Tot School: Transportation

We finally finished up our transportation tot school activities this week and are ready for a little break for Madelynn's dance recital, birthday party, and Thanksgiving.

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 
Here were our plans for Transportation Week:
And here is what we actually did:
Our favorite transportation books for the week were:
I’m Your Bus by Marilyn Singer
Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel
Down by the Station by Jennifer Riggs Vetter
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
Alphabeep: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Deborah Pearson 
Shape Roads:
We don't have too many cars laying around our house with 2 little girls, so I decided to pick up this set of wooden vehicles and signs from Melissa & Doug.They were perfect for Madelynn to use to trace each of the shape roads that I made for her. You can grab a set of these shape roads here.
Alphabet Fishing:
To go with our boat theme activities, I decided to incorporate "fishing" as a fine motor activity.  I didn't have Madelynn use actual fishing poles, instead I let her use any of our fine motor tools to grab as many letter "fish" as she could.
Airplane Craft:
This craft started out with sponge painting a white paper blue for the sky. After the paint dried, I gave Madelynn paper shapes to make a plane and clouds and she glued them together.
Transportation Reusable Stickers:
Melissa & Doug are genius I tell you. They have the best toys for my girls and their reusable sticker pads do not disappoint.  They remind me of the original Colorform sets I used to play with as a kid.  They are more of a window cling than a sticker, so they truly are reusable and won't end up stuck all over your floor and walls. This Vehicle Reusable Sticker Pad was perfect to pull out this week.
Stoplight Bean Bag Toss:
This game is part gross motor, part color matching. I cut out 3 circles from red, yellow, and green colored cardstock to make a stoplight.  Then I grabbed beanbags in the same color. Madelynn and I took turns tossing the beanbags trying to get them to land on the matching color.  They slid around a bit so I probably could have taped them down to make it a little better.
Goldfish Song:
This was a bit of a stretch to go along with our theme, but the goldfish does ride a bicycle in the song, haha.  Either way we LOVE Laurie Berkner and pull up her songs on You Tube all the time for a little dance party.  This song has lots of opportunity for movement and is great for getting the wiggles out.
Airplane Song:
Another Laurie Berkner song that we love that incorporates lots of creative movement.  If you haven't introduced Laurie Bernkner's music to your toddler yet, you have to check out her you tube channel, SOOO many fun songs to get your little ones up and moving!
Transportation Snacks:
We had time for 3 different snacks this week.  The stoplight snack was a huge hit and has been a daily request ever since.  To make the stop light I started with graham crackers broken into 4 rectangles. Then I spread peanut butter on top and squished colored m&ms in to finish the stoplights.  Next for our airplane snack I started with a banana sliced in half the long way so it wouldn't roll around on the plate.  Then I added smaller banana slices for wings and an apple wedge for the tail.  Cheerios made perfect windows and marshmallows for clouds. Last our boat snack was a pretty easy one.  I cut up a few apple wedges, added a toothpick and cheese triangles for the sail. 
Road Theme Sensory Bin:
I kind of love how this bin turned out, although we turned it into a tray more than a bin. On our tray I spread out black beans, added a few cut up yellow straws for the lanes and then let Madelynn explore with her Melissa & Doug vehicles & signs.
Harbor Theme Sensory Bin:
This bin was easy peasy, just water with a little blue food coloring and these Magnetic Boats that link up with each other.
In the Air Sensory Bin:
In this bin: Blue aquarium rocks, cotton ball clouds, and airplanes from the In The Sky TOOB.
In the Air Sensory Bin:
Okay one more Melissa and Doug Toy I love is this Magnetic towing game. (I swear I'm not being paid to promote them I just really love their stuff!) It's basically magnet fishing and a puzzle all in one and requires lots of concentration, a great toy for building focus and the cars have numbers on them too for added number recognition practice.

That's it for this week, remember we are skipping turkeys since we fell behind on our schedule so we will be back at it after Thanksgiving. Here are the themes that will be coming soon:
And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Plans, you can find them all here:


January:

February:

September:

October:

November:

Dream Snow... and other Books Teachers Love

Are you as anxious as I am to get into the Christmas spirit and start your holiday decorating? Well I make myself wait until after Thanksgiving every year so until then lets break out the December read alouds! Check out these 12 perfect read alouds for December along with lesson ideas, activities and more!

Since I first read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle has always been one of my favorite authors. I just love his style, and my always students seem drawn to his books as well. One of his books that has been a long time favorite of mine is Dream Snow.
In this book, a farmer is waiting for Christmas to come and dreaming of beautiful snow covering his farm and animals in a fresh blanket of white. When he awakens he finds that it actually has snowed and he remembers that he needs to give out his gifts for Christmas.
Although the story line is very simple, I find that this is a perfect story for making inferences.

In the beginning of the story we meet the farmer and find out that he has 5 animals aptly named One, Two, Three, Four, and Five. Eric Carle leaves the reader wondering who these animals might be, but he gives a few clues in his illustrations.
Before continuing to read I have students make inferences about the animals and for older students give their reasons. 

Then as we read the story, students find out whether or not their inferences were correct.  
At the end of the story I have students infer again with a writing activity describing what they think is inside each of the animals' presents from the farmer. Students draw a the gift and explain why they think the farmer would give each gift to that specific animal.


Want to try out this comprehension activity? You can grab a FREE sample here!
But wait, that's not all! Each month, the Books Teachers Love Crew is giving away 4 of the books that we blogged about, and YOU get to choose the books you want! So scope out all 12 blog posts below, pick your favorites, and enter to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tot School: Dinosaurs

Sorry I'm a week late with my weekly tot school summary, but you know life happened... So we finished up Dinosaur week a little late and then moved on to Transportation mid week which means we'll be skipping our Turkey themed plans and starting back up after we take a little break for Thanksgiving.

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Dinosaur Week:
And here is what we actually did:
Here were our favorite dinosaur books for the week:
Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs By Byron Barton
Dinosaurs By Gail Gibbons
DinosaurRoar! By Paul and  Henrietta Stickland
Stomp Dinosaur Stomp By Margaret Mayo
How do Dinosaurs… series By Jane Yolen

