Tot School: How God Made the World

Ryce Man & Lil G are 14 months old. Ryce Man is my son, and Lil G comes over to play and learn with us during the week.

Maybe you’ve been wondering what we would be learning about this week?? That’s right – I didn’t tell you. About a week ago, I realized I hadn’t added any activities to the planned theme I originally had, so I decided to go a totally new route and make something up myself.

Something I’ve been seeing a lot on Pinterest is Bible-based homeschooling and using the Bible as the main text…. spelling words from the Bible, History from the Bible, Science from the Bible, etc. While my tots aren’t quite ready for all that, we did do our own Bible-based tot-schooling this week. I took a children’s Bible story book ldjf;jfldjf;lajf;llajd;f to be exact, and made up my own lessons from the story. We can read and review the story each day and do activities to go along with it. I love it, and it’s perfect for toddlers!

So this week we read “How God Made the World” (I’ve actually got two more weeks of activities planned for this story so I guess you could consider this a unit Bible study.) We’re doing lots of animal review and nature review, as this is the story of Creation. This particular version of the Creation Story is wonderful because it’s several pages long, with excellent pictures and reads like a story – not just a short paragraph like some children’s Bibles do.

Here is what i had planned for the week:

Sensory – Make something with Play-doh. (God liked to make things, & we like to make things.)
Sensory Sand Bin with Shells

Spatial (Building & Construction) – Make something with wooden blocks; Clippos; Waffle Blocks. Melissa & Doug Shape Stacker
*I’m trying to do something building & construction-related with the boys every day as well as work a puzzle together. I didn’t plan the puzzles ahead of time, just noted the ones we worked during the week.

Fine Motor – Put coins in a globe bank. (Closely supervised!!) -They actually did great with this!
String PVC Pipe rings (left from our d.i.y. gym). (Closely supervised as well!!)

Reading – Use Bible Class Method for a Circle Time of singing and reading the story

Word Wall – Review at least one section daily: Colors, numbers, first words & pictures, body parts

Planned Art – Add sand to paper to make the dry land with hills. Add grass, leaves, and beans for plants that grow.

Art Journals – daily if time allows (Free Art for Creative expression)

Gross Motor – Baby to Big Kid Gym, Swinging Outside, Beginners walking program

Our Favorite Activity This Week: Lil G picked it up immediately and did better than I even expected from this two. Ryce Man got frustrated because his coins wouldn’t go in at first, but as the week progressed he figured out how to do it too. This held their attention and focus for quite some time. (Whoever said children have short attention spans? lol) This activity was just challenging enough for them. I let Ryce Man keep a quarter out each time he did it over the weekend to spend when we went to support Daddy playing church softball!
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One afternoon we caught this lizard in Ryce Man’s closet. Yes, I know, right?! We carried him to his home outside, and I let Ryce Man look at him to see his reaction. He immediately tried to grab him. Typical Boy!

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Arts & Crafts – We used sand from our sand bin to make the “dry land” that God made. We also added dry beans for little gardens. We made a grass collage, and we finger painted a crescent for the moon God made.
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Favorite Reading Spot – This is an infant tub we got out to play with in the pool this Summer (not to be used as a safety device or floatie), but ever since it’s been the perfect spot to read and relax! 
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Ryce Man’s Climbing Adventures- 

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Mr. Independent fixed himself a snack this week… by reaching on the counter to get this banana. He, then, proceeded to eat it by mushing it out the ends. Whatever works! I’d like to have a real snack station set up for him soon. It’s in-the-process of being created.

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With toddlers in the house, I’m finding more and more messes like these. But it is pretty impressive that as soon as I hear “Uh-oh”, I see him begin to pick them back up without me even asking. Proud mommy moment!

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Squatting and Reading an upside-down book…

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And guess who turned 14 months old this week?! 

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Thanks for visiting our Tot School! Until next week!

Linking up at…
Gathering Place from 1plus1plus1equals1

Bible Class (Baby & Toddler Curriculum)

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This past week on Pinterest, I found this curriculum for Babies and Toddlers and knew immediately it would be perfect for our church nursery. I watched the video she posted and was amazed at how she engaged the attention of the small children and even the baby in the video! They all seemed very eager and excited to come to Bible Class with her, and I knew I wanted to the same for our toddlers at church as well!

