Emery has been catching on to counting numbers for a while now, but her order of the numbers and getting them all in had been a little wonky, so I thought it worth dedicating a week of our tot school towards trying to get her to consistently count from one to ten, as well as give her a really basic intro into what the numbers "look" like (written & in quantities). We did this week of school the same week as Kyle's finals week, and I'll just say that when dental school gets crazy, that the stress/craziness of it overflows over into the home as well. Emery was more restless and impatient this week from not seeing Kyle as much, Kyle was exhausted from the long hours of studying/marathon of exams, and I felt completely in over my head most days trying to keep everything around the house as "normal" as possible when everyone was obviously feeling out-of-sorts. We're now past the craziness and thanking the heavens above that Kyle should (hopefully) not have to deal with another finals week as rough as this one, but the craziness of the week did force me to find ways for Em and I to do our tot school in as simple and as uncomplicated of a way as possible. I didn't have the patience or the tenacity this week to deal with any overly involved activities/Pinterest crafts, so we kept things simple but focused, and I loved seeing that the results of Em learning the material still managed to be the same.
Tot School Week 9: Counting From 1 to 10
Theme: Counting (1-10)
Snacks (One per day):
Books (We read one book a day specific to the weekly theme):
Monday - "I Can Make Ten" Create-a-book Activity. If you've been following along for a while now then you know that these little create a books are my favorite way to start a week of tot school, so when I found this free book that would allow Em to fill in the proper amount of spots for each page I knew it'd be a good one for us to do! On a normal week I probably would've had Em use finger paints to fill in all the dots, but since we were working to simplify I ended up getting some stickers from Target's dollar spot, then helped Em put them into the book and let her embellish it with her crayons/more stickers once she was done. We'd never done stickers before so Emery really liked the change of materials, and was able to use her book the rest of the week to practice her counting.
Tuesday- Field Trip Day: Counting Animals at the Zoo. Em and I spent the whole of our morning at the zoo with friends, and I knew she'd be too worn out to do any heavily involved activities afterwards, so we instead just took the opportunity to count where we happened to be. While looking at the animals at the zoo, Em would get excited about finding one that she recognized , and I'd have her count how many of the animal she saw with me. That afternoon after coming home and having a nap, we read Eric Carle's 1,2,3 to the Zoo book, and Emery loved looking at the pictures of the animals in the book and talking about the same one's that she'd seen that day at the zoo, all the while counting the book animals for extra practice! If the zoo isn't your cup of tea, this same activity can be applied virtually anywhere, Along with counting the animals at the zoo, Em and I also made it a habit to count the stairs up to our apartment floor, the squares on the sidewalk, and basically anything else that we could find outside on our path.
Wednesday- Counting Pom-Pom's in a Jar game & Counting Sensory Cards. This pom-pom game has become one of our most favorite games since originally trying it because it takes virtually no time to put together or prepare and provides us with at least 20-30 minutes of entertainment every time Em has pulled it out. To play, I cleaned out an empty spice jar (any small jar would work) and gave Emery 10 pom-poms that we've used in previous week's activities. I had her put the pom-poms in the jar, counting them with her as she put them in. Once all of the pom-poms were in the jar, we'd dump them out on the table and start all over again. Within a couple of tries Em was counting the pom-poms all on her own and she continued to play quietly with the game for the rest of the 30 minutes time frame! Our next activity for the afternoon were these pom-pom sensory cards that I put together for Emery to play with, and that you can easily put together during your kiddos nap time in less than 20 minutes. To make the cards, simply print out this free printable with the numbers/cutting lines already laid out for you (or just cut out your own and write the numbers on the cards if you don't have a printer) and then glue the correct amount of pom-poms onto each card. I used this activity similarly to how we normally use our sensory bin each week letting Em do more self-discovery with them, but would also count the poms on the cards with her as she picked each one up. Older tots could also help with making the cards as an extra activity if wanted.
Thursday- Melissa & Doug Latches Wooden Activity board and Laugh & Learn Learning Letters Monkey App on the iPad. Thursday was Kyle's last day of finals, and we were in full on survival mode waiting for him to get home so that we could relax and celebrate being done. We kept things super simple with this cute wooden activity board that can be used to teach colors, numbers/counting, a few animals, and fine motor skills, and then played with another one of Em's favorite educational apps on the iPad. A portion of the app focuses specifically on numbers and counting from 1-10 with a cute song rhyme, and along with letting Em play with the app occasionally we'll also sing the song together to practice with her counting. For mamas looking for a good toddler app this one is probably one of our favorites - along with counting it also focuses on shapes, colors, and A,B,C's, and is perfect for young toddlers still learning how to control things on a screen.
Friday- Ten Apples Up on Top book and Block Activity. For anyone who hasn't read the Ten Apples Up on Top book, it basically follows the story of a few characters trying to balance apples on their head, the board book version ending at the point when all of them have 10 apples up on top that they are not going to let drop! I thought it'd be fun to do an activity with Em to tie into the story, but didn't feel like sacrificing real apples to my toddler's craziness, so I created this apple counting block printable to share instead! This game could be done in so many different ways (and even with real apples if you wanted) but to play it the same way we did, simply print out the free apple counting blocks, cut them out, and tape them onto any of your kiddos building blocks/toys that can be stacked. One you have your apples all set up, the game is as simple as the story, see how many of the apples you can stack on top of one another trying to not let them drop (counting them all along as you go of course). 😉
That sums up our week of counting! Since finishing this last week of tot school, we've been/are planning on taking a few weeks off for a couple of family trips/vacations, as well as for a chance to catch up on some things around the house and spend quality time with each other. Once we're back, we'll be hoping into the alphabet with a curriculum specifically designed around summer months/activities so that Em can hopefully learn her letters with as much summer fun as possible. We hope that you'll all join in on the fun! See you in a couple of weeks!
