Tot School with Bo {Big Machines}

I had a wonderful week (Jan. 28th - Feb 1st) of {intentional} tot school with Boaz, who is 25 months old. I had a variety of activities planned, but had to come up with a few more towards the end of the week. He loved being kept busy, though he has no problem keeping himself busy! He is always cooking up things to do {literally}. The only problem is that he makes messes and more work for me when he does, so focused tot school is a good fit for him! 

I chose a Big Machines theme for the focus of our week because we had a dump truck theme for Bo's 2nd birthday, and he loves big trucks!

Spare "donut" {tires} for Bo's birthday brunch. 

Plus, having a theme helped me have a focus to putting together activities. {After years of doing Five in a Row, I thrive on this style of learning!} Though, not everything we do will be theme based, because I would drive myself crazy trying to live up to that! I really want to relax and have fun with Bo! 

I noted time and length for myself, just as much for my readers. I tried to stick to the hour between 9 and 10 to set up and do tot school. This time works great for Bo! We also had a 15 minute window in the afternoon to read books or do a short activity. 

Monday morning: 45 minutes of focused learning time. I was pleased that Bo worked through all but one of his tot trays. 

Counting with Pom-pom Magnets

Bo LOVES the pom pom magnets! He put a magnet on each big machine on the number card and I counted as he put them on. Bo is not talking yet, but he pretended to count with me by humming. {So sweet!}


Play-Doh has been my "go to" tot school for many months, but I added a circle road play mat to his tray.  (the big tub of play-doh is from Costco.)

It's Monday and he hears a rumbly noise outside. He goes to the window and stands on his tip toes to get a look at the garbage truck outside. I took a picture for him for a memory ~ he watches the garbage truck every Monday morning! He is always very excited to hear the rumble of the truck. 


I gave Bo a colored marker and card to color. I didn't specify what to color, and he colored the color WORD, instead of the picture. I thought it was clever that he saw the color on the card and "traced" over it. But, this is also the first time that I have done any kind of activity like this. 

After he colored each card, I gave him a colored pom-pom magnet to stick it to the metal tray. He then got up with the tray, took it to the kitchen, and put it in the oven! He knows where cookie sheets go. :) (Though, I bought these from the Dollar Tree just for tot school.) 

After explaining that his tot tray doesn't go in the oven, he came back to the table to finish the last color. 

Name Recognition

I showed him his name, spelled each letter, and sounded it out. That was all, today. Later in the week, he pulled it out and was looking at it, so I repeated the process. He seemed engaged with it more the second time. 

Theme Play: Lights and Sounds Digger

These are toys he has access to everyday, but there was something special about seeing them on a tray! The Lights and Sounds Digger (link to my review) has been one of Bo's all time favorite and most played with toy since he was 9 months old. In fact, it was the only toy that he would play with for any amount of time until he was about 20 months, when he discovered that he liked to build with Duplo Primos, (very similar to Megablocks First Builders).  

Monday afternoon: 10-15 minutes 

Hammering/poking golf tees

At first, he only wanted to poke the tees into the foam with his hands, but Sis came along and wanted to hammer, so he gave it a try, too. After a short time, he wanted to do it on his own, so he shrugged his shoulders to communicate that she was in his space and he moved his tray down the table to work alone. 

Wednesday morning: 45 minutes + a trip to library and a movie: Bob The Builder: Heavy Duty Diggers on Amazon Instant Video {free with prime membership} .

Dot Painting Numbers

Bo dot painted each big machine on the counting cards up to 10. 

Today, I filled his sippy cup with juice to have on hand during tot school and will do this again. {He has this Safe Sippy Cup and I love it. Though, I don't use the spill proof valve regularly.}

I ordered this for Bo a couple months ago because he is very mechanically minded and loves to make things work. {And loves things that are powered.} He does not make any designs on it yet ~ just drills the plastic screws in and out. 

LOVE his expression! ♥
{Forgive the mommy gushing moments on my blog from here on out ~ I am crazy for this little man!}

This board has latches, locks and clasps and Bo figured this board out on his first and/or second try (at 22 months). But, this was the first time we recognized the colors and counted the animals behind the doors and he loved this! And it is still a good workout for his fine motor skills. 

Bo loves puzzles, but I wanted one that would be challenging and "mechanical." He is a lot like my oldest, Jordan, who was/is always very curious and mechanical, trying to figure out how things work. The only {potential} downside to this puzzle is that our window locks are the same as the blue lock and it didn't take Bo long to figure that out and was unlocking the windows in the house.

