August 18, 2012

Tot Preschool - Ll is for Leaf

*J-Bug is currently 40 months old*

J-Bug is never required to participate in school time.  I set up these trays to give him something educational and fun to do while JZ works.  I would give him toys only, but he requests work.  Like most younger siblings he is eager to keep up and be just like his big brother.  Please note:  I do not encourage pushing young children to do school work.  If you want to engage in educational activities with your young child remember that early learning is best accomplished through play and movement.  I encourage you to follow your little one's cues and have fun!

Whew, the last Tot Preschool post I wrote was on July 8.  Yikes, I need to catch up!  We've already completed an entire unit study after this one, and we are beginning a new unit on Monday.  I better get to blogging.  This unit went hand in hand with JZ's Leaf Study.

Here is a glance at a few of J-Bug's Tot Trays for the unit.

  1. Lauri Crepe ABC Puzzle.
  2. Bowl of barely with plastic cups in varying sizes for sensory play.
  3. Washable paint and q-tips to paint trees. 
  4. Capital and lower case letter L letter sort.  Printable from Our Little Monkeys.
  5. Muffin tin and recycled plastic lids for sorting.
  6. Number puzzle from Dollar Tree.
  7. Lauri Toys Fit-A-Space lacing shapes from the Lauri Toys Primer Pack.
  8. Letter Builders letter L.
  9. Leaves and washable paint for leaf outline paintings.
  10. Lauri Tall Stacker Pegs Building Set.
  11. Contact paper and tissue paper squares for leaf sun catchers.
  12. Shape cards from Our Little Monkeys and miscellaneous manipulatives for shape sorting.
  13. Leaves and a ruler for measuring and sorting by size.

A few highlights from the unit:

The barley set the stage for wonderful sensory and imaginative play. Both boys made "lattes" and got lost in their imaginary world for hours. They can pretend play like no other children I've seen. One day the tray became an art project. I love watching J-Bug's creativity take over, and seeing him work only reaffirms my choice to give him creative freedom and complete access to all art supplies. I know some people might look at what he is doing below and see a child making a mess. The pictures don't fully capture the moment, though. If you could see how intently and meticulously he works, you would know he isn't gluing and sprinkling the barley over the paper just to be destructive. In his mind he is creating a masterpiece. He asked permission to dump some barley over the glue, and he followed my instructions to only use enough to cover the glue without using the entire bowlful. Then he careful shook off the excess barley once the glue had dried for a bit. Yes I had to clean up a few stray barley pieces here and there, but hey, isn't that what my dustbuster is for?


The tray with the muffin tin and recycled lids was intended to be a sorting activity.  This is a perfect example of how I follow J-Bug's lead during school time.

A few months ago I set out the recycled lids with glue and printed letters for J-Bug to glue the lids inside the letters.  When he saw the lids on a tray he immediately grabbed himself paper and glue and went to work.  Squeezing school glue is a great exercise for developing the muscles needed for writing, and of course building and designing is important for creativity, so I saw no reason to stop him.

The q-tip paintings were another perfect example of following J-Bug's lead.  The idea, as you can see on JZ's Leaf Unit post, was to use a brown hand print for the trunk and branches then use q-tips to dot leaves on the tree.

J-Bug started out doing what I suggested.  Then he enjoyed smearing the paint with the q-tips.

Next he grabbed a sponge roller to blend all the colors together.

His "tree" turned out quite exquisite even if it looked nothing like JZ's.

Making the sun catchers was interesting, but the way the boys wanted to make them ended up being really cool.  I covered two of the blue trays with contact paper, sticky side up.  I figured each boy would enjoy pressing the tissue paper into the contact paper.

Instead, they stood up and dropped tissue paper by the handful.  The cool part was watching the wind catch the paper as is slowly floated down to the floor, and it became a science lesson in addition to an art project.  We did this outside with real leaves the next day, and it was a hit.

The downside to their preferred method of creating was the mess.  Neither boy was thrilled about having to pick up the tissue papers that had scattered all over the floor.  I used it as an example of being responsible for their choices.  Of course I had warned them before they started dropping paper by the handful that they would be responsible for the clean up, too.  The final product turned out lovely, although the papers are in thicker layers in some areas, preventing the sun from shining through.  These are still hanging in the window in our studio.

Here are more action photos of the trays to give you an idea of what he does while I work with JZ:

The board of J-Bug's completed work:

Other recent highlights from the past few weeks that I've blogged about separately:



  1. I certainly agree about following the child's creative lead! I think the q-tip art turned into a lovely autumn art piece!

    Oh...and I'm not aloud to "punch out" the puzzle pieces on the crepe/foam type puzzles. My 3 year old loves going POP as he pushes each piece through!

  2. What a wonderful unit of work - we're just starting to look at leaves here as well.

    Thank you for linking up to Tuesday Tots

  3. Great ideas for an Ll is for Leaf unit ... I enjoyed seeing the leaf activities you did for both levels! Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your Ll is for Leaf Study at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and added your posts to my Montessori-Inspired Autumn Leaf Unit at

  4. so many great resources in this! where do you keep all your supplies? in that awesome white storage unit?

  5. Wonderful set of activities. What a great learning resource.

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  6. Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful ideas with us at tip toe

  7. Thank you so much for the Q-Tip painting idea. My 3 year old loved it! I mentioned your post when I blogged abut it.


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