Since Earth Day was on a Sunday this year, I thought it only appropriate that I dedicate a full week of Em's tot school to teaching her why we celebrate a holiday specifically for our Earth, and what types of things we can do specifically to help make it more beautiful and clean! Sustainability and living green is something that I've always been fairly passionate about but am not very vocal with because I know that there are so many others that do SO much more than me, but I knew that if I wanted Em to share this same desire to live a cleaner life that she was going to learn it through teaching and example, so this week just felt like the perfect opportunity to put a little bit more of a focus onto the little things that we already care about and work towards each day in taking care of our little green slice of home. Because I'm a big believer that caring for the Earth is something that should be done every day and not just once a year, I'd encourage you to still incorporate this activities into your own tot school routine even with the holiday already passing. With spring & summer coming up, these are perfect activities to do with your kiddos to celebrate the warm weather and all the beauty that comes with it!
Tot School Week 8: Earth Day
Theme: Earth Day
Snacks (One per day):
Books (We read one book a day specific to the weekly theme):
Monday - Earth Day Create a Book Activity & Earth Themed Phonics Cards. The little create a book I found for Emery was filled with cute pages about different things that she could do to show love towards the earth, and the point of the vocabulary cards was more to help her understand what some of the things that we'd be doing this week were actually called. For the sake of also working to show Emery to not create unnecessary waste, we actually left the pages for the book out on her table for a couple of days so that every time she wanted to color a picture she was using the same paper, and using both sides of the paper for coloring as well (a specific suggestion from her "10 Things I Can Do to Help My World" book).
Tuesday- Sing songs about recycling & recycle old plastic grocery bags. Emery is literally the only person on this planet that appreciates my tone-deaf singing voice and loves hearing little songs throughout the day, so when I found these two cute poems about recycling put to common nursery rhyme tunes I knew they'd be perfect for our recycling day! Our part of Kentucky unfortunately isn't the most recycling friendly part of town (we don't have separate garbage bins for it, etc) BUT I remembered that our local grocery store had large bins at the front of their store where people could bring in their old grocery bags to be recycled. We usually use reusable grocery bags to cut down on waste (plus they're bigger and more durable), but had collected up a few of the plastic ones over the months from shopping trips where we either had more groceries than bag space or had accidentally left our bags at home. After singing our recycling songs that morning, Em and I walked to our local grocery store (for exercise and the sake of keeping the air cleaner), and put our collection of plastic bags into the recycle bin. Emery loved being able to put the bags in the bin and kept saying "we-cycle" to everyone she saw throughout the rest of the day to show off her newly learned word. 😂
Wednesday- Earth Play-dough activity & Nature Walk. We started out this morning by reading our "What a Wonderful World" book, which is literally just the lyrics to the classic song sung by Louis Armstrong put to beautiful colorful illustrations in a child's board book. Emery LOVES this book (and the song now too because of it), and I thought it applicable since the overall theme of the song/book is appreciating the different things in the world around you. After reading the book, I opened it to a page that had an illustration of the earth on it, then gave Em our homemade blue play-dough and some green buttons (green play-dough could work too with older kids) and let her make her very own "earth" with the supplies. That afternoon Kyle happened to get home early from school and had some rare free time, so we went and walked our favorite nearby walking trail, pointing out the "trees of green, red roses too....skies of blue, and clouds of white..." and all of the other beautiful parts of the trail.
Thursday- Garden-themed sensory bin. Every year in the spring we plant flower boxes as a family tradition, but because of yo-yo type weather, have been waiting to put them in until after Kyle's finals/random cold days that would freeze the flowers. As a way to help get Emery prepped for the real thing, we pulled out some old silk flowers from our garden-themed halloween costume a few years back and put them in the bin with some kid's gardening toys from Target's dollar section and let Em practice "planting" the flowers. The weather on this day was actually pretty nice, so we moved the activity outside onto our porch to help tie in the outside element - Em loved being able to play with her bin outside, and the cleanup was easier too since the stray rice wasn't falling into carpet so overall the activity ended up being a win!
Friday- Earth themed kid yoga & putting up bird feeders. Emery will do parts of my yoga/pilates routine with me every morning, but on Friday I wanted to make the yoga a little more centered around her and connecting to the world around her. Along with example, most yoga is taught to kids by connecting the different poses to things around them that they already know and recognize, so when I found this list of earth/garden themed yoga poses for kids I thought it'd be fun to try with Emery. Em's level of bounciness and energy is EXTREMELY high (even for a toddler) so I really enjoy using yoga as a way to help calm her down a little bit while still doing something that involves movement to keep it fun. That afternoon after her nap, we put together some bird feeders that I'd picked up from our local feed store and picked out some trees around our complex to hang them up in. I'd looked into doing some sort of DIY bird feeder as well, but after some research found that at least for us just buying the pre-made feed/cages to put it in was a cheaper and easier option. Emery has been loving birds lately, so having an activity focused around doing something nice specifically for them was really good for her. As an ode to our sweet KY home, we bought feed specifically for our Northern Cardinals (our state bird) as well as other song birds, and the music that they've been making around our apartment ever since has been so fun to experience!
That wrapped up our Earth week of tot-school! Our next tot-school blog post will be focused on counting from 1-10, we hope that you'll all feel welcome to join us next week for all of the counting fun! Thanks so much for following along! Happy schooling!
I don't know if it's the warmer weather, the messiness of toddler life, having a Dad/husband having to prep for finals, or a combo of everything, but time seems to be going by so quickly as of late and I'm having a hard time keeping up! Amongst the craziness though tot-school has stayed a consistently fun part of each of our days, and as long as I can keep on top of documenting the activities we'll be in good shape. 😉 So, for the sake of saving as much time as possible for all of the above mentioned items, here's our week of PURPLE in review!
TOT SCHOOL WEEK 7: THE COLOR PURPLE
Theme: The Color PURPLE
Snacks (One per day):
Monday - PURPLE Color/Create a Book activity and PURPLE sensory bin. I feel like we'll continue to do these little coloring books whenever I can find one applicable to our weekly theme from here on our because of how much Em has enjoyed them. Not only are they helping her to learn her colors, but she's also now started to pay much closer attention to detail, and I love watching her motor skills develop with how she'll hold her crayons and pencils. For Emery's sensory bins, I received a few questions as to what exactly we put in her bin. I shared specifics on the toys that we included in her purple sensory bin in my Instagram stories (click on my "Tot School Highlights to find that if you're interested in specifics) but to answer the question in short we just use toys from around the house that fit our theme! Items will usually include things like wooden blocks, magnets, wooden stacking rings, puzzle pieces, and other small items that Emery can dig for and move around in the rice. Other items that could be used though could be Legos, cars, really anything that your kiddo enjoys playing with! The main point is that there's some sort of "theme" to the sensory bin to help teach whatever you're focusing on, and that it's giving your child a different way to play with their toys.
