Ever since I first saw the idea of tot trays on 1+1+1=1, I really wanted to use them. My problem? Our family of 5 lives in a 1500 square foot townhouse, so I have absolutely no place to put a shelf just for tot trays. I tried keeping all the stuff in my closet and just bringing them out for tot school time, but it was a hassle putting them back together every day. I wanted somewhere I could put them, prepared, when the kids were in bed, and leave them there throughout the week. Then my husband had the brilliant idea of clearing out a cupboard in our hallway upstairs (that was filled with linens we hardly use anyway) and making that our tot tray cupboard. He even added a couple of shelves for me!
Here is our new tot tray cupboard:
You'll notice I also have a couple of rugs rolled up in there (from IKEA), because I'm also trying out the Montessori idea of having the boys do their work on a rug. I'm also putting one of our games in the cupboard, and plan to rotate it each week. Most of our games are kept out of the boys' reach (lest they be destroyed when Mommy's not looking) so this is a way to make sure I remember to bring them out. Here's what our trays had on them this week:
An old parmesan cheese container and q-tips, so J could use his fine motor skills to put the q-tips through the small holes. I planned this with J in mind, but K played with it some, too.
K used tweezers to put these little porcupine balls onto a small paint palette. He really enjoyed this, and made some patterns with the colors as well.
I cut a slot in the top of a container and the boys put coins through it. This was a huge hit with both of them - I will provide two containers next time because they fought over it a lot! I also tried to point out to K the names of the coins he was dropping in (quarter, nickel, penny). J got frustrated with the quarters sometimes (they were harder to push through), but with some encouragement and modeling figured it out pretty quickly. I would say, "You did it!" when he got a one through, so he has added, "Did it" to his vocabulary. It is so cute. :)
Another tray contained our wooden "String a Farm" set. The boys took turns stringing animals on and we sang "Old McDonald Had a Farm" as they did it. They both really enjoyed these, especially J (who is really excited about farm animals right now).
Here is J taking his turn with the animals.
Since we visited the snow this week, I added a tonging activity using cotton balls, and we called them "snowballs." It was a little tricky because they stuck together a bit, but K did well with it. Then after he had filled the ice cube tray, he would turn it upside down and shake it so the cotton balls would fall out, and we'd say, "It's snowing!"
J just used his hands to put the cotton balls in the tray, though he thought the tongs were a pretty great necklace. :)