 Dinosaur Dig:
Digging for fossils was fun and easy with this activity. I started out by sticking some dinosaur stickers onto our clear tot school tray. Then I covered them with sand. I gave Madelynn a paintbrush and let her "dig" away!
 Sponge Paint Dinos:
I found this sponge painting idea and printable templates on Learn With Play at Home. I love how cute the dinosaurs turned out.
 Shape Dinosaurs:
These shape dinosaurs were easy to prep and make. I cut a circle out of green cardstock and then cut it in half so we could make two dinosaurs. Then I gave Madelynn a pile of green foam shapes and let her glue them together to create her own little dinosaur friends.
 Dinosaur Tracks:
I know I need know I need to be better about focusing on the process rather than the product when it comes to art, so I came up with this dinosaur track painting activity. I poured a few different colors of paint on a plate gave Madelynn some plastic dinosaurs and let her paint tracks all over the paper.
 Dinosaur Stomp:
We LOVE Laurie Berkner in our house and watch her music videos on You Tube often. One of our favorite songs is "We Are the Dinosaurs" and Madelynn loves to march around when we listen to it. To make the song extra special this week I made dinosaur feet for her out of tissue boxes and colored paper for her to wear while stomping to the beat.
 Dino Egg Hunt:
This activity was essentially an Easter egg hunt around our house, but with dinosaurs hiding inside each egg instead of Easter candy and treats. Madelynn had fun collecting all of the different dinosaurs in her basket.
 Alphabet Dino Tracks:
For this game I started by cutting out dinosaur footprints from colored cardstock.  Then I wrote a letter on each one from a-z.  I placed them in a circle and then turned on some music. When I stopped the music Madelynn had to stop and try to name the letter that she was standing on. Great for alphabet recognition and movement at the same time.
 Fruit Dinosaur:
This is hands down my new favorite snack that we've created. 1. It was super easy to make and 2. it is actually healthy! Win Win! I used watermelon, pineapple and strawberries to create my dinosaur but you could easily use any fruit you had on hand.
 Dinosaur Quesadilla'
I saw this little sandwich cutter at the grocery store and knew I had to have it.  Instead of using it for PB & J howver, I decided to use it to cut up a little quessadilla.
Dino Dig Parfait:
We've been talking a lot about how archaeologists dig in the layers of the earth to find dinosaur bones. I created this snack with lots of layers for Madelynn to dig through. I honestly just threw a lot of stuff together that we had in the house so you definitely don't need to go out and get anything special. I used vanilla pudding, cheerios, granola, marshmallows, cool whip, and green icing.
 Dinosaur Sensory Bin:
In this bin: Cloud dough (8 cups flour & 1 cup vegetable oil mixed together), plastic trees, TOOB dinosaurs, and rocks.
  Dino Egg Sensory Bin:
In this bin: Sand, plastic Easter eggs, dinosaur counters.
   Dino Fossils:
Making dinosaur fossils in play dough kept Madelynn SUPER engaged. She liked seeing all the shapes she could make with the feet, tails and bodies. We used the same TOOB dinos from our sensory bin so we would have a good variety. There are 12 different types and it was interesting for me trying to remember what they were called so I could name them when Madelynn asked "Whats this?" 79,147 times.
Frozen Dino Eggs:
This actually turned out to be a lot more work than I had planned because little did I know most of the plastic eggs we have in our house have holes in the top and bottom... After a failed attempt at filling and freezing the eggs I taped up the bottoms and around the seam of each egg. Then I added a dinosaur counter and filled each egg with water from the top hole. I plaved them in tupperware containers to freeze upright overnight.  The next morning I struggled to open each egg, so I gave Madelynn a container of warm water to bathe each egg in so I could melt them a little to open them.  Even so It was pretty hard when the inside of the egg was rock solid.  After freeing a few eggs Madelynn begand to excavate the dinos with her play hammer, and screwdriver while I tried to save the other eggs before they completely thawed...I definitely need to find a better say to do this in the future, mayb ejust freeze them in a silicone cupcake pan? Not egg shaped, but definitely would be WAY easier to get them out!


That's it for this week. Here is what we are currently catching up on to get our schedule back on track:


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


January:

February:

September:

October:

Tot School Pumpkins & Halloween

Well Halloween has come and gone and I can't believe it is already November 1st! That means in less than a month my big girl turns 3! 
As she continues to grow and learn I am going to be trying to find new skills for her to practice in Tot School while continuing to mix in lots of fun play ideas for the rest of this school year.  I have big plans this summer to transistion to a home preschool curriculum with Madelynn since she will not be old enough to start traditional 4 year old pre-kindergarten for another whole year! But until then we will continue with our current Tot School routine.

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Pumpkins & Halloween Week:

And here is what we actually did:

I tried to chose a variety of books on pumpkins and Hallween  
Here were our favorite Pumpkin & Halloween books for the week:

Pumpkin Pumpkin By Jeanne Titerington
I Like Pumpkins By Jerry Smath
TheLegend of Spookley By Joe Troiano
Skeleton Meets the Mummy By Steve Metzger
Room on the Broom By Julia Donaldson
Big Scary Monster By Thomas Docherty

