Simple Toddler Play at Home

I wanted to share a resource I’ve recently discovered that has brought a lot of joy to our days. I started realizing pretty quickly after Everett was born that I needed some help planning Reaghan’s day. Prior to his birth I didn’t have too many planned activities at home for her because I honestly felt so overwhelmed by all the ideas out there, and we also spent a good portion of our day running errands together, going to parks or to friends houses. Now that Everett is here, we are spending more time at home, and having something tangible ready for Reaghan to learn and have fun with has made all the difference.

My favorite resource for making a long day with a toddler fun!

Giving Rae the structure of a fun activity helps her learn and not run around wild in our house, and usually gives me a little bit of quiet too. Here’s the resource I wanted to share with you and have been loving: Simply Learning. Kaitlyn has an incredibly organized website and instagram feed with beautiful pictures and clear plans for educational play that she calls “tot school.” Her daughter is 2.5 like Reaghan so I like following along – however she does say that all activities can be modified for anywhere between 1-5 years old. She has weekly themes and a simple but comprehensive supply list – nothing too out there or overwhelming. Most of the items I already have in my home! I’m gradually adding supplies to my collection a little bit each month.

 fine motor water transfer and learning about absorption

fine motor water transfer and learning about absorption

 playing with homemade cornstarch play-dough (an ocean) and fish

playing with homemade cornstarch play-dough (an ocean) and fish

You should know I completely copy Simply Learning. I’m not creative in this department, and when I try to make things up myself, I get super stressed, so having someone do all the leg work for me upfront helps me to actually enjoy the process rather than it being an additional chore that I inevitably give up on. This is something I’m learning more and more – we thrive best and have more peace (my word for the year) when we operate out of our strengths.

 Tot school has given us a new found appreciation for books

Tot school has given us a new found appreciation for books

I also want to say - this is not meant to promote guilt in your heart! I struggle with feeling like I “should” do a lot of things as a mama, and have to remember what my strengths are as a mom, and not what I would like my strengths to be, and work out of those, letting others, like Kaitlyn, work out of their strengths!

We are not doing activities all day long, but I’ve found that if I have 1-2 activities ready for the day, the day goes a lot smoother for us. The activities usually take us about 30-60 minutes, and what I love about them is that there is very little prep. On Sunday evenings I go through Simply Learning's Pinterest board for that weeks theme, browse the unique hashtag for the week, and jot down in my planner what we will be doing throughout the week.

Of course, some days are busy and we are out of the house, but especially during these new baby months, it has proven fruitful to give a little more structure to our time at home, for all of us!

 painting shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day

painting shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day

Here’s our little set up and how I stay organized with toys/tot school:

My favorite resource for making a long day with a toddler fun!

We are using our old entertainment center for toy and tot school storage. I love it! We don’t have a play room that we can use for these things so it’s nice to have everything in the living room where we all hang out as a family and where Rae can grab toys when she wants them, but they aren’t all over the place. Tidyness is a big thing for me ;) On the top I keep paint, glue, beads, rhinestones, paintbrushes and markers in the plastic drawers. The white tub is used for sensory activities and I also have a large plastic storage bin from Ikea for sensory play too that I keep in Rae's closet. To the right I keep paper, laminated printables, and gift supplies. Underneath that I have a wicker basket with consturction paper, a storage box with more markers, plastic cups, other odds and ends, and our play trays from Ikea.

On the bottom is where all her toys are. Yes, all her toys. As I typed that it just hit me, this is basically what she has. She does have a stroller, grocery cart, vacuum that stay in our linen closet when not being used, and a play kitchen in her bedroom. I have one wicker box for books that we interchange with the ones in her room periodically. On the right are two sensory bins with beans and measuring cups, and one with pom poms and pipe cleaners. On the very bottom I keep puzzles!

 I keep a list of activities on the inside doors in case I get in a rut and need to think of something quick. You can print one out like  this here.

I keep a list of activities on the inside doors in case I get in a rut and need to think of something quick. You can print one out like this here.

 extra storage in the drawers!

extra storage in the drawers!

Having activities in different baskets has helped me to reinforce the idea that if she wants to play with a new thing, she needs to put away what she had out last. This doesn’t always happen, but we’re working on it, so that our house isn’t a complete disaster at the end of the day!

For more ideas on organization and way more ideas on supplies for tot school, check out this post from Simply Learning – I just love her tot school room! So cute and functional and not cluttered at all.

What fun activities do you do with your child? I'd love to hear!