Tot School: Window And House Theme

by Melanie on January 20, 2014

26 Months Old

House Activities Cardboard House

For the letter W, our theme was windows with a focus on the house and household items. You may have noticed that I’ve been taking my time with the last few letters of our alphabet unit. Part of the reason for this is because I’ve entered into my third trimester of pregnancy and just don’t have a whole lot of energy anymore!

That said, continuing to plan and implement tot school for Rocket has been a lifesaver. The time it takes to plan and prepare a theme is totally worth the time it keeps him busy, engaged, and learning throughout the week.

Between our family members taking turns getting sick, below zero temperatures, and the general lethargy that comes with my pregnancy, I must say- this winter has been a challenging season for us. As a result, we’ve stayed indoors and cut back on a lot of our regular activities.

I am excited to get back into our social routine when it makes more sense for us, but for now it has worked out perfectly- our window and house theme was spent largely as hermits in our own home!

Letter: Ww

Object: Window

Vocabulary Development Theme: House & Household Items


 

Window And House Theme Tot Trays

 

House Theme Tot Trays

From left to right, top to bottom: 1. Water Transferring With A Sponge, 2. Magnetic Shapes, 3. Sweeping Corn, 4. Cleaning With A Rag, 5. Cotton Ball Transferring With Tongs, & 6. Counting Bears Color Sorting

These trays were chosen for exposure to the following skills:

  1. Water Transferring With A Sponge (practical life skills)
  2. Magnetic Shapes (shape recognition/vocabulary exposure)
  3. Sweeping Corn (practical life skills)
  4. Cleaning With A Rag (practical life skills)
  5. Cotton Ball Transferring With Tongs (transferring/fine motor skills)
  6. Counting Bears Color Sorting (colors review/sorting/counting)

Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these shots, this is how we have the trays set up in the schoolroom:

House Theme Tot Trays

They are on the 3 lowest shelves within Rocket’s reach. I always let him choose the trays and play with them until he is ready for a different one. Most of the lighter trays, he can pull down himself. I help him take down the heavier trays when he requests them.

I’m going to start with the Counting Bears Color Sorting tray. Rocket knows all his colors, so it gives him a great sense of accomplishment sorting these bears into their coordinating colored cups.

House Theme Tot Trays

Grabbing a handful of counting bears.

House Theme Tot Trays

You can see in this photo that he decided to pick out all the green bears first!

House Theme Tot Trays

Blue bears in the blue cup.

House Theme Tot Trays

Showing Mom where he’s going to put the green bear.

House Theme Tot Trays

And a purple one in the purple cup. These cups came with the bears when purchased on Amazon. After completing the sorting, we also counted the bears in each cup.

The Cleaning With A Rag tray was as self-explanatory as it sounds. It included a bottle of homemade cleaning solution (half distilled white vinegar, half water) and a microfiber cleaning cloth. I plan on purchasing a smaller squirt bottle in the future so that Rocket can use it by himself. He needed my help with this heavy one.

I love how toddlers love to help clean the house! Can they stay like this forever, please?

House Theme Tot Trays

Cleaning up the schoolroom.

The Water Transferring With A Sponge tray is a repeat of a previous activity. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might recognize it from when Rocket was even younger. It involved two bowls (one empty and one filled with water) and a sponge. The object is to move the water from one bowl to the other using only the sponge.

House Theme Tot Trays

Squeeeeeze!

House Theme Tot Trays

The floors may get wet with this one! It’s wise to do it on a hard surface… unlike what you see in these photos.

I love watching Rocket’s face light up when he “levels up” in a skill. At first, he was very frustrated with the Cotton Ball Transferring With Tongs tray. These fluffy balls weren’t easy for him to grip at first. But it didn’t take long before he got a better handle on the tongs and then he was beaming with pride as he completed the activity!

House Theme Tot Trays

Learning how to use the tool.

House Theme Tot Trays

He was quite pleased with himself when he realized he could move several cotton balls at a time.

House Theme Tot Trays

“Whoa!”

House Theme Tot Trays

Down to the last cotton ball.

We used the Magnetic Shapes tray to review some of the more advanced geometric shapes.

House Theme Tot Trays

Intrigued by the rhombus.

House Theme Tot Trays

Comparing shapes.

House Theme Tot Trays

He decided to group like shapes together.

House Theme Tot Trays

A set of shapes like this can also be used for counting- either the number of shapes themselves, or the sides on each shape.

House Theme Tot Trays

Rocket also told me what color each shape was.

House Theme Tot Trays

For some reason, he wasn’t interested in using the magnetic sides. Instead, he balanced the shapes vertically.

House Theme Tot Trays

There they are, all in a line!

