Friday, April 22, 2011

Tot School - 13 Months

Tot School

This week was our first week officially doing Tot School. We have been doing our own version for months now, but it was time to make it official. As a warning, this will be a long post since it is out first time doing Tot School. I want to be sure to explain exactly what the day-to-day looks like for those readers that might be curious. Future Tot School posts will not be this detailed.

For those that are not familiar with Tot School, please click on the picture above to find out more, but the main gist is playing with a purpose. I have found that Hannah has been roaming from toy to toy without much attention given to any one item. I felt that she wasn't getting all she could out of each experience. I also wanted to make myself more accountable for what we are doing during the day. The teacher in me needs direction and purpose in the activities we do on a daily basis. Since I am home full-time with Hannah, I feel that it is my job to expose her to as many things as possible. While we call it Tot "School", it is in no way a rigid teaching environment. We continued to play as usual, but I was more purposeful in structuring the activities and the environment.

So, what did we do this week? Keep reading to find out!

On Monday I introduced Hannah to Tot Trays. She had 3 trays with one activity on each. The tray is used as an organizational tool and as a clear boundary for when it is time to clean up. The only rule we had was that she could only play with one tray at a time and had to clean up one tray before moving on to the next.

We started with a puzzle. She had very little interest in the puzzle, but was fascinated by the tray! I figured she would be since they are new and shiny. As a side note, these were not the trays I had originally wanted, but while looking for plastic ones at hobby lobby, an employee told me about some trays they had in the back that had small chips in them. He said they would give them to me for 90% off, making them $1 each. I couldn't pass that up. So, yes they are hideous, but they are very sturdy and were very cheap! :)

After the puzzle, we moved on to plastic eggs and an egg carton (in our Easter theme). She loved this activity! This was the second time she had played with these, so I knew they were a hit already. These kept her busy for about 10 minutes. She was most interested in opening all the eggs and shaking the egg carton around.

The last tray was blocks. These were also a hit as she loved knocking over the towers I built and trying to build her own. Stacking is a skill we have been working on for quite some time, so to see her making progress is great!

The rest of the day was spent running errands and we made a trip to the library, where Hannah ran all around. We did squeeze in some table time (where Hannah sits in her high chair and does an activity on her own) while I made dinner. I had her practice drinking water out of a regular cup (that was messy) and then she played with a magnet tray (a cookie sheet with magnets on it) and the plastic eggs again.

On Tuesday I changed up two of her Tot Trays. I kept the plastic eggs and egg carton out since she loved them so much the day before. But the other two were changed to the ring stacker and containers with Pom Poms. The containers were a hit! She was determined to put the lids on herself, but would get very frustrated when she couldn't get them off. I used that opportunity to teach her the sign for "help". She doesn't sign it perfectly, but she has adapted her own version. :)

On Wednesday (our last day of Tot School for the week) I kept the same trays out for her, which she enjoyed. We also did blanket time for the first time. I have debated about wether or not I wanted to even invest the time and energy to teach her this. For those that don't know what blanket time is, it's a principal from the Babywise series. Essentially, you place your child on a blanket with a few toys and require them to stay on the blanket for a set amount of time. We started with 3 minutes and Hannah did pretty well. She tried to crawl off the blanket a few times, but each time I place her back on and told her to stay on the blanket. Thankfully she didn't throw a fit and was okay with it. I'm pretty sure it went so well because it was new and she wasn't really sure what was going on. I hope to continue blanket time and increase the time over the next few weeks.  We also did Table Time, with a shaving cream bag.  This turned out to be a flop, as all she wanted to do was eat the bag.  Live and learn! ;-)

Overall, our first week of Tot School was a success. It was short because we left for FL on Thursday afternoon. I don't think I will write a weekly update of our Tot School, just because I know I won't have the time, but I thought I would give an update if our first week and plan on updating every so often. But my main purpose in writing this post was to share the link above with other moms so you can get some great ideas for ways to play purposefully with your child!

Have fun!

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