Tuesday- PURPLE play-dough with bead stamps and PURPLE YouTube Video. We found another use for our lacing beads that we bought last week with this week's play-dough activity, giving me yet another reason to be so happy that we got them for Emery! For the activity, I let Emery pick out all of the purple beads, and then use whichever ones she wanted to stamp shapes into her play-dough, saying "PURPLE - (whatever shape she was making)" whenever she'd stamp it into the dough. Her favorite one was the square bead, and before long Em was saying "poo-pull scare!" along with me every time she stamped it!
Wednesday- "PURPLE Yuck" Teeth Brushing Game. Wednesday of last week also happened to be Emery's first ever dentist appointment, so in an effort to help prep her for the experience I created a fun little teeth brushing game for her. Putting this together was as easy as putting a sheet of paper into a gallon sized ziplock bag, then giving Emery a purple dry-erase marker to color "yuckies" onto the teeth through the bag. Once she'd drawn on enough of the purple germs, she then got to use a special purple toothbrush to brush all of the yucky germs away. I just drew/colored my own little smiling girl to make it more personal for Em, but here's a cute free coloring page that would also work great for any kiddo. I'm not sure how well the activity helped prep Em for the actual dentist, but if it helped her with the color purple I guess we'll take at least one of the two objectives learned as a win. 😆
Thursday- Bead Sort Activity to recap on secondary colors (PURPLE, ORANGE, & GREEN), and PURPLE bath crayons. Emery had asked to play with her beads and buttons this morning, so I went into my craft closet and found a ton of the old classic beads that elementary school dreams are made of (yet another testament of how bad I am at throwing things out 😜) and put together a sorting game for her that worked really similarly to our bead sorting games in past week's activities. The big change that we made to this game was that instead of using color coordinated bowls for Em to drop the beads into, we used plain glasses and I started out each glass with a couple of beads in each color to get her started on the sorting. I wanted to see how she would do having a little less obvious of direction with the color sorting, and although it took a couple of tries to get her into it, once she caught the concept of things she did really well with the game. For Em's bath that night we went back to focus on the color purple specifically and gave her some purple bath crayons to color with in the tub. Em LOVES being able to color during her bath times, and I love that it's an activity that she can have full freedom and creativity with, but is also super easy to clean up after (the colors literally just come off with water and a light sponge/bath loofa, even on a textured tub) so it's a win-win all around.
Friday- Free Play with Lacing Beads to recap all of our colors. Friday was a busy day for us spent prepping to spend 9+ hours at Thunder Over Louisville the next day, but since this was our last day of tot school for the week and our last time focusing specifically on colors, I wanted to still give Emery a fun activity to finish up the week on. She asked to play with her lacing beads that morning while we were home, so I pulled them out for her and let her have free reign on what she decided to do with them, just making sure to either say or have her say the color of whatever bead she was holding in her hand at the time. She laced them, stacked them up and knocked them down, clanked them together with her hands to make noise, and just had fun with them however she felt inclined to. I always appreciate some sort of focus with our activities, but also have to admit that the times that I'm able to see Em fully indulge in her own creativity without any sort of major boundaries is really fun to watch and be a part of.
That wraps up our purple week and our color unit!! After a lot of thought I made the decision to not do any weeks dedicated specifically to colors not on the basic color wheel (pink, brown, white, black, grey) just because right now I feel like Emery is ready to move onto something new, and I feel like because we've been focusing on the concept of colors for so long now, she's grasped the idea of it well enough that the other side colors are just starting to fall into place. She's now able to recognize and say the color pink and white and that's just from our day to day activities without any specific focus on them! It's incredible how much she's able to soak up and I'm loving watching her learn new things every day! This week in tot school we've been celebrating Earth Day and focusing all about the Earth and what we can do to be kind to it, and I'm hoping to have that post up for you all before a whole other week has passed by! Thanks for being so patient with me, and always remember that if you have any questions about any of our tot school activities and don't want to wait for the next post, you're welcome to follow along with us on Instagram or shoot me an email or DM on Instagram with any questions!
We will see you all soon with our Earth focused week of Tot School! Happy Learning!
WOW this last week of life just flew by for us! We had appointments, parties with friends, and got to celebrate Kyle's (Dada's) birthday throughout the week, so finding time to fit in our tot school activities proved to be a little harder than expected. We still worked hard to get at least one activity in a day, but didn't pressure ourselves too much if we only got one in, or if the activities were on the short side, some only lasting about 5 minutes! We never stress over the length of the activities, and it's so important to remember going into these that your toddler will let you know when they're done with their tot school playtime. Sometimes it'll last an hour, sometimes a couple of minutes, the important thing is that the toddlers are learning and having fun! All we need to do is provide the structure to help them know what to learn and explore. 🙂
TOT SCHOOL WEEK 6: THE COLOR ORANGE
Theme: The Color ORANGE
Snacks (One per day):
Monday - ORANGE create-a-book activity and M&M color sort activity. We started out our week with our classic coloring book activity that we've done every Monday throughout our colors unit! Each week we pair this activity with the Pantone Colors book AND the corresponding mini board book for the color we're focusing on, and it seems to have been a really successful way to introduce the color of the week to Emery in a focused and fun way. That afternoon I had an appointment at the chiropractor that happened to fall at the exact same time as Emery's nap, so in an effort to keep my tired toddler happy I pulled out some of her Easter candy during the appointment to keep her entertained. While in the waiting room at the office, I poured out all the candies onto her stroller tray, then had her help me sort them into different rows based on color (her tray has horizontal grooves in it so it helped to keep them organized). Once they were all organized by color, I'd ask her to find me a specific color of M&M, and if she picked out the right color from her lines, then she got to eat the candy. This was definitely one of those made up on the spot type of activities, but it helped make our experience waiting for the doctor more enjoyable, and helped me feel slightly less guilty about feeding my child M&M's because if it's educational then it's a little more ok. 😆
Tuesday- ORANGE sensory bin and coloring an ORANGE with ORANGE chalk on the chalkboard. A question that I get asked a LOT is how I get Emery to not make a huge mess every time we get out her sensory bin and it's time for me to get real with you all and publicly answer that... I don't. I try to do my best to manage the mess as much as possible, but at the end of the day Em is a toddler and I feel like that usually wins in the mess or no mess battle. Every week when we pull it out I put the bin on a large tablecloth to try and catch as much of the mess as possible, and then start each session by reminding Emery that she can play with the bin as much as she wants as long as she keeps the rice inside of the bin. Sometimes I'll try to give Em specific tasks while playing to keep her entertained with the sensory bin as well (ex: can you find me the ORANGE circle?) but most of the time I let her play freely. If she starts getting crazy, I'll calmly once that her one rule is to keep the rice in the bin, the second time of the rule again and let her know that if she throws/dumps the rice again that playtime with the bin will be over, and then the third time will take the bin away saying that since the rice couldn't stay in the bin that playtime with it is over and it's time to do something else. I've found that at least with Emery this method helps give her the reminder that she needs to try and keep things neat, but also helps me know too when she's done with the activity. By the time we've reached her third warning, I've found that the main reason that Em is throwing the rice is because she's gotten bored playing with the toys in it and is moving on to in her mind what makes sense as the next activity - throwing the rice and making a mess. Switching to a new activity at that point helps save us a little more of a mess, and a little more of my sanity at the end of it.
