Tot Tray Ideas ~ The Ultimate Collection

The Ultimate Tot Tray Idea Collection



I am so excited to launch a brand new series featuring Tot Tray™ ideas from me and from YOU!  Tot Trays are a simple twist on a very old Montessori idea involving a contained work area for young children. The trays are my version of this, making it simple to implement at home. I developed the term Tot Trays years ago to describe the variation I was using at home with my son, and went on to use with my daughter

Tot Tray ~ Droping Chips into a Container

 

What are Tot Trays?

  • a tray your child can work on, providing a clearly defined work space
  • an activity presented visually on the tray so children can choose from a variety of options, promoting a child-led early childhood environment
  • easy to clean up for a young child due to the contained space of the tray, promoting independence

It’s really simple, but can get as complex as you choose.  It’s just an idea for creating a child-led environment which promotes early learning skills through play.  That’s the entire goal of Tot School, and Tot Trays are just an extension of Tot School.  You can read much more about Tot Trays here in my original post from years ago!

What Are Tot Trays

 

The concept of Tot Trays has spread far and wide across the Internet and that excites me!  There are many blogs who feature their own Tot Tray ideas and I would love to pull these ideas together here! I am developing a series of posts which will feature a linky for you to link up your specific idea{s} for the Tot Tray category.

Transferring Ping Pong Balls Tot Tray

We will all work together to create a massive collection in one place, so you can find ideas quickly and be inspired by all of those who are using Tot Trays with their tots and sharing ideas.

Tot Tray Set Up

The Linky Details

To make these linkys simple for bloggers I am not requiring a link back, that way you don’t have to go back and add it to old posts but can feel free to link up quickly and easily.  I do ask that you pin whatever post you link up to, or share the post on Facebook.  If you want to provide a link back to the idea collection, that’s GREAT and will only help your readers!

As new categories are added, the graphic will be added here so you can come back and jump around to the new ideas!  This will be our landing page and all of the upcoming posts will be linked here.

Some trays will obviously fit into more than one category, and as we go you can link up the same tray idea again if it fits.  A transfer activity might also involve color work so it could be linked in transfer ideas, color ideas and even fine motor ideas!

Below you can see the categories I have ready to go and will post over the coming months, some may also be added.  These graphics should give you a start in thinking about what you may want to come back and link up when the linky for each category goes live!

The Ultimate Tot Tray Idea Collection

 

Stay tuned for our first collection and linky, it will be coming soon!

Be sure to follow my blog via email so you don’t miss a linky when it goes live. Right now I don’t have a set schedule, but hope to launch a new category every 2-3 weeks.

If you feature Tot Trays on your blog, feel free to leave a link to your blog in the comments section of this post.  If you have your Tot Trays sorted by a tag/category, use that specific link so others can find your ideas!

Tot Tray Ideas for Tot School

Tot Trays for Tot School

It was many years ago that “Tot School” was given it’s official name, and now I see the name floating around everywhere {which is great!}!  My oldest son holds the honor of naming this glorious time in a young child’s life, after babyhood but before Pre School. In our home Tot School lasts from about age 1-4. You can see how Tot School was named here!

Tot School early learning through play

 

Soon after the creation of Tot School, came the concept of Tot Trays.  A simple twist on an old idea with Montessori based roots.  A contained work space for tots, to inspire early learning fun.  A way for mom to stay organized in her thinking and provide opportunities for early development in fun ways.

Tot Trays for Tot School

 

I no longer have tots {sniff, sniff} but still have the passion for teaching tots at home. I have been working on a secret Pinterest board behind the scenes to get all of our Tot Tray ideas pinned and labeled with ages on one board. I finally finished and opened up the board to be public so you can all scroll through and gather ideas quickly! This board is only for Tot Tray ideas from my own blog. I share other ideas from other blogs on my general Tot School Ideas board.

I love that the concept of Tot School and Tot Trays stretches far and wide today, it’s exciting to see! I am so encouraged to see so many families exploring and learning with their tots at home.  It is such a beautiful time in a child’s life, full of an eagerness to absorb and take in new ideas.  It truly is my favorite, I miss it already in my kids!

Find the Tot Tray Ideas Pinterest Board here!


