Tot School: Valentines

After Christmas passes and I finally get the tree and decorations put away, I immediately look forward to decking my house out in all things pink and glittery.  Any excuse to be super girly is totally my JAM. Being a girl mom also means that I can go all out with pink and sparkly fun for our Valentine themed Tot School, so brace yourself!

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

So here were our plans for Valentine Week:

And here is what we actually did:
Our favorite valentine books for the week were:
Love, Splat by Rob Scotton
Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney
Kiss Kiss Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
  Roll and Fill Heart:
I don't know why I feel the need to buy 7,000 conversation hearts every year, but I seem to have so many laying around. I wanted to find a way to use them with Madelynn so we played this roll and fill heart game.  This game incorporates so many different skills. First roll the die and identify the number, then count out the hearts with one to one correspondence to fill the heart cookie cutter. I added the tongs to incorporate fine motor strength challenge as well.
  Heart Stamp & Paint:
For this art project we started with a tp tube bent into a heart shape to create a stamp. After Madelynn filled her page with hearts, I gave her pom poms clipped with clothespins to paint the hearts.
  Stained Glass Heart:
I LOVE making stained glass art crafts because they are so easy to prep & make, and they always turn out gorgeous!  First I cut 2 identical hearts from black construction paper and placed one heart onto a piece of contact paper. With the sticky side up, Madelynn added tissue paper squares to fill the heart. After she was finished she glued the second heart cut out on top along with another sheet of contact paper.  I cut the excess paper from the outside and taped it to the window. So pretty!
   Tear Paper Heart Tree:
To make this tree I gave Madelynn a large sheet of brown construction paper and let her cut and tear large and small strips. Then she glued each piece together to create branches on a tree.  Finally she added foam heart stickers for a pretty Valentine themed tree.
Musical Hearts ABC: 
This was a big hit with Madelynn.  I wrote the letters A-Z on paper hearts that I cut out, then laid them out in a circle.  I put on some music and had her dance around the circle.  Then I stopped the music and had her pick up a letter and try to name it.  She has been doing really well with uppercase letters so it is definitely time to move on to using more lowercase letters in our activities. 
 Heart Scavenger Hunt {Letters}:
We love a  scavenger hunt over here, so I took the paper hearts from our musical heart game and hid them all over the first floor of our house. Then we hunted for each letter and brought them back to this large paper mat I made to match them. 
 Musical Hearts Numbers: 
This was exactly the same as the musical hearts activity we did with letters.  I wrote the numbers 0-10 on paper hearts that I cut out, then laid them out in a circle.  I put on some music and had her dance around the circle.  Then I stopped the music and had her pick up a number and try to name it. 
 Heart Scavenger Hunt {Numbers}:
Because we love our scavenger hunts, I took the paper hearts from our musical heart game and hid them all over the first floor of our house. Then we hunted for each number and brought them back to this large paper mat I made to match them.
 Strawberry Swirl Crescents:
These hearts were pretty easy to make and super yummy like little danishes! I started with a tube of Pillsbury crescent rounds. I rolled the whole tube out and let Madelynn spread cream cheese over them.  Then she placed small cut up strawberries on top.  I rolled both ends of the rounds towards the center to form hearts and tehn baked them according to the package directions.  
 Veggie Hearts:
Using tiny heart cookie cutters I cut out shapes from cucumber, crinkled carrots, and tomatoes to make these colorful healthy Valentines treats.
 Heart Eyes Crackers:
I'm loving this emoji inspired valentine snack. We spread peanut butter on ritz crackers. Then added raisins and strawberries (cut with a tiny heart cookie cutter) to make a face.
  Valentine Parfait:
To make this parfait we layered granola, strawberry yogurt, strawberries, and vanilla pudding.
  Valentine Sensory Bin #1: 
In this sensory bin: pipe cleaners, pom poms, satin hearts, foam hearts, ribbon, heart slinkies, and buttons.
 Valentine Sensory Bin #2: 
In this sensory bin: water beads, mini heart boxes, heart buttons, and scoops.
 Valentine Play Dough Cookies: 
On this play dough tray: red, pink, and purple play dough, heart stamps, heart gems, heart buttons, heart cookie cutters, and rolling pins.
 Valentine Sensory Bin #3: 
In this sensory bin: red rice, valentine mini erasers, mini containers, mail box, tongs.
Valentine Sensory Bin #4: 
In this sensory bin: red dyed water, heart sponges, heart gems, mini heart boxes, mini cups, scoops, and eye droppers.

 That's it for this week! Next week we will start two weeks of nursery rhymes!


And here are the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Activities, you can find them all here:


January:

February:

September:

October:

November:

December:
Christmas

January:

February:

Tot School: Space

When planning out our Tot School calendar I have to tell you that I was not really as excited for some themes as others... I mean Pumpkins & Apples and Valentines, YES! Bring it on! But Space, Cars and Dinosaurs aren't exactly my jam. I'm a girl mom to 2 little pink tutu wearing cutie pies. Of course the 9 month old doesn't have much to say about it, but my 3 year old? She dresses herself these days and lord help me if we try to put her in pants.  

