Tot School: Week 5

Hi friends!

Week five of Tot School is a wrap — and as always, we had so much fun!

This week, we only had a short amount of time to have the littles together — so our lesson was condensed into fewer activities, but allowing more time within those activities for learning.  I wanted to focus the entire day on talking about Springtime, but we ended up covering “Spring” at the end of the day, and spending a bit more time on colors and letter recognition.  The little ones seemed to be a bit all over the place, and their attention spans were very short — so we had to improvise 😉

Here was the week 5 lesson plan:

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We started the day off with a Color Review activity that was super fun — but did require a little bit of prep!  I secretly raided Ella’s toys to find a variety of different small toys in all the colors of the rainbow, plus brown, black, and white. I made sure to have at least 3-4 toys of each color, and then mixed them up in a small plastic bin.  Then, I gathered all of the matching colors of construction paper, and laid out the paper on the floor in a circle.  All of the littles sat on the floor, and I would lift out a toy, and say “What color is this?” Whoever answered correctly first, got the toy — but they had to place the toy on the matching colored paper.  It was a bit rough in the beginning, but once they got it — they loved it.  Ella particularly loved it — we have now included this game into our daily play. 🙂

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After our color review, we moved into the kitchen for fun “Do-A-Dot” activities. Since Week 4 we focused on A, B, and C — this week, we focused on D, E, and F.  We dotted the letters by themselves (you can find the templates we used here), and also did the “Spot and Dot” activity we did last week — which was awesome and the kids really enjoyed it (as well as the proud mommas!).  You can find the “Spot and Dot” worksheets here.  The littles LOVE their Do-A-Dot markers, or as most of them call it “Colors” or “Painting.” Purchasing these markers has been a huge help with our tot school — highly recommended!

After our Do-A-Dots, we did a special painting activity.  All of our toddlers know their names and the letter their names start with — so when I was out piddling away at Michaels, I found some chipboard letters in each of their first initials on clearance, and I thought, “TOT SCHOOL!”  The only letter they were missing was the letter “E” — of course! 😉  But, instead of doing a letter for Ella, we let her paint a shape that looked like a ticket — that we will then write her full name on.

We used Crayola Washable Paint, and let the kids go to town painting their letters — after we made them say what each one was out loud.  It was great practice for them to remember their friends names — as well as practice of letter recognition outside of the repetition of the Alphabet song.

Painting was so much fun — but whew! What a mess 😉  We cleaned up, and our last activity of the day was going to be talking about spring, flowers, and actually putting our hands in dirt to plant our own little pots of daisies.  For a snack, I made “dirt cups” with chocolate pudding and crushed oreos — so we decided it was a better idea to eat our dessert AFTER we plant our flowers, to avoid having the kids eating real dirt thinking it was a treat.  #momwin

We found these mini pots with seeds at our local Target in the $1 section.  Each little one got to plant two pots — one with daisy seeds, one with poppy seeds.  They all had fun playing in the dirt, for sure — I think once they are a bit older they will understand what we were actually doing.  They are learning, though — and so are we 🙂 I absolutely love the look Ella has on her face in the first picture below — she’s like “Hey man.. whatchu guys doing…..?” LOL

And, of course — everyone’s favorite part of the day was our dessert treat.  Even the Mommies enjoyed this one! 😉  At first, the kids were like — eww, we are going to eat dirt?? But, in the end, I think they enjoyed it.

Week Six was supposed to be last week — but scheduling conflicts prevented us Mommies from coordinating on a day together.  However, Ella Grey is just so in love with school and learning.  There isn’t a day that goes by where she isn’t grabbing my hand to sit with her as I quiz her with flashcards on her numbers and letters.  She knows her ABCs, she can count to 25, and is great with her colors and shapes.  It’s amazing to watch her grow and learn — seems like everyday there is something new!

I’m planning to expand on our once a week “tot school” lessons with our friends, and include a weekly lesson plan of the activities I’m doing with just Ella — so be on the lookout, friends!  The greatest gift you can give your child (aside from love, of course) is an opportunity for growth and learning. And, she’s soaking everything up like a sponge right now — so let’s set goals, let’s continue to learn, and let’s get to it!

Do you have any amazing homeschool, preschool, or “tot school” activities you are doing with your little one?  PLEASE SHARE!  I’m always on the hunt for “gold” when it comes to new and exciting ways to teach Ella.  I’d be so appreciative 🙂

Drop me a comment below, or check me out on Facebook and Instagram!

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DIY Wednesday: Toddler Shape Match Game!

Hi friends — and HAPPY DIY WEDNESDAY!!

This week, I have a fun and EASY (and educational!) DIY for you to try: a Toddler Shape Match Game!

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We’ve been “tot school” crazy in our house lately, and I can’t seem to get enough of finding new ways to help Ella learn her colors, shapes, alphabet, and numbers!  One of the activities I made to help her with colors and shapes was a “Shape Match Game” from popsicle sticks, a pen, and markers!

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This one doesn’t have much of a tutorial or instructions.  Simply draw out your shape over two popsicle sticks that are side by side.  Try to make sure the shape is centered when you draw, so half will be on one popsicle stick and half on the other stick.  I used different colors for these, to also test Ella’s colors, but you can use just one color if you choose.  I then wrote the name of each shape on the bottom half of the stick, so this activity can be used for word recognition when she gets a little older.

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And, yes.. one of our shapes is Mickey Mouse. 🙂

She loves it, and it keeps her busy for a good 5-10 minutes as she puts all of the shapes together.  Plus, she just beams when she gets a big “HOORAY” when she gets it right!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week so far!!

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Tot School: Week 4

Hi friends!

Week 4 of Tot School was SO MUCH FUN!!  We had planned to do a whole lesson about Spring, but one of our littles wasn’t able to join this week — so instead, we focused our time on learning more about ABCs and 123s!  This way, we could save the fun plans for Spring until we had all of our babes present. 🙂

I’ve had a few people message me on FB about our weekly lesson plans — so I’ve decided to create a cute graphic for each week, listing out the different activities we do.  This way, you can use the graphic as a guideline, and delve more into the blog post about details of what each activity entailed.  It is SO exciting to hear all the positive feedback about our littles and our mommy “dream-come-true” Tot School — as well as inspiring to hear that many of you are interested in starting your own Tot School!  Just more proof (like we needed any?) that Moms are SO AMAZING and SUPERHEROES. 🙂

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We started off this week with a review of our colors using our bandanas.  We tried two approaches to this:  we asked them to pick out certain colors from a pile (ie. “Where is the PINK bandana?”), as well as held up a color and asked them to name it (ie. “What color bandana is THIS?”).  The girls were SO fast at doing this — I think it’s safe to say colors are officially MASTERED — which means, this mommy needs to find a “color” themed badge for our little Explorers’ sashes!  We will more than likely continue to keep a color testing activity in each lesson, just to keep it fresh!

After colors, we practiced our number skills by using flashcards to name off which number was on each card.  The numbers ranged from 1-25.  Most of the girls had 1-10 down, but 11-25 was a challenge.  This is great to know, as I can now cater future lessons to develop those number skills.  Lilly Belle brought her abacus with her for this class, which the girls loved playing with (and naming off the colors), although they didn’t quite get the purpose of using it.  We showed them that you can move each piece one at a time to count “1….2….3…” but they would end up moving 5 pieces at a time or more.  But, they are learning — and that’s all that matters!  This was the first class that we really introduced numbers, so it’s amazing to see how far along they already are (kudos to you Mommas for at home teaching!!). IMG_4034.jpg

After number flashcards, we retreated to the kitchen for “painting” with our Do-A-Dot markers!  On top of our usual “dot” a letter or shape (in this case, we dotted the letters A, B, and C), I threw in a new activity of “find the correct letter and dot!”  I found these cute worksheets on Pinterest (swoon!), so we did these sheets for the letters A, B, and C.  This was fun to watch — I think the girls had anticipated the activity to be the same as it has been for the past few weeks, but throwing this activity in switched it up a bit — and they seemed to have fun!  I’m definitely going to have to do more practice of these at home with Ella Grey — she gets “dot-happy” and wants to just dot EVERYTHING.  Another lesson in mommy patience and understanding. 🙂

After we used our dot markers, I introduced a pasting activity — where the girls had to match the correct shape/object next to the letter it started with.  I simply cut these shapes out by hand, but I’m sure you can find ones to print online.  We did “A is for Apple, B is for Bee, and C is for Cat.”  This was nice to do, also, because it was something the Mommas could take home and hang on their fridge.  We did this in our house, and it’s cute/helpful — as Ella will walk past it pretty much daily and say “APPLE — CAT — A — B — C!” Constant exposure and practice!

I managed to find a hidden gem recently at our local Target, where they sell letter and number shaped chocolate “animal” crackers — PERFECT for our little Tots!  We used these “cookies” after our pasting activity to recite our letters and numbers, and attempt to spell our names (which proved to be a bit more difficult — not enough Ls and Es for this group!).  Best part for them? They could eat it — and boy, did they!

