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Valentine's Day at Tot School

Henry is 23 months old.

Ever since I shared our Valentine's Trays last week, I've been so excited for this week of tot school! I went way over board preparing for Valentine's Day and we ended up having ton of fun. We had two small Tot School Parties over the week and Henry and I really loved having all his friends over. I spread the trays all over the room to give kids room to work, I also included a sensory bin in addition to the trays. It was really interesting to watch how different children, all around 2-years-old approached the activities. 

I get so used to how Henry does things, I really loved watching these other kids -- all little girls. The girls were much more patient than Henry and a little more gentle with the materials. I also noticed that the girls were a little more willing to check out all the trays where Henry really kept coming back to the ones that immediately caught his interest. Furthermore, the girls all seemed to care about being "messy" or making a mess more than Henry did. Even if they were purposefully making the mess, they seemed to verbalize and recognize that's what messy is -- Henry could care less about anything being out of order. 

Henry's ultimate favorite trays from this week were the things that included the water beads. I only had those out for the parties and he went nuts for them. He asked for "beams" almost everyday. 

Besides the water beads, Henry also really enjoyed the toothpick hearts. He spent a lot of time playing with these. I was happy to see that he was really working on a good thumb-forefinger grip -- great for fine motor development. 

Another thing I found interesting at the parties was the sorting of hearts by size. The girls that were older than Henry had no trouble putting the hearts back together. However, Henry and the younger girl did. Henry seems right at the cusp of understanding size, but I'm glad to know he seems developmentally right on for his age. 

Other big hits among the kids were the pom pom transfers. Henry did this with ease.

The only flop was the sorting tray. Not one kid wanted to actually sort the objects. They played with the pieces quite a bit but no sorting. (I sorted the pieces in the picture below to try and get Henry interested in the tray. All it did was get him mad that they weren't all in the pile in the middle). 

Having these parties really made me realize how much I like doing this for Henry and for other kids. I was talking with one of the moms after the party and I think, if there is interest, to make it a more regular thing once our activities are done for the summer. 


Lindsay said…
I'm obsessed with your Valentine's activities! I can't believe I slacked off and am doing pink week this week. Lame. I love that you have tot school parties -- do the children do tot school at home as well? I think that sounds so fun, but I don't know anyone else who has any remote interest in tot school. :(
While I think that they do some educational activities at home, none of them have a formal tot school program. The people who I have invited are my friends from my moms group. They may not be super into doing tot school at their homes, but they seem to have fun. I treat it like a play date, but just with more structured activities.

And, go to any craft store right now and pick up some Valentine's stuff for CHEAP! Its perfect for pink week!
Deb Chitwood said…
I love your Tot School party ideas, Nicole! Water beads are awesome ... and it's great that you found a variety of creative ways to use them. Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday. I pinned your post to my Kids' Valentine's Day Activities Board at
Unknown said…
Wow, Beautiful pics and great ideas :)
Sabrina said…
These are great ideas Nicole! I'm totally jealous! I would've never thought of some of this. And Henry is soooo adorable!
Thanks Sabrina! I think he's pretty cute too.
I love what you did for Henry's valentine's day - I wondered, do you find it hard to do things like this with children who aren't used to tot school, and more specifically the Montessori method?
That's a great question! I actually think that the Montessori method is so natural that kids pick up on it very quickly, especially when there is another kid that is used to it. I think kids really enjoy being able to take control and learn for themselves.

However, I think its very hard for parents that are not used to the method to sit back and give up control. I think they want to lead and say "this is how we do this" or "look at this" or whatever instead of just surrendering to the environment that's been prepared.
Your party looks great!! You totally reminded me about the water beads, I need to pick some more up, they are so fun for kids!!
Love your blog also

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