the photo, since they’re all together, but this is a set of two piece puzzles with an adult and baby animal to match.  I purchased this a few years ago when I was putting together my teaching week for my Early Childhood Education classes.  It’s got several different matches, but I pulled out the pairs I thought she’d be most interested in and can pull out more pairs as the week goes on to keep that Tot Tray interesting.

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Here are some of the other activities and Tot Trays we have out right now.  As I mentioned yesterday, Junebug’s Gramma B got her a set of baby doll sized baby items which included this little car seat and bounce chair.  Junebug had both her babies in them and enjoyed sharing them with her friend that came over to play yesterday.  It’s so much fun watching her share and take turns.  I’m hopeful that she’ll be a great big sister once Pumpkin comes!  The bottle Tot Tray is by far her favorite Tot Tray yet.  She loves scooping the little bottle toys into the real bottle and then dumping them back into the bowl.  She played with this for quite a while over the weekend and has gone back to play with it several times.  Junebug has enjoyed matching the babies with the adults with the table top game.  She thought they were super fun because they’re on popsicle sticks.  She loved looking through her newborn photos and identifying Momma and Dada and herself 🙂  In my “lesson plan” I have a shape and color for the week. This week is the color red and the heart shape. The last Tot Tray is a one to one correspondence exercise where Junebug scoops one heart shape into each section of the ice cube tray. Junebug has been favoring using her fingers for this type of activity. I think its easier for her to control how many pieces she gets this way.

I have other Tot Tray ideas for this week’s theme and will pull them out if Junebug happens to lose interest in any of the activities that are on her school shelves.

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This is our current Tot School set up in Junebug’s playroom. I used a shoe rack that I purchased at a rummage sale for the shelf.  I keep our current themed books in the blue basket and have the color and shape of the week taped up behind the shelf.  Any artwork for the week is displayed behind the shelf.

I’ve been working with Junebug on how to use the Tot Trays (picking up the whole tray, keeping the pieces together, cleaning up and putting it back on the shelf when she’s finished playing) and reminding her which books need to stay in the blue basket.  She’s been really good at remembering for the most part, but I sometimes find little bottles and plastic hearts in funny places around her playroom 🙂  We’ve also been working on making sure she remembers that the top shelf of the tall bookshelf next to her school shelves is for Momma’s stuff.  I store art supplies that I don’t necessarily want her to have full access to, theme planning binders and my lesson plan book up on that shelf so it’s handy if I have a free moment in the day to plan.

I picked up some spray paint that is close in color to the basket and plan on spray painting all of the metal trays at some point.  It’s been pretty rainy lately and whenever I happen to think of it when I have time, it happens to be raining.  I’ll get them done eventually.  Right now it makes it easy to clean if Junebug happens to color off of her sheets.

We’re having a ton of fun learning about Tot School and exploring how our own set up is working for our own little school.  I cant wait to see how it continues!

xoxo Megan and Junebug

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