Sunday, August 8, 2021

Tot School Week in Review: August 2-6

 This was our last week of relaxed tot school before we start formal homeschool next week! All of my kids will begin on Monday - an 8th, 6th, and 4th grader along with my preschooler, Zeke! We did some fun toddler school activities, but we mainly played and enjoyed some outside time. Here are the tot trays Zeke did this week:

Craft Stick Sorting

I gave Zeke some craft sticks in six colors and a popsicle mold, and he sorted them all by color. Sorting by color is definitely something he is comfortable with since he's been doing it well over a year now. These "easy" tot trays build his confidence and help foster independent play. 

Mini Sensory Bin

I also tested out a mini sensory bin with Zeke this week because I'm planning to have one new one each week for him. This one contained two bags of colored fish tank pebbles from the Dollar Tree, a wooden scoop, and two small plastic containers. He had so much fun with this and it kept him entertained for about half an hour.

Clothespin Color Clip

I made these colored pencil cards, laminated and cut them apart and gave Zeke some colored clothespins. He had to clip the matching clothespins on the pencils. He did such a good job with this! He finally got the hang of using the clothespins, which is great because I have plenty of ideas for this!

Silly Straw Threading

This is an activity Zeke and I tried months ago, and he didn't have the fine motor skills to thread the felt squares on the silly straws. This time, he did! He did an excellent job and repeated the activity several times. Definitely one I'm keeping for him.

Tracing Shapes

Zeke used a dry-erase marker to trace the shapes on his shape flashcards (available in my Etsy shop). He loves doing this, and his tracing skills are impressive!

Other Activities

He also pressed golf tees into a styrofoam block, picked peas with the big kids, played with his busy binder (available in my Etsy shop), and worked in an activity kit we won in an Instagram giveaway!

Next week, we will begin homeschool! In celebration of that, I have created a "Back to Tot School" pack for all of my blog subscribers! 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Tot School Week in Review - "Pizza" by Frank Asch

This week we had another simple week of tot school with Zeke. I'm still busy planning for and preparing our homeschool curriculum for this year. We will be starting homeschool August 9! 

One of Zeke's favorite books is "Pizza" by Frank Asch, so I decided to create a book companion to go along with it! This is available in my Etsy shop for $3.00 as a digital download, or it's free to my existing blog subscribers. Subscribe to my blog to receive exclusive free printable resources!

This week-long unit has a five-day lesson plan, but feel free to use these resources however you wish! Here is an overview of our week, and you'll get to see exactly what you'll be receiving with this download.


Today we talked about circles. There is a page in the book that says the moon, the car tires, and the manhole covers reminded Baby Bear of pizza. We discussed how that was because they were circles! 

First we did some circle stamping using different sized plastic lids. Zeke really enjoyed this activity and stamped the entire outside of his paper!

Next he did a cut-and-glue worksheet matching circle-shaped objects to their outlines. This is a great visual discrimination activity that Zeke and I do quite a bit.


Today we talked about pizza toppings. The bears ordered a cheese pizza, but you can discuss your family's favorite pizza toppings. 

We did another cut-and-glue worksheet matching pepperoni shapes to their outlines. It was a quick way to name shapes Zeke already knows and introduce shapes he isn't familiar with (like the trapezoid).

He also colored his P is for Pizza worksheet, but he wouldn't trace the letters. He loves tracing, so I'm not sure why he refused to do this. Oh well!

He also colored his own placemat like Baby Bear did in the restaurant. This can be laminated and used as a placemat with your supper! We took a trip to our local pizza place in town for lunch. 


Today we talked about all of the strange toppings the aliens put on their pizzas. Zeke traced the numbers 1-10 (and did an excellent job, may I add!) and then dotted each pepperoni with a red dot marker. He did such a good job and it was a great way to get in some counting practice.

Next he traced the lines from the pizzas to the letters. He can trace so well for a 2 1/2 year old! 

We then worked on scissor skills. He does not have great scissor control yet, but he can snip. Then he finishes off by tearing the paper! A cute little story - he calls cutting "scissoring." 


We combined two days into one day today. First Zeke glued paper cut outs to the pizza template to make his own pizza! He stayed very focused and glued every single piece on his pizza. I told him he didn't have to use all of the pieces and he said, "Yes. I do."

He also made a breakfast foods collage from pictures I cut out out of magazines. Baby Bear doesn't want any of the breakfast options his mom and dad give him because all he wants is pizza! We had fun naming each of these breakfast foods.