I printed the pdf file and gathered some of our toys and supplies from home.

I put them together in my ThirtyOne Bag that I had originally purposed for our homeschooling, but we haven’t really used it yet. These bags are great for organization, and I also use one for my son’s diaper bag! This is my sister’s referral page for ThirtyOne if you’re interested!

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Here’s what I’ve got inside…
*Read-Aloud Bible Stories (How God Made the World) to tell of Creation (Any children’s bible or storybook with creation could work)
*A Globe Bank (found a while back at a local thrift store) – It’s small and perfect for letting the children hold as we sing “He’s got the whole
world in His hands”. (Any type of globe could work)
*Flashlights
*Small Bibles
*Small mirrors
*Curriculum Printouts (I cut mine, laminated them, and used a cable tie to attach them – don’t judge!) 😉 
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Also inside…
*Container of Transportation toys – boats, planes, cars, etc. (for how we got to Bible class)
*Container of Fruits and Vegetable Toys (for plants God made)
*Container of Animals
The containers fit perfectly inside my bag and keep the different categories separate.

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So here’s how our very first Bible Class Experience went in our church nursery…
Once all of the toddlers were dropped off in the nursery, we cleaned up the toys they had been free-playing with. This would help keep the distractions put away as we tried to have a structured time with them. They haven’t really had any structured time in the past, but we’ve been in the process of searching for what could work for this young age.

We have rubber “Dots” as we call them that we lay out for the children to sit on so they each have their own spot. Our room is small so we don’t have a table with chairs for the entire group. We had 10-12 kids on this particular Sunday, but someone we got them all sitting, ready to see what we were about to do. They watched and listened. I’m sure they were confused because all of this was totally new to them.

I rolled up one of the dots to look through like you would a paper towel tube or something, and I sang the song about who came to Bible Class. I found each one of them with my tube, and some of them were excited to see that I found them or I was calling their name.

We sang the song about how they came to Bible Class, and I let them each hold a car from the box as we did so. We passed around the small Bibles as we sang “We love the Bible”.

Then, they absolutely loved this next activity! I pulled out the mirrors and sang to each one of them their name, and how they are special because God made them with brown hair and blue eyes, etc. They LOVED seeing themselves in the mirror!

We looked at the pictures in the creation story I had and played with the toy food, then the animals as we sang the animal songs in the curriculum. We sang about the animals that fly or swim or hop, even the sounds that some of them make. (I have plenty of animals at home, so many that we could have different animals each week and they’d never see the same animals twice.)

We pulled the baby dolls from the shelf in the room and sang “Jesus loves the little children”. (I didn’t personally have baby dolls to contribute as I am a boy mom right now.) We sang “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands”, as we passed the globe around.

We prayed a simple children’s song prayer I remembered from my preschool teaching days. We cleaned up the toys, and passed out snack cups.

My Review
The experience we had was amazing with these little ones. I’m so impressed with how well it held their attention. It took up some of our time. We weren’t just babysitting them as they played freely with toys. They had adult interaction, and we had intentional time with them to teach them. I was blessed by the experience, and I think the other nursery volunteers serving were as well. I think each of the children felt special and loved during this time, and that is our goal! This curriculum was FREE, just a printout of 3 pages. The items were easy to collect because I have children in my home, but that would be the only thing you’d have to spend money on if you’d like to duplicate this idea. I would recommend it to anyone with babies or toddlers, and I’m currently doing it with my toddlers in Tot School at home as well. It’s the same basic outline everyday, but there are so many ways you can extend it to provide a new experience each day, although it’s not necessary because children love repetition!

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the cards, but you can print the curriculum for yourself by following this link.
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I’d love to hear about what you currently use for baby and toddler Bible curriculum or if you decide to use this one – how it goes for you!

D.I.Y. Baby-to-Big-Kid Gym

I saw the post for this D.I.Y. Gym from Doman Mom and knew our little climber needed one! It has many uses too – beyond just a gym.
It can be a play gym for an infant – just attach those baby links for them to look up at and swat.
For an infant learning to pull up and walk – it gives them something to hold on to and cruise around.
It can also be a fort – just throw a blanket over it.
Doman Mom also says it can be used as a basketball goal or a soccer goal.

