Tot Tray Ideas ~ Alphabet

Welcome to our collection of Tot Tray ideas featuring ALPHABET ideas.  This is our second post in a series for our Ultimate Tot Tray Idea Collection, our first post featured Transferring Ideas for Tot Trays.

Alphabet Tot Tray Ideas Collection



Alphabet Tot Trays?

Working with letters in a fun and playful way is a natural and effective way to work on letter and sound identification with young children. Many tots will soak up this knowledge without ever having to directly be taught.

Use purposeful language as you engage with your tot, focusing on simply having fun.  The learning happens naturally. I never “taught” my tots to identify letters, yet they learned by the purposeful play we did together.  Letters were a part of our everyday play and they soaked up knowledge naturally.

Not familiar with Tot Trays?  Learn all about them here!

 

What You Need for ABC Tot Trays ~

  • letters
  • something fun to do with letters {see ideas below}

Much fun can be had with a variety of letter toys.  Think outside the box and use one set of magnetic letters, a set of ABC bean bags, or an alphabet puzzle in many different ways.  It isn’t about having more toys, it’s about doing more with what you have!

Here’s some alphabet toy ideas to get your brain spinning, don’t buy all {or any} of these, look at the list to think about what you might already own and can use! You can easily make your own set of letters using bottle tops, rocks, or other basically free creative option.

Alphabet Toys

Some Alphabet Tot Tray Ideas

Note ~  All ideas are presented with the understanding that you are playing WITH your tot, these are not all independent activities as some of the items are choking hazards. Please only use ideas that you feel comfortable with and feel you can ensure your tot’s safety.

Alphabet puzzles make great ABC Tot Trays.  The key is to NOT use all of the pieces at once.  If your tot is very young, only use one or two pieces!  Add more as your tot progresses.

Alphabet Puzzle Tot Tray

{the puzzles shown were bought at a discount store, many years ago}

Alphabet Puzzle Tot Tray

 

Matching upper and lower case magnets on a tray can be matched up on a magnetic surface.  You could provide a cookie sheet, or use another surface such as the dishwasher which Krash is using below.  Again, not the entire alphabet is given, adjust to developmental level of your tot.

abc magnets

 

Alphabet Bean Bags can be used for many Tot Tray activities. Below you see some of ours in a box along with some other letters to be matched up.  My mom made our bean bags, but you can find them online too.

Letter Matching

 

Hammering bean bag letters is a fun activity for active tots. You call out the letter and the child hammer’s it!

IMG_6491

 

Bottle cap letters and name cards are a great way for older tots to work on names!

Bottle Top Names

 

 

Alphabet magnets {or puzzle pieces} can be stamped into play dough.

ABC Magnets in Play Dough

 

If you have any large letters {ours are from a foam ABC floor mat}, use these with play dough to make the letters.

Play Dough on Foam Letters

 

Use alphabet printable pages {these are from Tot School Printables} and make the letters together and then poke the play dough!

Poking Play Dough letters

 

Poke the letters with an object that begins with that letter ~ {keys for K, pencil for P, small toy cow for C}

Keys and Letter K

 

Press another small object into the play dough {gems shown below} for some great fine motor work.

ABC with Play Dough and Gems

 

Use letter cookie cutters with play dough, and objects to press into the play dough too!

Alphabet Cookie Cutters and Play Dough

 

Hammering our foam puzzle was a VERY favorite of Krash when he was a tot. Ladybug loved these puzzles too.

Hammering the Alphabet Puzzle


See more ABC ideas here on our Tot Tray Ideas ~ Alphabet Pinterest Board

Follow {1plus1plus1} Carisa’s board Tot Tray Ideas ~ Alphabet on Pinterest.


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 easily.

I do ask that you pin this post, 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!

Irrelevant links will be deleted. This linky will remain open indefinitely.

Link up your Alphabet Tot Tray ideas below!

See our Ultimate Tot Tray Idea Collection landing page here!

The Ultimate Tot Tray Idea Collection[4]

Homeschooling Tots

    Homeschooling Tots is something I write about a lot.  Early childhood education is a passion of mine and empowering parents to feel confident to explore early learning at home is where the depth of my passion lies during this season of life. This is why I chose to write a chapter for The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas entitled, Homeschooling Tots.

    {disclosure ~ affiliate links are used in this post}

    My tots were very different, as you can see from the photo collages below.  Krash was my mover and we rarely had any sort of a plan. Ladybug was my sitter and I couldn’t keep up with her requests demands for more school work. Thus, my need for a plan with her during the Tot School years.
    Tot School with Krash

Ladybug's Tot School

 

The cool thing about the early years is that you can be totally flexible and follow the lead of your child. It is exploring through play and having fun with your tot during these fleeting years!

