Tot School

~Krash is currently 37.5 months old~

Learning Toys/Trays

I snagged some paint things from HD, 2 of each one, and then matched colored clothespins and clips to them. He clipped them together by color. K really liked this and we did it several times last week. Next I will cut them up and have him match the shades.
I got out a lovely Christmas serving tray for sorting bottle tops. I gathered random tops (we save all of our tops to use for stuff like this) of certain colors and K sorted them…
Then he practiced dropping them back into the big Parmesan cheese container…

ABC Fun…

Glittery-Gold-and-Green Ggs
I had him spread a glue stick all over the paper and then we sprinkled the glitter on it…

Insects on our Ii

This is how we are hanging our letters for now, it is right by our kitchen table, so often he is practicing his letters while eating, or telling us about what he made-I never realized that where I hung his work would actually be a great teaching tool!!!
We continue to add to his pipe cleaner letters and his Magnetic Wooden Alphabetas we do another letter.

Physical Fun…

K shocked us all by getting to level 5 on this Wii Fit balance game…MANY times. I am just in awe with his self control and balance on this game…
He is just precious running, he often gets going so fast his Mii falls over and tumbles, and of course he thinks it’s hilarious!!!

Life School…

We had our great friends over for dinner and this is always Life School for Krash as he learns to get along with his friends :)

Mommy’s Favorites…

If you have a tot (approximately ages 1-3) at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…
If you’ve never read this: Go HERE 1st for more details- please do!!! Then if you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email-links to homepages will automatically be deleted).
When you add your name(blog name) to Mr. Linky will you put your tot’s age (in months) after it, like this: 1+1+1=1 (36 mos)? I think this will help new readers a lot as they look for ideas for their specific aged tot!

If you are unsure of how to add your direct link to Mr Linky-I added a tutorial with photos here, scroll down to see it!

B is back

Anyone remember this?

Well, “B” is back…and a little bit dead, but that’s OK we got to look up close and stuff!!! We’re cool homeschoolers like that!!!P’s love for B and all of his bee friends hasn’t changed one bit since last year!!!!Tweet Me from 1+1+1=1

Behind the Scenes ~ Where do I Begin?

This post was expanded into an eBook in the spring of 2013!  You can grab your copy FREE when you sign up for our newsletter!  Sign up here, or go to this post to read more!Where-to-Begin-with-Tot-School-eBook.jpg

I get this question a lot, the one from a mom trying to do the best for her tot, but feeling a tad bit overwhelmed when she stumbles upon my site and others geared towards educating tots at home. Thankful for the info, but still overwhelmed. This particular mom put it nicely…

“I just feel like a tiny ant with a huge mountain of information and ideas dumped on top of me!!”

This post is for her and any others who feel that way…hopefully to help you navigate through the mountain of ideas dumped before you!!!

The mountain IS big, but that doesn’t mean you need to climb to the top right now, hanging out at the bottom with a few good ideas is just fine…slowly climbing as you feel less overwhelmed.

I too feel overwhelmed sometimes and honestly when the idea of Tot School first hit me, I overwhelmed myself, trying to put my thoughts all in order. Sure I had the early childhood education, I knew the right and wrong ways to teach a young child, but I was still a mom with a tot-trying to do my best for him.

First things first, if you are new to my site or to Tot School, please know that I am not perfect. My long time readers are aware of that fact and have often comforted me through my “I’m such a bad Mommy” times. I am not a bad mommy, and I am not a perfect mommy, I am mommy-just like you. My blog may make it appear that things like Tot School run perfectly in our house-but let me assure you-we have most if not all of the same stumbling blocks that you do.

Go here and read this post if you have never seen it. It gives a minute by minute account of a Tot School hour in our house. Krash was 27 months old when I wrote it and as you will see he was screaming in protest within the first 5 minutes!!!

After you see that, then go here and read through my Tot School FAQ page. Be sure to read the part about my beliefs on educating young children. I am certainly not claiming my way is the right way but it is good for you to know what I believe. These beliefs are what guide my decisions for every Tot School decision I make.

Now that you’ve read both of those, let’s talk about what YOU are going to do to get going with Tot School at your house. Here’s a few recommendations for you, that can hopefully help you climb that mountain slowly and feel more confident as a teacher-mom.

