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November 3, 2012

Tot Preschool - Letter Uu is for Us {All About Me}

*J-Bug is currently 41 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!

Here is a glance at J-Bug's Tot Trays for the unit:

1.  I saved an apple carton from Costco and filled the openings with magnetic numbers.  I put cuisinaire rods in the remaining openings for J-Bug to count.
2.  Melissa and Doug Jack dress up magnetic set.
3.  Salt writing box and recycled packaging with J-Bug's name painted on, one letter per container.
4.  I punched holes in a recycled container using a Making Memories anywhere hole punch.  The holes varied in size.  I put a dish of pom poms for him to push through each hole.

J-Bug loved the counting tray!  He did it several times in a row.  It was a great exercise for counting, number recognition, one to one correspondence and fine motor practice.  Sometimes the simplest of activities are the most productive!

If you follow my Tot Preschool posts you've probably seen this Melissa and Doug toy before.  I bring it out often, and it never fails to entertain J-Bug while I get some quality homeschooling time with JZ.  Better than simply occupying him, he is learning through play.

Until recently J-Bug did not show any interest in writing in the salt tray unless his big brother was using it.  This time he carefully traced each letter.  The yellow containers spell his name.  I figured we would focus first on writing his name before moving on to writing other letters.  In addition to tracing in  the salt, he traced his painted name on the recycled containers. 

Tip for teaching your children name writing:  Start with a capital first letter and lowercase for the rest, so they don't have to relearn in kindergarten.  

I love using recyclables over and over!  Another day during the unit J-Bug used a toothpick to poke holes along the letters in his name.  This is such a fun way to work on fine motor skills.

Apparently I was on a recycled container kick!  I guess we ate more packaged food during this unit than we generally do.  I hate to toss packaging in the recycle bin, so I do my best to find a use for it.  This one was so simple to make using the Making Memories tool.  Please run your own finger along each hole to be sure there aren't any jagged plastic parts if you try this idea.  I wouldn't recommend free handing the holes for this particular activity.  As J-Bug pushed the pom poms through the holes his finger went in a bit each time.  Free handing would leave more room for jagged edges.  Any hole punch should do the job.  An anywhere hole punch or punch with a long neck is ideal, so you can space out the holes throughout the entire lid.

So far this year we have worked on the letters Aa, Ll, Mm, Nn, Ss, Tt, and Uu, so I put those letters and shapes out on his tray to focus on.  I love these Lauri puzzles.  They are crepe rubber, so the letters are textured.  They make a great sensory tool for pre writing skills.

I never took a photo of this tray when I set it up.  On it was an ice cube tray from Dollar Tree, tweezers and gems.  After transferring each gem to an opening J-Bug counted each one.  This is great for fine motor, counting, and one to one correspondence.  (This tray stayed out for an entire month, and J-Bug did it at least three times each week.)

This activity was actually the first one for the unit.  I mentioned during our Nest Study that J-Bug went through a phase where he didn't want to do tray work.  One day he asked me where his work was, so I quickly grabbed his wooden pattern blocks and pattern mats.

During our All About Me unit one of the biggest areas I focused on with J-Bug was name recognition.  Using the Pom Pom Magnets I made I had J-Bug form his name on our DIY magnetic board.  After making his name he made random shapes and patterns and had fun.

The five senses were the main topic of study during this unit.  We read many books about the human body and enjoyed studying our senses.  These books are available on Amazon:

Games and activities we did to explore the five senses:
More ideas for Tot Preschool:


  1. What wonderful activities! You are so creative. Your upcycled activities look like a lot of fun!

  2. Love your hands-on activities as always! We have the Melissa and Doug wooden dress-up bears family, and it's a big hit. I will have to look for the magnetic sets too.

  3. I love the toothpick punch into a styrofoam container. So clever. :)

  4. It looks like he did a lot of fun learning activities. I really like the one where he punches holes into styrofoam to trace the letter, too. I'm totally borrowing that one for my 3-year olds!

  5. Sooo many great learning activities. Love the tracing letters in foam. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

  6. Great unit study, Allison! I love that you used some recycled materials, too. Thanks for linking up with Montessori Monday. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow

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