In addition to the other chore-related trays to go with the household theme, we had a Corn Sweeping tray. He helps with sweeping during our cleaning routine to the best of his ability, so a tray like this is great for sharpening those skills!

House Theme Tot Trays

The tray came with a bowl of dried corn and his broom/dustpan set.

House Theme Tot Trays

Transferring swept corn from the tray back to the bowl.

 

House Theme Sensory Tub

 

House Theme Sensory Tub

Sensory Tub Filler Material:

  • This tub contained no general filler material and was just a collection of items found around the house. We went from room to room collecting the items together! This type of mixed sensory tub is also ideal for younger babies, as it encourages exploration of various stimuli.

Sensory Tub Featured Items:

  • Magnifying Glass
  • Glasses Container
  • Mesh Tea Ball
  • Hair Pick Comb
  • Baby Hairbrush
  • Massager
  • Watch
  • Funnel
  • Ice Cream Scoop
  • Paperweight
  • Popsicle Stick
  • Tweezers
  • Office Clip
  • Cookie Cutter
  • Rubber Band
  • Measuring Spoon

Sensory Tub Exploratory Tools:

  • Hands

I set the tub down in the schoolroom and sat back to see how he’d use his imagination.

House Theme Sensory Tub

Ooh, an ice cream scoop!

House Theme Sensory Tub

He named the items as he pulled them out. He asked me for the names of the ones he didn’t know.

House Theme Sensory Tub

He was very interested in the glasses container…

House Theme Sensory Tub

And the mesh tea ball! He loves to figure out how to open and close different containers.

House Theme Sensory Tub

It didn’t take long for his musical mind to kick in. He turned the measuring spoon into a recorder. And from there, every item in the tub looked like an instrument to him!

House Theme Sensory Tub

The cookie cutter became a tambourine.

House Theme Sensory Tub

He pulled the ice cream scoop out again to turn it into a banjo!

House Theme Sensory Tub

Hmm, what should he do with the funnel?

House Theme Sensory Tub

It’s a flute!

House Theme Sensory Tub

The hair pick comb became his acoustic guitar.

House Theme Sensory Tub

And he strummed on the magnifying glass for a while after announcing that it’s an electric guitar.

House Theme Sensory Tub

I also showed him how to use the tweezers to pick up the Popsicle stick. It was terrific fine motor skill practice.

 

Tot School Toys

 

Open-ended toys were a MAJOR part of our learning time during this theme. I rotate toys so they stay fresh and exciting, but always try to have things out that are currently of great interest to him.

He thought the Lincoln Logs were cool, but mostly wanted Dad to construct the buildings. They are listed as 3+ and he’s only 26 months, so we’ll whip them out again in a few months.

House Theme Tot Trays

Father and son, constructing with Lincoln Logs.

One thing he is just crazy about right now: building with foam blocks! I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend a nice set of foam blocks for toddler builders.

House Theme Tot Trays

Building with Dad.

Other Toys

“I made a tall one!”

Other Toys

Dad & Rocket, working on their own houses using foam blocks and wooden blocks. Rocket likes to build a different house for every member of our family. Last time, the dog got a house 3 times bigger than mine!

Other Toys

Dad constructed a throne for French Fry Monkey.

We didn’t just use blocks to build houses for this theme. We also did a lot of imaginative pretend play by building with tools.

Other Toys

My sister came into town and got Rocket this fantastic 45-piece tool set. If you have a builder on your hands, this is a great starter kit. You can see Rocket in action with it in our house activities below.

Rocket also requested his barn and farm animals.

Other Toys

Playing with his barn.

 

Window And House Books & Current Reading List

 

House Books

Most of the books on our schoolroom shelves for the house theme were from our own collection, but we did grab a few new ones from the library too. I’ve added Amazon links to the ones on this list which were his absolute favorites! Pop-Up House of Inventions  by Robert Crowther was one of the biggest hits for this theme. It’s a neat and educational pop-up book that he will only love more and more as he gets older.

He has also recently gotten into A Little Golden Book classics like The Big Enough Helper by Nancy Hall, Tootle by Gertrude Crampton, and Scuffy The Tugboat By Gertrude Crampton.

Window & House Books:

      1. Look-Alikes Jr. by Joan Steiner
      2. The Big Enough Helper by Nancy Hall
      3. Pop-Up House Of Inventions by Robert Crowther
      4. My First Book Of Vietnamese Words by Katy R. Kudela
      5. First Hundred Words by Heather Amery
      6. La Casa by Sigmar
      7. My Very First Look at Opposites by Christiane Gunzi
      8. Be Polite And Kind by Cheri J. Meiners and Meredith Johnson

 

Window Craft

 Window Craft

For our window theme, Rocket painted an outdoor landscape and we covered it with a window!