  • Make a List! Get a note pad and a pen and go around your house and find every toy that you already own that could be used for exposing early learning skills (this will be most toys if you think hard enough!). What skills you ask? Go here to this post to see the checklists I provide to give you some ideas. None of these skills are skills a tot HAS to learn, they are just skills to be exposed-key word-EXPOSED. Do not feel you need to teach your tot-you really are just playing with a purpose!
  • Now, go here and look through my Tot School Tools Store and see if you already own any of these and forgot to list them, and if there are a few that really stand out to you-write a list of your “I hope to own” tools. But don’t go buying anything yet unless you have gobs of money to spare. You can also go here to see my Behind the Scenes post on storing our Tot School Tools, to see more ideas of toys that can be tools, and answers to some other common Tot School questions.
  • In order to keep things simple, let’s stop here. Look at the first list you made and select 5 toys you think your tot would enjoy playing with-WITH you. Try to choose things s/he hasn’t played with in awhile or ever…to peak his/her interest. For example’s sake let’s say you choose these foam blocks

Here’s what I would do to purposefully play with my tot…

  • Sit on the floor with him.
  • Show him the blocks. If he dives right in, let him and just sit back and watch him explore without teaching anything or even saying much. (If he doesn’t dive right in but just waits for you, begin stacking or lining them…inviting him to join you.)
  • After he has explored on his own for a bit, join in with him, by doing whatever it was that he was doing (stacking, scattering, lining them up, etc.) Start using purposeful language as you play…” Look at this pretty PURPLE block,” “oooh I see an A on this one,” I am putting the RED one on top of the BLUE one.” Just your simple phrases are teaching your tot SO much.
  • Now try to show your tot how to do something different with the blocks. If he was stacking, why don’t you try lining. If he is resistant to you, try lining them up next to him while he still stacks. Then just invite him to join you.
  • Add something else into your play-maybe a toy car to drive along the line of blocks you made.
  • Maybe get an empty laundry basket and toss the blocks into the basket.
  • Hide some blocks around the room and go find them, announcing the color each time he finds one.
  • The opportunities are endless with just this one toy…. this is why I said you don’t need to go buy new toys-you just need to think deeper and use the ones you already have!!!
  • Here’s the kicker to this whole process, especially if your tot is on the younger end, STOP when he loses interest. You can try to re-engage with a new addition (like the basket or the little car). But when he’s done-he’s done. Let him wander off, and be done. Forcing Tot School (purposeful play with your tot) on him isn’t going to do either of you any good.

Each day, try to purposefully play with your tot like this-using the same toys if s/he really loves them, or bringing out something different each day. If something doesn’t work, have a back up ready to go. That’s why I said to have 5 in mind when you begin. It is frustrating when your great tot school ideas are rejected by your tot-but don’t let the frustration last for long! Just try another toy and keep playing!

Now, for a bit more of the Tot School mountain….

  • I recommend going to my most recent Tot School posts and glancing through the list of moms linked up. They are all putting the ages of their tot(s) in ( ) now. Find a few blogs that show tots that are within a couple of months of the age of your tot. Visit their blogs and glance through some of their recent Tot School posts. You don’t even have to read them, just glance at the photos-I promise you’ll be filled with ideas in just a few minutes! If you like a blog, be sure to add it to your blog reader. If you don’t know what a blog reader is, go here to read that post.
  • Please remember that ALL TOTS ARE DIFFERENT, even if the ages are similar. Not everything that works for one will work for another. Don’t let that frustrate you!!!
  • If you have your own blog, start recording your Tot School adventures and start linking up. More about that can be found here!

As you slowly climb the mountain, begin exploring the following ideas as you feel less overwhelmed. Don’t try to do this all at once, your tot just needs YOU. Each new thing you add is just a bonus.

If your tot is almost 3 or over 3, you might want to read this-which is my post about transitioning from Tot School into Pre K.

In summary-in case you now feel even more overwhelmed after reading all of that…here’s the basics…

  1. make a list of tot school tools you already own
  2. choose 5 to purposefully play with, with your tot
  3. sit and play with your tot, exposing early learning skills
  4. find other moms online who have tots the same age as yours
  5. expand slowly to include more ideas into your Tot School
  6. remember that your tot needs YOU, not stuff…give your tot purposeful play time with you each day…that’s Tot School!

Have fun!

From my Inbox…

So, my inbox is full, and has been for awhile and as I sat down today to try to reply to some of you I realized that many of you had similar questions so I am gonna answer a few here for ya, just in case others have the same ones too!!! I have directly copied some of them from the actual emails and paraphrased a few that were very similar from several people.

And please accept my sincere apologies, as some of you have lingered in my inbox for many months now, I promise once I get caught up, I will stay on top of emails better (as long as no one in my house gets pregnant again!!!)

Here we go (in no particular order)…

Where did you get your trays from that you use for your Tot Trays?


How do you manage discipline in your home with the kids?

  • We used a Biblical approach all the way. I will try to write a Behind the Scenes post in depth about this soon.


Any advice you could give me about homeschooling a 4 year old would be greatly appreciated.

  • I think it depends on how you want to do things. A few programs I have heard good things about are Itty Bitty Bookworm (I will be reviewing this soon), and Sonlight. I am not an expert in homeschooling pre k by any means, I don’t really follow a formal program much ;). If you want to wait for my IBB mini-review, it will probably be a couple of weeks. They are also donating 1 year of curriculum for our 1000 Subscribers Celebration give aways!!!


How do you decide what to do each week and where do you store all the activities not out on trays for the week?


