Friday, August 26, 2011


Our schedule can vary wildly depending on various church activities we have going on and things that can come up for Daddy (who is the Pastor).   Our children, I think, are by nature night owls but it doesn't help that at least a couple of nights a week we don't get home until after nine.  I joke that the boys put Mom and Dad to bed.  But here is our main framework.

Get Up and Dressed, throw load of laundry in. 
Make coffee and get juice for kids.

Snuggle Time with Mom on Couch
Mom's Bible Reading and Devotion Time
Break up Fights if child on one side of Mom touches child on other side of Mom.

9:30  (or as soon as I can extricate myself w/out complaints)  
Make breakfast and Eat. 
 During this time we have our Bible time.  We read one story from Read and Rhyme Bible Storybook and and review Munchky's memory verse from Sunday School.  We read the same story for the entire week.  Sometimes we break it down or we just focus on one aspect each day. 

Free Play
Clean Up and Laundry

Tot School


Nap/Quiet Time
Mom Time/Cleaning

Outside Play /Playground

Dinner Time

This is our most fluid time.  As we may have different things going on depending on the week/season
Time with dad/free play/playground
Sports night (dad and/or mom depending on season)/Wed Night Prayer Meeting/Church Activity

Get Ready for Bed/Bath

Kid's to Bed 
I know some of you are fainting, but this is when I get them in bed, they often don't fall asleep until 11 or 12 or....)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I stumble upon the "Tot School" concept when I was looking for some structure for my eldest child (who was just over two at the time).  He was pretty much non-verbal to about 20-22 months of age.  He loved reading books with Mom and Baby Einstein videos.  When he started talking, I found that he he could count and identify numbers 1-10, identify color, shapes,animals, musical instruments and almost had his ABC's down pat.   I wanted to encourage him in his learning, but absolutely did not want any kind of "curriculum" because of his age.  That's when I found Tot School at 1+1+1=1.

The woman who started this concept, introduced child-led learning through play and had all sorts of ideas.  It also introduced me to the idea of hands-on learning/play that helps children develop their fine motor skills; which in turn will help with their writing later (not to mention household chores!).  This was an aspect of early education that I really did not know a lot about.  

Tot School is not only for my children but for myself and our relationship together.  It has helped provide some structure to our day.  Instead of the kids watching TV or playing with their toys by themselves, it keeps me accountable to interact directly with them during play.  That is essentially the most important thing about tot school.

If you are thinking about trying a "tot school" format in your house, please check out 1+1+1=1, it has all sorts of ideas and lots of other moms link up with their ideas.  You can also check out this page about how to begin or this faq page.

Things we do during Tot School:

Play with certain types of toys: (these are the type of toys that if left in the living room unattended get dumped on the floor and scattered everywhere).  We have pattern blocks, shape sorters, puzzles, duplo blocks, stackers, etc.  These toys really benefit from you "playing" alongside a child instead of the child playing with them alone. 

Do fine motor skill activities:  These are Montessori type activities that you can do with your child from household "equipment".  Involves pouring, transferring, clipping, stacking, measuring, sorting.  This is where the resource of other moms on the 1+1+1=1 can give you lots of ideas.  These can be fun for kids to do and help them develop their muscles not to mention introducing color,shapes, numbers and letters.  

Work on Printables- these are sheets that introduce children to colors, letters, shapes,numbers etc.  Involves coloring, tracing, doing matching & sorting games, lacing,etc.  There are e a lot of of good free resources out there for these (usually arranged around a theme)  My favorites:  Tot Printables from 1+1+1=1,  Letter of the Week from Confessions of a Homeschooler, Unit Printables from 2 Teaching Mommies, and Preschool Pacs from Homeschool Creations.  (Tot Printables are made for children around 2,  the others are for a bit older, though all have activities you can use for younger ones).

Arts and Crafts:  We do coloring with crayons, markers, chalk, etc.  Painting (finger and w/brushes), cutting (well trying) and pasting.

