January 29, 2012

Tot School – 1.29.12

-Red is currently 19.5 months old-

Theme: Penguins

Tot Trays & Learning Toys

1. Ring-a-Thing by HABA. Red enjoyed this game. We played it a few times with him rolling the die and putting the matching ring on the peg people. He also just loved to play with them freely—stacking the rings and moving peg people around.

2. Color Matching Puzzle. I like this puzzle because it focuses solely on matching the colors. It’s a little different from most of Red’s other puzzles, which all have to do with the shape of the piece. Whenever he gets one wrong he will often correct it before moving on.

3. Tolo Shape Sorter. I really like this shape sorter. Red has gotten good at flipping it over to find the correct hole. He’s had this one since he was very young, and it’s neat to see how far he’s come with it.

4. String a Farm. Red isn’t very good at lacing yet, but he helps me do it and has fun sliding them off again.

Red enjoys playing with the pieces on their own as well!


5. Heuristic Play Basket. See this post for more information on heuristic play. In the future I plan on developing this idea into baskets that will be available to Red at all times, like these Discovery Boxes at Imagination Tree.

6. Shape Sequence Sorting Set (that’s a tongue twister!). Red enjoys this toy quite a bit. He isn’t able to sequence them by size, but he is pretty good at fitting the pieces together.

7. Wedgits. We always have fun playing with these. It seems like there’s no wrong way to stack them, which is perfect for a toddler learning to build things.


We had a lot of great penguin-themed books from the library, but for some reason Red was resistant to new books this week, preferring his usual favorites that we own.

Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica

This book gave a very realistic look into the lives of penguins—it briefly touched on the difficulties associated with breeding, predators, etc.—but it was still appropriate for young children. It was too advanced for Red, though. He never let me get past the first couple pages.

Tacky the Penguin (Book and CD) (Read Along Book & CD)

Red and I both liked this one a lot. It’s a cute story that shows the value of being different—Tacky vs. his companions Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect. Very cute book.

Penguins 123

This was a good little book to work on counting, and it featured real photographs of penguins in various situations. I like to have books with real photographs whenever I can. It had quick little rhymes, which helped to hold Red’s attention too.

The Lonesome Polar Bear

This book was okay. Red didn’t really care for it too much, but that’s probably just because it’s geared for children who are a little older. The polar bear is dismayed when he can’t play with a friend made out of snow, but it has a happy ending when he finds another live polar bear to play with.

Baby Penguin Story (Pebble Plus: Baby Animals)

This book is another one the features real photographs of penguins in different situations. It has brief text explaining the activities of baby penguins. This book got stuck on his shelf in his room and overlooked for most of the week, but I think Red would have warmed up to it if we’d gotten it out more.


Red had some tasty, squishy, messy fun when we played with mashed potato snow.

He also enjoyed some water play with our arctic sea tub.


I made a snowy glitter jar for Red. He enjoyed watching the glitter swirl and fall like snow.

See what other tots are learning about at 1+1+1=1.

January 27, 2012

Arctic Sea Tub.

Red loves water play, so I made him a little arctic sea tub. I used Crayola Color Bath Dropz to tint the water blue and added some sudsy dish soap for snow.

That’s about where the arctic comparison stops. The water was very warm and instead of penguins and polar bears, we had to make do with tigers, giraffes, rhinoceroses, and elephants swimming in the water. He didn’t mind, though.


The dish soap made really great bubbles. I used a straw to blow more whenever they would start to disappear.

He played with this for an hour, and by the end…

January 25, 2012

Mashed Potato Sensory Play.

I cooked a batch of potatoes today, and Red helped me mash them. When we were done, I put some in a bin and let him play. It was a great sensory experience, because it involved not only touch and smell but also taste!

He really enjoys playing with his animal figurines, so we brought them over and let them take a walk in the ‘snow.’ The potatoes were very moldable, and we made snowballs and snowmen out of it too.

