A is for Alligator

collage of zoo activities for toddlers with text overlay: Our Tot School Days A is for AlligatorThis post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if an item is purchased through one of these links.  For more information, see my disclosures here.

A huge thanks to Experience Early Learning (formerly Mother Goose Time) for providing us with their Experience Preschool curriculum for free in exchange for sharing our honest and authentic stories resulting from our personal experiences. It’s been such a huge blessing to us! As always, my opinions on awesome stuff for little kids are 100% my own.

Keep in mind that all preschoolers do things in their own time and on their own terms. What one is ready for, another might not be. Please use your best mama judgement when planning activities for your little kids. 

We managed to work our way through Day 1 and all I can say is wow! Mother Goose Time has literally thought of everything. This is definitely a full Preschool curriculum and then some. I can’t even wrap my head around all the awesome stuff we did.

I thought it’d be fun to share a peek into our first day of “Tot School” with Mother Goose Time as well as talk about what we learned. This curriculum is of course totally new to me, so I spent some time with the Planning Journal and Teacher Guides. We’re getting the Little Goose supplement for infants and toddlers too because the little guy just turned two today. I still can’t believe it.

If you’ve been following along with us, then you already know that we’ve been doing our own version of “Tot School” for about six months, but this is our first experience with a structured curriculum. Prior to receiving Mother Goose Time, I was spending a lot of time planning. First, choosing a theme and then searching Pinterest for ideas. I’d choose a few creative projects and sensory activities for us each week and more often than not we’d end up at Michael’s on Saturday morning grabbing some last minute things for whatever it was that I had planned for us.

Hello Mother Goose Time! Goodbye Friday nights spent planning “Tot School.” It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? We still went to Michael’s, though. Lol… We got a Safari LTD Zoo Babies Toob. What can I say? It’s apparently just what we do at this point.

I love how this curriculum is organized. When I open the Teacher Guide to Day 1, I can see circle time ideas as well as each of the activities. Because we’re using the Little Goose Teacher Guide, we switched out the four preschool activities with the four toddler activities. One of the awesome things about the Little Goose Teacher Guide is that each day includes a “tray play,” which is basically the same thing as what a lot of homeschool mamas probably refer to as an “invitation to play.”

We started our morning by doing our calendar and weather. We’ve actually been doing this since we started “Tot School.” We listened to “A is for Alligator” on the A to Zoo Animals CD and added the letter A to our alphabet tree, which I thought would be awesome to do each time we start a new letter this month. We also worked on our A to Zoo cover card and Zookeeper ID. We used letter stickers to put the little guy’s name on it. And of course we added the alligator card too.

tray with bucket of crayons beside A is for Alligator coloring page
I had already printed all of the coloring pages for this month, so I set up a tray with the A is for Alligator one as well as some crayons and let him have at it. He loves art, so we usually journal every day. I give him his art journal as well as his crayons or markers and just let him do his thing. Once we get through each letter, I’m hoping to bind them all so he’ll have his own little “A to Zoo” book.

toddler boy sitting at a table coloring A is for Alligator coloring page
The first activity for day 1 in the Little Goose Teacher Guide was making an Alligator Puppet. I helped the little guy a lot with this activity and that’s definitely not my long-term plan. I have every intention of taking a step back, letting him enjoy the process and not worrying about the product. And yes, those were animals crackers that he was eating. Isn’t that fun? Lol…

toddler boy sitting at a table making A is for Alligator puppet
After we finished creating our alligator, we worked through the A to Zookeeper activity. This was definitely a favorite. I grabbed his snow leopard stuffed animal from the Pittsburgh Zoo as well as a stethoscope and some band-aids.

toddler boy pretending to be a veterinarian and examining a stuffed animal
I showed him how to check the leopard’s heartbeat and put a band-aid on its boo-boo and he was excited to try it on his own. Loved watching him take care of the big “kitty cat.”

toddler boy sitting on the floor working on zoo animal color matching activity
We also set up our own version of the “tray play” for today, Colorful Cages. The supplies listed included containers painted different colors, but instead I used this plastic tray and a few color cards that we already had.