Other Activities:

Of course we do tons more activities each week. Zeke loves to do tot school! He loves these two-piece puzzles and put them together several times this week. 

He also enjoys this button art toy, which is a great fine motor and visual discrimination activity. He doesn't pull it out as much as some of his other toys, but I'm always excited when he does.

He also did some water play this week. This was super simple set up, just using an ice cube tray, a syringe, and colored water. I asked him to fill each of the tray compartments with water. He stayed focused for awhile with this activity!

He also played with this busy bag. I put in a six-trayed paint palette along with some cards I created that have different colored circles. Zeke had to use the palette as a sort of grid and match the colors that are on the cards. He did really well with this, although I had to help quite a bit at first. A few more times and he probably won't need any help.

If you'd like to purchase this digital download, click here to go to my Etsy shop! Have you read this book before? Are you familiar with Frank Asch? 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Heart of Dakota - Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Getting Started

 This year we chose to go with Heart of Dakota for my children's main curriculum. I needed something open and go, already planned out for me, with all of the Charlotte Mason-y elements I love like living literature, narration, dictation, and enrichment.

Silas is going into 6th grade and Titus is going into 4th grade. We decided to use Preparing Hearts for His Glory with both of the boys. I love the way it does a broad sweep of world history, something the boys haven't studied yet. Last year we used Expedition Earth, which gave them a really fun overview of world geography. I think that will be beneficial to their world history study this year.

I also love how each week there is a history project - sometimes an art project, sometimes a hands-on project, sometimes a research project. The variety will keep the boys from getting bored. Plus they love anything crafty and hands-on!

Silas will also be using the Independent History portion of Preparing, where he will read a different book in addition to our studies and compete a separate notebook page. This will really prepare him to start working more independently next year. I placed the boys notebook pages (which are really beautiful) into three-ring binder. I divided them into three sections (four for Silas) - Written Narrations, Vocabulary, and Timeline (and Independent History for Silas). Easy!

During the time that Silas is working on his independent history, Titus will be working on his handwriting using A Reason for Handwriting T (Transition), teaching him how to write in cursive. We worked on this some last year, but his penmanship really needs some fine-tuning. 

They will be studying science this year using living books such as the One Small Square books, narrating, notebooking, and experimenting. I really like how there is one experiment scheduled each week, and they are totally doable! The supplies needed are easy to find and they aren't elaborate or time-consuming, yet they are engaging and fun! They'll be using unlined paper, three-hole punched and placed into a three ring binder - probably behind their history pages!

The other subjects that I always want to cover but usually don't get around to doing are already scheduled in the teacher's guide! Poetry, art, and scripture memory are already planned out for me, making things so simple. They'll be using a CD to memorize scripture chunks. I also like how they have their independent Bible study scheduled in.

We decided to go with Rod and Staff grammar this year, the boy's first year using it! I used this with my older kids and it was an excellent grammar program. I chose R&S 3 for Titus and R&S 4 for Silas since it's a rigorous program. We'll be using a plain notebook for their written work. They will also be using the dictation included in the teacher's guide, also in the same notebook.

We are continuing with Masterbooks Math Lessons for a Living Education 6 and 4. I like this math program for elementary, although I know many who think it's too light or too easy. It does start out slow in the early books, but it quickly builds up speed and becomes more difficult. It's a solid math program! We've used everything except Kindergarten. 

For reading, we're going to use Drawn into the Heart of Reading by Heart of Dakota. I bought the 2-3 level book for Titus and 4-5 level for Silas. In my experience, leveling down in this program is wise! They'll be reading books from 9 (I believe) genres. I didn't buy the book packs, but I will be using the suggested book list to choose these books. 

I have all of our books on a built-in bookshelf in our den/homeschool room. I have a cube shelf for the kid's daily books. Each child has a column of cubes. In the top, there is a bin for their math and grammar books, as well as any independent reading books. In the middle shelf, they keep their individual supplies - colored pencils, pencils, sharpeners, markers, calculators, and other items like that. The bottom shelves are empty right now.

I have all of our history, science, and read-aloud books on this tall shelf, right next to the cube shelves. I have them separated loosely by subject. I will grab the books we need each week and put them in a basket so they'll be easy to access. 

Setting up Preparing Hearts for His Glory was really easy. I am so excited to begin this curriculum! What are you using this year?