Sunday, February 7, 2016

Valentine Tot Trays in Action!

Here are our Valentine Tot Trays in action! Also are a few modifications I made from the original ones I made last Sunday.  Just so you know, Sweet Pea is 18 months, she is prissy about what she touches, and this is our first time to ever do Tot Trays. The intention behind a Tot Tray for me, is to have some structured play with the end goal of learning a specific skill/task or just a new thing for me and Sweet Pea to experience together. I consider it a blessing if she stays at it for 10 minutes :) Want to learn more about Tot Trays?  Read this by Carisa.  

Pink plastic hearts to go inside of the empty water bottle.

Sweet Pea liked doing this the first day, but when I brought it back out the following few days, she didn't care for it much.  I think I'll change the hearts or a new container for next week.  

This was the original tray I made, but the flowers, were too much.  I took those out and added more chenille stems. 

This has been Sweet Pea's favorite activity.  I brought it back out several times this past week, and she has loved doing it!  Our dog Peyton even got in on the action.  

Concentrating hard.  

This was the Sun catcher activity I found from Building Our Story.  

Sweet Pea really liked this tray, but as soon as she put one of the sequins in her mouth, I told her no and that little rascal looked right at me and did it again! So the tray was put away and we returned to it later.  

Valentine Sensory box outside in the beautiful sunshine!  She loved finding her monkey buried in there.  And my husband was glad there wasn't rice all over our floor. :) 

I know it's Valentines, but she loves this Halloween book with its hologram looking pages. They sparkle in the sun.  

I had a tray with hearts that needed to match, but it was way to hard for Sweet Pea right now.  So I just put her puzzle on the tray and placed the pieces in one of the free gift makeup bags I have exploding out of my closet.  She loved playing with the zipper and she is getting really good at placing the pieces.  

Such concentration!
 Tonight I will adjust some of these trays... maybe a new puzzle, container, or pom poms instead of hearts.  We will stick with the Valentine's Day  theme, and I might make a tray with all the LOVE books I can find... she loves to read and I feel like that has not happened as much as usual.

Come back next week to see what we do! And if you want more ideas or wondering more about Tot School, be sure to check out the Tot School Gathering Place


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tot Trays for Valentines

okay, so this whole Tot School thing had me a little overwhelmed.  However, once my Tot Trays came if from Oriental Trading, it was like the light bulb went off.  My brain was able to start making all the connections I needed it to, organization was beginning to make sense, and this whole Tot School thing for this non EC teacher now seems possible.

Tot Trays are basically "Centers" for the toddler classroom,  When creating these trays, I am trying to ask myself something similar to what I did for my elementary kids:  What skill or fun activity is it that I want my child to learn or enjoy doing?

Theme: Valentines
Skill: Coordination/ Fine motor skills/ Beginning to recognize patterns

So here are the Tot Trays for this week to help with those skills!  All of these were borrowed from pinterest, and other moms who have already blazed the Tot Tray Trail!  (nice alliteration there huh?)

Thank you moms for sharing all those awesome ideas!  I will be sure to link to specific blogs I have visited and gained information from. Thank you for making  your things available on pinterest.  Lord knows, I have been blessed by y'all and that website.

I love these trays! The green one had a Valentine suncatcher activity on it that you can not see here.
Suncatcher idea found at Building our Story.

Those crazy rings looked so cool under the rice when they were being lit up!  This is the 3rd round for the sensory box this week...and I must say, a better success than cheerios!

Pattern matching, but this was WAY TOO MUCH for Sweet Pea right now.  I am definitely saving it for later.
Found on the Love Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1

Place the hearts into the cup and make her own shaker!

Scoop the puffs into the tray.  

Matching the ones in the container to the ones taped on the tray.
Found on the Love Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1

Chenille stems through a colander.  This is her favorite so far..
Found on Itty Bitty Love  

Sweet Pea is 18 months, and I have had to modify a few things here and there with these trays since taking these pictures.  But overall, they have been great!  It's so nice to have an activity all ready to go that she and I can enjoy together; one that is challenging and teaching her, and something I made for her mostly from things around the house or that I could make easily.

These Tot Trays will stay throughout the week and may stay through the next 2 weeks with a little modification here and there.  I'll keep y'all posted :)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tot School- Where Play meets Intentionality

I was featured for Tot School!

Honestly, I have no idea what "Tot School" looks like for an 18 month old.  Sweet Pea and I are just trying new things and having fun learning  I am trying to be intentional about placing things and speaking to her more about what she is doing.  It does not take place at one certain point of the day, but many small moments throughout.  Mondays are scattered as I lead a Bible study at my church from 10-12, and Sweet Pea gets to have a play date in the nursery with lots of friends.

So, here is what some sporadic moments looked like in our Tot School day. (Pic heavy post) First of all, Sweet Pea woke up at 6 am which is an hour earlier than normal.  Silver Lining: we were able to have some Tot School play time before Daddy had to get up.
An invitation to play with her Little People barn.  I switched out the Princess Castle with the barn, and she went straight to it first thing this morning.  Sweet Pea loves her some Farmer Eddie.

Farmer Eddie wanted to go down the slide, Mom.

Sweet Pea isn't into blocks so much, but this set she has always loved.  She loves to put her pieces in the bucket.

Oh this book.... Honestly, sometimes my husband and I hide it to make her read something else.  I think I read it 3 times back to back this morning.  Sweet Pea always has to sit in a lap to read a book... cutest thing ever.

Mom, every morning needs to start with a work out... She only stayed on this thing for a minute, but I just love that smile, and I thought it would brighten your day too.
Sweet Pea hasn't touched these rings in weeks, maybe months.  Putting them out in a way as an invitation to play made her go right to them this morning.

I set these 3 books out for her specifically.  In honor of Valentines Day, many of her toys revolve around the theme of reds, pinks and heart shapes.  

Finally! She noticed the new Sensory box filled with Valentine day stuff and Cheerios.  FYI--- do not do this with big dogs... later this morning, half of this container was eaten by my golden when I wasn't paying attention.  I decided to get rid of the Cheerios altogether by the time our afternoon play session began.

Extra containers to play with

That was our morning of play time.  I put Sweet Pea down for a nap at 8 since she was up at 6 and we needed to leave the house by 930.  She's throwing me for a loop with this sleeping thing.  She used to be such a great sleeper, but lately she's been trying to only do one nap and it takes her an hour of rolling around at night to finally pass out.  Silver lining: she doesn't scream and cry during that time.

So after Bible study/play date, lunch, and an afternoon nap, Sweet Pea was ready for Round 2 of Tot School Day.  Which consisted of:
Snuggling and carrying around her favorite stuffed animal, Fuzzy Cat

Modified Sensory box... no more Cheerios! But Sweet Pea did seem to notice more of the items.  She loves to put things on her wrists.  She's fancy unlike her momma

Pretending to drink. Notice Farmer Eddie had to come and join the action.
 I had been waiting for this moment all day!  And this was probably the only real "schooling" she did.  I taped a paper towel tube to the bookcase at her level and placed a pink bucket under the tube.  I put some pink sparkle puffs in the tray and a few near the top of the tube and a few in the bucket to see if she could put together what happened.  She stuffed all the puffs into her cup and then put them through the tube shoot.  She had so much fun.  This activity she stayed at the longest (10 minutes).

Mom, puffs make great soccer balls too!
Our day ended with me tutoring a child in art, and Sweet Pea coloring/ eating crayons (keepin' it real, folks) along side of us.  Our first day of Tot School- intentional learning taking place through play. Learning is so much fun when you don't even realize it's happening because you are having fun doing it.  

Want more ideas for your toddler? Be sure to check out the Tot School Gathering Place on 1+1+1=1

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Not Public School...Tot School

I've never taught a grade lower than 3rd grade until now.  Meet my 18 month old daughter and newest student, "Sweet Pea'.