That’s one of the reasons that Mother Goose Time is so awesome. We can totally do things our own way. I love the zoo animal manipulatives that came with this month’s curriculum. I dumped them into a little galvanized bucket and E sorted them by color.

I was actually sort of surprised that he did as well with this as what he did. I thought he’d need more help, but instead he did it mostly by himself.

zoo baby scavenger hunt sensory bin made from pretend grass and small zoo animal manipulatives in a large clear bin
My favorite part of “Tot School” had always been creating sensory bins. Remember the Safari LTD Zoo Babies Toob I mentioned? This is what we ended up doing with it. We created our own little zoo baby scavenger hunt sensory bin. If you look really closely, you can even see the alligator hiding in the tall grass. Lol…

toddler exploring zoo babies sensory bin with a spatula
The point was of course for him to find as many of the zoo babies as he could. Interestingly enough, he went and grabbed a spatula from our sensory tools bin and was using it to dig around in the tall grass. I definitely love watching him work through open-ended activities like this. Even at barely two, his problem-solving skills never cease to amaze me.

And when we were finished, the little guy helped me clean up. He’s totally awesome like that. Such a wonderful sense of responsibility already.

toddler boy standing near a table eating a snack
One thing I learned from our first day of “Tot School” with Mother Goose Time is to prep everything beforehand. Had I realized that, I would’ve had all of the our lessons ready to go. Instead we worked on the activities throughout the day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just not what I had in mind. I actually spent some time going through the daily discovery bags for the first two weeks and cutting/laminating what I could. You don’t necessarily have to laminate everything, but it’s definitely my personal preference and I think it makes sense, especially with a toddler.

My plan is to of course set up our activities the night before. I’m hoping that by doing that, it’ll make our lessons more efficient. Let’s hope. It’s a lot easier to hold his attention when our transitions are relatively seamless and we can just move right into whatever’s next on our list. Here’s to being an organized homeschool mama…

Looking for more insight & inspiration? Here are the top 10 most popular posts from The Keeper of the Memories. You’re definitely not going to want to miss these!

Thanks so much for visiting. See ya next week!

More Preschool Zoo Crafts & Activities:

10 Quick & Easy Zoo Craft Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers
5 Tray Play Ideas + Why They’re So Important
A is for Alligator Activities
A is for Alligator Zoo Craft
B is for Bird Activities
B is for Bird Craft
C is for Camel Activities
C is for Camel Craft
D is for Dolphin Activities
D is for Dolphin Craft 
E is for Elephant Craft
The Process is Almost Always More Important Than The Product
F is for Fox Craft
G is for Gorilla Craft
J is for Jellyfish Craft
L is for Llama Craft
T is for Tiger Activities + Curriculum Design
U is for Urchin Craft

large clear bin filled with pretend grass and small animal manipulatives above zoo animal figurines in bucket with text overlay: Zoo Baby Scavenger Hunt Sensory Activity with Mother Goose Time

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2 Comments

  1. This was so interesting! I love following along with your journey.
    I agree about creating seamless transitions! That always seems to work best for us too.

    How long have you been doing sensory bins? If I were to make a sensory bin for a 12 month old, could you recommend some objects?

  2. Thanks Sara! Transitions are so important, especially with toddlers. We’ve been doing sensory bins since the little guy was about 18 months old. For a one year old, it really just depends on you and what you’re comfortable with. You know your baby better than anyone else. At that age, I’d probably stick with sensory bottles that are well-sealed. There are so many awesome ideas on Pinterest. Water also makes for great sensory play at that age. You could add some cups or spoons or have your little one wash some water-safe toys. Hope that helps! Thanks so much for visiting and have an awesome week!

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