tot school - 18 months

This past week was orange week in tot school. To be honest, I had low hopes for orange week and a ton of mommy guilt leading up to it that it'd be a painfully boring week. Nothing was orange and I thought Ethan would find my tot tray ideas boring. That ended up being far from how things panned out. Orange week was awesome and probably my favorite week of tot school yet. Ethan can pick out the color orange like a pro (though saying it is rather difficult and it comes out a little more like ooohhhssjj) and has added the word "pumpkin" to his vocabulary. We had a blast during orange week and I'm honestly a little sad to see it go!


1. Orange Sensory Bin - I couldn't begin to tell you what's in this bin. I quickly decided that nothing is orange so I took a bag and walked around my mother's house, throwing in everything that was orange. (For some reason, she had way more orange things than we did.) Ethan's favorite was the little pumpkin and also the twisty, bendable orange ruler. He loved the orange scrub brush as well and also the orange, plastic bracelets that belonged to my sister back when she was in middle school. The one orange contribution I made from our house was the little orange gift bag. I had picked up several in different colors from the dollar store when they were $0.50 each and they've made great additions to sensory bins as something for Ethan to put some of the items in. He loves figuring out how to open the bags and prop them up.
2. Orange Sorting with Spoons - We've done a lot of pouch top or pom-pom sorting lately, but Ethan's still having a little bit of a rough time using spoons to pick up the items. Once they're on the spoon (which he usually cheats at by using his fingers to place them there), he's a pro at getting them into the wells. He did a lot better with the spoon this time and really enjoyed sorting the items into an egg carton.
3. Carrot Sweeping - Ethan still has a love/hate relationship with the little brush. He gets so very excited about this activity once he sees the brush, but I'm starting to think the handle is a little long for him to use correctly. (I got a shorter-handled brush last night for future usage.) The goal of this activity was to sweep the orange carrots into the orange square.
4. Orange Size Matching - I thought Ethan would hate this activity but he loved it. I think this was one of his favorite tot trays this week. He thought the circle shapes were the moon and kept shouting "MOOOOOON" each time he saw this tray. In the bowl were the identical orange shapes as the ones taped down to the tray and Ethan's goal was to match the sizes together. He did excellent at this activity after I showed him how to do it once. Sometimes he didn't line up the shapes exactly (i.e. he'd place the matching shape vertically across the horizontal shape) but he always matched the correct size shapes together.
5. Orange Magnet Board - The magnet boards are typically Ethan's favorite and I felt a little guilty that I couldn't think of very many orange things at all for this week. Still, the fact this week had a fish and Ernie on it made him not seem to notice it didn't have as many items. He had a blast putting the orange items up onto the magnet board.
6. Clothespins - I found an orange basket and a big orange pumpkin at my mom's house and wasn't sure how to utilize it but knew I wanted to. The goal for this one was for Ethan to put the clothespins around the edge of the basket. I figured he wouldn't be able to do this just yet -- and he wasn't -- but to my surprise it was his favorite tot tray this week. He spent all week completely determined to get those clothespins around the edge of the basket and although he didn't quite get it, he still had a blast trying!

I've noticed that over the last few weeks, Ethan refuses to even acknowledge the activity walls that have been up since we started tot school: the weather wall, the what color is Ethan wearing wall and the family picture wall. Now that he's understanding his colors and knows how to point out most body parts, he really has no need for the activity walls we have set up. I'm going to be changing them soon but until I figure out the details, I thought I'd spice up the family portrait while by putting various orange silly items on the pictures: Ethan got silly orange sunglasses, Grandpa got a silly orange hat and Grandma got silly orange lipstick. It was the first time he really enjoyed the activity walls in a while!


During orange week, we made orange juice! It was a mess-free (well, slightly) and fun activity that was no problem to do indoors and left our little classroom smelling awesome for the rest of the day!

