All By Myself Preschool Boxes

All By Myself Preschool Boxes

Part of our new Preschool plan is the use of our new “All By Myself Boxes.”  I have seen the concept of Quiet Time Boxes for many years but not until now did I think the concept was a good fit for us. As I evaluated Ladybug’s list and prayed about following her lead, I kept coming back to this idea.  So, I created them! It seemed to be perfect timing for her, I will share our first week in another post, and in this post I will share the behind the scenes management and set up process! There’s a video at the bottom for those of you who want an even deeper look!

{disclaimer ~ there are affiliate links in this post}

Our Current Plan…

We homeschool 5 days a week, M-Th and Saturday {our family day is Friday}, so I got 5 of the same boxes. I chose these from Walmart because they are big enough {15 Qt} and she can open and close them independently.

I made labels for the bins, you are welcome to use them too, here’s the PDF file.

Daily Box Labels

Credit for the beautiful Chevron goes to Emily Wean Graphics!  I printed ours on cardstock, laminated, cut out, rounded corners, and used plain old tape to stick them on the outside.

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Knowing her love of all things small and sensory related, I also got 5 small boxes which fit inside of the bigger boxes.  I got these, also from Walmart. I have another post in the works that will share how I plan to rotate these items and what is on our long list!

Note ~ she is old enough to have access to tiny items independently, and I am comfortable as a parent with our choices. Use your own discretion as a parent, as many of these items would NOT be a good choice for young tots without supervision!  Do what works for you and your child{ren}.

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I bought 2 big boxes of zipper baggies and began dumping the toys that would be good for these boxes into them. I then took the bagged up learning materials and put them all in bins, like this…All By Myself Preschool Boxes -5681

You can see a master list {with links} of almost everything I rotate through in the boxes here!

My Filling the Box Procedure…

I line up the bins on Sunday evening and add materials, with this loose plan in mind:

  • 1 different sensory item per day in the small pink boxes
  • a few small animals
  • a puzzle
  • 2 small books
  • 3-4 learning toys/tools I have no weekly, bi-weekly set plan, that all depends on life.  I know she would love it if they were new each week, but some weeks won’t allow for that.  My goal is to try to change them up each Sunday evening, we’ll see!
      Her Quiet Time Area…

All By Myself Preschool Boxes Always Available-5636

I have her in the living room for now, which is right off our school room. It is close enough so I can help if needed and run in to peek at her {which I love}, but far enough away so she doesn’t interrupt us and we don’t bother her.

      I created a little shelf in our living room, where she will be using these boxes, to keep the “

always available

    ” materials, which include…
  • a cookie sheet {for anything magnetic}
  • a bin to help contain the sensory mess
  • a wooden board {mostly for puzzles, or things that need a solid surface}
  • a box of sensory bin tools {spoons, cups, tongs, etc.}
  • various supplies that I think she might enjoy using every day

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How I am Managing our Routine…

She gets a new box each school day at the beginning of her quiet time.   During this hour I am working one on one with Krash and PacMan is doing independent school.  I give her the bin, sit with her as she opens it in case she has any questions or needs help.  Then I leave her to play! I obviously check back periodically, but mostly she plays alone.  Her absolute favorite part is the small pink box of sensory goodness. She plays with that alone each day {so far} for about 75% of the time from what I can tell!

After the time is done, I stack the boxes in the corner like this, so she can go back to them if she wants to. This photo shows the END of the week, each day only one is added after she plays with it.

All By Myself Preschool Boxes -5636

At first I wasn’t going to do this {I had planned on hiding the other boxes away after the day was over}, but she got very upset and I decided my way wasn’t that important.  On Saturday evening, I put them all away in my storage room to be filled up on Sunday evening and ready for Monday. But during the week, she is free to go back to any items she really enjoyed {which is mainly those pink bins}.

For those of you who wish you could come over and see it, I made a little video for you.  I always love peeking into other people’s homes, I hope to do this more for you in the future!  This video shows her play area, the basic set up, and inside one of her boxes. The video is just a bit over 2 minutes.


This is just a portion of our new preschool routine, I am ironing out many more details to simplify our plan and make it more joy-filled for my Ladybug!  Stay tuned to see more about how I am following her lead with our home preschool!

See our first week’s box contents and our webpage showing what rotates through our boxes!

All By Myself Preschool Boxes

Show Me! Cut, Count, & Glue Video

Cut, Count, and Glue Video

I have been asked for years to record videos of me teaching my young children.  Many moms have emailed me sharing how uncomfortable early childhood learning is for them and that if they could see it in action, it would help! Honestly I never really did it because I don’t think what I do is anything special.  But then I started thinking about how much it would help ME to see upper grade subjects being taught by some of you!  I know how it feels to be out of my comfort zone too!

