Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Tot School" - Opening Day for Our Learning Boxes

We planned to debut our new "learning boxes" on Monday morning (he started asking on Saturday!), but I decided to let him get a sneak peak on Sunday night.  (We wrote about them here and here).  We whipped through four activities pretty quickly.  At one point, I suggested that he watch a video while I eat dinner quickly, and he fussed to keep doing more boxes instead.  Wow!  The real test will be whether we can maintain that level of interest (on his part and mine).  

Here are some of the activities we've covered so far:

From our "Fun with Numbers" box:

Counting Cars Activity  (I embedded the printable in this post).  He enjoyed it.  Thailand won by a landslide.

From our "Countries and Places" box (he named it that):

He had requested something to do with Ireland, so we made an Irish flag.  I'm surprised by how challenging I am finding it to come up with good geography box fillers, since we have always done a lot of geography.  I guess we just do it informally - playing with our stuffed globe, etc. (see 10 Geography Activities for Two Year Olds).  Maybe I'll try to just stick with an Ireland theme for this box this week, since it is what he asked for.

From our "Games" box:

Instead of making anything today, I decided to put Rush Hour into his bin.  We've been playing this often lately, and I love the way it works his brain.  At first he just liked playing with the toy car pieces, but recently he insisted that we show him how to play it the real way.  For those who aren't familiar with it, the game comes with a series of cards with different configurations for arranging the cars.  The player has to move the cars around (only able to move in forward and reverse) to get the red car out of the only exit.  It's a logic game.  I like to set up scenes for him which just require two or three moves to win, but more often than not he insists on doing the actual cards.  Even the easy level cards are too hard for him, but not by too much.   If I sit with him and prompt him a bit (which car is in the red car's way?  Oh, the green?  Well which car is in the green car's way?  Ah, so can you move that one?), then he can solve them... eventually.

From our "Arts and Crafts" box:

A color mixing activity (squirting paint into ziploc baggies).  He still doesn't know which colors mix to make which color, but I guess I don't care enough to make him memorize it.  He had fun squirting and squishing the paint anyway!

I am linking this post up with Tot School and Math Monday at Joyful Learner.

Question: Are you visiting us for the first time from Tot School?  Please comment and say hi!  And for everyone, old and new readers: how far in advance do you plan your activities?  I'm trying to stay ahead of him, so that we don't let the boxes run empty for a few days and have him lose interest (although, that would probably peak his interest more than anything, now that I think of it).  I'm curious how far other people plan ahead.

Disclosure: If you click on any of the links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with


Christy said...

I love what you put in your boxes. It sounds like everything is going well. That's great!

Giggly Girls said...

Neat set up! Welcome to Tot School.

I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants tot school planner. My tot seems to prefer the last minute activities over the ones that I spend a lot of time planning for. LOL So now I work smarter, not harder.

We use trays and I don't change them everyday. We use the same 4-6 trays all week long. Ours are more open-ended things like games, so I don't have to change them. I add in extra projects like crafts, when she's willing, but those are separate from our trays.

Your little tot seems very bright!

Ticia said...

Homeschool creations has some stuff you might be able to use for geography. That and enchanted learning for flags.

For Tot School and Preschool I was more seat of the pants with some planning. Now, I'm working on planning more.

MaryAnne said...

Looks like your off to a good start! I wonder if the country flag and world landmark cards that are at Target right now would help with your Geography box?

Raising a Happy Child said...

What I would do with a geography box is putting small animals or objects and have him guess what country they came from. I tried to plan in advance, but usually it doesn't work too well. I am thinking of getting rush hour on iPod and see how Anna likes it.

Infant Bibliophile said...

@Raising That's a fun idea too! I am letting him pick a country to focus on for the week so far. It's a little hard to stay focused (today we went to the library for Ireland books and he decided he wanted to do Iceland, so we're doing that next week), but we'll see...

Infant Bibliophile said...

@MaryAnne can you believe there is no target near us? Agh! But there is one opening in a couple of months. :) But, we DO have a set of country flashcards, and he loves them. Thanks for the reminder. I looked through our deck today for an Irish landmark and it had a card on Blarney Castle, so I think I'll try a make your own Blarney stone craft tomorrow. I think he'll enjoy kissing it and then pretending he has the gift of gab.

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

How fantastic!!! I love that he was so eager to get started! :-)

Infant Bibliophile said...

@Valerie I feel like I have taken on a new job, on the night shift (as if I was ever off duty on the night shift). As soon as he goes to sleep, I'm at my printer trying to create stuff to fill them. Not only did he get through all of the boxes today, but he kept going over and sliding them open to see if I refilled them! And, he hardly wanted any computer time today. :) I think I'll invest in a couple of workbooks or dollar store activity books to take pages from when I need a break from being original.

Tracey M. said...

How exciting that you've launched your homeschooling with Tot School. I gave it a try a few months ago with just a day or two a month, and now I'm trying to focus on daily activities. I'm not in the plan-ahead stage yet so your boxes are a wonderful idea. Right now, I'm letting him choose from a variety of the things we have (puzzles, ABC and counting activities, blocks, stringing beads, etc.) I don't even use trays yet. The main thing is we're having fun yet being more focused and deliberate in our play together.

Gator Mommy said...

Thanks for visiting our blog! I love your set up and WOW! your Tot is very bright! I hope you were able to use some of the Hungry Caterpillar ideas :)

About the boys coloring- don't be fooled, probably the ones that you saw were from the 6 year-old that loves to participate in tot-school before he starts his work. G-Tot also only scribbles in a few spots and moves on. Most of the time I sit next to him and point to a white part and tell him he missed a spot :)

Can't wait to see what else you come up with- I could probably use your ideas on my first grader, ha ha! Welcome to Tot-School!

Morgan said...

Thanks for visiting us! I like the idea of each box having a specific purpose (geography, counting, etc.) And your little guy is very bright! I can't imagine either of mine asking to do activities about Ireland! That is awesome!

Infant Bibliophile said...

@Morgan I'm not sure he really gets what we're doing with it. I just ask him to pick a country, and he names the first one he thinks of!

@GatorMommy That sounds like me -- pointing out the white spots! And I think so many of these blog ideas can be used for multiple ages. I mean, I still love to color and make collages and I'm in my 30's ;)

@Tracey If I'm totally honest, I think my son probably learns best by just exploring on his own too. But I was getting so bored, and the structure helps me to stay entertained. And I was afraid that when our new baby comes, I'd just keep wanting to put my older one in front of a video. I'm sure I still will, but maybe the activities will help us a little. We'll see!

Thanks for visiting/commenting!

Joyful Learner said...

I love the work box idea! I tried few trays but I kept on forgetting to change them. You little ones does sound extremely bright! Thanks for linking. You have so many ideas here, I need to come back here more often!