Wednesday- ORANGE Name Game activity. We had a park playdate Wednesday morning during what would be our regular tot school time so we only did one activity this day but it ended up being more successful than I expected it to! Emery has started recognizing different random letters of the alphabet (E, H, S, & V before this activity, like I said random haha) but I wanted an activity that would help her recognize the letters specifically in her name aside from "E". Making this activity is SUPER easy and free to put together - I just used some old paper scraps in different shades of orange and then wrote down a letter of Emery's name on each one. I laid the letters out on Em's table in order, then went over each letter with her while saying them out loud. Once that was done I gave her an oversized button, then would ask her to put the button on the different letters to see how she did remembering them. We'd cheer like crazy every time she got the correct letter, and I was amazed at how quickly she caught on, and how the information has actually stuck since the activity. She now recognizes the letters "M" and "R" in addition to the others, and we're only working on the "Y" to get her full name in letters covered. Since this was an afternoon activity, Kyle had just walked in the door from school as we were starting, and Emery insisted on him playing it with her, which is why our cute scrub-laden Dada is in the pictures, jumping straight from one type of school to the other like a pro. 😉
Thursday- ORANGE flower walk outside and flower cookie-cutter activity with our homemade ORANGE play-dough. Thursday gave us the first warm day that we'd seen in what felt like a million years, and with how miserably late and sparse the warm weather has been this Spring, we've learned to take advantage of the warm weather whenever we get it! We took a walk outside through our neighborhood and to our local grocer's nursery and pointed out all of the orange flowers that we saw along the way. Once we got home from our walk, we took out our orange play-dough and a flower shaped cookie cutter (I got it in a set of Easter cookie cutters on clearance from our local grocery store) and let Emery cut out her own orange blooms!
Friday- ORANGE lacing beads. This Friday was Kyle's actual birthday and he was lucky enough to have the day off from school, so the majority of this day was spent spending time together as a family and celebrating him! We did get a new educational toy in the mail this same day though, and when Emery saw it she was really excited to try it out, so we took it as an opportunity to have a tot school themed activity to add to our fun Friday! I found these cute Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads on an Amazon lightening deal, and after actually seeing the beads in person and watching Em play with them am SO happy with my purchase and the versatility of the beads (we've already used them in three different activities in less than a week's time!) They include all of the primary and secondary colors, and are just the right size for little toddler hands to hold and maneuver, but are big enough that I don't have to worry about Em putting them into her mouth/any sort of choking hazard. For our activity this week, I put the box with all of the colored beads in front of Em and had her pull out the orange ones one by one, stringing them onto the lace as she went. It was so much fun watching her focus really hard on getting the string through the beads, and the excitement on her face when she'd get one through was priceless! She always seems to grow and retain a lot from activities that also involve some sort of motor skill development, so these were a definite win in our book!
That wraps up our ORANGE themed week at tot school! This next week we'll be finishing up our color wheel and unit with the color PURPLE! Feel free to follow along on Instagram for our daily activities in real time, or check back here next week for the full blog post!
Have a great week!
If I'm being honest, this past week of tot school was a challenge for us. The teething that started causing us problems at the end of last week's tot school continued strong through the whole of this week, and on Tuesday while playing outside Emery also had her first official face collision with the cement, making her willingness to do much of anything almost nilch. We didn't get two full activities in every day, but worked hard to do at least one every day, and thankfully we're far enough into our colors that Emery still seemed to pick up on the color green fairly quickly despite not spending quite as much attention on it. Because I like to keep things as real as possible here I'm only including the actual activities that we did this week in my post, but if you're looking to do more activities with your toddler throughout the week, feel free to check out my other tot school color themed weeks for more ideas!
TOT SCHOOL WEEK 5: THE COLOR GREEN
Theme: The Color GREEN
Snacks (One per day):
Monday - GREEN coloring create a book activity and GREEN themed sensory bin. These little coloring books have continued to be a success with Emery every week, and these past couple of weeks I've allowed her to start coloring in her books with miniature colored pencils in addition to her crayons to give the activity more variety. One of my fellow mama blogger friends did this same activity with her little and also let her use stickers in the color of the week on her book and it looked like a super fun idea to try! After Emery was done with her book, she actually asked to get the sensory bin out to play, so in the name of self-directed learning, I got it all set up for her with her green toys and let her have some fun with it for the rest of our morning!
Tuesday - Finding GREEN in nature with outside play & a walk. This day we were blessed with some of the most incredible warm Spring weather that we'd seen in weeks, and in an effort to take advantage of it before several more days of rain/cold temperatures, we decided to forgo a second activity and spent the whole of our day except nap time outside. Unfortunately this day is also when Em had her poor face accident, but we still enjoyed getting outside and pointing out all of the green grass, trees, shrubberies, leaves, and playground equipment that we saw.