So for those of you who are totally out of your comfort zone with this early childhood stuff, I am going to try to do better and put together some videos showing a few minutes at a time with Ladybug. She is currently 4 years old {just turned four in April 2013}, and working through home preschool with me. Please know that I am not posting these because I think I have it all figured out, but to humbly share in hopes that a glimpse might help someone out there.

Our first video together uses the printable entitled Cut, Count, Glue which is found in many of my printable packs.  Some packs have up to the number 5, and some to the number 7.  If your child is younger, just cut out the grid to only show the number you want to work on. The printable shown in the video is from the Gymnastics Printable Pack, and looks like this…

Slide18 Slide17

I took a few video clips during about 5-10 minutes of working together and edited them together with captions for you.  I hope this helps you see how early learning skills are exposed so naturally through the use of fun printables, toys, activities and just simple discussions with your child.

List of skills we touched on…

  • number identification
  • counting
  • ordinal numbers {1st, 2nd, etc.}
  • Positional words
  • What comes next, before, after?
  • same/different, most/least, how many?
  • basic addition language
  • 1:1 correspondence {touching one at a time as you count}

You can also see when she is “done” at the end of the video, I didn’t push her any further.  We had been going for awhile, and I sensed it was time to stop.  This is a delicate balance, knowing when to stop with a young child, as to not wear them out, but also knowing when to push them gently through tasks that are a bit challenging. I do not always get this right, and we have tears in our home when I push too hard.  Our learning time does not always look like I was trained in early childhood development!  There are days I would be ashamed to record a video.

I hope this glimpse helps even a few of you to gain confidence as you teach your young tots at home.

Are there any other topics or specific printables you’d like me to create a Show Me! video for? Leave any ideas in the comments and I will add it to our list!

Tot school ~ Letter V

~ Ladybug is 41 Months Old ~Tot-School_thumb3


V is for Vulture, but I sure don’t have any stuffed vultures for her to play with!  Since we are doing letter baskets now I don’t have a fancy desk set up to share, but here is her Letter V basket…Animal ABC Letter V-2274

She enjoys digging through it, especially to find the puzzle pieces and then magnets.Animal ABC Letter V-2266

Here she was putting all of the magnets on her Letter Vv Dot Fun. This set is included in the Animal ABC Bundle, or you can purchase the set as a stand alone set for $1.25 on Teacher’s Notebook.Animal ABC Letter V-2269

After it was all out, I arranged it and snapped a pic so you could see what was in it! Alphabet Soup set, ABC peg set, Magnetic Letters, Ladybug Alphabet Puzzle, and more!Animal ABC Letter V-2271

The printable items shown below are all available here on the Animal ABCs webpage. {files are released for free when they are posted on the Totally Tots blog for the ABC feature, letter V is not free yet, but it will be

She was thrilled to do her cutting, and did it with ease!Animal ABC Letter V-2230

We dot painted her letter V…Animal ABC Letter V-2225

Gluing her vultures down…Animal ABC Letter V-2247

She colored all of her vultures and then Krash hid the for her to find…

Animal ABC Letter V-2231 Animal ABC Letter V-2250

She colored and worked on all of her other Letter V extras, I just forgot to take any pics!

We are back to doing All About Reading Pre Level 1 once a week.  I am not expecting mastery from Ladybug, just using this program as a way to expose her to the Big Five Skills.

She totally shocked me this week.  The lesson was sorting 1, 2, and 3 syllable words.All About Reading Syllable Sort-2264

I thought certainly this would be a model and follow lesson.  Oh was I ever wrong.  I showed her one time and she did them all.  After a few cards in I quickly grabbed my phone to take a video!

Learning-Toys_thumbShe is very into making letter with whatever she has.  Here she was showing me the T she made with our Measuring Motors roads…Homeschool-2186

“Wook Mommy, wettah L!”Homeschool-2187

Seeing how much fun she was having, I got out our How to Build an A book and supplies, she loved it!Homeschool-2194

Wedgits building…Homeschool-2204

We made long patterns with learning links. She was unhooking the chains for me so we could use certain colors in our pattern.Homeschool-2206

Our new Color Cubes from Learning Resources were her favorite activity this week!  She sat with me for so long and would have continued if we would have had more time! 