It was nice to let him play freely, tasting and all.

When he was done, he went to the sink to give the animals a bath.

So I guess sometimes it’s okay to play with your food!

January 24, 2012

Homemade Snow Jar.

After seeing many of these slow motion glitter jars all over Pinterest, I decided to make one for Red. Some parents use these as time out jars. The child must sit still and watch until all the glitter has settled before getting up and returning to play. They can be very calming. We aren’t using it for that, but it’s a wonderful idea if it would work for your child.

We are using ours for fun. We talk about how it looks like the glitter is snow swirling and floating to the ground. I also added a penguin for a little extra fun! Right now, it is a supervised activity only. I don’t want to find out what happens when a jar of glitter and glue spills on your carpet.

It was easy to make. I filled a jar with warm water, glitter, glitter glue, and a little clear glue. You can add food coloring too. I didn’t only because I wanted it to look like snow.

Clear Day

Blizzard Conditions

Snow Flurries

January 22, 2012

Tot School – 1.22.12

-Red is currently 19.5 months old.-

Theme: Snowmen

This week in tot school we had fun with snowmen! Here are the trays and learning toys:

1. Sprinkle Canister Snowman. I got the idea for this here at No Time for Flash Cards. It’s just three small containers (spice jars also work great) filled with cotton balls. Then you can draw or glue on the snowman decorations and let your little one stack them up.

2. Spooning Pom Poms into a Paint Tray. Red had trouble with the spoon, so he just transferred them with his fingers.

3. Learning Links. These are still too difficult for Red to link together, but he enjoys playing with them in a chain and sorting them by color/shape.

4. Puzzles. Red did a great job matching up these puzzle pieces, but he has trouble fitting them together.

5. Dyed Clothespins and String. I dyed some clothespins and string so Red could match them by color and thread the clothespins onto the string. He did great at color matching, but the threading was difficult for him.


6. Photograph Block Puzzles. See this post for more on photo blocks. Red enjoyed playing pretend with the block people. He put them to bed and let them eat a snack with him.


Here are our snowmen library books for the week:

Little Snowman Stan

I loved this book! The writing was wonderful, and it had a great message of following your heart and not being afraid. Red, on the other hand, would not sit still for this one. He barely let me finish the first page before moving on to another book.

Sneezy the Snowman

Red loved this one, and I liked it too. It had wonderful bright illustrations, and a cute little repetitive rhyme. Red loved the “AAACHHOO” and finding the birds on every page.

S Is for Snowman

Red and I both liked this one as well. It was a great book about winter that also incorporated the alphabet. It centers around God and enjoying his creation. Red was captivated by the artwork.

Magical Snowman

Red liked this book a lot. The snowman is covered in glitter that is fun to feel. He would run his fingers over the snowman on every page. I did not care for this one as much, though. The idea of a snowman watching over you is a little strange.

A Really Good Snowman

Surprisingly, Red sat through this book on a couple occasions. It’s pretty long and geared for a little older children, I think. It’s about a brother and his little sister who always wants to help but ends up spoiling things. I think we both thought it was just okay.

Sam the Snowman

Red liked this one a lot. It’s about a snowman who has to learn the “magic of giving”  before he can bring snow to boys and girls. I didn’t love this one. I didn’t get why Sam had so much trouble with giving…he seemed nice enough…just a little slow, I guess.

The Mitten 20th Anniversary Edition

This last book wasn’t about snowmen, per se, but it fit in with the mitten matching activity we did. Red and I both enjoyed this classic tale about a boy’s lost mitten.


Red continued to play with his winter sensory bin.

He also played some more with the ‘snow’ play dough I made using this recipe. We spread it out like a blanket of snow and made animal tracks.

He also made a sensory mess with the homemade puff paint he used on his puff paint snowman.


Red painted some mittens and matched them up by color for this fun Mitten Match extension to the book The Mitten by Jan Brett.

See what other tots are up to over at 1+1+1=1.