Wednesday- Sing the GREEN song and Laugh & Learn™ Shapes & Colors Music Show App on the iPad. This was definitely our hardest day of the week with Em not feeling well and she basically spent the day playing Queen of the Castle, but we still tried to fit in a little bit of green education with her snack and some singing combined with cuddles to help her feel better. I've also found on days like these that Em tends to ask for waaaaay more screen time than she usually would, so in an effort to keep that screen time as educational as possible, we downloaded an app that teaches shapes and colors through a colorful piano on the iPad. I obviously prefer Em learning through more hands on methods, but for days when a screen seems to be the only thing that will make her happy, this app has been one that we've found to be purely educational and still fun enough to keep Emery's attention.
Thursday- GREEN tree painting activity and GREEN play-dough /counting with buttons activity. This green tree painting activity I'd originally planned for Wednesday to follow up on our outside activity with, but putting it off until Thursday didn't seem to make much of a difference in Em's ability to enjoy it so we counted it as a win! To do this activity all I did was draw/color in a plain brown tree trunk on a piece of paper, then I gave Emery a circular sponge brush and some green washable paint and had her fill in all of the "leaves" on the trees. After the painting Emery asked to play with play-dough, so I got out our homemade green dough and some green buttons and we played a game where we'd count buttons as Em would squish them into the play-dough, seeing how many buttons we could count up to before there was no more room.
Friday- GREEN flower painting activity and bead sorting activity to recap colors RED, BLUE, YELLOW, & GREEN. Emery really enjoys playing with paint, so choosing to still do our weekly wooden flower painting to go along with our Planting a Rainbow book in addition to the painting of the tree was a no-brainer. To help keep things varied enough for her, we used the circle sponge brushes on Thursday for the tree activity, and used her regular kid paint brushes for the flower activity on Friday. After her tree activity we pulled out her bead sorting activity that we'd done at the end of her yellow week, but added in a green bowl and green beads to the sorting mix to see how she did with the additional color. She caught onto the added challenge and handled it really well, saying "oops" if she ever dropped a bead into the wrong bowl by accident and correcting herself immediately before I even had a chance to say anything. Seeing little things like that just help me believe in the effectiveness of tot school. Having that little bit of added focus and structure with what we're learning and playing with each week seems to be making a world of difference. I'm having so much fun watching Em learn and grow and can't wait to continue forward with her tot school journey!
This next week we will be focusing on the color ORANGE! Feel free to follow along on Instagram for our daily activities in real time, or check back here next week for the full blog post!
Have a great week!
I love Easter. I saw someone describe it as the day to remember and celebrate love, forgiveness, and grace, and I honestly couldn't have agreed more with them. For me, Easter has always been the holiday that I've taken to really reflect on and appreciate my family, and this past week we had a blast celebrating the holiday with Emery and teaching her about all of the different aspects of it. Towards the end of our week Em's two year molars started cutting through making for a rough few days and a little bit more relaxed of a schedule for our tot school specific activities, but overall I think she had a lot of fun, and Kyle and I of course just had a blast celebrating with her! A lot of these activities are more Easter themed (think eggs, bunnies, etc) but a lot of them can be slightly altered to turn into more of a general "spring" theme as well to make it work for you and your kiddos!
Tot School Week 4: Easter
Snacks: SKIPPED. I was having a hard time coming up with Easter themed treats that weren't straight candy (which unfortunately Em still got plenty of 😆) and teething was making it hard to get Emery to really eat much of anything outside of her favorite foods, so this week we decided to keep it simple and just forgo any special themed snacks.
Books (We read one book a day):
Monday - "What Can Bunnies Do?" coloring/create a book activity and phonics/vocabulary flash cards. This book is really similar to the weekly color books that we've been doing in past weeks, but instead of focusing on a color focused on bunnies and the different activities that they can do. The free download for the book also includes phonics cards that can be printed and cut out, and makes for a great speech development activity to either teach your kiddos new words, or to help them annunciate different letter sounds that they may be struggling with.
Tuesday- Egg Stamp Counting Activity and an "Egg Scoop" activity. I've been trying to work with Emery on counting on the side of our regular tot school activities, and both of these activities helped with that focus. For the egg stamp worksheet, simply have your child use stamps, paint, stickers, etc. to fill in the correct number of dot spaces on each egg. Em LOVES painting, so I found her some cute circle sponge brushes to fill in the eggs with. The egg scoop activity was SO simple to put on and completely free assuming you have some old Easter eggs lying around - I just put 10 of Em's Easter eggs into a basket, then gave her another empty basket and her ladle from her mini kitchen utensil set (a large spoon would work as well) and had her practice moving the eggs from one basket to the other, counting them with her as she worked. This activity actually kept Em entertained for a lot longer than I thought it would, and is a bonus for developing not only counting skills but also hand-eye coordination as well.
Wednesday- Bunny Color Hop and "Egg"-cercises. This day we tied in Em's favorite Easter book from this year and made a themed day of it. "The Great Easter Race!" shares a story all about the classic Sesame Street characters having a big race for Easter, and I thought it'd be fun to add in our own elements of exercise that could be done inside and with an Easter theme. For the "egg"-cercises, I just wrote down different kid friendly activities on strips of paper and put them in the eggs. Em then opened up the eggs and we'd do the movements together. Feel free to make up your own exercises to put in the eggs, but the ones we did were:
Thursday- Bunny Tail Color Sort. This was probably the worst day for Em's teething, and my poor girl spent the majority of the day wanting to do nothing but cuddle and watch shows. During a short period of molar relief though do to some Copaiba oil on her gums, we were able to play this fun little color matching activity. Putting it together is as easy and printing out the bunnies (and cutting them out if you choose to), and then having your kiddo use pom-poms, colored buttons, etc to match the proper colored tail to it's respective bunny. Emery has really come to enjoy these little color sorting activities, and I love that they give us a way to keep her memory fresh of all the colors we've been practicing up to this point.