All you need is a ziplock bag, an orange (sliced up) and a straw. Ethan put the orange slices into the bag -- sneaking a taste, of course -- and then had a blast smushing, kneading, smashing and juicing the orange. Once it was ready, he just stuck a straw in the bag and enjoyed his fresh, delicious orange juice!



We ended up keeping the same books from last week for another week. There were so many and for some reason, we didn't read as much last week as we normally do so I don't feel he totally enjoyed them all in just the initial week.

1. The Sea Of Sleep by Warren Hansen
2. What Animals Really Like by Fiona Robinson
3. Park Beat by Jonathan London
4. The Gypsy Princess by Phoebe Gilman
5. Birdsongs by Betsy Franco
6. Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga'g
7. Box Turtle At Long Pond by William T. George
8. The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos
9. Freedom School, Yes! by Amy Littlesugar
10. Scribbles and Ink by Ethan Long
11. Matzohball Soup by Joan Rothenberg
12. Curious George Makes Pancakes by HA Rey
13. Curious George and the Animals by HA Rey
14. Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpillar by Clare Jarret
15. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
16. Roses For Gita by Rachna Gilmore
17. Brown Rabbit In The City by Natalie Russell
18. Mossy by Jan Brett

Tot School Montessori Monday


  1. Ohhhh, I love this. I hope I don't sound weird, but I feel like I was right there with you and Ethan sweeping carrots!

    Where do you get all the ideas for these activities? I absolutely love it!

    1. Haha, not weird at all! You can come sweep carrots with us anytime!

      Nicole at The Kavanaugh Report blog was my Tot School inspiration. I fell in love with her posts and found myself doing so many of the sensory projects just for fun that I just decided to "do" tot school with Ethan. There are lots of great link-ups online and ideas on Pinterest for motor skills and sensory activities per age, so it's been a great resource! Now that we've been at it a few months, I'm able to see what areas Ethan enjoys, struggles with and excels at so I kind of wing it week to week!

  2. So, what is tot school? Like a weekly teaching/ learning session between you and Ethan, so he can work on developing his fine motor skills, etc?

    1. Pretty much! I first heard about Tot School through Nicole at the Kavanaugh Report blog and fell in love with the idea. So far we've worked on colors (in general) for a few weeks and now individual colors. Next we'll move to shapes, etc. It's been a great thing for Ethan and I. There are no official tot school "hours," it's whenever he wants to go in and whenever he wants to leave. Some weeks he looooooooves tot school more than anything in the world, other times he wants to do things once and he's done. I leave it up to him so it stays a fun, play-based learning experience. It's been so cool to watch him learn.

    2. That is such a cool idea! So I assume you have a dedicated room that is only used for tot school, and not any other playing, etc? You seem like such an amazing mama to little Ethan :)

  3. Love your post, thanks for linking up to Tot School, I remember the days of exploring with my oldest son when he was the only one {he's 10 now}, time flies!

    1. Awwww! Time totally does fly, I can only imagine how it never slows down. We just booked my son's 2nd birthday party and I can't even wrap my mind around that!

  4. Love all your activities-- the sweeping carrots activity using a cleaning brush was very creative!

    1. Thanks! He loves to sweep around the house, so I thought a toddler-sized brush might be fun for him! :)

  5. Your activities are fantastic and it looks like Ethan is enthralled. I love your reading list too - I'm a huge fan of your "tot school" posts. xx - Monica

    1. Thank you!! Tot School has been such an awesome experience for us!

  6. I am definitely bookmarking this page!! Great ideas.

  7. Love these ideas! You are so right, sometimes the ideas I think are the most "boring" are the ones my twins love the most. I love how organized you are with your ideas!
    Stephanie @ www.two-daloo.com

    1. Thank you! Yes, why is that? I'm always disappointed when the ones I cannot WAIT for him to see end up being his least favorite, haha!

      I'm only organized on the first day...after that, our tot school classroom somehow becomes CHAOS! There's no controlling toddlers, I'm afraid! Haha.

  8. I love your creative ideas, Lindsay! And it's always fun to hear about Ethan's interests for the week! Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page: www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow


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