But I muster up all the excitement I can manage for my not so favorite themes and guess what? Madelynn somehow makes me grow to love them and I love that it pushes us both a little out of our comfort zone.

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 
So here were our plans for Space Week:

And here is what we actually did:

Our favorite space books for the week were:
My Book of Planets By Elise See Tai
8 Spinning Planets By Brian James
Stars By Thomas K. Adamson
The Moon By Thomas K. Adamson
The Sun By Thomas K. Adamson

  Star Stamping:
Did you know cookie cutters make awesome stamps? I don't know about you but I have tons of cookie cutters laying around for every holiday so I love pulling them out for projects.  Mini cookie cutters work best for little hands. After we were finished this page became the background for our planets.
   Marble Paint Planets:
Want a painting project without the mess? Try marble painting! First I cut out different sized circles from card stock for our planets. Next I cut the top off of one of the 9,254 Amazon boxes I had laying around (PTL for Amazon Prime, saving this moms sanity since 2013). I taped the circles in the box so they'd stay put while Miss Madelynn gently shook the box, went toddler crazy. I dipped marbles in different colored paint, and dropped them in. Madelynn was a little shake happy and we had a few flying marble incidents (thank goodness for washable paint), so if you are concerned about your spirited little ones getting too cray cray, keep the lid on and have a grand reveal after the shaking is done. We glued our planets to the star background for a fun finished product
  Sticker Star Constellations:
I thought about printing out constellation pictures for Madelynn to use as a reference, but decided to keep this project pretty open ended.  We started with adding lots of star stickers to black paper. After Madelynn was tired of stickering, we used a white piece of chalk to connect the stars...and add a few extra "decorations" ;)
  Magnatile Rockets:
Do you own Magnatiles? If not, I know what your kids need for their next birthday, Christmas, Valentines, President's day gift ;) They are a bit pricey but we definitely get our money's worth out of them. We play with them almost daily and they really never lose their appeal.  This week we added a few tin cans to our Magnatile bin so we could build rockets.
 Rocket Name Building:
Now that Madelynn is getting pretty good at recognizing lowercase letters, especially the ones in her name, we are working on putting letters in her name in order. I precut a triangle, squares, and fire pieces from some Astrobrights paper. Then helped prompt Madelynn to get the letters in the right order.  Afterwards we added some more star stickers to make to project pop.
 Astronaut Training:
This was my favorite gross motor activity to date. Madelynn is getting to a really fun age where she LOVES pretend play, making forts, and obstacle courses. We combined these loves into a fun "Astronaut Training" obstacle course. First she had to crawl through a tunnel, then tiptoe through the "asteroids" (play balls from our ball pit), jump on the "moon" (pillows), then spin in our IKEA Swivel Chair and walk a straight line.  
 Spaceship Toss:
Next up we decorated paper plate spaceships, and practiced throwing them to see how far they would go. I originally glued them with white glue, but they kept falling apart so we took a quick time out while I hot glued them together, and problem solved.
 Reach for the Stars:
To prep the next activity I taped glow in the dark stars to the ends of streamers and hung them from the ceiling.  Then I asked Madelynn to  practice her best astronaut jumps to catch them.  Well I grossly over estimated her jumping abilities at first and had to lower all the stars, haha, but the the activity was a success. Who knew 3 year olds could only jump .2 inches off the ground?!?
 Space Snack Mix:
Sometimes I need a good easy snack, and snack mixes are perfect for that.  In this space snack mix we added Gerber Puffs (thanks baby sister!), Multigrain Cheerios, and Kix cereal.
 Edible Constellations:
Another easy snack idea I had was to make these constellations from marshmallows and pretzel sticks. I made a few examples for Madelynn then let her create her own.
 Space Jello:
So this snack is a bit more work than the last 2...  First make a batch of Berry Blue Jello in asquare Pyrex pan, following the directions for Jello Jigglers on the box. Before putting the pan in the refrigerator add edible star glitter. Next make the "planets" by making white jello (recipe below), dying it different colors with food coloring, then pouring a small amount into small glasses of different sizes to set. After all the Jello set (I let it set over night) take planets out and place them on top of the blue "Space" Jello.

White Jello Recipe:
Combine 2 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin with 1/2 cup COLD water and mix.
Let it set about 5 minutes, then add 1 1/2 cups boiling water and stir.
Add one 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk and mix well.
*For planets pour into small glasses, dye with a few drops of food coloring each, allow to set in fridge overnight.

