Nemo ~ Tot-Book

The new Nemo Tot Book is up on the Tot-Book site! K was thrilled with this one too, as Nemo is another of his favorites! I am currently working on Veggie Tales. I am really enjoying these and I am crazy-I also enjoy making them. Leave me a comment if you have a special request (either from the list I am definitely going to do or something not on the list-the list is at the bottom of the Tot-Books main page).

If you print one of the Tot-Books and get a photo of your tot with it, I would love to add a link to your site on the Tot-Book page!

Tot School

Our week started off sorta slow this week, I was a bit off my rocker in the Mommy department. I wasn’t feeling as motivated to be a great mom until about Wednesday! Sometimes I wonder if any of you feel that way and if you realize I am that way. I think sometimes blogs can make us “appear” better than we are, or as if we have it ALL together. Just in case there was ever any question, I do NOT have it ALL together, not even a large part of it! Ha ha, I just don’t write much about that part and I certainly don’t have any photos to share of me losing it with my precious angels.

Anyhow, I finally got going with the be a good mom part and began to offer wonderful opportunities to my children 😉 Here’s K writing with our popular Cars book (a great deal from TJ Maxx or somewhere like that). He told me he drew a circle, I was pretty excited because it sort of looks like a circle!
Then I was busy doing dishes or something and I hear a racket in the schoolroom. I went in and found this…
He had opened one of our cabinets and gotten out the tot-school supplies he needed. He opened every little box stored in there and was entertaining himself for the longest time. Then we played bowling together…
I loved it when he stuck all of the cubes on his fingers and began to count (you know-1, 4, 8, 10…)We went to work on our ABC notebook and I gave him his next page and he demanded that he be given the page with “Liam” on it. We did this page last week, but he wanted to color Liam some more, so we did…Then we worked on Ll one last time with our Hands-On Learning: Match, Trace and Write the Alphabet MatsI love this photo, he was going CRAZY scribbling with the pen.And it wouldn’t be a tot-school week for us without this favorite toy coming down…I got real in “good mom” gear on this day, bringing them outside for some outdoor tot school. First with blocks…And then a bit of picnic reading…While outside K found his first rock–you know the special rock, the one you just have to put in your pocket and show to everyone. Of course his new Cars Tot-Book was a big part of our week too. If you haven’t seen my post about the Tot-Books, you can read that here.

Our final tot-school activity was playing with straws/stirring sticks/popsicle sticks and water bottles.
Again, he goes for the toes…

And I know this isn’t really tot-school but I had to share his 2 yr portraits that I finally took! For any of you that don’t know, I was a children’s photographer for 3 years before moving to Philly, but taking photos of this little guy is my worst nightmare! I was SOOO excited to get these…

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…

You can read this post for more details if you’d like, or 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). Provide a link back somewhere in your post to this post so your readers can see other ideas too!

Introducing ~ The Tot-Book!

The Tot Book

God has planted a new idea in my head, I hope many of you might find this idea useful too. The idea itself has been rolling in my brain for awhile now, but finally came all together last week and now I am ready to share our first Tot-Book! I have wanted to begin making lapbooks with K when he showed readiness signs (you know-not ripping up every paper he sees 😉 ). But, I knew a full sized lapbook was just too much for a little guy. Then I saw this great idea to cut a file folder in half a couple of months ago. Still, my idea hadn’t come together.

Finally last week, it hit me! I decided to run with the idea of taking the skills I hope to expose K to (ABC’s, colors, shapes, etc.) and put them into themed miniature lapbooks for him. Hoping the theme would draw him in since he already loves it! I chose the first theme of Cars (the Disney movie) since he ADORES the movie and cars in general. I thought that would be a great place to start–man was I right! Before I keep blabbing on, here is a photo of the Tot-Book (yup, I decided to give them a name too, so people would know what I was talking about when I wrote about them and shared them).