Friday- Coloring Wooden Easter Eggs and making Easter sugar cookies. These are obviously the most Easter themed/least educational activities of the week, but we had a full weekend planned out for Em with Easter Egg hunts, baskets, and parties with friends coming up, so I figured why not start early with the celebrations? 😉 Before Friday I'd never actually died Easter eggs before and honestly don't even know how to hard boil an egg, but I found some cute small wooden eggs in Target's dollar section and thought that I'd give it a go. We mixed up six plastic cups with 1/2 water, 1/2 apple cider vinegar (white vinegar works fine too), and liquid food coloring into each cup, then let the eggs sit in the cups while stirring them around for about 30 minutes in the mixture. Emery loved helping to squirt the colors into the cups and would say the color as we were mixing it, and has been playing with the wooden eggs ever since! Next year we might even try dying regular eggs, but I'd love to do it with natural food dyes derived from different foods/spices.
To make things easier for anyone wanting to try out any of these activities, here's a list of all of the printables that we've used/created (to download/print just click on the link that you want. Also, for the Bunny Hop, Color Sorting Activity, and the Egg Counting Activity I've decided to include a black & white copy as well as a color copy - just in case there's anyone out there like me who doesn't have a color printer and wants to color in the worksheets themselves!
This week of tot school we're going back to finish up our color wheel and will be focusing on the color GREEN! Feel free to follow along on Instagram for the activities as we do them, or check in next week for the full blog post! Have a great week!
We hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend spent with those you love most!
Literally right after we finished up this week of tot school we decided that we all needed a little family getaway and hopped in the car to start a spring break vacation. Because of that this post is a little delayed in getting out, but I'm so happy to report to all of you that at the end of our yellow week Emery had what I guess you could call a "breakthrough" in her learning, and all of these activities that we worked to do to teach her the primary colors seemed to come together and she finally got it! I also tried to keep this week of tot school really flexible by letting Emery choose which activities we did on each day. We have a small bookshelf in our apartment that holds the majority of her school "supplies", and now that we've been doing this for long enough it was a lot of fun to see what she specifically chose to do on different days. I also feel like allowing her that freedom to choose the activities (maybe?) helped make them more effective in their teaching, and even though no week with a toddler is completely mess/tantrum free, this one for the most part felt more easy going and productive, giving me that bit of motivation that I needed to know that this whole tot school thing actually works. 😉
Tot School WEek 3: The Color Yellow
Theme: The Color YELLOW
Snacks (One per day):
Monday - YELLOW coloring activity book & coloring with YELLOW chalk on the chalkboard. Emery's really come to look forward to making these little color books every week, and this week it was a lot of fun to see her start to recognize some of the pictures that she was coloring (like the banana) and associate that item with the color yellow. After the book was made, Em asked to color with her chalk, so we pulled out our big chalkboard and I drew a large sun for her to color in to try and keep the item/color recognition going.
Tuesday- YELLOW play dough (with button-face emotions) and YELLOW YouTube song/video. This morning Emery pulled out the play dough, and to make it a little more interesting I decided to incorporate in a different play item and pulled out some old yellow buttons that I'd found in my craft closet. We read My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess, which focuses on different emotions being felt with different colors, and then used the buttons to make different emotions in faces on the yellow play dough. For where Em is currently at with her age, I would put the buttons in place to make a specific emotion, and then we'd say which emotion it was while she'd push the buttons into the play dough. For older kiddos, this could easily be adapted to have the children create the faces in the dough themselves, or create numbers, letters, or shapes depending on what you're wanting to focus on with them.
Wednesday- YELLOW sensory bin and singing our YELLOW song/poem. There will forever be a part of me that will despise how messy of an activity the sensory bin is, but for how much Em loves it I know that it's one that we'll have to keep around when it can be made applicable. This week while she played with the sensory bin we also tried to incorporate finding a few different shapes into the mix of things, and in an effort to keep all things relevant we also sang the YELLOW song during/after the sensory bin activity. I don't know if it's just my bad singing voice or if they're just really catchy tunes, but Emery has been loving these weekly color songs and makes them into a little dance party every week!
Thursday- YELLOW flower painting activity and colorful window markers. This flower painting activity at least for me keeps getting more and more fun every time we do it. This week Emery got super focused on her work, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the artist in me celebrated at her attention to detail. 😉 The second activity of the day was not originally planned on, but ended up being successful regardless and reminded me of the ever-importance of being flexible with the curriculum. I had initially planned a bead sorting color activity for us, but that afternoon we were watching a couple of Emery's friends (an almost 3 yr old and a baby) and when I pulled out the activity, I realized that although it proved to be a great idea for the almost 3 year old, it was too much stimulation for Emery combined with the company of friends, and it ended with a giant mess of beads all over the floor and Emery crying because I was letting her friend do the activity and not her. We did try the bead activity again the next day, but I needed something quick to make up for the mess/disappointment in that moment. I pulled out some window markers that I've had since college (you can find some here), and let Em and her friend go wild on the biggest window in our house. It ended up being a huge hit, and to insure that colors were tied in I had the kids name each color that they used before taking it to the window.
Friday- YELLOW glitter star wand, picking out YELLOW clothes to wear, and bead sorting activity recapping on RED, BLUE, & YELLOW. I didn't get any pictures of the yellow star wand, but we basically just painted this wooden star wand that Em found at Hobby Lobby, and then once the star was painted yellow, I gave Emery some gold glitter (turns out gold & yellow are the same thing in the glitter world?) and let her go to town on it making her wand as glittery as possible. As with all glitter crafts, make sure that your work surface is completely covered unless you want it to sparkle for weeks on end following the activity. On Friday we also did a retry on the bead sorting activity and I can't even tell you all how happy and proud I felt watching Emery as the activity just "clicked" in her mind and she went straight to work sorting through the beads! To recreate this activity, all you need is bowls (I made mine the same colors as the beads we were working on, but another alternative would be to use white paper bowls and color either the base or rim of each bowl the colors that you're wanting to focus on), and then some sort of small object in the different colors that you want your toddler to sort (we used wooden beads - another craft closet clean out find). Put all of the beads in a separate bowl, and then guide your toddler to separate the beads into the different bowls by color. If you're child is older they could do this with more colors than three, or use a spoon to transfer the beads/objects to help develop their hand-eye coordination. Once Emery got what the activity was supposed to be, she had SO much fun separating out the beads, and I already know that this is going to be an activity that we coordinate into our day to day activities to keep her up to date on her colors that she's been learning. It always feels good to end the week on a positive note, and this for us was definitely the best type of ending we could've had!