Okay so I know this one was a lot of work, but I just had to induldge this crazy idea of mine. Thanks for playing along, lets get back to some easy peasy snacks ;)
 Moon Rice Cake:
Start with a large rice cake, add sliced bananas, Multigrain Cheerios, and Kix cereal for craters and BOOM, easy moon themed snack. You're welcome, now go hide in the kitchen and enjoy some more of that Jello, I know you have some left and its just so yummy!
 Astronaut Sensory Bin: 
In this sensory bin: baking soda dough (baking soda, black food coloring, small amount of water, and glitter), astronauts from our Space Toob, and aluminum foil moon rocks.
 Planet Sensory Bin: 
In this sensory bin: black beans, glow in the dark planets, and glow in the dark stars.
  Space Slime Sensory Bin: 
In this sensory bin: Mars Mud (because sometimes I just don't want to fuss with making our own slime, and glow in the dark stars.
 Fizzy Planet Sensory Bin: 
Does this bin look familiar? That's because it is our Astronaut Bin with some vinegar!  This bin gets really messy, so be prepared to dump it all when you are finished, but it is totally worth it! Baking soda + vinegar = tons of messy fizzy fun. In this sensory bin: baking soda dough, astronauts from our Space Toob, rocks, and vinegar.

That's it for this week! Next week we will be celebrating all things pink, red and sparkly for Valentines Day!
And here are the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Activities, you can find them all here:


January:

February:

September:

October:

November:

December:
Christmas

January:

Tot School: Bears

Do your kids LOVE Brown Bear, Brown Bear as much as mine? This story is such a classic I just had to plan a week theme around Bears and our favorite Brown Bear books.

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Bear Week:
And here is what we actually did:
Our favorite bear books for the week were:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

 Brown Bear Mixed Media Art:
For this project I lined up scissors, glue, paper, markers, crayons and dot stampers in every color from the Brown Bear book.  Then I printed small versions of each animal for Madelynn to decorate any way she wished.
 Bear Track Stamping:
To create this stamp I did my best to carve a paw shape out of a potato to create a stamper. To make it easier for Madelynn to hold I also cut a wedge out of the top of the potato on either side for the handle.  Then Madelynn used brown paint and *lots* of paper to stamp bear tracks galore!
 Bear Painting:
I intended to have Madelynn practice dot stamping with a cotton swab for this painting project but she decided to use her cotton swab as a brush.  I took her lead and love how her bear looked "fuzzy" when she was all finished!
 Puffy Paint Polar Bear:
After reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?  we created our own version of the cover art with my favorite homemade puffy paint. First Madelynn painted the polar bear cut out that I prepared ahead of time, then we glued it onto the blue paper. After that she added snow to the scene to complete her picture. *To make your own puffy paint just mix together equal parts white glue and shaving cream.
Brown Bear Roll & Move: 
Our first gross motor activity for the week was inspired by Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? First, I created a quick die with 6 of the characters on it. Then we rolled the die and decided how each character would move. Here are the animals and actions we used: Brown Bear-bear walks, Red Bird-flap wings, Blue Horse-gallop, Green Frog-hops, Goldfish-swim on tummy, and Yellow Duck-waddle.
 Teddy Bear Hide and Seek: 
Madelynn recently discovered how fun it is to play hide and seek, so we switched it up a little to match our theme this week with Teddy Bear hide and seek.  We took turns hiding the bear and counting to 10 before searching for our furry friend.
 Bear Balance Relay: 
For our last gross motor activity for the week, we used colored counting bears and took turns running back and forth while balancing them on a spoon. At the end we dumped them in a cup.  I set out 4 cups so that we could make it a sorting activity as well, but Madelynn wanted to see if she could fit all the bears in one cup instead.
 Graham Cracker Bear: 
I feel like this may look a little more like a dog than a bear, but hey I tried ;) I used a graham cracker,  jumbo marshmallow (cut in half for mouth, then cut in quarters for the ears), chocolate covered raisin, candy eyes, and a food coloring marker.
 Cinnamon Bear Tracks: 
These bear tracks were super easy to make. I just took a tube of biscuit dough, separated them, snipped the ends to look like claws, brushed them with butter, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Yummy!
 Teddy Bear Rice Cake: 
This teddy bear snack turned out super cute! I love when our snack is easy and Madelynn loves being able to help.  To make this snack start by spreading peanut butter on a rice cake. Use banana slices for the ears and nose. Add chocolate chips and/or chocolate covered raisins for the eyes & nose. Delicious and adorable.
 Polar Bear Paws: 
I love these paws because this snack literally took about 3 seconds to create. Start by slicing jumbo marshmallows to make flat circles.  Add mini peanut butter cups and chocolate chips. And that's it!! Easy Peasy :)
 Brown Bear Retell Bin: 
Our sensory bins were so fun this week! In this sensory bin: white beans, felt characters from brown bear, scoops, and cups.
 Bear Hunt Bin: 
In this sensory bin: split peas, blue gems, trees, cotton balls, paper tube, play dough, rocks, and little people.
 Bear Patterns Sensory Bin: 
In this sensory bin: water beadscolored counting bears, pattern cards, scoops, tongs, and bowls.
 Hibernation Sensory Bin: 
In this sensory bin: split peas, rocks, small box caves, sticks pine cones, and bears.
Polar Bear Retell Bin: 
In this sensory bin: rice, "cages" (boxes with rubber bands), and animals from Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (I used animals from our Fisher Price Alphabet Zoo)

That's it for this week! Next week we will be traveling to Space!

And here are the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Activities, you can find them all here:


January:

February:

September:

October:

November:

December:
Christmas

January: