We took another week off from Tot School to recuperate from all the fun we had celebrating Christmas, and it’s a good thing we did as the stomach bug decided to ring in the New Year with us! While our house was quite pitiful, we did enjoy watching Sesame Street’s New Years episode which Grace loved all week long, especially counting backwards from 10! We got back in the swing of things for week’s 45 & 46 and our latest theme was Winter! Our winter theme is also the first theme for 2020 and we have started a new page for our 2020 themes, where each one will be linked as we complete them for easy access. You can check out our current list of 2020 themes here, just remember this list could change from time to time, and I do not necessarily go in the order I have listed the themes.
We also started off 2020 with an idea that quickly became real with a lot of long nights and hard work. We now have an Etsy Shop featuring several different Tot School / Preschool Plans and Printables for Mamas who prefer to have one resource to use for planning out themed units for their little one(s). While not exactly an open and go resource, we have given you all you need to plan out your themed weeks including book lists, media lists, suggestions for real world experiences relating to a particular theme, 11 different activities and instructions for each, along with 2 printable activities, and a week planner for you to plan it all out. We are super excited to already have 3 plans available in the shop, and there are currently 3 additional printables that are available as well. AND Winter is one of the themes! We will be adding more to the shop as time goes on so check us out today and check back often for additional resources! AND as a special bonus for all our Blog’s Subscribers, you can enjoy 10% off items in our shop just for subscribing! Your promo code will arrive in your email so if you haven’t already, subscribe today! Bonus: You’ll also receive a free week planner for subscribing as well!
Our Focus Board for our winter theme included the letter S, the number 6, a Hexagon Shape, and the color White.
Our books for weeks 45 & 46 were Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner and Secrets of Winter (a Shine-A-Light Book) by Carron Brown. Y’all, Secrets of Winter could be an activity in itself. Grace absolutely loved this book as you have to shine a light behind each page to reveal different items. There are some great facts throughout as well, and just plain fun to read with little ones as they discover what’s hiding on each page! Grace loved Snowmen at Night, and continues to ask for me to read the “snowman” book to her. Such a cute story for little ones explaining why their snowmen might appear different the next day.
We had several videos we watched on YouTube throughout our Winter themed weeks. We danced to Story Bot’s Season’s video, Alright It’s White, The Number 6, and The Letter S videos. We also enjoy Sesame Street’s Ty Burrell: Hexagon short and Super Simple TV’s Treetop Family’s First Snow (Ep. 12) video. We listened to a great movement song from Kid Spring called Snow Dance (this could have been it’s own activitiy) and sung a long with the Kidboomers’ I’m a Little Snowman. Lastly we watched a show from the Peekaboo Kidz channel called Dr. Binocs Snowflakes.
We got back to our usual discovery bin containing all sorts of winter items for our current theme. The items we left out for both weeks included, super soft snow balls (six to be exact for our Focus Number), a light up snowflake ball, a Plush snowman, and Olaf Plush, a winter hat, mittens, and a Peanuts Snow Day! board book. Grace loved playing with all the items in this bin every single day of our winter theme and loved putting on her winter attire to have snowball fights.
Speaking of snowball fights…that was one of our gross motor activities for our winter theme. Santa brought Grace her very own collection of snowballs and we enjoyed multiple snowball fights in the living room during weeks 45 & 46! We made sure to point out that snowballs were the color white (Focus color) during our fights as well.
Grace placed snowflakes on the front door for our next activity. I grabbed a pack of foam snowflakes at our local dollar store during the Christmas season, and saved them for our Winter theme. I just put out a cookie sheet with a little water in it, along with six snowflakes (Focus Number) for Grace to place on the door. She loves this type of activity, and had so much fun making her own snow storm. We counted each of the snowflakes as well, and I would ask her what color they were and she could reply “white” in the cutest little southern accent.
We built a snowman for our next activity! Well…we decorated a felt snowman, because currently our weather doesn’t match the season around here! Still Grace had lots of fun building her snowman and pointing out the carrot for the nose! We counted the different parts and pointed to various colors as well, putting emphasis on the color white (Focus Color).
Grace practiced our Focus shape with a hexagon shaped snowman play dough mat that this Mama designed. The idea here is to make the hexagon shape by filling in the snowman and snowflakes. We also counted the hexagon shaped snowflakes…six for our Focus Number, and we used white play dough for our Focus color. Side note: the reason we focused on a hexagon is because snowflakes have six sides (this Mama just learned this too) just like a hexagon.
