Tot School: Mouse Week

by Melanie on June 24, 2013

19 Months Old

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We got to see lots of small mammals for mouse week: mice, squirrels, rabbits, ferrets, rats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, naked mole rats, and meerkats!

And thank goodness we’ve been keeping busy with rodents.

It’s been taking Rocket’s mind off the bothersome teething he’s had going on all week. His mouth has been hurting him considerably, so I was so grateful to have an agenda full of plans to distract him from the pain.

On a side note, I can’t believe we’re already on the letter M. That’s the halfway point in the alphabet! Tot school has been such a rewarding experience that now I can’t even imagine life without it… so I won’t!

Letter: Mm

Object: Mouse                                                  

Vocabulary Development Theme: Small Mammals

Shape: Rectangle

What’s on the tot trays?


trays 323Left to right, top to bottom: 1. Letter Mm Printables, 2. Mouse Maze, 3. Color Mixer, 4. Lacing Mouse, 5. Bean Spooning & Transfer, & 6. Melissa & Doug Lacing Beads

The tray activities and the skills they’re intended to expose are:

  1. Letter Mm Printables (Mm recognition/vocabulary exposure/using writing utensils)
  2. Mouse Maze (problem solving/small spaces)
  3. Color Mixer (creativity)
  4. Lacing Mouse (stringing)
  5. Bean Spooning & Transfer (spooning/transferring)
  6. Melissa & Doug Lacing Beads (stringing)

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When introduced to the new schoolroom setup, Rocket went straight for the mouse maze. I taped this thing together with cut-up baby food boxes and a shoebox. Any kind of cardboard would work! It included a black mouse, but a little white rabbit from the sensory tub also found its way to the maze and stayed all week.


His favorite thing to do with the maze was to push the plastic animals through the holes on the side of the box. He also pushed through beans (from his other tray) and shook the box around so that they fell along the path of the maze.

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“Solving” the maze by moving his Melissa & Doug beads along the cardboard walls.

The color mixer is simply a Ziploc baggie filled with two different colored paints. I squeezed the air out before sealing it shut so that we were left with a colorful “canvas” that can be “written on”. This idea was found on a very inspirational blog called No Time For Flashcards.

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Stamping his handprint on the bag.

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And why not a footprint too?

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Rolling one of the lacing beads from the Melissa & Doug set to make an imprint on the color mixer. Rocket likes to combine tools and supplies from different trays, if you haven’t noticed by now! I always go out of my way to positively reinforce him when he thinks outside the box.

The bean scooping/transferring activity was another favorite. It included a bowl of beans, a measuring spoon, and an egg carton.

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Scooping the beans…

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And pouring them into the egg carton.

We’ve had the Melissa & Doug Lacing Beads for quite some time, but it’s been a while since we brought them out. It was a nice change from the laminated lacing activities I’ve been making for him every week. I did make one for mouse week too, but he didn’t pick it up at all. That’s okay! He got plenty of stringing practice in with these Melissa & Doug beads.

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Using a shoelace to string the beads.

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Using a pipe cleaner to string the beads.

And when the stringing gets old, why not stack ’em?


It fell right after this photo!


What’s in the sensory tub?


sensory tub

  • Rice
  • Mulch
  • Plastic trees, bushes, & rocks
  • Plastic rabbit figurines
  • Rabbit puppet

The tools I included with this tub were:

  • Small plastic container with lid
  • Measuring spoon

Lately, Rocket has really enjoyed scooping tiny things with a measuring spoon. I gave him two avenues to do it this week: one was the bean tray mentioned above and the other was this sensory tub. He got absorbed in filling the little plastic container up with rice.

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When it was full, I closed it up and handed it to him. He examined it closely before shaking it around like an egg shaker!

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And just so you know, the sensory tub was NOT picture perfect for long.

Below, you can see that Tornado Rocket passed through this tiny rabbit world. And if you look at the schoolroom floor, you’ll notice mulch and rice debris scattered about. He did that on purpose!

Tot school certainly can get messy, but even when it does, it’s an opportunity to teach boundaries and positive habits. And besides, every minute of the cleanup is worth the sensory experience!

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What other toys were in the schoolroom?


other toys mice

Every small mammal stuffed animal that we own (not very many).

Yes, that’s Pinky & the Brain. Don’t ask me where they came from, I really have no clue! Rocket doesn’t watch television and doesn’t understand the reference, but I used the dolls to show him the different body parts on a mouse.

The pet puzzle also made a comeback for mouse week.

other toys puzzle


The Reading List


reading list

We had tons of mouse and bunny books! And I’m glad the bookshelf was so well-stocked because Rocket was in the mood to READ this week.

Below, I have posted affiliate links for your convenience, only to the books that were his absolute favorites. He still got plenty of enjoyment out of most of the others as well!