Learning Resources Color Cubes-2236 Learning Resources Color Cubes-2245Learning Resources Color Cubes-2239 Learning Resources Color Cubes-2243


I am working on a more organized way to manage the apps we use for school time.  An idea I am testing out right now is printables, cut into cards to show the apps I want her working on.  You can see the sleeve of choices to the right on the table.  I DO plan to share this full idea and our feedback as soon as I can.  I will also share the printables and a how-to-make-your-own! Already she was reminded of a beloved app I think she had recently forgotten about, The ABC’s of God.  She saw the image in her choices and picked it first!Homeschool iPad Apps-2256

After sitting at my desk for awhile, she moved to the bean bag! {her purple tray is here, but get it at Michaels if you can, it’s only 4.99 or less with a coupon!} Homeschool iPad Apps-2259

She also loves BINGO Junior and had asked k for a bit of help here…Homeschool-2208

Another iPad favorite is our Readeez videos.  She loves these so much, so do I! {she has the iPad propped up in an old photo frame stand}Homeschool-2215

  • Favorite Apps ~ Part 1
  • Favorite Apps ~ Part 2
  • Our iPad Cases
  • How I Find Free Apps {that usually cost $$}
  • Our Squaretrade Warranty Experience


    My girl is gonna learn to read simply by sitting in on her brother’s All About Reading and Spelling lessons!  Anytime she sees me doing them with him, she scoots herself close by and just soaks it in.  It really is crazy how drawn she is to this.All About Spelling-2284


    Ladybug’s week on Instagram {I am using Printsgram to make the layout for the week!}


    We are 1plus1plus1 on Instagram, follow us here!


    Friday is our day off and this past one I spent the day CLEANING massively while Daddy hung out with kiddos!  At one point I walked down and saw this…homeschool-2300


    A Few Popular Tot Posts…


    • Tot School Blog Roll 2012-2013 will be coming soon!
    • New to linking up here? Read this first! Basics: write a specific post about what you did with your tot, link up the permalink from your post, link back to Tot School within that post, put your tot’s age in months in ( ) like this: (43 months).

  • Raising Rock Stars Kindergarten ~ P


    You can download all of the printables for this unit FREE here on the main RRSK page, just scroll down until you see them!  We are only doing the Bible memory work since he has mastered all of the other skills included in the RRSK packs.

    Here is Krash singing letter P for you, the tune is “Twinkle Twinkle.”   The printable written out the way you sing it for LETTER P is here! He was a bit off with the tune in the beginning, and Ladybug is playing with the marble track in the background, so I am sorry for the poor quality!  Hopefully you can catch the tune despite these obstacles!

    If you have RRSK Early Access or the RRSP Bundle, there is now a file with all of the verse tunes available!

    RRSK Letter Pp Printables Here!

    If you want early access to printables beyond what I have blogged about, you can see info about purchasing here!  Currently I have units Aa-Tt available in the early access section.

    Monster Fun Sensory & Imagination Bin

    In honor of our Monster theme, I made the them a Monster Sensory Bin

    I decided to go for a create-a-monster approach to encourage their imagination while they play.

    I gathered anything I thought would help them create cute monsters like this one…IMG_5124
    I put a basket of Monster books next to the bin too…IMG_5108
    Krash walked into the schoolroom and immediately said, “oh man, where’s the fall bin, I like that on better.”  Yup, he’s our Mr. Negative.  I “ignored” him and began playing with Ladybug creating monsters, soon he was involved and said, “oh man, this is awesome, thanks mom!”  Silly boy.
    Ladybug went right at it and had a blast creating monsters…

    IMG_5123 IMG_5135
    The ping pong balls were “cheeks” according to her!
    IMG_5171 IMG_5174 

    Krash was way more interested in the little white tubes {I wish I knew where these were from-someone gave us a big ol’ bag of them a long time ago}.  He used them to make patterns…IMG_5127
    He remembered an old Minute to Win It game and got a craft stick and began to challenge himself!IMG_5131
    He made numerous towers, with and without PacMan…

    IMG_5139 IMG_5164 IMG_5167  IMG_5177 IMG_5181

    Even PacMan got in on the creating fun…IMG_5143 
    After playing for awhile, I took a quick video of the kids to share with you.  As you will see, they were all engaged with the bin in different ways.  They had been playing for at least 15-20 minutes prior to the video and then continued to play way beyond the video.

    Be sure to visit my Monster Pinboard on Pinterest for more monster fun ideas!

    If you haven’t read the Montessori Minute post about sensory play, be sure to read that to see why these bins are so wonderful for kids!
    Use this button to jump to all of my Sensory Bin posts anytime. Sensory-Bins6222[4]