tot school - 20 months

This past week was black week in tot school, which is essentially the last of our color specific plans for the time being. I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks doing a comprehensive color unit and then move onto letters, which I'm super excited for after fawning over Nicole's fabulous letter curriculum! Anyway, back to black week -- it was a pretty fabulous week and we carried out tot school completely different than usual. Ethan spent most of the week cooped up in the house not feeling well and there were no tot trays this week. Instead, we spent the week doing different sensory and art projects -- all of which Ethan just had an absolute blast with. The more that time goes on, the more Ethan is completely captivated by making and creating art. He has little patience for many things, like a typical toddler, but manages to sit and paint or craft with all of the focus in the world. I love his little creative spirit, and we had a blast with our differently structured black week in tot school!


This was inspired by one of Stephanie's super fun sensory activities. Only I couldn't find a cardboard box big enough to house Ethan, so I set off to Wal-Mart where I purchased a $2 laundry basket and about six pounds of dry black beans. I decided to use black beans only to incorporate black week into the mix and I was totally surprised when Ethan already knew the color black. He eagerly watched me dump the beans into the basket while muttering "back beeeees!" repeatedly and it was that moment I realized he can already point out the color black upon request. It made me feel a little better about being a little delayed on our tot trays for the week!

I did use clear packing tape to make "bumpers" -- sticky side pointing outward -- to keep most of the beans inside the basket, but there were some strays. Some made it on the floor a little more "accidentally" than others. Ethan was absolutely enamored with this activity. I always have to restrict his activity when he has his breathing issues which, as the parent to any toddler knows, can be next to impossible. Apparently all it took was a laundry basket and some black beans, because Ethan was content sitting in this basket playing for hours each day.

Ethan also loved making "hats" (seen above) and "boats" out of the various kitchen utensils in his basket. It was pretty cool to watch his imagination really start to come into focus during his playtime!

We also discovered that the black beans made some fun noise and spent some time over the week gathering various containers to fill with the beans and make musical instruments:


Even though the blackberries turned red, pink and purple during this activity more than they were actually black, Ethan still had a blast with this activity. Lately he's been really into cooking so he loved the idea of doing an art project that began in the kitchen. The first thing we did was put the blackberries into a pot:

(Not that all of the blackberries made it into the pot, of course.)

Ethan helped me add just enough water to the pot to barely cover the blackberries. I then put the pot on the stove over medium-high heat until it was bubbling and just about boiling (Ethan sat this part out on the floor, playing with pots and pans!) while stirring frequently and smashing the blackberries up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the berries were smashed and nearly boiling, I poured them into a bowl and let them sit on the countertop to cool.

By this time, it was time to move the activity out on our front doorstep. Ethan observed that the blackberries were no longer black, but now red. He also noted that the tie-dye tasted delicious and kept dipping his fingers into the "dye" while I wrapped a plain white t-shirt up with rubberbands.

The finished shirt came out pink, which Ethan apparently thought was funny. We let the shirt air dry for the rest of the day. By the time Ethan was ready to model it the next day, it was a subdued purple hue. Ethan thinks it's the neatest thing ever. I'm too nervous to wash it, so we've turned it into his art smock. This way, he can wear it frequently and we won't have to worry about washing it.

As I mentioned a little earlier, Ethan's been sick and then we've been having some new issues with his breathing likely triggered by the fact we're experiencing some cold, cold weather down here all of the sudden. Our time out of the house has been a little limited, so Ethan's Saturday outing was super special.

Ethan's grandpa (my dad) has a pretty interesting career in the sense it's, well, kind of unique. He has a television show on NBC Sports and also does a national seminar tour each year. This past Saturday was the local South Florida show, so Ethan got to have his first outing in some time be a special one: watching Grandpa in action! We weren't able to stay the whole time, but long enough for Ethan to watch his Grandpa on stage and then have a quick lunch. It was a fun and special day!


Ethan was really into art this week, which as I mentioned is a passion that just keeps on growing as he does. We did a whole lot of art this week, from the potato stamps to making masterpieces with a EZPaint and sponge stampers. Can I take a minute to gush about how much I love Twisty Noodle? Their free coloring pages and print-outs come in handy when you're stuck indoors with an under the weather toddler.

Somehow this week Ethan found one of our leftover Disney park tickets from our trip. He asked if he could paint "the mouse." (He's got "Minnie" down, but Mickey is still "the mouse!") He spent about fifteen minutes excitedly making this EZPaint masterpiece on the Mickey pass and then proudly asked "wall?!" Of course, Mickey was an asset to our masterpiece wall!

Also this week, I noticed that Ethan is more into asking me to create art with him instead of just watching him. He's been handing me paints or brushes and instructing me to paint with him, so we've been doing a lot of that as well.


Since I added the music listening station to our Tot School room, it's quickly become a huge hit. Ethan loves choosing vinyl records from the closet and watching them spin though I've had to remind him frequently he can't lift and drop the record needle at his leisure as a record is playing! This week, Ethan has really enjoyed the Rolling Stones Goats Head Soup album (side A at least, side B is a little too questionable for Tot School!). The album belonged to my dad at one point, but the album cover has my name written all over it in my little kid scrawl. I used to always take my dad's albums when I was little (actually, I guess I still do -- point proven!) and I guess this one was a favorite of mine, too. It's always cool to see things like this passed down and still providing so much happiness despite the decades that have gone by.


After a couple of annoying months of "boundary issues," we finally got our new library card this past week. It's safe to say that Ethan is hugely obsessed with our new library. I love how friendly the children's wing is and how filled with natural light it is, and the fact there are huge stuffed characters and animals (like the Elmo seen with Ethan!) for the children to read with. It's been an entirely different experience than the scary, old far-away library we'd been having to drive to and I can't wait to implement our library trips back into our weekly routine.

This week, Ethan chose the following books from the library:

Curious George Rides A Bike by HA Rey
Espossumondas by Coleen Salley
Timothy Tugbottom Says No! by Anne Tyler
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea
Curious George Visits a Toy Store by HA Rey
Max's Toys by Rosemary Wells
Curious George and the Birthday Surprise by HA Rey
I Love Trains by Philemon Sturges
Curious George Vists the Library by HA Rey

As usual, Ethan's favorite are the Curious George books. He loved Curious George and the Birthday Surprise so much that he picked out at the bookstore as well. All of the books were pretty successful this week, though Ethan was a lot happier flipping through I Love Trains and muttering "choo choo" rather than reading the actual parts to the trains pictured!


Tot School Montessori MondayI Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flash CardsFor the Kids Friday


  1. It really has to be a treat seeing a lil adorable guy like yours learning the world!!! =)

  2. Very creative ideas! I never would have come up with this myself. I'm planning on making tomorrow a home day-- we've been go, go, go! this black-bean boat idea will make it enjoyable for everyone. Thanks for sharing!

  3. How fun! Your ideas are great...I especially love the tie dye with berries! I would love to invite you to link up at our Share It Saturday linky party. We have lots of creative ideas submitted each week and you would fit right in! http://www.sugaraunts.com/2013/03/share-it-saturday-10-and-our-week-in.html

    Hope to see you there!

    Colleen at Sugar Aunts

  4. Completely random question but where did you get that cup that Ethan is holding in the black bean pictures? Love it!

    1. The one with the red rubber rim? It's actually a little espresso shot glass and it came from Sur La Table on clearance a couple of years back -- I want to say the Christmas season of 2009?

      Here they are online:

      I got them for a dollar and change, though! They are super cute.


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