Yesterday, we spent the morning cooking up some of the scents of the season in our 5 Unique Holiday Play Doughs, and then over nap time I put together our first "tot tray" for them to play with when they woke up. Tot trays are based on schooling the Montessori method, in which students are exposed to early learning skills in ways that help develop independence and foster their own interests.
Beginning in January, I plan to focus more on these simple activities, starting "tot school" with the kids in the mornings. I think this will be a really laid back way to focus on more preschool skills with Aurora and help Gray build up his attention span for sitting still! I also love the idea of being able to prep the trays ahead of time and rotate them as needed, all of the supplies will be waiting for us, so learning and crafting will be a lot more accessible, and then clean up should be easier since the mess will all be contained on the tray (in theory)!
In January, I would also like to relaunch my blog under a new name (which is still TBD), I'll be focusing more exclusively on kids activities including the tot trays, sensory bins, and art journaling, which we also intend to start doing in the new year! Babes in Deutschland will remain as a family/travel blog, so you're welcome to stick around and keep up with us, and I'll have more details on the new blog soon!
Anyways, back to that tot tray I was talking about!
I gathered a few craft supplies we had around and filled a compartmentalized serving tray. Cookie cutters, beads, bells, popsicle sticks, buttons, and natural items are all fun to use with play dough!
The kids had fun building snowmen and decorating them with our vanilla snow play dough, and it opened up a great opportunity for Aurora and I to talk about sequencing the size of the snowballs to make the snowman. Even Gray, at just two years old, was able to catch on to the fact that there's an order involved in the stacking!
Next, I showed them how to make impressions with the evergreen leaves we had used earlier to make the green play dough, Gray especially loved squishing and pounding the leaves in to the dough and seeing what was left behind when he yanked it away!
This tray also fostered a great opportunity for them to practice transferring objects. They decorated their "cookies" on the table and then scooped them up with the spatula and deposited them on the cookie sheet. It was a great time of pretend and role playing as they happily took on the role of pasty chef!
I was pleasantly surprised how little mess they ended up making, having the craft supplies in the divided serving dish really cut down on the amount of beads on my floor at the end of our play time. I'm really excited to start doing these more often, as soon as the holidays wind down and we get back to a normal routine!
Do you do any informal schooling with your toddler or preschooler? I'd love to hear what works for your family!
For more fun and educational tot tray ideas, check out my Pinterest board: Follow Brigette @ Life Lesson Plans's board Kids: Tot Trays on Pinterest.