Tot School in the Box

Tot School
~Eliana is 26 months~

Here is our first week of  trying out The Workbox System for Tot School. I was thrilled to find out about this system because I really wanted to incorporate Tot Trays  into our Tot School, but could not find the trays locally. Eliana shares a cart with my preschooler, Malachi. Her boxes are the bottom 6.

I showed her that the bottom two rows are for her for Tot School. I let her pick which box to use, but she had to put it away before getting another box out.  She was good about putting the box back until she was done - I had to ask her to return the last box.  Then later in the day, she would bring me a box and say, "Do Tot School!"

Here are some of the activities we did:

Cut It!

Eliana loves to cut, so I tied (you can also tape) various yarns and string around a box so they are taut. This made it easy for her to cut. She loves to cut and could have cut all day! So, I held the yarn for her and helped her cut them into smaller pieces for a collage. 

Mix & Match


 This reminds me of an "I spy" game, except you have to spy out matches.  You can read more about it in my Tot Tool post here. She loves this game!

Foil Wrapping

I had Elli wrap aluminum foil around cardboard shapes, blocks, and tin cans, etc. She pressed, pinched and discovered foil's unique gripping characteristics! She loves to wrap things and give them as a surprise.  "Close your eyes, hold [out] your hands!" So this was fun for her!

Scribble It!

What toddler doesn't like to scribble? I made Eliana a scribble book with each page a different kind of paper for stimulation. I used various scraps of materials such as printer paper, wax paper, foam, brown bag, construction paper, newspaper, etc.  I gave her homemade scribble cookie crayons to use. You can be creative with scribbling materials and can vary the scribbling tools and where they can scribble.  This week, I will make her a special scribble place on the wall, since she loves to scribble on the wall!

Sticky Collage

This is a really simple collage made with contact paper and various collage materials.  I peeled the contact paper for her and let her stick on peices of yard, cotton, feathers, etc.

First Rubbings

Crayon rubbings with an easy approach. I put a variety of objects in the box (tape them down to prevent them from slipping), taped a piece of paper over the rubbing items and put some crayons (we used oil pastels) in the box for scribbling. You could also wrap paper around flat items such as a cheese grater, cooling rack, etc.


I gave her regular tongs and scissor tongs and she loved the scissor tongs! (It may be because she loves to cut). This was a challenge for her, but she loved the scissor tongs, so was happy to play. She had to help the cotton ball into the tongs at first, but she gained in proficiency as she played!

Small Spaces
She loved this! She wanted the pasta to fit in the smaller container so she could shut the lid, so she broke them to make them fit. She pulled this box out twice that day. 
Spooning mung beans into small containers with measuring spoons proved to be challenging, but she was excited to try it! 

Pour & Explore

I gave her a container full of amaranth, some empty bottles and a funnel. She thought this was great! Next time, I will spread out an old sheet to mark the exploring space and to catch the extra grain. 

I added a new book to my early learning picks: First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos. I get many great ideas from this book! Many ideas in this post came from this book. 

Along with the Tot Boxes, she read books with Mali and I for preschool and daddy reads to her at night before bed.  I love to do literature based themed units, so I am thinking that I will alternate the Tot Boxes with Tot-Books/activity packs like the ones I want to do here and here!


  1. I love the idea of cutting string attached to the box. My little one has a hard time with paper strips, because it can sag too much. I also read somewhere about giving them paint chips to cut because it is sturdier paper and has defined lines on it.

  2. Really great activities! I am starting the workbox system with my oldest daughter.

  3. Chel -
    I love the whole system, and the activites...I am so eager to see what you do next....

  4. I think I'd love the workbox system. I may be able to implement it in the future. You have shared some wonderful ideas!! Thank you!

  5. Thanks for the inspiration. I'll have to keep some of the ideas in mind for the future!

  6. I just listed some of my favorite blogs on my site with a little award I was given and wanted to pass on. I listed your blog because of all the wonderful ideas and resources you share. Thanks!

  7. i love these activities that you do with your child, ive got a lot of new ideas now from your post! I especially love the tying the yarn on the box for cutting

  8. You are just amazing! I love all of these!