With a full grad school course load, inconvenient class times, and over an hour commute, I knew time management was going to be an important issue for me this semester. Tot School was something that could easily get lost in the shuffle, but I really didn't want to let that happen. I love that precious one on one time with my baby and he loves the stimulation (over stimulation has never been an issue for this kid, in fact, most of the time I can't keep up with him). To keep myself on track and organized, this is the system I came up with.
First of all, I slowly gathered all of our alphabet materials into one big box. I have been searching garage sales all summer and adding as I go. A few things didn't fit, or had their own boxes, but for the most part, everything is in here. It has things like cookie cutters, letter matching puzzles, mini letter books, stamps, foam letters, fabric letters, magnets, a memory game, etc.
Then I bought four containers from the dollar store to store on some shelves in the basement. They don't look big in the picture, but they are actually a decent size. I labeled them A-D with Post-It notes. Then I went through the tedious task of sorting through everything in the big box above and pulling out everything for these four letters. It took a good forty five minutes, but since I am planning on spending two weeks on each letter, I only have to change out the boxes every two months.
Since we are doing an animal for each letter, I also collected everything we have relating to that animal. All the little figures, toys, and crafts went in the boxes, books and puzzles went below. It is so nice to have each pile ready to go, but it also lets me easily see what letters we have plenty of books and activities for, and which ones are still lacking.
To take the organization to a slightly obsessive level, I also have this little box of note cards. Since I would like to do at least six tray activities a week and two weeks per letter, 26 letters makes for an awful lot of activities for me to remember and organize. I tried an Evernote list, but it just wasn't visual enough for me, so I ended up with these note cards. One card has generic tot school activities that could be used for multiple letters/animals. The rest of the cards are for individual letters. They have the animal name at the top and 6 lines for different tray activities (2 activities per line = 12 activities). At the bottom left, I have a place to tally the number of books we have for that particular letter/animal. At the bottom right I recorded the number of puzzles, if any, we had that corresponded. I don't have all of the cards done, and none is filled out all the way, but it does give me a place to jot down tray ideas as they come to me or I find a craft/activity at the store. I can also go back and easily see what activities I have for a particular letter, without having to dig through the box!
In addition to all of these tools and activities, I have the printables for each letter. I have been trying to print/laminate a few weeks ahead, so that no letter can sneak up on me. I put them all into a pouch and store them with the letter box. I am sure there will be some tweaks to this system as the year goes on, but I am hoping it will keep me organized enough to stay on top of our tot school lessons.