Tot School: Online Resources & Printables

Hello, tot-schoolers! It’s a rainy afternoon here, perfect for a little Tot School planning. We’ve picked our theme and chosen our books—now it is time to find games, crafts, and other awesome learning activities.

(I am not a naturally “crafty” mom, but I do try to pick a simple, keepsake-type craft for each theme. Play to your strengths—just remember that your children may have different interests.)
Tot School Planning Page (500)

Before we open that Google tab, let’s have a place to write all our ideas down. Pinterest is a great long-term storage spot; you can create boards for all the themes on your list and pin when you stumble across a great idea. But for actual planning time, I like to put pencil to paper. (I’m old-fashioned that way.)

Get your FREE downloadable planning sheet from Lone Star Signers here!

Okay, now we’re ready! I like to cast a wide net first–open your favorite search engine and type in “(THEME) tot school.” (Replace (THEME) with your theme.) Lots of families blog about their weekly adventures with Tot School, and I find those posts to be refreshingly “real” about how the activities go over their children.

Beware of “Pinterest-Perfect Syndrome”–your goal is creating a fun learning environment for your children, not making museum-worthy crafts!

I could blog hop for pages and pages (and I usually do, pinning and writing as I explore). Only when I feel like I have found plenty of hands-on, real-world learning activities, do I go on to the next step: PRINTABLES.

I like to visit Carisa at 1+1+1=1 first. She makes amazing (FREE!) Tot School printables in a variety of themes (see SPRING activities here), and she hosts a blog link-up for other Tot School families. Her work is incredible, and I usually print off one or two activities for my students. (Other great sites for themed printables are This Reading Mama and 3 Dinosaurs.)

Are you tired yet? 🙂 By now, you’ve probably filled in most of the blanks on your planning sheet, but if you’re still needing one more thing, you might want to search for printables & activities directly related to your theme-related books! I also browse the #totschool hashtag on Instagram and Google+, which has led me to some VERY creative mamas.

I am fortunate in that I teach the same 20 themes over and over again, so I usually add only one or two new activities each time I get ready for a signing class. Remember, children are simple–they don’t need hours and hours of planned curriculum at this age. Keep it light!

Another helpful tip: laminate what you know you’re going to re-use. Store everything in a gallon-size Ziploc bag in a file cabinet or cardboard box.

Did you discover any new early learning sites that you’re excited about? Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear about your planning in the comments below.

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