Tot School

So I can’t remember if I mentioned it already but I started doing “Tot School” with Hudson last month.

Basically tot school = fun, intentional play-based learning.

I’m a big believer that developmentally learning at Hud’s age (and for the next couple of years) is done through play. Some people might say, “Why even plan anything if all you are doing is playing?!” However, a little bit of structure & intentional planning makes our days of play SO much more fun, productive, and smooth for both of us.

I had already been brainstorming about doing some more intentional play with Hud (more for my own sanity that anything!) when I started coming across lots of blogs of momma’s much more creative than I am, who share their fantastic ideas. One of my favorites is this one. That is where the name, “tot school” came from, though the concept is pretty universal…momma’s providing intentional FUN learning opportunities for their little ones.

Anyways, it has been great! It has been super fun for all of us!

I pick a different theme for each month. Last month (September) was “Farm Month”  and this month (October) is “Apples & Pumpkins.” I’m working on planning out through February so that after Owen is born we can keep it up/keep things somewhat normal-ish!

Each month contains the following elements, I keep track of my plans/ideas/other people’s ideas (so i can give credit where it is due!!) in a Word document. I’m sure I will change and adapt things over time as Hudson changes and I get better at this…but for now here is my “template” for each month.

* The specific letters for the month*

This month, “A” for apple and “P” for pumpkin, I focus on the sounds the letters make more than the identification of the letter itself.

* Memory verse*

This month our verse is, Isaiah 9:3: “They will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest.” This month I picked a verse more related to our theme, but this is a great resource for learning verses as you learn the ABC’s.

* I make a laminated highchair placemat*

Here is this month’s.

It has our letters, our memory verse, and some fun images. I did 3 different colored apples, and 3 different sizes of pumpkins, so there are a lot of things to talk about (identifying apples and pumpkins, colors, sequencing, letters/sounds). It is great! It occupies Hud while I’m getting his food ready and because it is laminated I can just leave it on the tray with his food and wipe it off when he is done.

FYI: I use construction paper, glue on the images and laminate it at Mardel. It is $0.25/foot to laminate.

* I make a morning worship playlist on Grooveshark for us each month*

Here is this month’s. I turn it on in the morning while we play in the living room. We sing and dance to it and I leave it on repeat for background music. Side note: I want to start collecting different instruments & such for our morning worship time so Hudson can pick one to use for the day (bells, tambourine, shakers, etc.)

I think I’ve said it before but I ADORE the Seeds Family Worship albums. We listen to them ALL the time. It helps me hide the Word in my heart and I know that it won’t be long before Hudson is singing the songs with me.

* Our family worship songs relate to our theme (usually)*

We do family worship after dinner. Jordan plays his guitar and we sing while Hudson runs around. Don’t get a picture perfect image in your head or anything! Occasionally Hud is really engaged but most of the time he is just playing with his trucks, but it is great for all of us regardless and it is helping us establish a pattern/habit. It takes about 5 minutes to sing 3 songs and pray.

This month we are doing: Praise to the Lord the Almighty the King of Creation; He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands; and the Doxology.

* I find (or make up) songs & poems*

I’ve found a ton of options when I’ve google searched.

If you do a similar theme with your little one and needs some options just email/leave me a comment and I’ll send you the ones I have.

* I plan a bunch of fun activities/games/crafts*

These involve different sensory/motor/language skills. For the most part they are all very simple to put together and execute. Some days we don’t do any and some days we do a couple, it just depends on what we’ve got going on. My goal is to do at least one a day. I’ll try to document several that we do this month and do a tot school update…maybe once a week so you can see what we’ve been doing!

I find a lot of ideas that will be SUPER fun when we rotate through the theme again and Hud is bigger, so I just stick them in my Word document and mark them for the future.

* We read lots of books*

Our library has lots of great children’s books so I check a whole bunch out that relate to our theme and we read at least one or two a day. Hudson doesn’t really sit still to read at this point in his life, so what works for US is to get on momma & daddy’s bed and I read to him while he rolls & crawls around on all our pillows. He comes and looks at the pictures and listens WAY more than if we just try to sit down on the floor or couch and read together…but that is just my crazy kiddo…I know other babies his age who will sit and read and look at pictures for a long time.

The library is GREAT because obviously it is FREE…I just keep a list of my favorite titles from each theme that I want to purchase for our own home library. I’ll try and post my favorites on here for reference.

* We go on at least one big “adventure”*

Sometimes more. Last month we went to a farm in the area that has a petting zoo and we went to the Ft. Worth zoo

{pictures to come}

This month we are going to a pumpkin patch and MAYBE an apple orchard.

***

So, there you go…that is the basic rundown of our tot school!

***

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3 thoughts on “Tot School

  1. Such a fun idea, Emily! I may start implementing some of these things when N gets a little older (and even adapting a few things to her now)! Thanks!

  2. I am so excited about this! I taught kinder for three years before we got pregnant, so I’m just dying to find ways to start playing to learn with my little one (who arrives in February). Obviously, I still have some time to prepare, but this gets me so excited! Thanks for sharing! Continue to share any other ideas/plans you have!!! THANKS!

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