Tot School - Week 1 - Red Week

*Linking up to Tot School Gathering!*

In all the years that we have homeschooled, I have never 'tot schooled' - until now! If you are reading this, this is my first EVER tot school post, but hopefully only the first of MANY :)

Buddy Boy is 31 months (2 1/2 yrs) old

I managed to get Buddy Boy to be still for some first day of school pictures. In the second picture, he is 'showing me how old he is'!

As of this point, Buddy Boy knows many of his letter sounds, and names, thanks to Leap Frog Letters videos (this one in particular), due to the fact that he watched the video almost DAILY last year. He does not have shapes or numbers mastered, although he can count verbally, he does not associate numbers with amounts. He does not have a good recognition of color names, although he can sometimes match up the colors without the vocabulary. With that in mind, that's where we started.

Week 1: RED WEEK

As I said before, I have never attempted anything like this, so a few weeks ago, I scoured through my stash (which takes up way too much room anyway) for anything red, and shoved it all in a basket to do with what I could. Out of that, I was able to make five trays and one stuffed sensory basket (note to self: get a bigger basket soon!)

Here are the trays for this color:

And our sensory basket....

The contents are:
 RED apple and RED handled knife to cut it (Melissa and Doug Cutting Food crate)
RED magnetic numbers - dollar store/Walmart find
RED pom-pom balls - Walmart
Two RED fire trucks - one from Target Dollar Spot, one from a wooden knobbed puzzle
RED bear family counters (similar to these)
RED balloon - dollar store cut-out
RED stretchy key chain - Target Dollar Spot
RED freezable ice cubes - strawberries, squares, and diamonds - Dollar Tree and Target Dollar Spot
RED trapezoid - from a chunky shapes puzzle
RED small elephant cookie cutter 
RED box (shown full of poms) - Dollar Tree
RED scoops - Betty Crocker measuring spoons
RED mini-saxophone - found online in a mass bundle of mini objects from an Etsy shop, although I couldn't tell you where now!
RED Christmas bells 
RED/white erasers - Target Dollar Spot
RED things book - printed from ABC teach for free, colored, laminated, ribbon bound with (you guessed it!) RED ribbon

These were Buddy Boy's favorites from the sensory bin. The red Christmas bells, otherwise known as the 'ding dings', and the sports ball erasers. He rolled the erasers, threw them into the sensory basket as a game, and even played catch with me with the erasers, while I took the opportunity to add in sorting and identify the differences of 'red ball' and 'red stripes' with each one, through talking to him.

Now that you have seen what I offered, I'll show you some pictures I was able to sneak in without trying to be too much of a distraction to him working (and before my camera battery decided to die!)

The first tray he chose was a pouring work, pouring red beads (cut off a bead necklace that we got from a local parade at Christmas time). He really enjoyed this tray - I'm not sure if it was because he really likes to pour, or if he just did so well because it was the first tray of the morning.

The next tray was a beginning pattern tray. I had four red foam hand shapes and four red foam star shapes on the tray (both from the Target Dollar Spot). I used a lot of vocabulary with this tray, making sure to point out the RED hands and RED stars, and alternating them. He enjoyed it - once. It just wasn't enough to keep his attention at the moment.

He moved straight on to the sensory basket, and STAYED there for atleast 20 minutes, maybe a little longer! He LOVED it, to say the least. I already mentioned the different ways that we played with the items.

At one point he decided it really would be a great idea to just dump it on his work mat. If you look to the right, you can see how I lined up each ball eraser as he played toss with me.

One-To-One Correspondence/Fine Motor Skills
He has used trays like this before, so it was nothing new, but still fun!

This tray had quantity/symbol/written word cards from Montessori Print Shop Free Downloads and red unifix blocks. The point was to place one red block on top of each red dot. We did NOT use this for counting - my focus was simply on the color red, and the cards just so happened to have red dots. I only used the first five cards (numbers 1-5).

If you don't see a picture of him doing a particular tray that I set out, it's because he was either 1. Not interested in it long enough to get a picture - towards the end of our time together he was wearing out and ready to be finished, which means he didn't stick with a tray for very long, or 2. My phone had already died before I could get a good picture!

These trays were all completed in an area outside of the school room. There were other Montessori works he did in the school room, which will be added in to our end of the week post, but these trays were placed on both levels of our coffee table, and specified as Buddy Boy's school trays. The plan is to keep them out until lunch time, then put them away daily on the top of our shelves in the school room and only have them out for the morning hours. 

Today was his first day, and for never having done tot school before, he did really well. I think we spent a total time of about an hour, maybe more, doing his trays together. I should have made a point of checking the time tomorrow to see how long he stayed busy. I am planning on doing a new color weekly, but if he still seems to be enjoying the trays on Friday, and not getting bored, or if he has not yet mastered the color red visually, I may leave them out another week to see how he does.

Linking up to Tot School Gathering Place at 1+1+1=1! For more GREAT tot school ideas, go check out the tot school link-up!


  1. Yay! I'm so glad you finally started! I look forward to reading all your posts! Great first week!

    1. Thanks! I knew it would be fun, but didn't realize just how much fun he would have, or how much he really needed the *me* time - he could learn all these things in time, so I think my motivation is not just getting a chance to work with him on these fundamental areas, bt having that time with him, because he soaked it up like a sponge!

  2. What a great group of activities! And I love the 1 to 1 Montessori counting cards! I've been meaning to start doing that sort of thing soon (maybe when we "officially" start Tot School in the next week or so xx

    1. Thank you so much! I have been telling myself all summer to get started, and finally decided to stop putting it off and MAKE sure I made the time, and I am so glad! :) I hope you have a great time when you start your tot school - it's definitely worth the time and effort!

  3. Thank you for sharing! Where did you buy the trays?

    1. I got all my trays at the Dollar Tree, believe it or not! I really think that they are the best, next to wooden trays that is, because they have no color or distraction to take away from the work. I do have other types of fun trays that I use occasionally if they match the work I am doing somehow, but these are my go-to trays! You can get them in the wedding section of Dollar Tree, as well as small bowls and the cups that you saw pictured!

    2. Thank you. I will check again there. Hopefully I will find them.

  4. I just found your blog yesterday. Lovin it!!! Love that you love the Lord. Love that you have small spaces and a budget just like me. That you are doing montessori inspired activities. I have just started getting ready to do more trays with my 3.5 and 1.5 yr old boys. My biggest hurdle is clean-up. And keeping them from throwing everything everywhere! And keeping up with putting out fresh new things. My oldest is very active and it takes something good to hold his attn. And then he's done in 5 minutes! But after this long weekend I am making another attempt to get things going again. My new mantra is "imperfect progress is still progress". Being a perfectionist has held me back too long. It may get messy (actually it will get messy haha!) but at least we'll be moving forward. I've got your blog on my toolbar and will be coming back for more ideas and more encouragement. Thanks!

    1. Oh my - you have touched my heart! It is truly my blessing! Believe me when I say, I am RIGHT where you are. I don't know how many days I stop and have to ask the Lord again if He is completely sure that I am capable. That was one reason why I started this blog in the first place - so many times I would get discouraged and go blog-hopping through my favorites to get the drive to keep going, so I wanted to be a blessing to someone else one day, Lord willing. :) Don't give up - it's worth it! When you are having 'one of those days' - remember, we all have them. :) And yes - it gets VERY messy - I am the same way about allowing the mess - I have to work at it! I am so glad you stopped by, and hope you get some great ideas and encouragement each time you come!


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I would love to hear what you think of this post! I do pray it has been a blessing, and would be honored to hear your ideas and suggestions!

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