Reading:  We read all day long, but during tot school, we read books that go with our theme for the week.  These are also usually library books.  So I having them were the kids can't get at them unsupervised is great.

Music:  We also listen to music all day.  During tot school we have a specific music theme and do activities while listening:  conducting, playing instruments, dancing, clapping etc.  

The important thing to remember about Tot School- is that it is meant to be fun and engaging for the child, build interactions b/w the child and parent and lastly expose them to skills and facts. No drilling or forcing or trying to "complete" something (although I sometimes "complete" their craft afterwards when they're not around -guilty secret is out).  


Monday, August 22, 2011

Zoo - E is for Elephant

Munchky is 38 months
T-Rex is 21 months

E is for Elephant
Zoo Unit

The boys were ready for us to get into the tot school swing again.  We've been mostly playing outside a!nd have not done much else the past couple of months.  T-Rex and Munchky have been asking to go downstairs (the school room is in our basement). I knew we hadn't been using it much b/c the spiders have taken over downstairs!  Now that I got our room cleaned up and our plans made, we were all set.

So here's what we've done this week:


(Thanks to all the moms out there who put out such a great ideas on their blogs.  I got a virus on my computer and could not access the file with my links to tot tray I have no idea where I got what idea from where)

Munchky really loved this tray.  I made a box w/ holes for him to stick dowels in and then gave him our M&D    lacing beads to thread on them.  When he saw this tray he immediately went to work.

He was a bit upset that no more beads would fit on the dowel.  I told him he had to put them on a different dowel.  Well he showed me, he picked up a dowel and put it in the hole of the top bead and started stacking on that dowel.

T-Rex also loved this tray.  He got the dowels no problem, he had a bit more trouble putting the beads on.  But he didn't mind help from Mom.

Munchky was proud of himself after he finished this 24 pc. zoo puzzle from Michaels' Creatology brand.  He needed a bit of help from Mom,  but he did not get frustrated with it.  A big +

Both boys liked the tray with animals from around the house and cards (from Target $ spot) to match them to.  T-Rex didn't quite understand that he was supposed to line up the animal with the picture, but he had fun telling me the ones he knew along with animal sounds, including a made up sound for a giraffe.

I put out this tray mostly for Munchky but he was not interested.  I put the black and white poms poms in a pattern in the ice cube tray hoping that he would match the pattern on the opposite side.  He didn't even look at it.  However, T-Rex dumped the pom poms on the floor and then had fun putting them in the tray.  (And of course tossing them back out again).

We made play-doh elephants (with a long trunk).

This Week we used E is for Elephant from COAH

Munchky really enjoyed working on his pre-writing pages this week.  We haven't done this much lately and he was eager to get back at it.  His level of care in this has really increased.  He didn't even want to do cutting on the cutting practice sheet - just wanted to trace.

T-Rex liked working on the E do-a-dot sheet - and trying to screw on caps; but Munchky was completely uninterested in doing a do-a-dot sheet. 

Muncky was also not interested in the elephant color puzzles, even though the second time I brought them out, I put them in our brand new pocket chart.  He was happy to tell me where to put the yellow match.  "On the top, Mommy - in the middle", but wouldn't even point to it.  (I'll chalk this up to his developing skills on giving directions and location ).  T-Rex was interested in taking them out of the pocket and sliding the cards behind the pocket chart and watch them slide out at the bottom.  I tried to help with his color recognition by naming the color on each card he did.  He would repeat the color after me but I don't think he noticed what it was on the card.  He was to intent in getting it slide behind the chart.  (Fine Motor Skills- check)

Muchky also did not want to do Upper and Lower Case Sort - as the mat got jammed while laminating and  had a bubble.  He handed it back to me saying it was broken.

We used real peanuts as counters with the number cards and also for a pouring activity.  Munchky even became a pro at shelling (and eating) them.  Again Munchky didn't stay with this too long, he did three and moved on to shelling.  T-Rex and I went through the cards working on number recognition and he even managed to put peanuts on one (3) by himself and was right.  I'm thinking that was just coincidence.