On a personal note {stemming from an email I received recently}  ~ sometimes reading online about concepts like Tot School, Tot Trays and many others make some moms feelA photo on a blog is a split second in time with NO sound less-than.  At times, reading about how one mom does things in a certain area can make another mom feel unworthy and bad about herself.  Trust me, I know.  I may have the Tot School thing figured out, but there are plenty of blogs I read that can sometimes help me slip into poor-me mode. I remind myself that we all have different gifts and passions. I never want my enthusiasm for early childhood stuff to come across as though I am a better mom.  I assure you, I have plenty of things I am NOT good at, like cooking Moms are All Differentfor example.  I pray my blog, my ideas, and my life encourage and inspire you.  If it ever makes you feel less-than or as if you don’t measure up, please remind yourself that you have your own unique talents and strengths. God has gifted us all differently. I am totally real, just like you; I just blog and have a crazy passion for creating early learning experiences for my kids, and taking pictures of the journey {which I then share with you}. Always remember there is MUCH that you don’t see, a photo on a blog is a split second in time, with no sound. I do my best to be a realistic {much of my realism is shared via Instagram} as possible but as we all know, that will never be achieved through photographs, or even video clips.  You’d have to be a fly on my wall to see that our life is just as crazy as yours, probably crazier.

Oh Where Are the Trays?

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I have gotten several emails lately from readers looking for the trays I have and recommend on my Tot Trays page.  I searched and searched Oriental Trading and sadly could not find them. These trays often go out of stock. Search “plastic trays” on the Oriental Trading website to see if they are in stock!

In the meantime, I thought it might be good to start a discussion to share alternatives. I know several of you {me included} are in planning mode and ordering supplies to prepare for a new year. I just got a new OT catalog and immediately began hunting and this seems to be the best alternative…

imageEasy Clean Flat Trays MK-62/110 $19.99 for 6

 

I also found trays at Discount School Supply.

Brawny Tough Plastic Art Trays, Item # ARTRAY $16.99/5 trays

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They also have these, which are definitely smaller but may be perfect for some of you.

Colorations Mini Art Trays, Item # MTRAY $21.95/12 trays

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If any of you use something different for Tot Trays, please feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts or suggestions.  If you have a post on your blog showing them in action, that would be helpful and I invite you to link to it.

Many people have also asked where I got the bins pictured in this post.  Unfortunately those were from the $1 section at Target a few years back, so they aren’t available either!

Tot School ~ Pumpkins & Dinos!

~Krash is currently 41.5 months old~
** links to all toys and books are at the bottom of the post

Learning Toys/Trays

Krash loved his Play Doh tray! I put a pumpkin and a cross cookie cutter on it, along with some orange and yellow play doh. This kept him busy for a long time! We had fun making different shapes for the Jack O Lantern’s eyes, nose and mouth.

Here he is sorting by shapes. I gave him 4 different shapes (from a Dollar Tree bucket of foam shapes), along with 4 little craft cups that each had a shape drawn inside (I drew them with a Sharpie). He did well with this as it was his first time sorting by shapes and not color!
Here he has a Styrofoam circle (AC Moore), 4 pick-up-sticks, some colored bracelets and mini tongs (from Target…in a bug kit we got). I had him transfer the colored bracelets to the matching stick.

Nothing quite as fun as cutting the Play Doh dude’s hair, huh?
Pac Man taught K how to play Hyper Dash (this is a great game if you don’t have it…good for Christmas!)

A bit of Connect 4 with Daddy…

The boys LOVE when our seasonal Little People toys come out. A favorite is the Mayflower!

He had tons of fun playing with his bristle blocks and peg set…


Theme…Dinosaurs!

Krash was a dino for Halloween!

I surprised Krash with a new Melissa and Doug Dino puzzle. He loves his other set like this so I splurged on Amazon for him!

We all worked together to color some sheet from Pac Man’s dino lapbook

We were inspired by Our Crafts n Things to make special dinosaurs…



Life School…

We got a special package from a great blogging friend, Julie, who is also a missionary in Hungary! K is in love with the pencil she sent to him!

We went to the pumpkin patch!!!!
He was such a big by running around and playing all by himself!

He even fed chickens!
We don’t have leaves in the inner city, so this was a BIG treat…


Mommy’s Favorites…

First this was my favorite…
then I thought it might be this one…
but finally decided on this one!!!

Tot Tray Ideas from Target…

I managed to make it to Target the other day (which was HUGE for me because I am really struggling with pain as my pregnancy comes to an end-I rarely leave the house). I was excited to see the 1$ section restocked with cute items :). Here are a few I set up for Tot Trays, K worked on them today and really liked them.

The first is a mini George sticker book, great for concentration and fine motor skills :). This little blank book came with 4 rolls of stickers. Today I just put on of the rolls on the tray, he really enjoyed working with it and seeing his friend George!Next is a puffy (bath style) Nemo book, that just has color words in it. I added the colored pom poms for him to find as we read the book together. They also had this book with a Cars theme, which I am going to find the cars we have for him to match up with the book while reading.I also got a few more things, but these are the only ones we’ve used so far. Just thought I would share in case anyone is heading out for a weekend Target trip!!!!