One whole year of Tot School with Grace. I cannot believe that I’m actually writing those words. One year. We started our Tot School journey at the end of February in 2019 and we stuck with it…and while I had every intention on doing it big for that one year mark…that mark quietly passed with little fan fare and the world turned upside down shortly after. And to be honest, the blog and our normal structure went out the window as did most everything else that was normal. No worries though, while we didn’t have our usual Tot School themed weeks and our focus board, the learning never stopped and I’ve dubbed the extended summer of 2020 as “The Summer of Exploration” so stayed tuned!
The last theme we were working on at the end of February and the one that was supposed to commemorate our one year anniversary with Tot School was Emotions. Fitting huh? I don’t have lots of pictures for this theme as I usually would, as right when we were finishing this theme and the shutdowns began, I unfortunately broke my phone and lost (thankfully very few) photos in the process that hadn’t been saved to the cloud yet. But I will say out of all the themes and busy bags we have, the items made for this particular theme have been used over and over again and currently have their own special place in our new homeschool space. Crazy how things work out. Here’s what we did for our Emotions theme.
The books we read for weeks 51 & 52 were My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall, Be Brave Little One by Marianne R. Richmond, and In My Heart: A Tale of Feelings by Jo Witek. If you keep up with us, you probably recognize My Heart is Like a Zoo from our previous heart shapes theme. We have particularly loved any Michael Hall title we have read and I’m so glad this particular book is in our collection. Each zoo animal is made up of hearts and each animal has an adjective describing how they are feeling. Be Brave Little One was gifted to us at our baby shower and what a powerful book! I love the message presented throughout this book and looking back now, I’m not ashamed to admit that I probably needed to hear the message in this book more so than Grace at that particular moment in time we were discussing emotions, especially knowing now what was to come soon after. In My Heart: A Tale of Feelings was new to us and follows a character as they experience and describe different feelings they may have and what that feeling actually physically feels like. At the time we first read this book, I don’t think it resonated with Grace as much, but she has been drawn to this book quite a bit and I do believe this book will be a great tool for the future that may enable Grace to start describing how she feels…something all toddlers and young kids struggle with!
In addition to our books, we also watched Story Bots Super Songs: Emotions, danced along to Kidboomer’s If You’re Happy and You Know It, Pinkfong’s Feelings Word Power Song, and also enjoyed watching Sesame Street’s Name that Emotion with Murray.
Pictured with our books for our Emotions theme was our first activity…Egg Emotions. Do a quick Pinterest search and you will find tons of the same for helping toddlers understand different emotions, and quite simply Easter eggs are just fun for little hands! Plastic Eggs and a sharpie are all you need for this activity. I just drew different faces on each egg making sure all the eyes were on the top halves and the mouths were on the bottom half so they can be mixed and matched. Grace LOVED these eggs and will still sit for a good amount of time playing with them. She loved to mix and match them but always ends up putting the correct colors back together when she’s done. This activity can be used for color recognition as well, and it’s a great fine motor activity to boot!
In addition to the eggs, I also made Grace some Emotion Masks out of colored card stock by cutting out circles, drawing different faces (I matched the eggs’ colors and faces for consistency), laminating them, and attaching large popsicle sticks as handles. I attached them with Velcro dots so they can be removed, and added each Emotion’s name to the sticks in corresponding colors for easy matching. These masks are well loved as you can see…another activity that is played with over and over by Grace still to this day.
Another activity that we used during our Emotions theme was simply a movement song we’ve been enjoying for quite sometime now, called Lulu’s Shake Break by Pancake Manor (available for free on YouTube). It’s upbeat, it’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s the perfect little distraction when some of those crazy toddler emotions start to boil over or when Grace has a serious case of the wiggles! I wanted to emphasize during this particular theme that sometimes you just need a little break to get your mind off of how you feel for a few minutes, then you can come back to those feelings after you’ve had that break. Sometimes, especially at this stage of toddlerhood, a good, loud and fun redirect is needed.
I pulled out a previous theme’s activity for our Emotions theme as well that tied in with the My Heart is Like a Zoo book…felt heart animals. Grace loved putting the animals together before, so I knew she’d love to do so again, and of course she did! She made all sorts of animals I had never seen before as well…HA! If you’d like to see how I made them you can check out our previous Heart Shapes theme by clicking here.
Lastly, Grace was able to paint with watercolors for the first time and reveal hidden emotions on the paper. I just took a white crayon and drew those same faces on the paper Grace was going to paint, and when she did, the crayon makes the paint resist so Grace could see the hidden faces. I call it “Emotional Watercolor Resist” 🤣 and in all seriousness Grace LOVED painting with watercolors and it’s something she enjoyed doing many times the next few months!
So yay! One whole year! Now on to the next, because while we slowed down on specific themes and relaxed on our focus board, after our Emotions theme, we never once stopped learning the next several months. Check back soon for all the things we learned this past summer! The things COVID couldn’t stop us from exploring!
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If you’d like to see a sample of how I currently plan out themes for a week check out the Tot School Schedule 🍒 v2.0 page!
You can see a list of our 2020 Tot School Themes 🐝 here.
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You can still see our original Tot School Schedule by visiting the Tot School Schedule 🍍 v1.0 page.
You can also see a list of last year’s themes on the 2019 Tot School Themes ☂️ page.
You can find all our daily songs, their tunes and lyrics by visiting our Tot School Songs 🎵 page.
Want even more resources for Tot School? Check out our Tot School Resources Page 📚 for some of our favorites!
EVERYDAY a little Grace 🌷