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We finished up our day of ABCs and 123s by putting together a big Alphabet puzzle.  This puzzle was awesome because it has uppercase and lowercase letters — something I know Ella Grey needs to work on, and the other littles too!

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It warmed my heart watching the three girls put this together — and as they found the letters, they were naming off the color too.  I’d say that’s a double win .. 1 for Mommas, and 1 for Tot School.


Tot School is such a beautiful experience, and the learning goes beyond the time that we are with our friends once a week.  Ella has picked up SO much in the past 4 weeks — even those moments when you don’t think you littles are paying attention or understanding — THEY ARE!  She gets SO excited about learning — instead of grabbing the TV remote, she will grab her flashcards.  Instead of constantly playing with toys, she wants to play with her puzzles.  And, I think being around the other little ones is helping her develop her language skills even more.

Best. Idea. Ever. 🙂

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Tot School: Weeks 2 and 3!

Good morning, friends!

Wow, what a week it has been! I feel terrible I haven’t had as many posts this week — we’ve been in Tax “Hell” — having to itemize receipts is exhausting.  But, the good news is, we are DONE — and now, I can get back to my normal life, minus all the extra math! 🙂

Speaking of math…… TOT SCHOOL!  Even though we’ve been up to our elbows in tax stuff, we still made time for my new favorite activity with our littlest friends.  Ever since we started this, it has just made my heart SO happy, and it’s so exciting to see how much they have learned ALREADY.  These kids, man.. they blow my mind!

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Week Two of Tot School was at our house — it was so fun to see Ella have her friends over to play with her toys!  And, Raux was there, too — another bonus, as he got to participate in the fun!

For Week Two, we focused on continuing the lesson of colors.  We started the first morning off with a “rainbow of snacks,” which consisted of strawberries, cheese cubes, animal crackers, grapes, blueberries, and raisins.  By the end of the day, the only real food that was consumed were the animal crackers and strawberries — but hey, it looked pretty!

We also had fun with our Do-A-Dot markers!  We practiced our colors as we dotted a rainbow, calling out each color before we dotted on paper.

After markers, we took a dance break into the living room, where we played with bandanas of different colors.  I placed all the bandanas in a pile, and asked the kids to give me a certain color.  It was fun watching them all run over to get the correct color first.

We also played “Find the Match!” — a game Ella and I created using a cute color/shape puzzle game she got for Christmas.  We mixed all the pieces together, and I would hold up a piece of the puzzle and say, “Find the Match!”  The kids would all search through the pieces until they found the correct one.

On day two, I made Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispie treats.  These were so delicious, and were GONE in a matter of hours.  Gone so quick, in fact, I didn’t even get a picture of them! It was … sort of educational?  We did ask each little one if they could pick out the colors in each.  I do think we (the adults) ate majority of them though.. haha!

We practiced our Do-A-Dot rainbows again, and we played a game using colored pom poms and the “rainbow” bowls I used for snacks on day one.  The kids were to fill the bowl with the correct color pom pom, while shouting what color they had before placing it in the bowl.  Not all the littles were interested in this game, but Noah and Quinn seemed to enjoy it. 🙂

We finished the second day with more bandana fun, as well as playing with an electronic fishbowl color match game, attempting to match the correct color fish with whatever the fishbowl instructed them to drop in.  This entertained them for a while — but of course, as toddlers do, they eventually decided ENOUGH learning, and retreated to Ella’s room to play with toys the rest of the day.

Oh, and while the babes played, Mommas did THIS — which you can read about in my Body Back: Week 5 recap here.

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In Week Three, we decided to “shape” it up into a lesson all about.. you guessed it.. SHAPES.  We decided to only have one day for Tot School this week, so I wanted to make the most of it!

We started the morning with a brief review of colors by doing the bandana game.  I was impressed with how quickly they picked it up — way to go Mommas for continuing the color testing throughout the week!  After our color review, we played with a shape sorter, calling out which shapes we had in our hands before putting them in the right slot in the sorter.  Even Baby Cora got in on the fun with this game!

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Then, we retreated to the kitchen table, where we practiced our Do-A-Dots by coloring in Circles, Hearts, and Stars.  Of course, we tested their colors with this too, which was a double win for us Mommas.  The little ones really like coloring with these markers — I’m so happy we made the purchase for TS.  Even though they aren’t quite “perfect,” they truly are perfect in their own way.  And, the more we practice, the better they will get at actually filling in the whole circle with the dot markers.