He began with the Cars Colors mini book and this was the first time he repeated colors back to me while using the correct color crayon! I was thrilled. He loved the Cars, so he was more than interested enough to discuss a few colors! He even read along with me, it was great!Then I put the rest of it together for him, and let him explore it. He was VERY interested in it since it had all of his “friends” in it. We were able to spend a long time together because it kept his interest.I put a piece of construction paper on the back to make it more sturdy and let him decorate the back with Cars stickers. As he grows I hope to begin letting him illustrate something from the theme. I love the early drawings so very much–don’t we all?! I think these will be wonderful keepsakes and memories of his tot years. His favorite part is definitely the “My Name” fold out book. I don’t know if he loves the way it folds or if he loves that it is his name. I printed this on card stock for durability, and so far he is following the *be gentle* rule well. 😉

I plan to continue to make these and have them available on our website for anyone to download and use. Here is the link to the new Tot-Books page! On the page you will see the list of Tot-Books I am planning to work on, obviously focusing on K’s natural interests. Hopefully some of your kiddos will have similar interests and you can use these too!


See all of our Theme Based Learning Printables here!Printable Theme Packs

Tot School ~ SUMMERTIME!!!

It is most certainly summertime at our house as our days are filled with fun playtime and MUCH Tot School!!! We’re all having a blast just enjoying each other, here are some highlights from our week…

K always enjoys when our Melissa and Doug Beginner Pattern Blocks come out, this day was no exception. He did better than ever naming the shapes and doing the puzzles independently!Sticker morning was a huge hit, and took over our living room as you can see! This occupied both boys for a very long time. K finally learned how to take the stickers off by himself!
Play Doh is always a hit with K!!
Daddy taught him how to drink out of the hose on our 100+ degree day last week!

I got out my old step for them to play with and after walking over it a few times and practicing gross motor skills, they grabbed the blocks I had taken out and began to build together…
Then they turned it into a boat! Mom’s toys are always so much fun!
K made his own little fort…
We read the book, Rumble in the Jungle and the boys enjoyed interacting with the different animals from the story. I pulled out the specific animals from our collection (here is their website, we get ours from AC Moore/Michael’s). We also used our Anamalz.
Painting time! I asked the boys to paint a jungle scene, P did, K insisted on using the Do a Dot Markers and had no clue what I was suggesting so he just pounded with them! :)
He was done quickly that day and moved onto other things while P finished! He did SUPER with this Puzzle, now naming all except the heart and diamond correctly!
And he begged (as usual) for me to get down the Doodle Pro Glow, I drew the few letters he is yet to identify on his own (U, L, V) and he proceeded to copy them :)
We played with our Bead Sequencing Set for awhile. I tried to get K to match up the color but he wasn’t interested. He did enjoy sticking them on his fingers this day!
I finally got out the little backyard pool and they both adored me that day!!!
K’s favorite book right now is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, he asks me to read it to him (sing it) and he is often reading/singing it to himself!
We got out the noodle play materials and he had so much fun!
We counted together like this, using his toes, and he was a giggling mess, it was so funny!
I stuck the straight noodles in the small holes in our cheerio box and he hammered them in, I was amazed with how well he did. He’s a little Daddy!
Once again I was reminded how fast he is growing as he completed the matching for these shape puzzles in no time. The last time I had this out he had NO clue how to do it, and he hasn’t seen it since.
We are up to the letter Ll now in our ABC notebook, he really enjoyed coloring on his friend, Liam’s, face and went around saying “Liam, Liam” all day long!K had an afternoon alone in the pool one day and practiced pouring a lot!
He was very excited about our new toys that I picked up form the used book sale, we practiced sorting by colors with this one!He loved the A to Z Lower Case Puzzle Finally, our newest adventure in tot school land, learning states! I know sounds ridiculous but again I am being led by his natural interest! He sees P working on states and he is naming them right along with him. He asks me for “fornia” (California) and that means he wants the USA puzzle (North America Continent Puzzle) and we work together naming them and putting the in! I think it’s rather funny that he enjoys this!

