Overview: Tot School can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Some choose to use the basics whereas others choose to use many different materials. Here is my list of the must have Tot School Supplies.
We have been doing Tot School for about 6 months now, and we have made quite the collection of materials. Today I wanted to share our top 18 must have Tot School Supplies.
These are the materials that we cannot live without in our Tot School. We use them on a weekly basis. Some times we use them in the way they are intended, and other times we make up new ways to use the supplies.
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Tot School Supplies
#1 My First Steps to Reading Set
I LOVE this reading set. I used it when I taught preschool several years ago. Each letter has its own book, and the main character is the little letter. The little letter goes on a hunt for things that begin with his sound to put in his sound box.
In Tot School, we are focused on just exposing toddlers to the letters, not formally teaching them. Sicily loves reading one of these books every day, and has started to recognize some of the letters and sounds just by reading these books.
#2 My First Steps to Math Set
These books are similar to the ABC books above. Each book has its own number and explains it to the child in a way that’s easy for them to understand. We focus on one of these numbers every week.
Pompoms seem like the simplest thing to add to this supplies list, but we use them every week. These little fuzz balls are perfect for sensory bins, counters, art projects, loose parts, and fine motor activities.
#4 Magnetic Letters
We actually have about 3 different sets of magnetic letters. These are great for sensory bins, matching games, sorting tot trays, and just simple letter exploration. At this age, remember we are just exposing them to letters. Toddlers need an environment that supports literacy, so simply placing these magnetic letters on the refrigerator for them to explore is perfect for this age.
#5 Chunky Puzzles
Chunky puzzles are a must in Tot School. I especially like Melissa & Doug puzzles because they have the same design on the board as the puzzle piece which makes them great for practicing matching skills. Not only are puzzles good for matching, they are perfect fine motor activities. And if your little one is anything like Sicily, a puzzle is the perfect Tot School supply to learn about dealing with frustration and perseverance.
#6 The Toddler Experience Curriculum
This is the curriculum that I designed when we started Tot School. Every month, I sit down to determine what Sicily’s major interests are then find the corresponding theme. I love that we are able to choose themes and activities based on our personal goals and interests.
Paint is another material we use on a weekly basis. We don’t always use paint brushes though. We’ve been known to use our hands, pompoms, and leaves for painting.
#8 Fat Crayons
You can really have any crayon available to your toddler, as long as you have a variety of writing utensils. I always have crayons, markers, oil pastels, regular fat pencils, and chalk available for Sicily to use. I like the fat crayons the best for toddlers. They typically hold a writing utensil with their whole hand, and the fat crayons make that easier for them.
#9 Musical Instruments
Musical instruments are another one of those must have Tot School supplies. These things sit out on my shelves 24/7, and never get rotated like the other toys. We love learning about rhythm by playing along to music, and sometimes we just like to create our own music.
#10 DIY Learning Tower
Begging the husband to make this thing was the best idea I’ve ever had. I had wanted a learning tower for a while, but when I actually took time to look for one I was taken back by the price. So we made our own and it was super simple. Sicily loves to climb up on her tower every night to help me make dinner. I placed a bowl and kitchen utensils on the counter and she will pretend she is making dinner when I don’t have any jobs for her to do while I’m cooking. The tower also makes it easy for her to help put away dishes and wash her hands. You can click here to read about how we made out tower.
#11 DIY Light Table
Another must have that we made ourselves was a light table. We use our light table to explore colors, nature, and build towers. This was another super simple DIY project. You can learn how to make yours by clicking here.
We love these Duplo blocks, but any type of block will work. We actually have about 5 different types of blocks. These don’t include the ones we made from branches and wood pieces.
#13 Kitchen and Food
Sicily has a passion for cooking these days. Every night she has to make dinner and drinks for us with her pretend kitchen. She even pretends to wash her hands and dishes.
#14 Blank Journal
This might seem like an odd one for a toddler, but I love our sketch journal. It keeps all the papers together, so I don’t have a million scrap pieces flying around with one line drawn on them. Even though Sicily hasn’t quite figured out to draw on one page then the next, I have noticed that she spends more time on one page before going to another when I gave her the journal.
Any type of counter will work. We have these fruit counters, but we also have transportation counters. I love these type of counters because you can use them for a variety of purposes. We use them for sorting, matching, counting, colors, and as loose parts in the kitchen.
#16 Shape Puzzles
Any type of shape puzzle will work. We use these as regular puzzles, but we also use the pieces for matching, sorting, shape scavenger hunts, and shape sensory bins.
#17 Plastic Animals and People
I like these TOOB animals and people because they resemble life-like features. We use these when we are role playing, small world play, sensory bins, and building blocks.
#18 Overhead Projector
This is one of the best investments I’ve made. Sicily loves exploring shadows and colors with the overhead. She likes to put different body parts on the overhead and our color sensory bottles. Her favorite part is moving the light from the wall to the ceiling. I got mine off of a Facebook Yard Sale group, but you could also check with your local schools or thrift stores.
There you have it! Our 18 must have Tot School supplies. We would be lost without all of these things.
Print & Play Calendar
Simple, low prep activities that can be modified for toddlers and preschoolers on a simple calendar. No more worrying about how to keep the kids entertained. Just print and go!