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!