How do you decide on a certain theme and/or letter for the week?

  • I am not a big theme gal at this stage (although I wish I was-I am just not that focused right now). I do use the themes at Totally Tots, we did the pond one and are going to do the ocean theme next…as we still haven’t finished the pond. ;)
  • As for letters, I do not choose a letter of the week, or anything like that. I am more of a whole learning approach when it comes to teaching letter id and phonetics.
  • We use our ABC notebook, and I went in the order of letters that Krash preferred, and then onto the letters in his name-we still have yet to complete this-we take our time.
  • We are currently going through an artsy letter project in alphabetical order, so that determines what letter we work on. I got most of our ideas from the posts over at Totally Tots. We will add these to our ABC notebook too.
  • After we finish this set of art projects I will choose another way to expand on abcs.

Regarding Tot School…can you give me a few suggestions of how to begin this program? How do I direct her into this more structured way of “teaching” that I know she will largely benefit from? I think she will love it, I just feel like a tiny ant with a huge mountain of information and ideas dumped on top of me!! Where should I start activity-wise?

  • I am going to also write a Behind the Scenes post about this topic as I literally have almost this exact same question from at least 5 different people right now!!!! I will begin this post asap-I promise!!!


How often do you change out your tray activities?

  • If I am having a good night, I will rotate out the ones he seems to not be interested in any longer. If it’s a bad night or two I will just leave them. I never leave the same ones out more than a week though. I try to change out at least every night or every other night.


Do you have tray time for a set amount of time? Meaning, do you say “tray school” is going to be an hourish, however many trays he does is fine?

  • My goal for this is about 30 minutes-1 hour each day, I try to do it in the morning but that doesn’t always happen. We’re still working on finding the schedule that works for us now that Ladybug is here. I am being very flexible this summer and hoping to have a better routine in the fall.
  • Yes, he determines how many trays we work on, although now that he is 3 I make him finish closed activities (meaning there is an end to it, like a puzzle), you can read more about that here.


Do you know of any good resources for teaching a 2 year old about emotions and feelings?

  • I am getting ready to review and host a give away for a company called Kimochis that is all about teaching proper ways to express emotions. I am excited about this, so stay tuned, it looks really neat!

OK, I think that cleans out the inbox for now…if I missed your question-shoot me another email and I will get a new Inbox post going or reply directly to you!!!!

Tot School

~Krash is currently 37.5 months old~

Tot School is in full swing again, and we are enjoying it! I decided to divide this post into categories of our learning instead of the weekly order, let me know if you like it better this way and I will keep on posting like this. It helps me see where I am possibly falling short and where he is getting exposure so I can adjust for the next week. I got this idea from RockerMom who began posting RockerTot’s Tot School posts in a similar way-thanks for the great idea!!!

Learning Toys/Puzzles…

K enjoyed playing with Baba until he had to leave on Wednesday…
He asked me for our Bead Sequencing Set

I got him these cute Oreo Matchin’ Middles at the used book sale for 25 cents…score-he loved them!!!He is getting really good at his 24 piece Cars puzzle, and will ask me to show him if he can’t find where a piece goes…
Another consignment sale find…these great Bristle Blocks
He did really well sorting by size…

Physical Games/Toys…
K continues to love Wii Boxing, we continue to love watching him!!!ABC Fun…

I made Krash this new abc set, using pipe cleaners to make each lowercase letter (I used a glue gun to make them). I got the idea from this great blog (who got it from another great blog…aren’t blogs great!!!)! I made ours a little different, putting them on rings so he can carry them all and flip through them. I am adding a new letter as we go through the alphabet this time in abc order.
This week he enjoyed making his Ee with eggsand his Ff with feathers
After he made each letter he helped me add the new letter to the rings, which we will continue to do now. Then we go through them all together.I am also adding letters to our Wooden Alphabet set on the dishwasher as we work on them. He plays with them a lot now, I have heard him practicing them on his own and also singing…

Arts and Crafts…

K did water painting for the first time…
He drew his first face and person, which I LOVE!!!!!
He chose to make Daddy a car painting for Father’s Day (he pointed to his Cc on our wall and asked me to paint with the cars again).

Life School…
Krash and Ladybug enjoyed watching Baby Einstein together…Krash went bike riding with Daddy and Pac for the first time!!!
He also started his very first swimming lessons…
My Favorite…

Finally, here’s my favorite shot of my precious boy from this past week…


If you have a tot (approximately ages 1-3) at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…
If you’ve never read this: Go HERE 1st for more details- please do!!! Then if you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email-links to homepages will automatically be deleted).
When you add your name(blog name) to Mr. Linky will you put your tot’s age (in months) after it, like this: 1+1+1=1 (36 mos)? I think this will help new readers a lot as they look for ideas for their specific aged tot!

If you are unsure of how to add your direct link to Mr Linky-I added a tutorial with photos here, scroll down to see it!