After coloring, we had a dance party break, where we practiced our jumps and marches while dancing to some music.  Then, we all sat around the kitchen table to cut out cookie dough shapes for our afternoon treat!  The kids, of course, LOVED this — almost as much as they loved eating the cookies once they were baked. 🙂

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After talking with the Momma group, we’ve decided to cut Tot School back to just one day a week — for now 🙂  Even though we only have one day a week with our friends for “school,” Ella and I have been practicing everyday.  She has become SO fast with her colors and shapes now, as well as recognizing the alphabet (out of order, too!) and can pick out numbers 1-10 (we are working on 11-20).  We also have a match game that matches cartoon pictures of body parts to their word.  Obviously, she is too little to know the words yet — but I will give her the correct match for her to piece them together and she repeats the word after I say it.  We also point to the correct body part, for recognition.  Her favorites to say: Shoulder, Toes, Tongue, Teeth, and Muscles — which she flexes her own muscles when she says it.  She’s adorable.

Tot School has seriously become one of my favorite things in life right now.  Watching these little ones learn and interact with each other just makes my heart SO happy.  I can’t wait for this week’s lesson: All About SPRING — where we will spend time outside and will plant our own flower to take home!  And yes, there will be MANY pics!

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Tot School — Week One!

Hi everyone!

This week has been wonderful — and one of the best parts of it was the start of Tot School!  Tot School is a dream come true for the “I-love-everything-creative-and-am-Pinterest-crazy” Momma in me, and consists of a small group of Mommas and their littles (all are around 2 years old) engaging twice a week for a few hours to teach fundamentals like colors, shapes, alphabet, textures, animals, etc.  It’s like a “free” preschool, where the teachers are the parents, and the littles get to learn with their new friends in one of their homes.

This week, we learned about colors, which was so much fun!  Our group was small — only Ella Grey and her friend Lilly Belle — and I’m almost positive us Mommas may have had more fun creating the activities than EG and LB had doing them! But, that’s okay!  We are learning — all of us, even the Mommas! 🙂

We started the morning off with a Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin, that the girls LOVED playing in.  You can find many tutorials on Pinterest on how to create dyed rice, but I think I will be posting a special DIY on here, too, for anyone who is interested. The girls really enjoyed running their hands through the rice, and then decided to use toys from LB’s play kitchen to “make lunch.” Their imaginations are amazing.

After we finished up with the sensory bin, we sorted Fruit Loops cereal by color and strung cereal necklaces.  Ella was more interested in playing with Lilly Belle’s toys at this point, and had no interest in sorting colors.  I did manage to get her to play for a few minutes, in which she mostly just ate the cereal — but hey, we’re working on it.  LB was amazing — she picked up the “stringing” part of making her necklace in no time!

After we were sugared up from cereal (and ate some tasty ORANGES and BLUEberries), we painted fish with celery!  The girls weren’t really sure how to “stamp” with the celery at first, and in the end, they just decided to use the celery as a “brush” instead.  When we finished painting, we went outside and drew colored circles on the ground, and tried to get the girls to “JUMP!” on certain colors.  This didn’t really work out the way we planned, but the girls still had fun just jumping around and naming colors that we pointed to.  We’ll need more practice with this activity!

This wrapped up Day One — and we were so happy with the way everything played out!  The girls had fun, the Mommas had fun, and we were SO excited for the next day!

Day Two was just as much fun as Day One, except we only managed to hold the girls attention long enough to do one activity.  They were too excited about playing with toys, and also Raux came with us, so he did magic for LB (which she LOVED).  The activity we did was using Dot Markers to create a dotted rainbow.  LB really enjoyed this activity, Ella stamped for a little bit, but was “too busy” to finish — so I helped… a little. 🙂

We had a great time playing LB’s house — so much so, we fell asleep in the car on the way home!  Later that night, as we were putting away our bath toys, Ella was able to name the correct color of each toy.  My heart exploded — even though their attention spans were short, and they played more than learned on the second day, it’s still sinking in!  They are learning — our schooling is working!

Ella and I have continued to practice colors all week, and she’s getting quicker and quicker with naming the correct color.  Sometimes she mixes up “purple” and “green,” but for the most part, she’s been getting them all right!  Last night, I found a bag of little “pom moms” in our craft cabinet.  Using her bowls, I had her match up the correct pom with the correct bowl.  Raux was so amazed that she was getting most of them right.  All it takes is some practice and big “hoorays!” when she gets it right. 🙂

All in all, Week One of Tot School was a huge success!  We can’t wait until next week.  We were originally thinking of doing “Shapes” next week, but we might continue with colors since two more littles will be joining us.  We’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

PS. Want to see more pictures and read more about our week at Tot School?  Check out my amazing, beautiful, and super talented friend Chelsea!  Her blog is called Growing Up Lanese and definitely worth reading!

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