To get a day by day scheduled chart for your own YELLOW themed week of Tot School simply click here for the free download, or if you're looking for a blank template to fill in with your own activities then feel free to checkout this free blank template. We did take a week off of Tot School for Daddy's Spring Break/ vacation, but now that we're back, week 4 of Tot School is going to be focused all around Spring & Easter in honor of the holiday coming up. Keep an eye out for that blog post next week, or feel free to follow along with us doing the activities in real time on our Instagram stories! Thanks for following along!
I've got to be real, this week of tot school was a rough go for Emery and I. Something in the universe was disturbing Emery's world, and even though we worked really hard to stick to all of our planned activities it was a major struggle because of the gargantuan temper tantrums that ensued every single time the tiniest of things did not go exactly the way that Emery wanted them to. It was REALLY hard to not get discouraged and just throw our tot school activities out the window since Em didn't seem to be getting into them that much anyway and I was basically just in mom-survival mode, but on Friday morning the heavens opened, my child was happy and actually responded with the word "BLUE!!!!" when I asked her what color her bath water was, and all was right with the world again. It was such a good reminder that even when things seem a little hopeless because of that crazy toddler life to not give up!! Even when we don't realize it our kiddos are still soaking in so much information and as long as we're working hard to make sure that the info they're consuming is good, then they will get what we're trying to teach them in their own timeline, most likely right when we feel at our wit's end. 😉
Tot School Week 2: The Color BLUE
Theme: The Color BLUE
Snacks (One per day):
Honestly it was a LOT harder to find foods that were naturally blue to use for this week's activities, so we basically ate blueberries everyday in one form or another. If your tot doesn't like blueberries, then you might have to get creative by either choosing items with blue packaging, or just skipping the snack portion for this week.
Monday - BLUE coloring book activity and sing the BLUE song/poem. These cute little books are seriously my favorite way to kick off our week when focusing on a color because Em really enjoys making them and then she can use them and continue to look through them for the rest of the week, helping to keep our focus color in her mind! The BLUE song is such a cute and simple activity, and when we do it as our activity for the day we'll usually sing it through 2-3 times, and then again throughout the week if it fits into the flow of our day!
Tuesday- BLUE chalk on the chalkboard (with letter "E" focus) and outdoor BLUE activities. Tuesday was the only day slightly warm enough last week and we felt like we had to take advantage of it, so we spent our afternoon outside playing with Emery's blue bubble wand (our Target's dollar sections has these available from now until usually end of summer and for only being a dollar they last for a long time!) and she got to try out riding her new blue bike. The chalk activity could be done either inside or outdoors, but due to timing/Emery's temperament we did ours inside. A while back I found this giant sheet of chalkboard at Home Depot for only $10 and knew it'd make for a lot of fun indoor activity times while waiting for the weather to turn warm! Emery recently learned the letter "E" and has been pretty excited about that, so as an additional learning activity with the chalk I drew a large upper and lowercase "E" on the chalkboard, and then let Emery fill them in with the blue chalk specifically for our color focus.
Wednesday- BLUE sensory bin and picking out BLUE clothes to wear for the day. In Emery's Little Friends Sound Book: Colors, the whole premise of the book is picking out matching colored clothes to go with each of the character's outfits (ex: bear has a blue hat and blue shoes, what color backpack should he choose?) so to try and keep a theme we picked out Emery's blue matching clothes on the same day that we read this book. We also did the sensory bin with her but with blue toys this week instead of red, and just like last time she had an absolute blast with it! Learning from last week's mess, instead of putting her sensory bin on her little play table like last week I put it on a giant tablecloth on the floor, and it made cleanup so much easier! Em tries to get this activity out almost every single day so whenever we can fit it in with our weekly theme I think we definitely will! (To see how we put together her sensory bin check out my last tot school post)
Thursday- Painting/Planting a Rainbow Activity and watch this 5-minute BLUE YouTube video. This ABC Kid TV channel on YouTube has proven to be great two weeks in a row now with their cute short videos on the different colors making this activity an easy one for a grumpy, just woken up from nap Emery, and our weekly painting flower activity to go along with our Planting a Rainbow book made for a fun activity for the second week in a row! Instead of doing "bag painting" like we've done in the past I decided to give Em a little more freedom and let her paint with actual brushes on a protected surface and it actually worked out really well. I found some adorable kid-sized paintbrushes at Target that worked really well. It allowed Emery to feel like a big kid painting with a brush, but also keep her hands and our work surface (mostly) clean. This day's activity was also a really good lesson day for me to learn that sometimes it's ok to give kiddos a little more freedom in their creativity, and that it won't always necessarily end up in a huge mess. Using craft paper to cover our surface made for an easy cleanup, and an overall happy mama and Emery.
Friday- BLUE watered bubble bath and play with BLUE play dough. I said at the beginning of this post that this week was a bit rough for us, and that was no lie. All of the activities leading up to this point were kept fairly short because of Emery's even more short of a temper, and I had reached a point where I wondered if any of my efforts to teach her were making any sort of difference. I was ready to just give us a "free day" from any sort of tot school activities, but then late Thursday night found these Crayola bath tablets at Target that would turn Em's bath water whatever color of tablet I chose to put in the water. I've always been a little weary of colored bath things because of how close of contact it makes with Emery's baby skin, but these specific drops are free of any sort of phthalates, parabens, fragrances, and are non-toxic, so we decided to give these a shot. I also liked the idea of being able to make the concept of "blue water" real for Emery; we always color water blue on paper, and even in her songs and books talk about the ocean and other water being blue, but the main water that Em experiences on a daily basis in the bathtub is just clear so.... we put a blue tablet in the tub along with some Burt's Bee's bubble bath and oh my gosh - I seriously cannot remember the last time I saw Emery so excited! She LOVES bath time already, but adding in the bubbles and the color seriously just made her little year and a half old life! The best part about it was that while she was playing in the bath, I asked her what color her water was (honestly just out of habit of trying to teach her the colors) and when she responded with an enthusiastic "BLUUUUUUUUE!!!" all of my mama doubts and frustrations just flew right out the window. We were able to end the week on a positive note, and I didn't have to feel so "blue" about whether or not my daughter is actually learning any of these colors. I'm learning more and more that Emery will pick up on the concepts I'm trying to teach her in her own time, and that as her mother it's my job to simply teach and give her the environment to learn in as fun a way as possible. Every day and week we're still learning and perfecting, but the experience is a fun one and I'm enjoying the chance to be part of Emery's learning and growth.
