{Tot School} Apples & Pumpkins

{I started writing this post 2 weeks ago as October was ending…just now getting around to finishing it & posting. Oh well. Better late than never, right?}

Hudson & I so enjoyed the coolness of the fall that October brought. We read some fun books about apples & pumpkins. We got to visit the pumpkin patch. We made pumpkin pie play-dough. We made an apple pie & ate oodles of delicious honeycrisp apples. We thanked the Lord for the gladness that harvest time brings. October was fun.

October was also a c.r.a.z.y. month full of events. Hanging out with friends. The World Series. Sickness. Daddy out of town. Company in town. Celebrating new babies. A funeral. On & on…

I had a lot of fun “apple-y pumpkin-y” activities planned for us to do that we never got to.

And if I am being honest, I had to fight some guilt over that…that if I was a “better” momma we would have accomplished more learning & activities. {Or posted this 2 weeks ago. Or actually finished the laundry for once.}

I don’t know about you but I find that since becoming a mother I am even more susceptible to believe lies that my goodness and merit and worth are rooted in my actions & my doing.

When the truth is, I have no, zero, zilch goodness or merit or worth of my own and I am completely unable to earn any by my actions. My worth is only found in Christ. I am able to teach, train, parent, love my children only through Christ.

I am praying that you mommas who read this are able to allow the sweetness & hope of that truth to sink deeply into your heart.

This is one of those seasons that we can completely fill with busy-ness and absolutely miss the boat when it comes to actually enjoying family, growing hearts of thankfulness, and anticipating the celebration of our Savior’s birth. Believe me, I am queen of busy-ness. I am begging the Lord to remind me to slow down and really soak Him in & dwell on the beauty of this season. Praying the same for you & your family.

With that said, here is the rundown on {Tot School} in October.

{Theme: Apples & Pumpkins}

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Our placemat looked like this

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Our memory verse was Isaiah 9:3

“They will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest”.

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Our family worship songs were: The Doxology, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

Our morning worship mix can be found here (we listen & sing & have a dance party while we play in the mornings)

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You saw pics of the pumpkin patch here.

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I found the idea & recipe for pumpkin pie play-do here. FYI- I increased the cream of tartar to 1T. per some reviews that I read. 

Hud wasn’t the biggest fan of  the play-do. The first time we tried it he just poked it a little. Now he’ll play & squish it more.

He is signing “all done” in this pic. 

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image found here

The recipe for the best apple pie you’ll ever eat can be found here. Just make sure to make the following changes:

Replace 1 T. of the water with vanilla. Add in about 1 t. of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg with the sugar.

As for the crust, I’ve used the frozen kind and homemade kind, both are equally delicious. The first is obviously faster & easier.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to try doing a lattice on the crust. It is so easy, promise! Google “lattice pie crust” if you are nervous, there are a million little “tutorials”. You’ll be so proud of yourself & your pie will look like Grandma Ople actually made it.

Hudson helped make the pie by eating apple slices while we were baking.


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I made this match game by printing & laminating pictures of different color apples & pumpkins.

(I used the same images for his placemat. Found them all on google)

Hudson had fun carrying the pieces around, I would name the colors or items while he played with them.

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{Apple & Pumpkin Books We Enjoyed}

Apples, Apples by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Cute & simple board book about a family that visits an apple orchard. We both really enjoyed it.

Red Are the Apples by Marc Harshman & Cheryl Ryan

I really enjoyed the cadence of the text which explores & describes different items growing on a farm. Great opportunity to talk about colors & textures. I didn’t love the illustrations though.

How to Make An Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

An apple pie is easy to make! Unless of course the market is closed, in which case you must become a globe-hopping grocery shopper, from finding the finest Seminola wheat in Italy to the freshest apples in Vermont. 

The Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin by Mary Serfozo

Peter the Tiger is looking for the perfect pumpkin. Lots of fun rhyming & tongue twisting in this one.

