Do you teach all of the old school nursery rhymes to your kids? Some people think they are outdated, or really have no value for kids today, but there are lots of great reasons to still expose children to nursery rhymes. The rhyme and repetition make them great first stories for little ones to retell. They help teach how language works, and are a great shared cultural experience. That's why I pulled out an awesome set of nursery rhyme books and we explored them one by one for the last 2 weeks.

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

So here were our plans for our Nursery Rhyme theme:


And here is what we actually did:
I have these little Nursery Rhyme Readers from my classroom that I knew would be perfect for Madelynn. I love them because they have simple picture cues, and have just one nursery rhyme per book.  Madelynn is starting to realize that the words on the page have meaning too, so these books are great for first attempts at pointing to print.
Hickory Dickory Clock Craft:
After reading Hickory Dickory Dock, we made our own simple clocks. I prepped a paper plate with clock hands, and wrote numbers 1-12 on strips of paper.  Madelynn first cut the numbers apart, then glued them in order around the clock.  We focused mainly on number recognition and number order not on telling time, although Madelynn did have fun playing with the clock hands too.
Musical Clock Game:
We continued the clock theme with this gross motor game. I printed the numbers 1-12 on cards with pictures of exercises on the reverse side.  We sang the Hickory Dickory Dock rhyme together and when we finished Madelynn stopped and named the number she landed on. Then she flipped it over to see what exercise she needed to do. 
Clock Quesadilla:
For our Hickory Dickory Dock themed snack, we made a quesadilla into a clock with cut up cheese arrows and raisins.
Hickory Dickory Dock Sensory Bin:
In this bin: rainbow rice, Melissa & Doug Clock Puzzle, felt mouse, tongs
DIY Rain Stick:
After reading It's Raining, It's Pouring we made our own rain stick. To create a more realistic sounding rain stick, I first took a piece of aluminum foil and crunched and twisted it into a spiral like a spring and fit it inside a paper towel tube. Then Madelynn helped to tape one end shut, add rice, then tape the other side shut.  Afterwards she decorated the tube with washi tape before playing with it on her own.
Puddle Jumping:
We didn't have any rain this week to make real puddles, so I made pretend puddles from blue cardstock. Then we grabbed rain boots and had fun pretending to puddle jump indoors.
Umbrella Snack:
For our It's Raining It's Pouring themed snack, we made an umbrella. I used a clementine, Twizzlers pull and peel and blue M&M's to create this snack.
It's Raining, It's Pouring Sensory Bin:
In this bin: water, blue food coloring, plastic bed, little people boy. eyedroppers
Sheep Sticky Window:
Sticky window activities are our new favorite! Something about the activity being vertical with the light shining through just makes it more engaging for Madelynn. After reading Mary Had a Little Lamb we made our own sheep. I drew a sheep body on the contact paper with sharpie before taking off the backing.  Then I taped the contact paper sticky side out to the window.  I cut out a head for Madelynn to add along with cotton balls for wool.
Wool Round Up:
For this activity I made a large square from washi tape on the floor, then spread mini marshmallows around it. Madelynn used a straw and scooted around on the floor to blow all the marshmallows into the box.
Sheep Graham Snack:
For our Mary Had a Little Lamb themed snack, we made a sheep graham cracker with cream cheese, mini marshmallows, raisins and candy eyes.
Mary Had a Little Lamb Sensory Bin:
In this bin: split peas, Little People Tractor, fence, sheep and girl
Piggy Plate Painting:
After reading This Little Piggy we painted a paper plate pink, then glued on construction paper pieces to create a little piggy face.
Paint with your Piggies:
This was by far a huge favorite of Madelynn's.  I spread out a roll of paper on the floor and taped it down.  Then I added a few squirts of pint spread out over the paper.  Then Madelynn used her toes to squish, print and explore.  Beware this gets REALLY slippery so I ended up holding her hands most of the time so she didn't keep falling.
Piggy Bagel Snack:
For our This Little Piggy themed snack, we made a piggy bagel using pink cream cheese, a jumbo marshmallow for the nose, chocolate chips, chocolate covered raisins, and strawberries.
This Little Piggy Sensory Bin:
In this bin: The base of this bin is "clean" mud made from ivory soap, toilet paper, and  water(I used this recipe from Happy Hooligans and then added a bit of brown paint to dye it), then I added fences and these cute little piggies.
Itsy Bitsy Retelling:
After reading the Itsy Bitsy Spider we used felt pieces that I made to retell the rhyme. If you are looking for a set that is premade you can find one here.
Cookie Spiders:
For our Itsy Bitsy Spider themed snack, we made this easy little spider cookie from an Oreo, pretzzel  sticks, and candy eyes.
Itsy Bitsy Spider Sensory Bin:
In this bin: clear water beads (rain), plastic sun toy, plastic spiders, and a PVC pipe for the waterspout
Shoe Print Painting:
After reading There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, we used shoes to make prints on a large roll of paper.  Madelynn had fun exploring the different prints and also spreading the paint around with each shoe.
There Was An Old Woman Sensory Bin:
In this bin: rice, small boot, plastic bed, Little People kids.
Spider Web Painting:
After reading Little Miss Muffet, we painted a web for the spider in the story. I prepped white paper ahead of time by drawing a web with a white crayon. Then Madelynn used watercolor paints to reveal the hidden web.
Sit on the Tuffet:
This gross motor game was hilarious to watch! Madelynn and I said the Little Miss Muffet Rhyme while she went around the circle sitting on each "tuffet" when we finished she peeked under the last pillow to find and name the hidden shape. Fun and tiring!
PB & J Spiders:
For our Little Miss Muffet themed snack, we made this easy spider sandwich from an Uncrustable, pretzel sticks, and M&M's
Little Miss Muffet Sensory Bin:
In this Bin: white beans, bowls, spoons, plastic spiders, and Little People girl.
Hey Diddle Diddle Snack:
For our Hey Diddle Diddle themed snack, we made this super cute little cow jumping over the moon. First I pieced together different sized marshmallows to create a cow. I used a skewer and toothpicks to get them to stick together, but I also cut many of the pieces and used the sticky side to help hold them in place. Next I added details with broken Oreos, Twizzlers pull & peel, chocolate chips, and candy eyes.  For a moon we used a banana, and then added sprinkle stars for the night sky.
Hey Diddle Diddle Sensory Bin:
In this bin: blue aquarium rock, cat & dog (from this Melissa & Doug puzzle), Little People cow, felt "fiddle" (aka guitar because its the closest thing I could find), glow in the dark stars, dish and spoon.
Little Boy Blue Snack:
For our Little Boy Blue themed snack, we made these peanut butter haystacks from All Recipes.com
Little Boy Blue Sensory Bin: 
In this bin: split peas, popcorn kernels, Little People sheep, cow, haystack and farm boy.

 That's it for this week! Next week we will start thinking spring with a plant theme, bring on hthe warmer weather!

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:
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:
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