Adventures in Tot Schooling

Getting Started with Tot School

Monday marked the “official” start of Munchkin’s Tot School. She is 17 months old. The plan for the week was:

 Art/Craft  Table Time  Floor Play
Monday  playdough  tweezers & pom poms  Disney train play
Tuesday  coloring  two bowls and pom poms  block cart shapes and stacking
 Friday  fingerpaing  pom pom color sorting  sock matching


And of course we deviated from the plan on day one!


After breakfast, I pulled out one tub of playdough, a couple of rolling pins, and a couple of stamps. Munchkin was very excited and was happy to sit and play for almost 45 minutes! She got the hang of rolling out the dough and using the stamps, and thought that one of the patterns, when stamped, made the playdough look like grass. I rolled/made various shapes, including a long sausage, which Munchkin then rolled over to make a snake. Munchkin really liked when I started rolling out lots of little balls, and would stamp each one with her stamper. She called them buttons – they looked like hot cross buns to me! She also liked dumping the little balls into the playdough container, and then dumping them out. As she did this, she signed and said “game.” This was just her second of third time playing with playdough (it was a Christmas present), and we will including it in our Tot School all the time! Vocab used: color, water, grass, more, man (meaning snow man), little, playdough, button, lid, game.

After nap I pulled out a muffin tin, some pom poms, and a pair of large tweezers. She jumped right in, moving pom poms from their dish into each of the wells of the muffin tin. After a while I showed her how to use the tweezers, and she did use them a little bit. Mostly she just moved the pom poms back and forth with her fingers. She also held them up to her nose so that we could sing “Rudolph the ____ Nosed Reindeer,” a song we’ve been singing with pom poms for a while. Eventually she started wandering around with the pom poms, and even put some into my shoes! This only held her interest for maybe 10 minutes. I scooped her up and we headed out to Dollar Tree to see what other Tot School supplies we could find!

At Dollar Tree, among other things, we picked up a foam alphabet puzzle. Munchin wanted to explore it immediately, so we did so when we got home. She was immediately drawn to the dots on the “i” and “j” so I showed her how to poke those out, and she spent a long time poking them out and putting them back. Eventually I poked out a few other letters and placed them in the right spot so that she could push them back in. We did the whole puzzle at least twice. She recognized the letters i , c and e. Vocab used: dot, push, puzzle, blue, yellow, green, tray, e, i, l, c. We came back to this puzzle after dinner and completed it at least one more time. The dots were still Munch’s favorite part.

For our floor activity, we did not get to the train, but played with Duplo instead. We played with this a couple of times throughout the day, but had the most fun before dinner. Earlier in the day I had built a house while Munchkin was building towers. This time I assembled the train, and started holding a tea party between the dog and Snow White. This was, apparently hilarious, and we kept the tea party going with lots of different figurines. We also used the train to transport people and animals to and from the party. This was a Mummy led activity, but Munchkin was very, very entertained and got right into the pretend play, making the bunny go to sleep, and bringing new blocks/figurines to the party.


What do you know – we adjusted our plan on Tuesday too. Today Tot School was all after nap. First I got some paper and a glue stick out, and cut squares for Munchkin to glue onto the paper. This was our first experience with a glue stick, and it was a mixed bag. Munchkin loved holding the glue stick, liked seeing me cut squares, but took a long time to get the hang of putting glue on the paper, and never really stuck a square down. It was a fine first attempt though, and I cut the activity off as soon as I could  – Munchkin just wanted to keep hold of the glue stick.

After that, I brought out two bowls – one containing about 10 similarly sized pom poms. Munchkin immediately started transferring pom poms between bowls, then moved on to pouring between bowls. We counted pom poms, talked about the colors, and sang Rudolph the ______ Nosed Reindeer a few times. Munchkin also moved on to stacking the two bowls, trapping a pom pom between the two bowls, and then pretending to drink out of them! She really enjoyed this activity. Vocab used: pom, in, out, up, down, two, green, red, orange, blue, purple, pink, mine, bowl.

On the floor, we played with trains, and Munchkin requested her alphabet puzzle. We didn’t even pull the trains out until about 4pm – this was the carnage by 6pm! She learnt another new word – mess, and had a good time swiping at the trains, trying to make more mess!



We just about followed the “plan” on Friday! Since I got our Art Wall up, with our last set of fingerpaint pictures, Munchkin had been asking to paint and so she was thrilled when I told her it was time to paint! This time, I put blobs of fingerpaint onto an unused baking tray, and she got stuck right in moving the colors around and mixing. Every once in a while, I lay a piece of paper across the paint to take a print. This was exciting because then we added more paint to the tray! It was nice to see how our fingers could “write” in the paint too – it was a great time.

After the painting was all cleaned up, Munch picked her toy box for the day – and she chose one with puzzles. She sat down and completed an animal puzzle a couple of times in a row – this was the first time she’d ever shown much interest in this particular puzzle, but today it looked easy for her. Seems the alphabet puzzle we picked up on Monday has triggered something…we will be pulling more puzzles out!

Later in the morning, we headed back to the table to do some color sorting. I had prepped each well of a muffin pan (we love Mickey Mouse) with a piece of construction paper at the bottom, plus a little dish of 6 buttons – one to match each well. Munchkin remembered the dish from our pom pom transferring, and kept asking for “pom,” but today ended up being a button day. She completed this task easily a couple of times before getting bored, it really didn’t hold her attention for very long. She was also able to hand me a button when I asked for a particular color. In addition to red, green, yellow and blue, I also included purple and black.

I did do her laundry today, and Munchkin did “help” me when it was time to fold – she loves having the warm laundry thrown over her, and then getting to roll on the floor in it! We did match a few pairs of socks, but I did not take any pictures of this.

Our art wall, as of the end of the week:

All in all, this was a great official start to our Tot School. I’m looking forward to many more fun weeks, explorations and activities.

4 Responses to Getting Started with Tot School

  1. Sarah says:

    Looks like a great start to Tot School! I love your plan at the top. Great job on your little one recognizing some letters already! My kids love rolling in warm laundry too!

  2. I think my favorite activity for your week was the finger painting tray. I also love how planned out it all was. Lots of fun!

  3. Nicole says:

    Those glue sticks were the bane of my then tot’s day whenever they came out. So we eventually put some plain white glue in a small cup/paper plate with either a paintbrush or Q-tips to spread the glue. At some point we started adding food color to the glue and they became painting collages. Isn’t it amazing how fast the smallest ones pick up new skills and ideas?

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