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I recommend following Doman Mom’s Suggestions for building this gym yourself. I used an actual pipe cutter to cut the pipes which made the process a bit easier. I also used read pipe cement or glue to give the pieces extra hold. I don’t want it falling apart with my little man on it.

I pinned her post to my Pinterest board and opened the post in the hardware store to show them which pieces I needed. That made the process easy, since I didn’t know the names of all of the connector pieces. I also purchased Duct Tape to cover the pipes to give it a little color. I looked at the WIDE variety of duct tape options, but I decided to keep mine the same Blue & Green because I want it to be semi-gender neutral for future children in our home who might use it. Yes, I probably could’ve found a sock monkey or classic super hero theme, but if we ever re-decorate Ryce Man’s room, I would have to re-do the pipes as well.

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Special thanks to Ryce Man’s Papa for purchasing our supplies for us!
Special thanks to our local hardware store and great friends for their business and special ordering our parts for us!

Trash to Treasure

We Homeschool Moms have all re-purposed things in our homes to use with our kids… muffin tins, ice trays, plastic swimming pools, etc. Here are two of my latest re-purposed items that I’ve discovered…  

Can anyone guess what this is? It’s now being used to hold our markers, but before it held the Swiffer Wet Wipes. You know my boy loves to use the Swiffer Sweeper! The label peeled off easily, and it fits perfectly in our workboxes!
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We just built a Baby-to-Big-Kid Gym for our little climber, but was I going to let all that extra PVC pipe go to waste? You bet not. I cut it into smaller rings to use for stringing practice with my little tot. Yes, this could be a choking hazard, but I’ll always be watching him closely when he uses them. Besides, it’s very difficult to find beads for beginners with a large enough hole to get a lacing string through – well, at least ones that don’t cost me an arm and a leg. Win win!
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What are somethings you’ve discovered a new use for in your homeschool?

Setting my Feet on the Right Path

“How can I profess to be a Christian to others when I spend more time planning out school lessons, doing chores and planning out meals for my family than I do spending time with the God who GAVE me the blessings I am working so hard to take care of? How can I “walk worthy of the calling” if I don’t take time to even set my feet on the “right Path”?” 

Ouch.

This little paragraph from this article hit me right between the eyes. She’s referring to our time spent with God each day, and this is definitely something I struggle with as well. I have good intentions of keeping up with my bedtime and morning routines so that I don’t wake up to dirty dishes in the sink and piles and piles of dirty laundry. I try not to hit the snooze in the morning or spend time on Pinterest before getting out of bed so that I can get up and spend quiet time alone with my God. The undone chores call me and distract me each morning from my time with Him.

Yes, I have chores that I do in the mornings that work well for me- sweeping the floors, general tidying up – I don’t do well at staying up late to get these things done. I try to at least get the dishes rinsed and soaking before bedtime so that all I have to do in the mornings is rinse the soap off of them and put them in the drying rack. I get my few morning chores done, and I love to spend time with God while I eat my breakfast in the morning.

The mornings that the chores are done and I have time to sit quietly reading and praying are always more glorious than the ones where I don’t get to. Sometimes I struggle to comprehend what I’m reading and say shorter prayers throughout the day instead, which is okay, but not as ideal. I’m blessed to have a little one who sleeps until 7:30ish and can feed himself the breakfast I prepare. Of course, I do have a big mess to clean afterwards (He is only 13 months after all ), but it allows me to read or pray some more or read aloud to him which I do from time to time.

I’d love to hear about your morning/bedtime routines and how you fit in your quiet time with God each day…

Children love structure.

My husband made the comment a while back saying the boys were like robots because when I told them “Okay, let’s sit in the chairs,” they both did so right away. It was time for lunch, and they know that they have to sit in their chairs so I can give them their plates of food.

Yes, they’re only 13 months old, but children thrive on structure. I’m giving them lots and lots of structure because I love structure too! It makes my life so much easier – knowing what to expect, how things will flow, and what not. (I know how to plan my daily projects and activities around their daily routine. That way they get my full attention during their waking hours.)

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For meals and snacks- Rather than having them wander around and grabbing a bite here and there in between their activities, they sit down together at a specific time (or times throughout the day). It’s not so much of a set schedule, but a routine that they are used to that they’ve grown to love.

If they aren’t hungry, no big deal, they’ll eat at the next meal or snack time, but they do have to sit and wait for the other to finish their meal or snack. It just makes sense. If one tot goes off to play because he’s not hungry, what do you think the other tot is going to want to do? Exactly. That’s why we sit together for our meal and snack times. If I only had one little one, I’m sure it would be more relaxed (and it is like that on the weekends when we only have our own son here.)

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During the week, I have two slots of time during the day where I fit in our planned, Tot School activities. One is in the morning after breakfast and before morning snack and nap. The other is after lunch and before afternoon snack and nap.

It’s basically the same routine that repeats itself.
Free Play – Breakfast – Tot School – A.M. Snack – Nap – Free Play (while I prepare lunch) – Lunch – Tot School – P.M. Snack – Nap

Our morning Tot School usually takes place in Ryce Man’s room. I tell them, “Let’s go to Ryce Man’s room”, and  they excitedly follow me down the hall. We do our Character (Bible Story), Small Object Play, Math, Spatial (usually blocks or puzzles), and Reading. We may finish in the kitchen with our Planned Art if it’s messy. Our afternoon Tot School usually includes movement (Beginner’s Walking Program), Sensory Bins (usually done outside), and Writing (Free Art in our Journals).

Our times are flexible, and I try to fit in as many of our activities as I can in our morning Tot School time, but I know that between 9:30 and 10:00 the boys will start to get a little cranky ready for their snack and morning nap. I try not to push it with times too much with them, as we also have that afternoon slot to get things done.

I really think the boys love the structure of having a routine and knowing what to expect each day. They don’t have to cry or fuss for me to feed them – they know about the time I’ll be giving them a snack or feeding them lunch. They wake up eager to play and see what activities I have planned for them. They get excited when I give them instructions for transitions during the day “Let’s go eat a snack” or “Let’s go take our nap now”. They say “nack” for snack or “night night”, and my robots are the cutest little things ever.

They are happy. They are smart. They are thriving because of this structure in our daily activities.
I love the structure we have in place, and I think they do too!

Tot School: The Day Sky

Ryce Man is 13.5 months old, and Lil G is 14 months old. Ryce Man is my son, and Lil G comes over to play and learn with us each day while his mommy is at work. (My Tot School posts contain affiliate links.)

This week I’m introducing a few new vocabulary words with “The Day Sky” as my theme. My inspiration for this week’s theme was this post by Like Mama Like Daughter. I’ll admit it was pretty difficult for me to come up with activities for this week. I think all of the “Rotating Toys and Activities” has also been getting to me because I don’t feel like we have enough space for the things that aren’t being used. I think we’ll be going back to our bins on the shelves for now and save the baskets and more-Montessori for later when the boys are a little older. The baskets and trays were not holding up so well with two destructive boys who like to stand and sit on them 😉

My plans for this week’s Tot School…

Character – I’ve been reading a bible story each day from our children’s bible. We discuss the characters and pictures we see on the pages.

Language – Sky, Cloud, Sun, Rain, Rainbow, Balloon, Bird, Airplane, Umbrella

Movement – Beginners Walking Program, Blow Cotton Balls and Watch them move across the floor, Pretend to fly like airplanes

Small Objects – Put rings around craft sticks, Spikey Balls to push through a hold in the lid of a container (d.i.y.)

Senses – Cotton balls, yellow foam circle suns, cards from our Memory game that represent things in the sky; Shaving cream; Ivory Soap Clouds (microwaved); Cloud dough (8 cups flour & 1 cup of baby oil)

Writing – Fingerpaint a sun template with yellow and orange; cloud painting (equal parts school glue and shaving cream); Glue cotton balls to paper like clouds; paint with cotton balls on a cloud template with blue; color rain drop templates blue and attach with yarn from cloud template

SpatialWaffle Blocks, wooden blocks, clippos

Math – Match one to one suns and clouds; count suns; count clouds; sort suns and clouds

ReadingLittle Cloud by Eric Carle and other books that the children “throw” at me to read 😉

Here’s how our week of Tot School went…

I’ve seen this activity several times both on Pinterest and blogs of other tot-schooling moms. This is the first time I’ve tried it with my little ones. I think when I saw it on Pinterest, they used uncooked spaghetti noodles, Play-doh, and cheerios to practice the Fine Motor Skills, but a few weeks ago I saw the idea to use Pipe-Cleaner Rings, Craft Sticks, and Play-doh.