The invitation was set up like this:

Window Craft

It included a neutral-colored sheet of construction paper, a window cutout I’d prepared beforehand, various paint colors, paste, and several paintbrushes of varying sizes.

First, Rocket painted a scene however he wanted.

Window Craft

He started with yellow and blue.

Window Craft

Then he added green to the top!

Window Craft

Cleaning off his paintbrush in the water to get ready for the next color.

Window Craft

Adding the final touches to his painting.

After he told me the painting was finished, I showed Rocket how to paste along the window frame. I stuck it to the painting for him when he was done.

Window Craft

Pasting the window frame.

 

House Activities & Other Fun Things

 

1. Building A Cardboard House.

This was my husband’s excellent idea! He brought home a large freezer box to turn it into a cardboard house for Rocket. Rocket helped every step of the way!

House Activities Cardboard House

While Dad cut out the door and windows, Rocket used his hacksaw on the other end.

House Activities Cardboard House

Rocket was also in charge of decorating. Here he is coloring his house yellow!

House Activities Cardboard House

And what’s a home without dinosaur stickers?

House Activities Cardboard House

Dad cut holes to attach the door while Rocket worked away with his screwdriver.

House Activities Cardboard House

As Dad added hinges to the door, Rocket drilled the top right corner of his house. “I’m helping Daddy!” he kept saying.

Finally, it was time to check it out.

House Activities Cardboard House

Trying out the door.

House Activities Cardboard House

And the window is looking good too!

House Activities Cardboard House

It was dark in his house, so he took his monkey lantern inside.

House Activities Cardboard House

Boxes are FUN. Thanks, Dad!

House Activities Cardboard House

Since these pictures were taken, there have been several add-ons to the house. It now has skylights, triangular windows, a peaked roof, and a sign with the names of our family members on it.

2. U.S.A. Map Window Clings.

Rocket has been really into maps and identifying states/countries lately. I’ve had this window cling set for a while and figured our window theme was the perfect time to introduce it to him.

House Activities Window Clings

United States map window clings.

House Activities Window Clings

Patting our country firmly on the window.

House Activities Window Clings

He chose the featured items and I advised him with which states they were associated. Here, he is placing a peach on Georgia.

House Activities Window Clings

The lei went on Hawaii.

House Activities Window Clings

He was beyond excited when he saw the little guitar!

House Activities Window Clings

He didn’t want to put it on Tennessee. He placed the guitar on the window by itself and strummed at it with his tiny fingers.

House Activities Window Cling

Carefully placing the mountains on his birth state- Montana. 

House Activities Window Clings

He showed me what we had in Texas- cowboy boots and an oil rig!

House Activities Window Clings

Studying the map. This type of visual hands-on activity really encourages memory and mental development.

House Activities Window Clings

Trying to decide which items to place on the window next.

House Activities Window Clings

Reviewing the map after we were done.

3. Window Painting.

We did some window painting early in the theme.

House Activities Window Painting

He started with red.

House Activities Window Painting

And tried all the window paint colors we had!

House Activities Window Painting

When he was done, he cleaned off the window by himself.

4. Household Errands.

As always, we continued doing age-appropriate chores around the house throughout this theme. It tied together nicely with all the vocabulary, books, and activities that centered around the home.

 

Song Of The Week & Music Time

 

Rocket’s favorite musician Laurie Berkner has a song about looking out the window called: “Who’s That?”

Unfortunately, it isn’t posted on her YouTube channel. The MP3 can be purchased here.

Rocket loves everything by the Laurie Berkner Band!

 

Technology Time

 

Lots and lots of Laurie Berkner Band!

 

Mom’s Favorite Moments

 

I can’t get enough of the sweet relationship between my son and his father.

Mom's Favorite Moments (2)

Mischievous grins.

Mom's Favorite Moments

And sweet kisses!

Mom's Favorite Moments

After a hard day of play…

Mom's Favorite Moments

Walking with my baby.

Mom's Favorite Moments

Rocket and Harmony (our dog) excitedly waiting for Dad’s return home from work!

Mom's Favorite Moments

He spent quality time with Aunt Michelle who was visiting from New York.

Mom's Favorite Moments

Pooped out by the fireplace.

Mom's Favorite Moments

Laying on his cardboard bed. He kept pretending to be asleep on it!

 

More Tot School Resources

 

Find more amazing tot school inspiration here:

1+1+1=1

Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas

Hip Homeschool Moms

Living Montessori Now

A Mama’s Story

True Aim Education

Crystal And Company

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