Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Week 1: Wednesday (or What I Like To Call, Our 1st Official Day)

***I am linking up to 1+1+1=1 Tot School Gathering Place today. My hope is that someone will read this and offer some advice, or stop me now if I am doing it all wrong. ***

So that brings us up to now. This morning after breakfast I allowed Scout to watch a Leap Frog episode while I got everything out of my car from the night before and assembled our Tot Bins. She immediately gravitated to the pompoms and I let her just explore it so I could finish making the flash cards.


The Pompoms

I had them set up where all the pompoms were in the larger pink bowl, and she started out by taking the spoon in one hand and the tongs in the other and kinda stirring/mixing the pompoms around with them. She put down her tools and picked up a little blue pompom and said "Boo" (which if you didn't already guess means Blue). This is the only color she can say so far, though if I ask her something like "which one is purple/red/green/et. al.?" she'll point to the correct one....most of the time, (pink and green confuse her sometimes).

I congratulated her and went over to play with her. I showed her how to use the tongs to pick up the little poms instead of just stirring. Scout tried but I think it might just be too big for her hands still. She transferred the poms with her fingers from one bowl to the other and back. Then I got out two sheets of paper to show her how she could put one color on one and a different color on another. I was introducing sorting. She didn't care much for it and continued playing her own way. Which is fine. I also counted out loud for her how many she could grab. She was rubbing them across her face too so I used the opportunity to discuss "Soft" and "Fluffy".

Scout played with it for about 15-20 minutes. Then she wanted to check out the rock bin. She did come back to this a couple more times. One thing she loved was holding the spoon up to her eyes and looking at everything in pink. She kept trying to get me to laugh at her doing it too.

  • soft
  • fluffy
  • blue, green, yellow, purple, pink, orange
  • tongs 
  • pinching/tweezers/scooping
  • transferring
  • mixing/stirring
  • color recognition
  • counting 

The Rock Bin

At first I took the bin of rocks over to our coffee table, but I soon realized that was a bad idea since she liked to drop them onto the glass portion. So I set up a blanket on the floor that would be our designated area for it.

Instant love. I knew Scout would like this because her favorite outdoor activity last summer was playing with the pebbles of our flower beds. She loves moving her hands and fingers around in all the rocks and picking them up and dropping them.

I used two little bags of decorative rocks from Dollar Tree. She liked holding them, pushing them to one side, lining them up in a row (which she also does with her bath toys on the side of the tub, and her stuffed animals at the bottom of the stairs), clicking them together to make noise, and even sitting in the bin and playing with them. I didn't add any toys this time. I think in the future I will pull out her sand shovel and pail or maybe buy her a little truck or bulldozer to push around in them. I described them a smooth or bumpy, and showed her small, medium, and large.

At the table she lost interest quickly but on the blanket she played with this for at least half an hour and she kept coming back to sit in it after doing something else for a while. Scout occasionally picked a favorite rock for me to hold for her, then would come back with another.

  • hard
  • smooth
  • bumpy
  • cold
  • small/medium/large
  • flat
  • light/dark (in color)
  • making a row (though not in any pattern or order yet)
  • making noise
  • sensory
  • comparing 
After a while she kept going back and forth between the rocks and pompoms and even got the bottle caps from yesterday out and played with all three bins.

Thoughts and Ideas:

When and how to end Tot School for the day? I know its child led, and mostly constructive play, but by lunch time I had bottle caps, rocks, and pompom spread all over the family room. Should I try to focus her more on one activity at a time? Maybe she was just excited because it was so much "new" all at once. I'll think more over the course of the week about whether we should store everything somewhere else after naps, or make this an open all day thing. Or have one or two bins in the morning, put those away after lunch and set out one or two different ones in the afternoon? All-in-all, we both had a good time. There are so many neat ideas online to try its hard to contain myself to just these for now. Its great to have so many options and references available.



  1. Sounds like a great start! Maybe when she loses interest in an activity, make a show of putting all the pieces back in the correct bin (and get her involved too) before you let her move on to the next bin? I know they like to go back and forth, but we (at 19 mths) do try to clean up as we go.

  2. I really do think you did a great job! As far as all the ideas, it IS hard to not do them all. I use Pinterest to help me divide my ideas into weeks/themes, etc. As she grows, you will probably want to add more activities. Also it is a great idea to put away a tray activity before going on to the next. I have a hard time with it since I have 4 kids and it seems that when I go to help one, the other leaves their tray and gets out another. It works out in the end, though :). I love your rock bin, BTW!

  3. Thank you for your encouragement! Today I emphasized picking up the materials and putting them away when we were ready for something else. I'm not sure how much she understood but that is definitely an area we are going to work on improving (even with her other toys in her room and stuff because I have been a bit too lax on that too). I love the theme week ideas, it will help reign in my "let's do everything" impulse, but I am glad we started with just some simple introductory things for this week. I have been making a list of her interests to use for themes and I think I will post it on here somewhere so I don't loose or forget it.

  4. I like the rock idea, and how you pointed out making noise with them is a fun thing to do! I'm like you, sometimes wrapping my mind around how to organize the flow of Tot School is hard. Some days it turns out one way, and other days another way. But the important thing is we're doing it! It so helpful to read your blog and others to get ideas and feedback on how to work it all out. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience! It sounds like you got off to a great start! Your awareness of your daughter shows that you will do what you can to meet her needs and interests. As others have shared, I work with my son to put away one activity before moving on to another. I also love using themes to organize my ideas. Great job! I look forward to seeing what you do!