To get a day by day scheduled chart for your own BLUE themed week of Tot School simply click here for the free download, or if you're looking for a blank template to fill in with your own activities then feel free to checkout this free blank template. Week 3 of Tot School is going to be focused around the color YELLOW, and towards the end of the week we'll start trying to incorporate all three of the primary colors together to see how Emery does with sorting them out! Keep an eye out for that blog post next week, or feel free to follow along with us doing the activities in real time on our Instagram stories! Thanks for following along! Until next week-
First things first... What is "Tot" School, and why am I doing it with Em?
Before jumping into our first week's recap of tot school, I figured that a really brief intro into what we're doing would be appropriate for anyone wondering exactly what "tot" school is.😉 I had first heard the term used by a few different mama friends on Instagram; curiosity lead me to doing some research, and I found that "tot" school is essentially a prequel to pre-school, and a focused and organized way to teach toddlers basic knowledge and life topics. There are SO many different ways to go about doing tot-school, so what you're seeing here is how Em & I have decided to do it that works well for us! Our basic set up includes a weekly theme, and each week has a snack, a book, and two activities for each day. We keep the schedule flexible to keep my stress levels low, and to ensure that the experience is as personalized and enjoyable for Emery as possible. If you like our setup but want to change the themes to something more applicable to your toddler, great! If you like my themes but want to add in more activities or different books, great! The whole point of the tot school is to make it your own in a way that best works for you and your tot! I hope to use this space to share our resources, activities, books, etc. with anyone that feels like using them for you and your toddler, and hope that whatever direction it takes you is one that can bring a few smiles to you and your little one!
Tot School Week 1: The Color Red
Theme: The Color RED
Snacks (One per day):
Monday - Pick out RED clothes to wear (for Em & me) and Red Coloring Book Activity. I love activities like this because it shows that the activities don't have to be super complex or take a ton of planning or effort to pull off. Em LOVES picking out her own clothes to wear so for this day we just made it applicable to the color of the week, and then this book was as easy as printing out the free template, letting her color until she felt like she was done, then I cut out the pages for her and she helped me staple them all together. She was SO proud of the little "book" she'd made and carried it around the house with her for the rest of the morning!
Tuesday - Color Song RED on YouTube and a RED sight/nature walk. Tuesday was our warmest weathered day last week and to take advantage of the sunshine we went to the zoo that morning with friends and afterwards Em was pretty worn out and took a good nap. Usually when she wakes up from naps she needs a few minutes of cuddle time to fully wake up so watching this short 5 minute song video on YouTube about the color RED was a perfect after nap activity for her to wake up to, and then once she was ready to play again we went for a little walk outside and pointed out everything red that we could find from stop signs to cars to berries and everything in between!
Wednesday - Sing the "RED" song/poem and red flower painting. Emery loves music so when I found these free songs for each of the colors I knew I wanted to incorporate them into our schooling. I didn't get any pictures of the actual flower painting because it was a little messy, but it's basically an activity designed to go along with our Planting a Rainbow book. The book talks about planting flowers of all different colors, and I was able to find these cute wooden flower shapes at Target that I thought would go along with it well. Each week while focusing on colors we'll read the book, then I'll let Emery paint a few of the flowers in whatever color we're focusing on for that week. To make this activity as mess free as possible, I put the flowers in a gallon sized ziplock bag with some red paint and water, then let Emery move the paint with her hands and shake the bag until the flowers were covered. I'll have a full DIY post with this activity on the blog later, but here's a picture of her doing a regular rainbow painting to help give you an idea of how it looks.
Thursday - Homemade Play dough. We'd originally had two activities planned for today, but ended up scratching the second one so that I could involve Emery in the making of the play-dough as well as the playing of it! We made the dough together in the morning in six different colors, then in the afternoon played with the red play-dough specifically to go along with our theme! The recipe I used for the play-dough can be found here; the only thing I did differently was to make two colors per batch instead of just one (basically just follow her recipe but before adding in the food coloring, separate half of your batch into a different saucepan to finish up!)
Friday - RED Sensory Bin and bake RED m&m cookies. This was probably our favorite day of the entire week which is totally ok because we celebrate Fri-YAY whenever we can! 😉 Making Em's sensory bin took less than 5 minutes to put together and kept her entertained for over 30.... which is basically an eternity in toddler time! To put it together I bought this lidded storage bin from Target for less than $5 (it's the 3.25 x 11 x 14" sized one in case you already have something similar), and then cleaned out my cupboard of all of our rice and quinoa that I'd let expire but due to previous laziness hadn't thrown out and put it to good use in Em's bin! Once the bin was filled with the old rice and quinoa, I simply gathered several of Emery's RED colored toys (think wooden blocks, balls, alphabet & shape magnets, etc) and "hid" them in the rice for her to dig out! Emery LOVED digging through the rice for her toys, and after a while of digging them out proceeded to then rebury them so that she could find them again! Once she was done playing, I took out the toys and lidded the bin so that we can use the rice again with different colors and themes! The only mistake I made in this activity was underestimating how much of a mess Emery could make with the rice and quinoa. Next week we're definitely doing this activity again, but with a tablecloth underneath her to make for easier cleanup afterwards!
That sums up our very first week of tot school! All in all I feel like actually planning out our activities, snacks, and books for the week takes about 20 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, and then I try to keep the actual prep time for each activity to 10 minutes or less to make it so that we can spend more time together having fun! Each activity ranged anywhere from 2 minutes to about 30, and I genuinely feel like it's given Emery a positive, educational outlet for her energy, and gives me a chance to bond with her in a different way as I plan out and join in on the activities with her! I'm already excited to start week 2 with her, and look forward to sharing in our little journey with all of you! I've included a free printable sheet showing our schedule, as well as a blank template for filling in your own theme, activities, etc if you so choose! Also, I try to share our daily activities as we do them in my Instagram stories, so if you want to follow along in real time be sure to join us there! Happy tot schooling!