Ryce Man wasn’t sure about this activity – he thought it was a snack-on-a-stick at first, even after I demonstrated what he was supposed to do with it. We’re apparently still in the oral stage and taste everything. I modified this activity twice during the time we spent with it as you can see below. First, I tried putting away the Play-doh and holding the stick for him to put the rings on. Then, I tried to get him to put the rings on my fingers. I think we’ll wait a while before we try this activity again – He may not be ready quite yet.

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I made these “Suns” to go along with our theme and to use for math activities. Math is my least favorite area to teach, and I struggle with making myself do it each week… you know counting, sorting, etc. I don’t know why this is, but I figured if I spent time making something, it would force me to work on math with the boys. I’m not sure the exact goal of this activity, but it’s something I’ve seen all over with Tot Schooling and putting different objects in sections of ice trays and muffin tins, etc. That’s what we did here, and we also counted them. Mom points right here for getting it done!

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I made the “Cloud Dough” this week to go along with our Day Sky Theme, but it seemed to be almost exactly the same as our Moon Sand we have. I’m not sure if I did the recipe correctly. Perhaps I should add more Baby Oil to make it more dough-y. The boys looked at it and scooped a few times, but wanted to just play outside and explore instead. They probably would’ve been more interested in it if we did it inside, but I’m just not that brave. (Our Wal-Mart only had one of those plastic pools left when we checked, and it was cracked. Boo.)
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I saw the idea to build a Baby-to-Big Kid Gym from Doman Mom, and immediately knew we needed to try this with our little climber! We picked up the supplies from our local Hardware store and got busy on it. The gym isn’t quite complete yet – we have to glue the pieces together and duct tape the pipes to make it look cooler. (Full Post Coming Soon!) We let the boys test it out, and they loved it immediately! Then, they disassembled it and carried the pieces around. Boys!

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Just as I said before, I knew they would be more interested in this sensory bin if it were inside. My little climber found where I’d put it away (not too far away I guess). And yes, he did love it. He loved throwing it too, which I didn’t love so much. 
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“Now they’re really gonna think we’re twins!”

On Wednesday, Lil G wore the same outfit as my little Ryce Man. These boys are one-week apart in age so it’s pretty much like I have twins. All day long, I had to glance twice to see who I was talking to.

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Painting our rain clouds with cotton balls. Of course, they like to taste the paint too.

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I put this set together to make a few, large waffle blocks. The boys loved them! The blocks were just big enough to hold one of the plastic balls we have so I put one inside which really baffled the boys when they shook them but couldn’t get them out. I took one end off the block, and they had fun putting the ball in and taking it out. 

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you won’t be surprised to see that the boys like to dump things out and stand on the containers. We do that with pretty much every activity.
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With our theme of “The Day Sky” I planned several activities with cotton balls. I’m not sure where this particular idea came from but it was to blow cotton balls and watch them move across the floor. The boys loved this activity. I placed it under the category of “Movement” on my planning sheet, and rightfully so – I sat in one place and blew them across the floor. The boys would chase them and bring them back to me for me to do it again. I love how simple things can be so much fun for them!

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The boys found the box of tissues I had in the living room and attempted to “roll” my living room. This was done very quickly too, in under a minute before I discovered what they’d done.

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An example of what NOT to do in Tot School – 

This boy just keeps going to more levels of danger each and every day. I’m never surprised to find him on top of a table, but I wish he would be more careful. He has no fear, and that’s scary to me since he’s only 13 months old right now.

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Cloud Sorting & Counting
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We had several sensory bins this week. I wanted to do one with cotton balls, and I really wasn’t sure what to add. I am pretty proud of the way it turned out though – using cards from our Memory game we have.

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Our Updated “Word & Picture Wall” – The boys love pointing to pictures as I name them (with some accuracy). 
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