Well, it is September!  That means time to get serious about “school.”  Actually, both of my boys are not of school age yet, but there is still so much to learn at their age.  Jefe, my 3 1/2-year-old is loving letters right now–pointing them out on street signs, learning to write them, and practicing their sounds.  As for my Little Guy, he is in that stage where he love to play, especially if I play with him.  A while ago, I found out about Tot School, and since then, I have been contemplating how we could implement it at our house.  I love the idea of carving out intentional time with my Little Guy, time focused just on him.  He loves it when I can actually sit down and play with him (which unfortunately does not happen as easily as it did with my first child when it was just the two of us!) and I think having Tot School will help me be more purposeful about that.
Tot School
So here is our first Tot School post!  We are linking up to Week 34!  I still do not have an exact Tot School plan, nor do I have a lot of room for trays . . . but I figured, “Hey!  Why not go ahead and post what we have done and see how we grow and get better at Tot School as we go?”  Also, our Tot School is bilingual.  We want to raise our kids to be bilingual (English and Spanish) so everything we do around here is done in English and Spanish.

Here’s my little 24-month-old tot!  Last week was our last week of summer, so we did a lot of ice cream and ocean stuff for one last summer hurrah.  It was also Little Guy’s 2-year-old birthday and one of his aunt’s bought him a package of ice-cream-cone-shaped marshmallows.  We do not eat a lot of marshmallows around here and I thought they would work perfect for some tot play.  This is what we did with them for one of our tot times at the table….

I took out some large index cards and wrote the numerals and numbers one through five.  I also made corresponding dots so Little Guy could count out marshmallows for each card.  Right now we focus mostly on counting, but he did pretty well with this one-to-one correspondence activity.  He counted in English and Spanish (repeating after me).

Next I used one of the index cards to make a simple number line.  Each number has a dot below it.  We counted out each one, and then we practiced taking away.  He liked this part because I let him eat one to take it away.

I would say things like, “There are six marshmallows!”  Then he would snatch one away and eat it.  I would dramatically say, “Oh no!  Now there are only five!”  And so on.  He of course liked this little game.

After our counting games, I tried a little sorting.  I wrote out the three flavors of ice cream cones on some index cards.  I modeled the sorting using language (in Spanish first, then English) like, “The strawberry ice cream goes here.  The vanilla goes here…”  Then I gave Little Guy a turn.  At first he did not quite know how to follow my lead, and if he would put one in the wrong place I would be silly and say “Uh-oh!  That’s chocolate….look it goes right here!” After a while he caught on, and then he thought it was funny to put one in the wrong place to see me say “Uh-oh.”

We had an empty oatmeal container sitting around so I cut a small hole in it to have him poke some marshmallows through.  I thought this would be a good fine motor muscle builder!  It was actually more difficult for him than I anticipated…he tried a few and then we moved on.

I also got out some little containers and filled them with marshmallows.  They were too tricky for him to open (he tried a few times) but he could put the lid on.  This was a good shape matching/differentiation activity since some were circles and some were rectangles.  We talked about the shapes….

….dumped out and put back in….

….matched the lid shapes with the correct container….

….and of course stacked them to make a tower.
Finally, we did one last sorting game.  Since the sorting game above was a little tricky for him, I got our construction paper that matched the color of each ice cream flavor.  I thought it might be easier for him to sort the colors by matching them to the paper.
I got out lots of different tools and instruments for him to experiment with while he sorted.

He enjoyed scooping and pinching and trying all the different tools.  

Then we put it all away!  I would say we had a pretty good go of our first Tot School time.  I am looking forward to doing it each day this week now that the holiday is over.  

Our new Spanish vocab from this lesson:
fresa = strawberry
vainilla = vanilla
chocolate = chocolate
helado = ice cream
cucurucho = cone
cono = cone