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…

You can read this post for more details if you’d like, or 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). Provide a link back somewhere in your post to this post so your readers can see other ideas too!

Is my tot ready???

I got this comment and thought I would answer in a post in case anyone else was interested…

I have a question for you Carisa.

I am thinking of starting my Tot on ABC notebooking. I’m concerned that I’d be starting him too soon. I’ve heard that it’s better to slowly work into formal learning with the little ones.
I started my oldest a bit too early I feel and then at about 3 1/2 he wanted nothing to do with ABC or Numbers etc, till the age of 5. At that time I didn’t know about Mason and other styles, so my approach was probably a bit off. I guess I’ve learned tons since my first one was little. I just don’t want to think I’m gradually introducing it then all of a sudden he reacts negatively. I’m probably thinking way too much on this, and not giving myself enough credit of knowing my little guy’s interests and abilities.

Do you know a good indicator that a tot might give to be ready to start, based on your educational background knowledge?

I first want to say, that I think you are right on…YOU know your tot. THAT is the best indicator. Other than motherly instincts, I will give my advice. I recently was contacted about participating in an EBook that is being written and I answered some questions for them, here is a portion of what I had to say in my “interview” for that, which I believe relates to this question.

Learning at a young age should be child led and immersed in PLAY. If K becomes uninterested, we stop! When I begin to force my teaching on him, he begins to resent my teaching all together. Eventually he will pick the skills up, it is not important that he learn them early. I believe in exposing him and letting him learn at HIS pace.

Learning should be fun and exciting, filled with many different experiences. I try to make sure I give him opportunities in all of the many areas of development on a regular basis. I use my leadership as mom and teacher to alternate items I choose for Tot School each day to help with this. Some days we do music, some days art, some days ABCs, some days physical games. I try to bring balance, while also letting him repeat activities often that I know he really likes. For example, we have this GlowBright drawing board thing that he LOVES. I naturally wouldn’t even bring this out much, but because it is something HE loves, it comes out a lot and is used to expose many different skills: shapes, letters, colors, etc.). HIS interest leads that. I just stem the learning from his interest.

Do not overwhelm the child!! I do NOT believe in drilling facts, teaching to acquire and master a skill, or anything of the sort. If K picks up letters (which he has), that’s great, but I will NOT drill him and make him color 50 Aa sheets until he gets it! P couldn’t identify any letters until he was almost 4, that was fine with me…he’s reading well above his grade level (if he were in traditional school) and knows them all now!!! K on the other hand could identify over half before age 2! They are just different kids.

Kids are different. I do the natural comparing as all parents and teachers do, but I don’t do it to push anybody. Sure, we comment on things P could do, or things K can do that P couldn’t but it is NEVER to compare in a negative way. Children learn differently and I believe in relaxing about this.

Don’t know if any of that helps (sorry if it was more info than you wanted) :), but it all leads into my answer, which is to use your Mommy instinct and go at your tot’s pace. I knew K was ready to begin an ABC notebook when he became very interested in the written word. He began pointing out different letters (at first naming them incorrectly) on clothing, in books, on TV, etc. This was a big sign for me to know he was ready to begin a bit more in the area of teaching ABCs. Once he began to show natural interest I jumped in and followed.

My other son, P, did not show any interest until close to age 4. Everything (which wasn’t much) we did ABC related was entirely at my leading! The good news… he too learned all of his letters within just a few weeks-once HE became interested! P’s learning style was different than K’s and I had to teach in a more physical way with him (jumping on the letters, running to tag them, etc.). He also used the Leap Frog – Letter Factory DVD, which I truly believe is what sealed the deal for his letter ID knowledge! This video is amazing and so accurately teaches letter sounds. I only wish I would have had this when I taught public school, it would have helped so many of my struggling students.

I hope that answers your question, thanks so much for visiting our blog and trusting me enough to ask me for advice :).