I get a lot of questions about starting up tot school. What do I need? Where do I start? What do I do? How long? What if my kid hates it? And the list goes on. And I LOVE to share what I've learned.
I still can hardly believe that Henry and I have been going strong with tot school for over a year now. Back when I wrote this post, I spent hours reading, researching, planning and buying everything I thought I needed. Over time, as I've begun to incorporate more Montessori principals my list of essentials has changed and evolved.
If you're thinking about starting tot school, or just wanting to incorporate some learning into your play, here are my top list of things you'll need:
1. Storage, storage, and then some more storage. Stay organized, or this happens. For most of my storage needs, I turn to Ikea -- specifically the Trofast system. I also go through a TON of sandwich bags which help to keep everything organized inside the bins.
3. Trays. I use plastic IKEA trays, but I hate them. I use them because they are what I bought when I first started and they are one thing I'm looking to replace. I dislike them for a few reasons -- One, Montessori principals encourage using natural materials that are more ascetically pleasing; Two, they are way too big for Henry, he can't carry them by himself which frustrates him and they are usually too big for the activity I have for the week; Three, they need handles, again to make them easier for Henry to use. Personally, I've been eyeing up some wooden trays from Michaels, and have been on the look out for them to be on sale.
4. Baskets/containers/smaller trays. I'm constantly collecting these. I used to just throw everything on one of the trays an call it a day, but as I learn more about Montessori, I've learned the importance of making the tray beautiful and orderly. The smaller containers also seem to add to the fun as Henry loves to play with the containers. I find these all over the place - Target dollar spot and Goodwill are my favorite spots to find things. Montessori principals lead me to buy more natural materials like wood, glass and metal. Although, I still buy plastic things like ice cube trays, bowls, and special containers -- I try to stick to natural for my every-week trays.
5. Acrylic Paint. In a pinch, you can make something for a tray.
6. Felt. This is another one of those things with endless possibilities.
7. Pom-Poms, Buttons, Beads, and little objects. These things offer so many possibilities sometimes just changing up the medium -- like using water beads instead of pom-poms, or pouring buttons can totally change a simple activity to help it fit a theme. Plus they are amazing for fine motor practice.
8. Holiday Items. After a holiday, check out the clearance items. Shop for next year and start building a collection. Its always awesome to have some cheap on-theme items to pull out and make cute stuff.
9. A good printer. I print a lot of stuff and having a nice printer really helps cut back on the hassle.
10. Art Supplies. Dry erase markers, dot painters, washable markers, glue, crayons, scissors, construction paper, and washable paint are all musts for us. Sometimes Henry uses these things for projects, and sometimes I use them to make our activities.
What are your tot school essentials? Anything I should add to the list?
Also - do you have a question about tot school? I'm going to be doing a FAQ post next week, and I want to answer your questions! So, anything at all -- ask away in the comments, or send me an email!!