 Pumpkin Building:
Madelynn loved stacking, poking (and eating) these little jelly pumpkins. I encouraged her to see how tall she could make her towers.
Pumpkin Play Dough:
I found these pumpkin ice cube trays at the dollar tree and wasn't sure what I was going to use them for, but them I thought they'd be fun to use as play dough molds.  Madelynn ended up only using them a few times before deciding to just roll and squish her own pumpkins, but it was a nice invitation to play.
Pumpkin Letters:
I've been working with madelynn more on lowercase letters and she isnt quite ready for writing some of them yet so I am focusing on building letters in lots of different ways.  This week we used pumpkin erasers to fill in the inside of each letter to make her name.
Halloween Letter Writing:
 For this letter writing activity I spread out fall sprinkles on a tray. So this activity didnt last long because after a few tries writing letters Madelynn discovered she could eat them, haha. But we have been working on writing the first 2 letters in her name and looking at the shapes in the letters.  She is doing a great job with M, and sometimes a if I show her a model to look at.
Monster Play Dough:
Play dough alone is fun and engaging but along with lots of interesting materials it can transform into a totally new activity.  To build our monsters we used colored play dough, cut up pipe cleaners and straws, pony bead, and googly eyes.  But you could definitely add any fun things you have laying around for this activity. This was such a fun activity for the whole family! Since Madelynn loved this activity during our normal Tot School time, I pulled it out again after dinner for some more creative fun.  Even Aubrey got to squish her hands in the play dough for a few minutes (until she tried to eat it).
 Glowing Ring Toss:
This game was really hard to photograph because we literally did it in our pitch black basement playroom.  All I used was a pumpkin with a good sized stem and several glow necklaces.  I had Madelynn stand back a foot or so and try to toss them onto the stem. Lots of great throwing practice!  
 Pumpkin Hunt:
This pumpkin hunt was all about getting some exercise! I printed out some actions and hid them inside placstic pumpkins.  Them Madelyn had to both hunt for the pumpkins, getting her to run around the house, and then do the action inside.  Tiring out this toddler is tough work!
 Ghost Knock Down:
For this gross motor activity I drew ghost faces on clear cups and staccked them in a pyramid.  Then I gave Madelynn 3 of the plastic pumpkins from the previous activity and had her throw them to try to know down the pyramid.  After she did that for a while and watched me stack up the ghosts she decided she wanted to try that too and was happy to stack and knock down independently for a while. I love when she is able to entertain herself!
Jack O' Lantern Quesadilla:
This cute little snack was so easy to make! I can't believe I havent made shape quesadilla's before.  I used a pumpkin cookie cutter to cut out 2 matching pumpkin shapes first. Then I used a knife to cut out the face on one tortilla.  Then I sprinkled a little cheese on one side, stacked them up and microwaved it for a few seconds, easy peasy!
 Pumpkin Krispie Treats:
I don't think its a secret that I LOVE rice krispie treats since we make them for snack every other week, but these ones just turned out SO cute! We added a little orange food coloring to the cereal and marshmallow mixture, then molded them into balls with our hands.  After that we added a mini reese's peanut butter cup to the top and a little green leaf with frosting.
 Ghost String Cheese:
I call this my tired mom snack. All you need is prepackaged string cheese and a sharpie. And DONE! ;) 
 Clementine Pumpkins:
This one is pretty easy too. I just peeled a cutie for Madelynn and added a green Mike and Ike for the stem.  You could use celery, kiwi or anything else healthy and green too, but we didnt have any of those so I had to improvise from our trick or treat stash!
Goldfish Jack O' Lantern:
This jack o' lantern was a fun way to play with our snack. I made a pumpkin and face and showed it to Madelynn then pushed them all into a pile and had her make it again herself.
Pumpkin Theme Bin:
I filled this bin with orange and black paper shreds, orange pom poms and little plastic pumkins.  Then I gave Madelynn a pair of plastic tongs and had her search through the bin to find all the "baby" pumpkins as she called them.
 Glowing Pumpkins:
I found these little LED lights that are waterproof back in the spring and they are perfect for sensory bins. I love how they make waterbeads even more exciting.  In this bin I also added plastic pumpkins and scoops for Madelynn to use.
 Pumpkin Scooping:
I love how simple this bin is. I just used black beans and mini candy pumpkins for Madelynn to scoop and play with. Sometimes simple sensory bins are the best!
 Monster Soup:
This was another simple bin, To set it up I just used purple food coloring, water, and googly eyes. Madelynn is always taking out the measuring spoons and cups from the kitchen to play with so I gave her a set to use for this sensory bin to pretend she was cooking her monster soup!
Halloween Eraser Sort:
And for our last bin, I used the dyed orange pasta from last week and changed out the "bat" pasta for Halloween erasers. Then I gave Madelynn a variety of scoops and tools along with a sorting tray to explore.

That's it for this week. Here is what we have planned for next week:


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


January:

February:

September:

October: