Year Round Homeschooling: Totschool: Tortoise Turtle Theme

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Pixie loves tortoises and turtles, so what better theme to put together a Tortoise Turtle Theme that she is guaranteed to love. Finding a tot pack in this theme proved impossible (at least during the time I was looking), so I took a few things I found online and printed the sheets that suited us…
Click on this image to view this month’s Totschool Contribution on year Round Homeschooling

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Year Round Homeschooling: Totschool ~ How I Plan Our Themes

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When I started homeschooling 7 years ago, I found planning totschool themes for Koko, who was just under 2 at the time, daunting to say the least. I would download tons and tons of themed printables (all free), print them out…..

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Montessori Madness: Valentines Day Trays

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February is the Month of Love and what better way to celebrate than to have Valentines Day themed Montessori Trays!

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Heart shape puzzles. These are super cute! Pixie is going to L.O.V.E. these!

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I bought this adorable heart silicone mould a few years ago. I added some pink aquarium stones in a little basket with tweezers.

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Many coloured hearts book with pencils.

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I pushed golf tees into a glitter covered styrofoam heart and have red marbles in another little basket. The marbles balance on the golf tees. I initially had it all on the green heart tray, but it wasn’t perfectly flat, so the marbles kept falling off.

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Heart colour matching cards

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Achy Breaky Hearts Matching Game file folder game that I modified for Fifi years ago.

7. These are books she loves to page through (you can find the link of our favourite books here). It’s not all of the books she loves, mind you (there just isn’t enough space on this shelf).

8. I bought the mats at Mr Price Home for R50 each. They are the perfect size. We have them in the size 50×80 and in white, green and blue.

Resources
Love tot pack from 1+1+1=1
Achy Breaky Hearts Matching Game

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Montessori Madness ~ Monster Montessori trays for this week

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~Pixie is 41 months old~

We have been back at the school proverbial grindstone since last Wednesday and the kids are loving their new curriculum. Pixie is still busy with tot/preschool and will continue to work using the Montessori method. Here are her Monster Montessori trays for this week.

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Do a dot monster painting. Pixie loves working with the dot paints. I have a stack of different pages printed for her. She asks for them often.

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Monster Dots matching. Match the pattern to the monster, or visa versa.

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4 park monster puzzles.

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Monster Shadow Matching.

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Monster Shape Matching. Each monster has a shape on the belly and a corresponding card.

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Monster Size Sequencing. These are great for teaching sizes. Pixie loves to name each monster by size, the big one is Daddy, the next one is Momma, then Noo, Koko, Fifi and Pixie.

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Monster Clothes Peg Number Cards. I decided not to use clothes pegs for this activity. She will be using stones to put on the correct number. This is the first time I’ve had an activity for her like this.

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Shape Monster matching cards. Each monster is made up of a certain shape and has a corresponding card with a single shape, ie a heart, that matches the monster.

I bought the mats at Mr Price Home for R50 each. They are the perfect size. We have them in the size 50×80 and in white, green and blue.

Resources
Happy Monsters by 1+1+1=1
Not-So-Scary Monsters Preschool Pack by Little Monkey Printables on Teachers Notebook

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What’s in the Box Wednesday #4 ~ Pixie’s Tot Trays & Baskets

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~Pixie is 37 months old~

I have tweaked Pixie’s Tot Trays and the way they are stored for her. I have added 4 little baskets for the small activities and her Tot Packs. She loved them on Monday when she saw what I had prepared for her. I wish I had the camera at the ready when she saw everything set out like this for her. She also received her first “official” workbook for school and has absolutely fallen in love with it. I’ve limited her to 2 pages a day so it lasts a little longer. I purchased this basket set last weekend and they are perfect.

So without further ado, here is Pixie’s new Tot Tray and Basket setup

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Basket 1

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I downloaded this Cinderella tot book from One Little, Two Little when Fifi was still a Totschooler and Pixie loves it. She goes through the basket regularly during the day. I have the whole pack stored in here for her, just like the Nemo tot pack below.

Basket 2

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Pompom fine motor skill activity. I found this great activity on Pinterest. For this particular activity I’ve cut holes into the lid of an empty Pilsbury Frosting container for the bigger sized pompoms. I have another pompom fine motor skill activity using a feta container and 14mm pompoms.

Basket 3

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I downloaded this Nemo tot pack from 1+1+1=1 when Koko was still a Totschooler and Pixie loves it. She goes through the basket regularly during the day. I have the whole pack stored in here for her.

Tray 4

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Dot Marker with an activity sheet. This may be her favourite art activity to date. She loves these. The dot marker set I bought came with activity sheets and she is steadily ploughing through them.

Basket 5

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She got these Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Pets for her birthday from a good friend and spends hours lacing and unlacing them. These are a GREAT gift idea.

Tray 6

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Pixie’s first “official” school workbook, Smart-Kids I am three. She loves this book. It was well worth the cost.

Tray 7

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This is another home made toy I made for her. I went to the hardware store and got some paint chip strips in different colour shades. I then took 4 pompoms in each colour to match the paint chip strips. I glued the paint chips to a sheet of paper and laminated it to for durability. She loves playing with this tray at night during calm down time before bed.

Basket 8

In the large pink basket, I store all our little wooden trays like the one used for tray 4.

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Resources:
All workbox posts on Monsters Ed
All Tot Tray posts on Monsters Ed
Sue Patrick’s Workbox System
Workboxes on 1+1+1=1. This is where I got our inspiration back in the day for Noo.
Preschool Work Trays
Tot Tray Ideas for Tot School from 1+1+1=1

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What’s in the Workbox Wednesday #4 ~ Tot Tray Ideas

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I started tot trays with Koko over 5 years ago when we started homeschooling. He was a tender 27 month old that wanted to get into the homeschooling fun when Noo was in grade 1. Our trays have evolved over the last 5.5 years into what it is today.

In the beginning I found putting the tot trays together challenging. I didn’t know what was supposed to go in them and felt like I wasn’t doing it properly. It took me a while (a year or two) to realise that at such a young age, learning is all about exploration, not sitting and working for set, rigid, hours during the day. After I had relaxed and starting “going with the flow”, so to speak, school time became a lot more enjoyable for the both the tots (Koko and Fifi at that stage) and I. Now that Pixie is a totschooler, I’m much more relaxed and enjoying this phase of learning.

When putting tot trays together, make them activity specific. Here is a great list of activities from Fumbling Through Parenthood:
Pouring
Spooning
Tonging/Tweezing
Squeezing (a sponge, playdough, etc.)
Practical Life skills (folding, sweeping, etc.)
Threading Beads (onto sticks, string, pipecleaners, etc.)
Threading Sticks (straws, or spaghetti into small spaces)
Stacking & Balancing Objects
Using Glue
Using Stickers
Simple Crafts
Cutting
Counting
1 to 1 Correspondence
Matching
Sorting
Other activities to work those hand muscles (clothespins, hole punches, etc.)

Below are some tot tray ideas I’ve collected over the years. You don’t need to purchase expensive toys/resources for them. Making the equipment they will use during the day is almost more fun for you both.

Tot Tray Ideas for Tot School from 1+1+1=1. The Original Totschooler!!!!
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“Soon after the creation of Tot School, came the concept of Tot Trays. A simple twist on an old idea with Montessori based roots. A contained work space for tots, to inspire early learning fun. A way for mom to stay organized in her thinking and provide opportunities for early development in fun ways.” ~ Carisa from 1+1+1=1

Shadow Match Learning Mat from My HomeMade Montessori
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“I put this learning mat together by tracing around each prop and then the child finds the prop to the shadow match and places it on top. A fun way to teach object placement.” ~ Lisa from My Homemade Montessori

Homemade Toy: Pushing Puff Balls from Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers
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“It was really easy to make, just cut small holes in the lid of an old butter container. J’s goal is to stuff the puff balls inside the container via the holes. The holes are just smaller than puff balls, requiring J to work a little harder to get all the balls inside. It’s a fine motor activity that I pull out once every couple weeks and J is always very intrigued.” ~ Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers

I’ve made this activity for Pixie. To say she loves it is an understatement.

Magnetic foam shape picture from Rockabye Butterfly
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“We got these magnetic foam shapes. I made this shape sheet design with markers and then laminated it. Put it on a metal pan and she can match the magnet shapes to make the picture!” ~ Butterfly’s Mommy from Rockabye Butterfly

Simple Play: Pipe Cleaner Game from Dose of Happy
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“Porter is 15 months and has enjoyed this game for a little while now. It’s perfect when I need him focused and quiet for a little bit— think church or waiting in the doctor’s office.” ~ Deb from Dose of Happiness

Sticker Matching Activity & Game for Preschoolers from Feels Like Home
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“The idea is that the kits are very open-ended to inspire creativity in children and fun parent-child time. My kids have asked to play with these materials almost every day since they arrived a month ago. The designs are cute and inviting, and they are almost all include stickers.” ~ Tara from Feels Like Home

Textured Photo Book for Baby from Teach Me Mommy
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“I made a textured photo book from CD cases. Babies love familiar faces, and they love to touch different textures, so they will probably love this book too. The fact that it is made from plastic CD cases, makes it slobber proof too and the photos are protected by sticky paper. The different textured materials will just have to take the punch” ~ Nadia from Teach Me Mommy

Tweezing and Dropper trays from Learn~Play~Imagine

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“I set up these trays to give him something educational and fun to do while JZ works. I would give him toys only, but he requests work. Like most younger siblings he is eager to keep up and be just like his big brother.” ~ Allison from Learn~Play~Imagine

Bunny Tails Color Matching from Twodaloo
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” I stuck to bunnies to our new magnetic chalkboard wall (post coming soon) with tape and let the twins match away. They like to match the tails and name all the colors and then have the “Scary Fairy” (a.k.a. my hand) swoop down and mix up the tails again” ~ Stephanie from Twodaloo

DIY zipper board for kids from Laughing Kids Learn
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“Key learning points achieved with this zipper board are –
Fine motor skills
Sensory awareness
Identifying colours
Discussing length of zips etc” ~ Kate from Laughing Kids Learn

I just love this activity. Its on the top of my “to-do” list!

Shape matching game from Diapers to Diplomas
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“I had some leftover velcro and a cardboard box too, so I went to work with my cookie cutters and made this little game for the boys.” ~ Diapers to Diplomas

Paint Chip Pom Pom Match from Childcareland Blog
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“Here is a fine motor development activity that uses paint chip samples. I brought my bag of pom poms into the store with me and matched them up to the paint samples.” ~ Shelley from Childcareland Blog

Pipe Cleaner Color Sort from Kitchen Floor Crafts
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“I was inspired to use pipe cleaners and spice containers together from a toddler activity post over at Teaching Mama” ~ Kate from Kitchen Floor Crafts

Strengthen Toddler’s Fine Motor Skills & Creativity from Delightful Mom
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“This easy-to-create learning activity is great for teaching your toddler color sorting, enhancing their fine motor skills and expanding creativity” ~ Danielle from Delightful Mom

Magnetic Pipe Cleaner Discovery Bottle from Chasing Cheerios
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“The girls love moving the pipe cleaner pieces around using their magic magnetic wand!” ~ Melissa from Chasing Cheerios

The tot (and preschool) trays have become a passion for me. My children have all benefited greatly from the freedom they are afforded to work independently during the day while I am busy with one of their siblings.

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Resources:
All workbox posts on Monsters Ed
All Tot Tray posts on Monsters Ed
Sue Patrick’s Workbox System
Workboxes on 1+1+1=1. This is where I got our inspiration back in the day for Noo.
Preschool Work Trays
Tot Tray Ideas for Tot School from 1+1+1=1

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