One of my favorite memories with my daughter was going through our Animal ABCs together.  I developed this program for her based on her love of all things school and all things animals.  We used it as a launching board into much hands on fun together when she was 2-3. I am giving away a copy of our Animal ABC Bundle to one winner! 

Animal ABCs

Use Rafflecopter to enter to win below.  Giveaway is open worldwide and ends 10/31/14.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Read my chapter and over 100 more in The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas. Right now you can grab it for only $8.99 {this is a $2 discount} using the code: homeschool

Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas

Want even more?  There’s a special bundle including 23 MP3s AND the eBook for just $15. 

Studio and Big Book Bundle


This post is a part of The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas Blog Tour.

Yesterday, LaToya Edwards from Learning to Let Him Lead shared. LaToya is the author of the chapters Homeschooling Elementary Aged Boys, and Single Parent Homeschooling.

Tomorrow, Shannen Espelien from Middle Way Mom will be sharing.  She is the author of the chapters Getting Started with Credit-by-exam, Where to Buy and Sell Used Curriculum, and Transitioning to a Virtual School from Public School.

ihn Oct 2014

Tot Tray Ideas ~ Transferring

Welcome to our collection of Tot Tray™ ideas featuring TRANSFERRING ideas.

Transfer Tot Tray Ideas Collection



What is transferring?

It’s  moving one object or a group of objects from one place to another. This can be done using a variety of materials and can be changed up to engage interest quite easily!

You can set up many different transfer Tot Trays, they are one of the easiest to set up and can be as basic or elaborate as you want!

Transferring helps with real practical life skills, teaching young children hand to eye coordination. It is also great for fine motor skill development.

 

What You Need for Transfer Tot Trays ~

  • a transfer material {pom poms are a very easy one}
  • something to transfer with {tongs, tweezers, spoon, etc.}
  • a container to transfer from and into {we use ice cube trays, paint trays, bowls, etc.}

    Here’s some ideas to get your brain spinning!

    Transfer Tot Tray Tools

Some Transferring Tot Tray Ideas

Note ~  All ideas are presented with the understanding that you are playing WITH your tot, these are not all independent activities as some of the items are choking hazards. Please only use ideas that you feel comfortable with and feel you can ensure your tot’s safety.

Here my daughter was transferring little spikey balls {which were sea urchins for our ocean theme} from one bowl to other bowls.  She was also sorting by color. She is using a melon baller spoon to do this transfer.

Tot Tray Transfer Spikey Balls with Melon Baller Spoon

 

Below you see my daughter transferring ping pong balls from the metal container to the paint tray using a pair of mini tongs.

Tot Tray Transfer Ping Pong Balls with Tongs

 

Below Ladybug is using tweezers to transfer pom poms into and ice cube tray.  She LOVED these little plastic tweezers!

Tot Tray Transferring Pom Poms using  Tweezers

 

You can see Krash using tongs with smaller paint trays and pom poms below, the tongs shown below are from a bug collection set we had years ago.

Tot Tray Transfer Pom Poms with Tongs

 

Large tongs  and large pom poms are certainly an option too and provide a unique challenge for different arm muscles!

Tot Tray Transfer Pom Poms with Tongs

 

Below she was transferring marbles using tongs, into an recycled frozen baby food tray

Tot Tray Transfer Marbles with Tongs

 

Krash is using the mini tongs to transfer mini erasers into two cups {he was sorting the fish and turtles}.Tot Tray Transferring Mini Erasers with Tongs

 

Below he was using the same tongs to transfer bigger erasers into small glass cups {tealight holders form Ikea}, working on one to one correspondence {counting one item at a time}Tot Tray Transferring Mini Erasers with Tongs


See more transferring ideas here on our Tot Tray Ideas ~ Transferring Pinterest Board

Follow {1plus1plus1} Carisa’s board Tot Tray Ideas ~ Transferring on Pinterest.


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 easily.

I do ask that you pin this post, 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!

Irrelevant links will be deleted. This linky will remain open indefinitely.

Link up your TRANSFER Tot Tray ideas below!

See our Ultimate Tot Tray Idea Collection landing page here!

The Ultimate Tot Tray Idea Collection

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

 

See available idea collections below!  Click on the graphic to see the post!

Transfer-Tot-Tray-Ideas-Collection.jpg  Alphabet-Tot-Tray-Ideas-Collection.jpg

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!

The Preschool Years ~ Turning Mommy Guilt into Mommy Grace

Us moms are tough.  Tough on ourselves and tough on one another.

May I invite you to remove all forms of mommy guilt and shame over whatever educational choice you have made for your young child and transform that guilt into grace?  Grace for yourself and grace for others who may be making a different choice.