  1. The Lion And The Mouse by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley
  2. Not A Box by Antoinette Portis
  3. I Love You Always And Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
  4. What Do Rabbits Do? by Dee Phillips
  5. A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
  6. Where Did Bunny Go? by Nancy Tafuri
  7. Cat & Mouse by Ian Schoenherr
  8. One Little Mouse by Dori Chaconas and Leuyen Pham
  9. The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri
  10. Pip & Squeak by Ian Schoenherr
  11. My Little Carry Books: Pets by DK Publishing
  12. Seven Little Bunnies by Julie Stiegemeyer and Laura J. Bryant


Arts & Crafts


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Ever since we made our Father’s Day craft, Rocket has been borderline obsessing over paste! He is constantly asking if he can paste something.

So for our craft this week, I decided to draw up a mouse and let him paste it together. I cut out a large circle for the head, two smaller circles for the ears, freehand drew & cut a body and tail, and put all those parts together on a plate.

Then I cut out a little triangular nose and put it in a small bowl with some googly eyes. The invitation was set up like this:

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With my guidance on what goes where, he got to pasting right away!

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He wasn’t ready to stop when the mouse was put together, so I cut out a pink belly and two small pink circles for the ears just so he’d have more stuff to paste. When that was completed, I drew on the mouse’s mouth and we were done.

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He was most pleased with the final piece!

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What else did we do?


1) Field Trip To The Pet Shop.

We took a trip to the local pet store to see some of the rodents we’d been talking about in person.

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Before we left, he signed “dog,” pointing back to the kennel where he knew they were kept. We’ve been here a few times now!

Why would I possibly say no to a toddler asking to play with puppies?

We headed straight back to the kennel!

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2. Wild Bunny Watching.

Every night, we go on a walk as a family. It is one of my most cherished moments of each day.

One thing I love about our neighborhood is that it’s filled with big trees, which means there is a lot of wildlife. We see birds, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and more. Rocket loves to point out the animals that he sees and it has become a game for him (and us) to spot the wild animals!

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A rabbit!

3. Window Cling Play.

The schoolroom was decorated with these cute window clings to help review some of the small mammals.

what else window clings

Where’s the raccoon?

4. Field Trip To The Zoo.

We drove to the zoo to visit a couple of small mammals that CANNOT be found at the pet shop!

We saw some very active naked mole rats…

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And some extremely tired meerkats…

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And we stopped by the petting zoo to visit our old friends from goat week!

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5. Vocabulary Magnet Play.

I made our usual magnet set, but it didn’t receive a lot of play time from Rocket this week. That’s okay! It’s there if he’s interested, but I won’t force it if he’s not. At this age, I believe it’s very important to follow a child’s lead and engage him based on his own interests.

He did frequently press the button on the Leapfrog Alphabet Magnet Set that plays the ABCs. He’s really into that song lately!

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6. Rectangle Shape Play.

Now that we’ve gone through the colors of the rainbow, we’ll be focusing on a different shape every week.

Rocket was quite the curious lad when he found this rectangular jewelry box in the schoolroom.

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He was also pretty stoked about what was inside!

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All the sets from the 1+1+1=1 printables come with a page of shapes. For our shape of the week activity, I’ll be cutting out the individual shapes and laminating them to give him a more tangible feel for what they are. He had fun exploring the shapes in this new way.

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A crescent.

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A heart.

We also talked about the rectangular box that held all the shapes and looked around the room for other items that were shaped like a rectangle.

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The song of the week was “Hickory, Dickory Dock.”

I sang this nursery rhyme to him under the large clock we have hanging in the dining room, moving a toy mouse up and down as the clock struck! He thought it was hilarious.


  Videos & Technology


We didn’t watch any videos or play with any electronic toys this week. We were too busy doing everything else. I didn’t even think about it!


 Mom’s Favorite Moments


Summer is officially here. And that means lots of adventures at the water park!

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Last week, I posted the “king’s throne of baby swings” and mentioned that I wish they made one for adults. Well, GUESS WHAT!!? I found out that our big adult butts fit in these swings too and they are every bit as comfy as they look!

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Rocket leads Daddy up the slide…

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And Daddy guides Rocket down!

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Someone has been loving potty time this week…

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And lovin’ some homemade 100% organic popsicles. Life is good!

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Find more inspiring tot school ideas, check out these great link-ups:


See Vanessa Craft

Rainy Day Mum

Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas

No Time For Flash Cards

Living Montessori Now

The Jenny Evolution

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Clarissa Chan December 27, 2013 at 6:38 am

I love your blog posts! But one question, why doe he often sign things when he can talk?


Melanie March 10, 2014 at 3:06 am


Great question!

We sign with him a lot and encourage him to use his hands to retain the language. Without our encouragement, he would probably stick to verbal language only at this point. It can be tricky to not “lose” ASL once their verbal language is so developed.

To be honest, he chooses to sign less and less, which I think is very natural as they advance so much in language skills. It is just important to us that he doesn’t lose the language (especially because his grandfather is deaf), so I often ask him if he remembers the signs so that they stay fresh on his mind!



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