Before I took Sweet Pea to her 18 month old check up, I had to fill out a questionnaire on her development.  Sweet Pea LOVES to read and she can answer all sorts of questions about "where is the ____? or which one is the _______?"  But asking if she uses objects to push and pull things to where she can get them... not so much. Pour puffs from a bottle turning it upside down? Not without me showing how to first.  There were quite a few of these instances.  Filling out this questionnaire made me feel like I wasn't giving Sweet Pea enough opportunities to try and learn different things, However, I had NO IDEA on what to do or even where to begin with an 18 month old.

So I googled.

And the Lord blessed me with Carisa from  Tot Trays.... Sensory Bins....Invitations to Play.... and FREE Resources to help me grow my little one from regular school like stuff to teaching her Biblical principles, values and stories!  I totally feel like I have hit the jackpot with Carisa's website! She is just simply amazing!  So I stalked...and read... and pinned...and clicked on links... and made my computer go into Tot School overload.  I have read so much in the past 2-3 weeks, but I feel like I have only scratched the surface!

I am so excited to do some of these things with Sweet Pea--- it takes all my strength to not go wake her up so we can play :)  I can't wait to see her face tomorrow morning as she walks into her playroom and sees all the different things set up.

Here is a sneak peak (I'll blog more about these activities later this week)
sensory bin with cheerios and valentines stuff from Dollar Tree

Sensory bin on top of our DIY less than $5 light box

What will Sweet Pea do first?!

I can not wait to see if she will take those pink sparkly puffs and put them through the tube to fall into the trash! Simple pleasures.

A book from the Valentine Tot Pack 

I got my teacher fix in and even laminated this book with contact paper.
All these will stay up throughout the week, if not longer.  Each Sunday night I will switch things up some, for instance, changing her little woven trays or putting toys away she really isn't into and switching it with some I have stored away.  This way, when the toy comes back out, she will be surprised and excited to see it again.

Look for upcoming adventures in Tot School... it's my newest 'Trade!'

Friday, January 29, 2016

Making Art in My Bible.

I always wanted to be an Art Teacher.  I knew in high school that that was what "I wanted to be when I grew up."  I went to college and graduated with my Art Teaching Degree in 2004, but I could never find that art position until 2008.  For those 4 years, I was in a dry spell.  I crafted every now and then, but actually making art... nope.  When I taught art in 2008-09 and in 2013-14, I could brush up on my art skills, but when I taught other subjects, I just didn't have time to "make art."

But I don't want to go through that dry spell again.  Making art is a gift from God, and it is something I need to keep practicing.  Its something I love to do and can inspire others with.  I need to make time for it.

So how does a SAH Mom, part time Children's Pastor, and school volunteer make time for art?  Well I combine things that I love...reading God's Word, my daughter, and art. 

My husband bought me this Bible (ESV double column journaling Bible) for Mother's Day in 2015. It was also the same day that we dedicated our daughter to the Lord in church... aka Parent/Baby Dedication day.  It was such a beautiful book! I didn't want to just fill it with things for myself.  I honestly felt selfish doing that.  So I decided that I would journal to my little girl.  I would draw pictures for her and write to her in the margins what I wanted her to understand from God's Word.

There is a huge Bible Journaling community.  If you are interested, you should just google it, but that is seriously overwhelming.  Or check out the Illustrated Faith site.... Ahhhhhmazing!

The above picture is what I journaled to my girl today. It's from Exodus 15, and the first5 app is what inspired my writing. In Exodus 15, the Israelites immediately praise God for saving them from the Egyptians, only to immediately grumble about Him and His lack of provision in the desert.  When I first read this, I thought "Wow, they forget so quickly!"  But that's me too!  So many times God has provided for me, and when a tough time comes about, I grumble and wonder if God is going to/wants to/will provide.  This passage is a reflection of me.  

God always provides.  It may not be how I imagined it or desired it, but He always provides. He is a good, good Father.  

I am sharing this post on Tara's awesome blog 4th Grade Frolics.  I'm sure you may have seen her site, but if you haven't head on over there!

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