From Mommy Guilt to Mommy Grace



That’s me and PacMan many years ago when he was only 2. It takes me back to being that young momma who struggled with guilt over my choices. Guilt over sending him to preschool and then guilt over keeping him home.  You see, I did both with him.  He went to preschool for one year and we did the following year at home. I remember doubting myself and struggling with guilt on both sides.  I felt most of my guilt on the home side, feeling as if I might be taking something away from him by NOT sending him to preschool.

Yes, my blog is homeschool focused, but I believe in each family making educational choices with freedom and grace.  I am not a do or die homeschooler and believe the Lord leads us in different directions. For us, homeschool was/is the direction.  This post is mainly to encourage those of you who are embarking on this home preschool journey and struggling a bit with that choice. Struggling the way I did when we first became homeschoolers.

 

So, you are homeschooling PreK, now what?

I get questions surrounding the first year of homeschooling a LOT.  Most of these are people with children ages 3-5 who have officially made the decision not to send their child to PreK or Kindergarten.

That was me 8 years ago.  We even sent our oldest to a 2 day a week program when he was 3.  Then we pulled him home for the following year when he was 4.  That was our first homeschooling year, PreK.

I have an early childhood degree and taught Kindergarten, you’d think I would feel confident in teaching my own child at home.  Oh no, let me assure you, I struggled big time.  I struggled with many of the things I know moms out there are struggling with because they share with me via comments and email. I know many of you struggle because I know I struggled.  And honestly, we aren’t all that different.  It’s amazing how many struggles we all share, whether we speak them aloud or not.

 

You are not alone.

Do you worry that you won’t meet the educational goals and somehow totally miss something, even during PreK and K?  I did.

Do you fear that your child won’t know how to make friends with kids his/her own age and somehow be a social outcast?  I did.

Do you think you might not be a good enough mommy to be with your kids 24/7?  Not enough patience, grace, calmness, joy, etc?  I did.

Do you fret over the loss of ME time?  Then struggle with feeling selfish for thinking that way?  I did.

Do you cower at times when people ask your child what school s/he goes to?  Not wanting the question to even come up?  I did.

Do you feel completely overwhelmed with all of the curriculums, options, printables, blogs, and ideas?  I did.

Do you wonder how in the world you will juggle homeschooling with your current children and future children all together?  Or even manage it with housekeeping, cooking, maintaining adult friendships, or maybe even your job, etc.? I did.

Do you feel alone?  Even with all of the great blogs and maybe even a friend or two who homeschools, or at least supports your decision?  I did.

 

Where Am I Now?

I no longer worry about missing educational goals!  Why?  I slowly realized that I grew up forgetting much of what I learned in school anyway!  Life is learning and my kids will soak in knowledge, and actually more of it, through homeschooling! My oldest is entering 7th grade, the grade I used to fear.  I am totally at peace with it and relearning alongside of him, joyfully.

Socialization…NOT a problem, at all. I didn’t struggle a lot with this fear years ago, but the thought was in the back of my mind. It no longer even enters my mind.

I am not a good enough Mommy and I never will be.  But, I am enough. Period.  Enough for the babies God gave to me. This is still a struggle but I have come so far.

I served outside the home at our church full time when we began homeschooling and I struggled big time with losing this part of myself. It took years, but now I embrace my role at home and the way God has called me to serve our family.

Go ahead, ask my kids where they go to school!  If you want to talk about it, I will be more than happy to.  No shame at all, I don’t even jerk a little bit when people ask. I invite the conversation, questions, and even doubts.

I am pretty sure I contribute to overwhelming you.  Just look at my blog.  Sorry for that, but also not sorry.  I know it is hard to wade through the choices, I struggle too.  Pinterest makes this worse and the sea of early childhood blogs is WAY bigger than when I jumped on the blogging scene 7 years ago!  Just breathe, remember the word SIMPLE, and find what works for you – not for someone else.

When I began homeschooling Pac, Krash was a baby and we had a teenager we were guardians for. I struggled with balance and worried a bit how it would work if we had more kids. Somehow it all works out.  Every family is different and many families with WAY more kids than I have make it work. With each new season of life, we adjust and homeschooling is flexible for these adjustments.

I no longer feel alone in this homeschooling thing.  It gest easier and homeschooling is growing more than ever.  Even if you are the only one you know now, I assure you, it won’t be that way for long.

Preschool Away from Home?

Did you know that even though I home educate, I fully support your decision to send your child to preschool {or any grade of school really} if that’s what you feel called to do? I don’t think there’s a one size fits all plan for early childhood education and believe many children thrive in a group setting. I want all of you to know that you don’t have to worry one bit about judgment coming from me. Many families feel guilty about this, especially if they have homeschooled or even homeschool older children. Please don’t feel ashamed or guilty about this decision; we all must do what’s best for our own child, other children, and entire family during different seasons of life.

May we release all guilt that we place upon ourselves and others.  May grace fill our hearts and bring us peace, both personally and in our relationships.