Both boys enjoyed scribbling coloring on their color by number sheets.   Munchky is not ready yet to be told what colors he should use and to limit them to certain areas.  I was able to point out to T-Rex colors and numbers while he colored.

Munchky did his first "Poke" page.  He really liked it and did a great job poking on just the black lines.  I see how this is great for developing a good pencil grip.

Munchky had fun playing hopscotch with the elephant floor numbers.  At first I had the numbers scattered around the room, so he had to find them.  But he didn't like that, so we had to put them in order.  We were also able to practice skip counting by 2's while doing this by lining them odds and evens up in columns.  (I had      to jump too, so no pics of that.)

This year we are going to be learning about a different music composer/composition each month.  No memorization or anything like that - just simple music concepts.

This month we are focusing on Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens.  I got this great illustrated book with the music CD from Amazon.  Munchky has really enjoyed it.  The book is written to tell about the different themes (animals) happening in each piece and has a couple pages introducing the instruments.  

This week as we listened to it, we focused on the rhythm and style of the music.  Fast/Slow,  Graceful/Rambunctious, Light/airy versus heavy, etc.  The boys had a great time conducting!

Munchky insisted that they needed their doctor "tools" to do this.  I'm wondering if he thinks a conductor is also a doctor.
We were going to make elephant ears this week, but didn't get around to it.  Munchky and I have been going to a local VBS at night this past week.  I think we still will have to make them  this week.

This year we are also focusing on a Caldecott Winning Book each month.  Our first one is the Lion and The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.  (Which is a gorgeous book by the way). After reading the book, we made these "water-color" lions.  We talked about how Pinkney used paints and colored pencils to swirl the colors all around to make the animals.

We made the manes from large coffee pot filters, colored them with washable markers and sprayed with water.  Then we glued googly eyes, ears, nose and a tongue on (Cut out by me ahead of time). After our manes dried we glued the faces on, and colored with color pencils.

We started this Zoo Tot Pack from 2 Teaching Mommies this week.  We will be working on it throughout the month as well as other activities from 2 Teaching Mommies.

Here's a matching activity from the pack.  T-Rex didn't match too much...he just wanted to name the animals and make sounds!

Munchky fingerprinting a herd of elephants.

The VBS Munchky was going to had a racing theme, so they worked on making a pine box derby cars during Arts and Crafts.  Friday night was race night.  We had lots of fun watching the cars race and eating goodies.  Munchky's came in 1st in his division!.  He was so excited to get a trophy!  Unfortunately, Mom forgot the camera.  


Things are not always rosy in tot school.  In fact there were many times this week I wanted to throw in the towel.  Fights, disinterest, messes, rebellion.  The key is to remember that skills and learning do not happen in one sitting, a week, or even a month...but over time and are ingrained over a greater length of time.  In addition a lot of what happens in tot school is not learning the alphabet or the correct pencil grip...but life lessons such as self-control, respect, following instructions, sharing and such.  Those can be hard lessons (on Mom and kids) while you are trying to have FUN at tot school.  So in reality, especially for us Moms of the 3 and younger set,  Tot School's real importance is trying to develop these lessons and spending real time engaging and playing with your children.

To see what other moms are doing this week, go to 1+1+1=1.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Boys on vacation (From Mom and Dad)

Munchky is 38 months

T - Rex is 21 months

The boys had a few days away from Mom and Dad as they visited their "Aunt" Ann, "Uncle" Tim and Rusty doggy.  Ann sent some pictures of their antics to keep Mom and Dad happy.

A compilation of looks T-Rex was giving after she told him to stop jumping up and down the concrete steps.

Running around with older brother

Another look after being told he could not climb down into a groundhog hole.

Up in  A Tree

In the Pool

 A Brief moment of brotherly love

Jumping in Puddles

This week is back to Mom and Dad and our start of Tot School.

To see what other moms are doing visit 1+1+1=1.