Grace already knows what an octagon is and I’ll be honest here, we had a hard time explaining that a hexagon was not an octagon. But we were able to get Grace to repeat the word hexagon. Little steps. We are working on counting so when Grace grasps those Numbers a little better, I have no doubt she’ll put it together when she can count the sides. While an actual hexagon was a little hard for her to form, I was able to ask her to place some play-doh into a hexagon shape and then asked her to smash them once she had them all placed. Grace loved decorating the snowman, whether or not his nose was in the right place! Hey, Olaf is a little mixed up sometimes, and considering he’s her favorite…the nose on the middle section makes perfect sense!
We practiced some early hand writing skills with our next activity. Grace got to trace the letter “S”, the number “6”, a Hexagon shape, and a snowflake in a tray of fake snow. I just grabbed some leftover fake snow from Christmas, placed it into a tray, placed a “S”, “6”, Hexagon shape, and Snowflake flashcards next to the tray, and showed Grace what to do by helping her trace each into the snow. The flashcards I designed to go along with our Winter Themed Plans in our Etsy Shop, and Grace was kind enough to try the activity out for me. So…we started with tracing…that quickly evolved to making it snow…which further evolved into a snow covered Grace. So something we could definitely revisit again, but didn’t go exactly how I had planned. But here’s the thing…Grace has a blast making it snow. She also had a great sensory experience, and when I asked her to place snow on the “S” she did, when I asked her to place snow on the “6” she did, as well as for the other two flashcards. So maybe Grace isn’t quite ready for the early handwriting aspect of this particular activity, doesn’t mean she isn’t comprehending and identifying the items we are focusing on, and certainly doesn’t mean she isn’t having the best time in the world making this activity her own. Another note here: this activity was inspired by those salt trays that are really popular for tracing right now, as it is a sensory experience instead of just tracing letters with pen and paper. I will say I do believe that salt will definitely work better in the future for tracing and we plan to try salt out, but since this was our first go at tracing I wanted something I didn’t mind to clean up (so glad it was fake snow and not salt in Grace’s hair).
Our last activity was a fun science experiment. We grew our own snowflake! While Grace could not be as involved as I was, she had a blast helping where she could and loves the finished product. I decided to do this not only to add a super cute snowflake to our winter decor, but also for those reading the blog who may have older tots or even older siblings that might want to get involved with the younger ones. I took a pipe cleaner and cut it down making a snowflake shape. I used purple because it’s what I had on hand (unfortunately I didn’t have a white one for our Focus Color in our craft supply stash). I then tied a string to one end of the snowflake and tied it to a pencil. I grabbed a wide mouth quart sized jar (actually I used one that had been re-purposed into a drinking glass) and placed the pencil on top with the snowflake hanging inside. I had to trim the snowflake down a bit as the snowflake cannot touch the sides or bottom of the jar, and made sure I could center it within the jar before adding water. I measured out 6 tablespoons of Borax into a glass measuring cup — and Grace counted each scoop along with me since 6 is our Focus Number for our winter themed weeks. I removed the pencil from the jar along with the snowflake and set aside. Then I added boiling water to the jar, and let Grace pour the Borax into the water. After stirring, I added the snowflake back into the jar, again making sure it wasn’t touching the sides or bottom, and we left it on the counter to grow overnight.
Waiting for the result is the worst part. I am not the most patient person when it comes to things like this, but I will say I had lots of fun documenting the process of the snowflake growing, as you can see above. The next morning while Grace was eating breakfast, I took the snowflake out of the jar, and laid it on a paper towel to dry. When Grace saw me take it out of the jar, she immediately screamed “snowflake”! After air drying a few more hours you can see the result below:
Y’all…the snowflake is beautiful, and is still hanging in our kitchen. These could easily be made as Christmas ornaments in the future, and what fun it would be to have multiple different sizes and colors of snowflakes…you could really drive home the uniqueness of real snowflakes this way. Grace continues to point out and say “snowflake” when coming into the kitchen, and I have no doubt will we be growing many more snowflakes in the future.
While we didn’t get to experience any real winter weather for weeks 45 & 46 of Tot School, we still had so much fun learning about Winter! Here’s hoping we get some real snow before this season comes to an end! ❄️
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