Wednesday afternoon: 10 minutes. We read construction books that we got at the library this morning.

Thursday: 15 minutes. We read construction books again and made a footprint dump truck.  Bo eagerly let me paint his foot with paint and then stepped on a piece of card stock with my help. The rest was more of a craft for me, for memory making, and for my Project Life album. {We made a footprint fire truck when he was 1 year old.}

Bo's Foot Print Dump Truck ♥
{age 2}
Bo is taking an active role in my Project Life... 
I find many surprises in the pockets of an album I leave out. :)

Friday morning: 45 minutes.

Nuts and bolts ~ 5 different sizes nuts and matching bolts

He matched all but two and put a larger nut on top of a smaller bolt that he had already matched.  

Nuts and bolts snack mix

I wanted a theme snack and thought of this "build" your own snack all on my own! I was thinking of our 100th day snack mix and wanted something he could scoop/tong and transfer (for an activity), but I was especially pleased when on the way home from the store, I realized that the pretzel sticks and O's cereal were like "nuts and bolts." :) 

He did a little more after lunch today...

Scoop, sweep, and pour

This {simple} sensory tub was a big hit! This Green Toys dump truck is way cool. It is made from recycled milk jugs and has a movable dumper.  Bo also has the Recycling Truck and the Sea Plane (which is a favorite toy in the bathtub.) Bo scooped pinto beans into the truck and dumped them out again, over and over. 

After a time, he put the truck outside the tub and scooped and poured, and spilled, so I later offered him a mini dust pan and broom to sweep up. 

Before he swept, he was distracted by television sounds in the living room... (sigh). This is why I keep the doors shut and try to make sure the older kids are working on something so they do not distract him. 


I am trying to take more videos - my children love to watch them (so do I!). Bo loves this one especially.  It's funny how he tries to scoop all around the truck without moving it. I try to get him to say "beep, beep" but he wouldn't. Towards the end is when he is distracted by the t.v. but we recovered! and returned to sweep (above). Later that day, I was in his way, and he said, "beep, beep" to get me to move! 

 {If reading by email, you will need to click over to the blog to watch video or watch here.}

So, this week I was shooting for Mon., Wed., and Fri. (mostly because I had a bad day on Tues.), but next week, I will shoot for Mon.-Thurs. I think 45 minutes in the morning was a good amount of time {average of 10 minutes per activity!} and I can use afternoons for reading books. This week, 9-10 am was our tot school time, including getting Bo dressed, combing his hair, getting his sippy cup ready, and putting the trays out (prepared the night before). Also, I think this is a good time of day for Bo and is early enough to get a good start on school with Malachi and Eliana before lunch. So, I think adding focused tot school to our school day was a success! (Yay!)

Speech Update

Since Bo has not met the developmental milestone for his age (50-75 words!), and prefers gestures (often accompanied by grunts or vocalizations that are not words) I am documenting what he can say and will add any new words/progress each week. 

Words Bo can say: 
  • mine
  • no, mine
  • what?
  • one
  • boo
  • hot
  • wow!
  • Pop
  • Mom
  • on
  • movie
  • Elli
  • sibling names (though not properly, but we understand him)

New words: 
  • beep, beep!
  • hello
Two theories have been presented to me: 1. because I am signing with Bo (he can sign more than he can talk), he is lazy about talking. 2. because he has so many people (siblings!) around him anticipating his needs, he doesn't have to talk. Because he started talking WHILE I was signing with him, and signing is supposed to encourage early talking, I am leaning towards #2. So, I have been prompting Bo to speak, in play or when he wants something. If he tries to say the word, I reward his efforts. So far, it seems to be working and he is trying to talk more.   Even so, I may have him screened to be sure. 

While Bo seems delayed in speaking, he is advanced in language and communication in general (he points to objects when they are named, knows names of familiar people and body parts, follows simple instructions, and points to things in a book). He is also right on track socially, emotionally cognitively, and physically.

I delayed tot school because he wasn't talking, but now I think (really think!) it is going to help! I am encouraged after our first week with the letter Aa - which I will share next week! 

Delightful Links:


  1. Loved reading this post :)
    Also, all of my girls were/are delayed talkers. At 15months, Kae only says "look!" And everything else is just noises, but she understand and takes directions wonderfully. I think some kids just talk later than others.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement cara! Hoping that is the case with Bo!

  3. Just found your post on 1+1+1=1 and am excited to read more from your site! Love all the activities!