Friday, August 12, 2011

2011-2012 Tot School Plans

 2011 - 2012 TOT SCHOOL PLANS
Tot School

Munchky will be 3 (39 - 51 month)
T-Rex will be 2 (21 - 33 months)

The boys were away for a few days.  So I thought I'd take the time to get the whole school year ready.   Which took a loooonnnngggg time even w/out the kids.

We will mostly be using Letter of the Week printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler and/or Tot School Printables with theme printables from 2 Teaching Mommies, Homeschool Creations and others.

I usually feel a bit overwhelmed changing themes each week.  So I decided to do theme units for 3-4 weeks and do a different letter each week that corresponds to that theme

 In addition I wanted to focus on one music composer/composition each month and one Caldecott Winning Book each month.

So this is what my week will look like:
  • Musical Mondays:      We will listen to the composer of the month and do an activity with it.  plus do some LOTW/tot printables.
  • Tasty Tuesdays: LOTW/tot printables, a letter craft, and making something yummy.
  • Winning Wednesdays: Read our Caldecott Book of the month and do an activity with it. (Dramatic play, stART project, etc)
  • Theme Thursdays: Work on theme tot/preschool pack and theme craft.
  •  Family Fun Fridays: LOTW/tot printables and field trip/theme games.
Of course we will also be doing tot trays throughout the week.

OUR 2011-2012 UNITS


Theme Printables: Zoo Tot Pack at 2 Teaching Mommies.
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: The Lion and the Mouse - Pinkney
Sensory Bin -The Zoo
Field Trip: The Zoo

Weekly Letters:
1:      E is for Elephant - COAH  

Theme Printables: To be made by me/will post
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: The Ox-Cart Man-Donald Hall
Sensory Bin: Oats, play food, farm animals, different colored ride/prize tickets, fabric scraps.
Field Trip: The State Fair

Weekly Letters:
1:  R is for Rollercoaster (or rides) - To be made by me

Theme Printables: Fall - 2 Teaching Mommies
Music Mondays: Four Seasons: Vivaldi
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: A Tree is Nice - Udry
Sensory Bin: Fall
Field Trip: Apple Orchard

Weekly Letters:

Theme Printables: My Body - 2 Teaching Mommies
Music Mondays: Jeux d'enfants-Bizet
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: Prayer for a Child - Field
Sensory Tub: Rice, paper dolls, Mr. Potato Head, bandaids, tongue depressors,  tooth brushes
Field Trip: Children's Museum

Weekly Letters:
1: N is for Nose (2 be posted) can use F is for foot at 1+1+1=1
2: X- is for X-Ray -Chasing Marcus (will post additional)

Theme Printables: Christmas - 2 Teaching Mommies
Music Mondays: Handel's Messiah
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: Polar Express -Van Allsburg
Sensory Bin: Christmas
Field Trip: Bronner's Christmas Wonderland

Weekly Letters:
3:  C is for Christmas - COAH

Theme Printables: Winter - 2 Teaching Mommies
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book:The Snowy Day - Keats
Sensory Bin: Winter
Field Trip: The Zoo

Weekly Letters:
3: H is for Hockey- Making Learning Fun - plus others

Theme Printables: Ways we get around- 2 Teaching Mommies
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot
Sensory Bin: Transportation
Field Trip: Disney World!!

Weekly Letters
1: B is for Boat - Walking by the Way
2: T is for Train - 1+1+1=1
3: P is for Plane - Our Little Monkeys

Holiday Week - V is for Valentine - COAH

Theme Printables: Space - 2 Teaching Mommies
Music Mondays: The Planets - Holst
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book:  Kittens First Moon - Henkes
Sensory Bin: Space
Field Trip: Planetarium

Weekly Letters
1: S is for star - 1+1+1=1
2: M is for Moon - Walking by the Way plus M printables
3: U is for Universe - space preschool pack - homeschool creations plus U printables

Theme Printables: Ocean - 2 Teaching Mommies
Music Mondays: Oceannides - Sibelius
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: The Little Island - Brown
Sensory Bin: Ocean
Field Trip: Aquarium

