Our First Stab at Tot School

Okay so I’ll level with you.  Baby T isn’t really a baby at 15 months—but I thought it was important that we start focusing on building his vocabulary and opening him up to new experiences. I had heard some rumblings about this innovation called Tot School and after looking into it further thought there might be some merit in trying it out in the Thompson household.  Luckily, my real-life friend Samantha at Stir the Wonder could shed some light on the Tot School phenomena and share what was working for her son.  She’s a great resource for anyone looking for great ideas and a whole lot of pictures!

For us, it boils down to this:

Tristan loves to read and he loves to play.

He doesn’t really understand the concept of coloring—even though I am trying like heck because I LOVE coloring.  I may even model this skill a little too much! LOL. And he isn’t currently talking—a few words here or there but no sentences.

Since I am a huge fan of starting small and seeing where it takes us I did some research (probably too much) and though he’s still a little young for many organized and higher-level skill-based activities, themed Sensory Bins and Stories may just do the trick to develop his vocabulary and expose him to new experiences.  Plus, it would be a way to ensure that I spent some real time each day dedicated to just playing with him—which has to be a priority!  A lot of the Tot School Moms recommend just STARTING—somewhere, anywhere—just dig in your heels and start and after implementing a few simple ideas the inspiration would come.  After cruising Pinterest for far too long, I decided that a Dollar Store/Thrift Shop Haul was in order and let me tell you—we hit the jackpot!  I can’t wait to show you what we’ve got on tap for the next couple of weeks!

Tristan is a huge fan of his water table so I figured we could start there with some water theme things.  I used a bunch of flat plastic sea creatures, glitter confetti, hair gel and food coloring to make a sensory bag.

Ocean Friends Sensory BagOcean Friends Bag Action

It was a flop.  He was unimpressed.  After having it out and about in our house for the entire week it really didn’t grow on him.  I may try it again without the food coloring (as it may have made it difficult to see the sea animals).

Baby T is still at a stage where he puts a lot of things in his mouth so I wasn’t sure how well a sensory bin was going to go over.  I thought it was a good possibility that he would just eat whatever was in the bin (dry pasta, dry rice, dry beans) so I wanted to try out something bigger that would be easy to catch him putting in his mouth.  I used food coloring and a dash of vinegar to dye rigatoni pasta blue and place it in a party bowl with a few rubber ducks.  (Kind of a stretch to sea life but I was really just kicking these ideas around at first).  Baby T preferred to feel the pasta, take it from one bowl and place it an another, and stir it with a spoon.

Duck Sensory Pick Up Duck Sensory Stir

On the first day, he was uninterested in the ducks or putting the pasta in his mouth.  He showed a lot of interest in the bowl and even reached for it when he saw it later that evening on the table—so I am thinking sensory bins will be a hit!  Who would have thought that Blue Pasta would be such a crowd pleaser!

On Day 2, Baby T figured out that he could break the pieces of pasta if he steps on them or squished them really hard and then they could easily be fed to our two dogs.  Super right?  Just what a Yorkie or Poodle Terrier needs…dry, sharp rigatoni for lunch.  Then, Baby T figured out he could put it in his mouth—which was disastrous because he just ended up getting food coloring all over himself (luckily, I caught it early)—oh and I suppose he could have choked.  I was hoping the vinegar taste would deter him—but nope.  He ignored the rubber ducks, for most of the day, until he discovered if he sucked on them they would fill with spit that he could then squirt back into his mouth (GROSS).  He also realized our yorkie loves rubber toys and would get dangerously (for her) close to Baby T to try and snatch them from him little all too willing hands.

Day 3 and 4 went about the same as Day 2.  By Day 5, I was sick and tired of Baby T feeding the dogs pasta, stepping on pasta shards and worrying about the food coloring staining my rug—so we ditched the pasta and will opt for rice or non-colored beans next time.

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