Pick A Pumpkin Mrs. Millie! by Judy Cox

Silly Mrs. Millie takes her class of kindergardeners to pick pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. The wordplay in this book is funny & imaginative and would be great for older kids though it was still fun for us to read & enjoy.

It’s Pumpkin Time! by Zoe Hall

A brother & sister plant pumpkins for their favorite time of year. The book is simple but does a great job talking about plant life cycles. I loved the illustrations & this will be a great book when Hud is bigger to incorporate science.

Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

A cute simple little book about Biscuit the puppy visiting the pumpkin patch with his friends.

It’s Fall by Jimmy Pickering

I really really liked this book about Sally & Sam two fast friends enjoying fall, from turning leaves to harvest to hayrides. I didn’t love the page where they dressed up for Halloween, so I skipped it. 

The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

I really enjoyed this little allegorical book which tells the story of a loving farmer who turns a simple pumpkin into a simply glorious sight. A fun gospel conversation starter for kiddos who are a little bigger. 


Farm Month

“Farm” was our kick-off tot school theme for the month of September. It was a great one for us to start with! It was great because (1) Hudson loves animals (2) we already have quite a few farm related toys/books (3) the surrounding activities were very easy to plan.

These were a few of our favorite books. We own a couple of them and found the rest at the library.

The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

The illustrations are beautiful and I love the cadence & rhyme of Brown’s stories. I’ll definitely be buying this one.


DwellStudio Touch and Feel Farm

This was a shower gift we received before Hudson was born and I have to say, it has been his most favorite book EVER! He will sit and look at the pictures and feel the pages for a LONG long time. The different textures are really great: there is a soft sheep on the cover, the first page has a barn made with corrugated cardboard, then a suede pig, then a tractor with a bumpy plastic wheel, then a page with chickens who “run around” on the rough emery board/sandpaper ground, then lastly a cow – who is similar to the pig, but more velvety. 


Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

Love this little book with its funny illustrations and do-si-do rhythm. 


The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

This is beautiful as are all of Eric Carle’s books. It is about a spider who lands on a fence post near a farm and begins spinning her web. All the different animals come by and invite her to go and do something with them but she continues her web. It is great animal sound practice. The repetitive nature of the text would be great for older pre-readers to anticipate what is coming next.


Farmyard Beat by Lindsey Craig

Super catchy & fun about a farm full of animals – starting with the chicks – who can’t sleep because they’ve “got the beat.”


Our big “adventures” were going to a local farm with a great petting zoo and going to the Ft. Worth zoo which also has a fun petting zoo area (plus all the other zoo animals!)

Here are a few pics from our trip to the petting zoo…Jayme & Saber and Liz & Willa came too! So fun!

Hud loved getting to touch the different animals.

This horse loved Liz & Willa

The boys really liked this goat

The big piggie

More goats.

There were also some cute sheep and a very mean donkey!


Daddy adjusted his schedule a little so that he could come to the Ft. Worth zoo with us, having him along makes everything even more fun! We went on a Wednesday morning because Wednesdays = 1/2 price admission ($6/adult, children under 2 are free always, I don’t know about prices for kiddos over two…I didn’t pay attention since I don’t have any!).

It was definitely worth $12…but I don’t think it would have been worth regular price admission…but I am frugal & that is just my opinion! So you can take it or leave it 🙂

The zoo was really pretty and all the exhibits seemed really well maintained. The only bummer was that the lions weren’t out for some reason…but we got to see pretty much everything else.

There is are lots of trees in the zoo which keeps things nice and shady and cool which is nice.

We walked the whole zoo in about an 1.5 hours which was perfect with Hudson. He was really engaged and liked looking at all the animals but I don’t think he would have lasted much longer than that. The petting zoo area was ok…the baby calf was really sweet…all the others were sleepy so they didn’t really want to come close enough for Hud to pet.

Our runner

He was smiling at the bear

Who I guess was shedding, because his coat was all weird

Cute little baby calf

Gorgeous white tiger who we got to see up real close

I love these guys!

Yay for family day at the zoo!!


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!