Weekly Letters
1: J is for Jellyfish - 1+1+1=1
2: O is for Octopus - COAH
3: C is for Crab -Lawteedah
4: F is for Fish - COAH

Holiday Week: Easter - COAH

Theme Printables: Spring - 2 Teaching Mommies
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book:
Sensory Bin: Rainbow
Field Trip:TBA

1: W is for Wind- to be made by me
2: U is for Umbrella - COAH
3: R is for Rainbow - COAH

Music Mondays: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: Frog went a Courtin' - Langstaff
Sensory Bin: Pond
Field Trip: Pond

1: D is for Ducks 1+1+1=1
2: N is  for Nests -  COAH
3: T is for Turtle - COAH
4: F is for Frog - 2 Teaching Mommies

Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book:Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears - Aardema
Sensory Bin: Bugs
Field Trip: Butterfly House

1: A is for Ant - COAH
2: I is for Inchworm - COAH
3: L is for Ladybug - COAH

Musical Mondays:TBA
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: TBA
Sensory Bin: Garden/flowers
Field Trip: Botanical Gardens

1: F is for Flower - 2 Teaching Mommies
2: G is for Garden Tools - 2 Be Made
3: W is for Watermelon - COAH
4. Y is for Yard - to be made

Holiday Week - Fourth of July - 2 Teaching Mommies

Theme Printables: Summer - 2 Teaching Mommies
Winning Wednesdays Caldecott Book: Time of Wonder - McCloskey
Sensory Bin: Ice Cream
Field Trip: Hot Air Balloon Jubilee

1: K is for Kites - Coah
2: H is for Hot Air Balloons - 2 be made by me
3: B is for Baseball - 2 Teaching Mommies

There are quite a few letters I didn't use from COAH because they didn't go with a theme, we've done them recently (butterfly/caterpillar)or b/c I used that letter twice already.  I tried to use most of the letters 2x  and F is used a whopping 4x, (I wasn't going to do f for fish or frog - but they're too cute. I had to stretch G is for garden tools as I wanted a T-tools week in the garden unit but wanted that 2nd G and not a 3rd T.

I'm excited to get started next week.   I have everything printed and I just need to get the tot trays and crafts organized.  If anyone is interested, I am almost done with my excel spreadsheet with my weekly plans that include links for the printable units, letter and theme crafts and tot tray ideas plus list of books, tasty Tuesday food recipes, and list of videos.  I will email it to anyone who wants it and may upload it.  As for now here is the summary of the units with the links to printables.

See what other Moms are up to over at 1+1+1=1.

Have a great school year!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Zoo Sensory Bin


I have made up this sensory bin for our zoo unit:

The bin consists of pea gravel (much cheaper if you buy a big bag from a home improvement store than to buy pebbles from a craft store), larger decorative stones, Spanish moss, greenery, a water "bath", plastic animals, fence from a John Deere farm set.  I'll give them digging and transferring tools, magnifying glasses, and animals cards to match with (Target $spot has some cute animal action and sound cards right now) .  I bought almost everything except for fence and gravel from the Dollar Tree.

Will be starting our zoo unit this week so check back to see the bin in action.

To see what other moms are doing visit 1+1+1=1

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

June Fun

Tot School June and July
Yup, it's August and I'm just getting around to sharing these.  Tot school has been all about playing outside.  I've been real busy planning, helping decorate and running our church's VBS.  Now that it's over and I've recuperated we are going to get back on track.

Playing in the giant sensory bin aka as "the beach" as Munchky calls our sandbox and water table.

Taking a break in "their" house
Love this picture!
Riding to the construction site


We did find time to go to The Hot Air Jubilee.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed this: they got to sit on tractors, go on rides, and watch the "big" balloons get blown up and take off!

Munchky had no problem going down the giant  slide by himself!

Up it goes!

Since then Munchky draws balloons all the time!

Then we made play-doh balloons

T-Rex erasing Munchky's balloons

You can tell he still really loves play-doh (not quite as much as he loves destroying his  brothers creations.)
Stacking is much better.

Please check out what other moms are doing this week at 1+1+1=1