This is our fourth set of Montessori inspired tot trays. Smiley Man (21 months) does tot school while I am doing homeschool preschool with Little Bear. So far, Smiley really loves these trays and I love it because they are getting my toddler ready for school. Hopefully you can find a few tray ideas and activity ideas for your preschool or toddler as you look at Smiley Man’s trays.
Ball Themed Tot Trays
2 Part Puzzles
Print off these 2 part ball puzzles. Put all of them or only a few puzzles on the tray. Smiley Man matched the two parts together and then put the puzzle into the container.
Round Sponges and Water
This was definitely one of Smiley Man’s favorite tot tray, but it was also the messiest. I filled one bowl halfway with water and added a drop of blue food coloring. I also put three circle sponges (to look like balls) and another empty bowl on the tray. I showed Smiley how to fill a sponge with water and then squeeze the water into the empty bowl. My toddler loved this activity so much! The mess was worth the fun he had. I do want to note that I kept this tray in the kitchen when it was not being used. Since Smiley’s tot trays belong on a bookshelf that sits on carpet, I didn’t want the tray on the bookshelf. :)
Color Match Spike Balls
Okay, these aren’t really balls, they are jacks, but they do kind of somewhat look a little like balls, right? I figured they were close enough for a toddler. I put four colors of jacks, two of each color on the tray. Smiley Man found a match, then set it to the side.
Bead Paper Towel Rolls onto Straws
There were two straws set in a small amount of play dough on this tray. There were also several paper towel rolls cut into “beads.” Smiley Man beaded the paper towel rolls onto the straws. This has been another favorite.
Numbered Cups and Spike Balls
This activity also uses jacks, not balls, but just use your imagination. ;) There were three cups numbered 1, 2, and 3. Smiley Man put the correct number of balls into each cup. He isn’t quite old enough to understand the concept of this game, but he loves the sound of the jacks when he puts them into the cup and he LOVES dumping them back out again.
Color Game 7
(Each color game is only on the tray for one week. The rest of the activities are on the trays for two weeks. That means I go through two color games, but only one of all the other activities.)
Here is the Color Game 7 post.
Color Game 8
Here is the Color Game 8 post.
Ball Tot Book
I read this book at least once during the time that these trays are out. If Smiley man uses this tray while I am working with Little Bear, he can color the pictures or just look at the pictures as he turns the pages. I do not in any way expect Smiley Man to learn how to read by looking at this book. This book is simply for exposure to words and letters and concepts of print.
This tray just had a bunch of balls from our toy collection. Since Smiley Man’s first word was “ball” and balls are practically his favorite thing in the universe, we have quite a collection of balls. He loved this tray.
We don’t really have any ball books. Sorry. I just grabbed some books we haven’t done on a tray yet.
Here are some ball books:
Pompom Stuff it in
I made this game using a small bowl with a lid that we used when Smiley Man still ate baby cereal and baby food. I simply cut some holes into the lid using a sharp knife. I put the bowl, with the lid on it, on the tray along with several pompoms. Smiley puts the pompoms into the holes and then he dumps them out and does it again.
I made this sensory bottle using a Perfect (that’s the brand) water bottle. I added water, corn syrup, 1 drop blue food coloring, and a bunch of things that looked like balls (beads, pompoms, small bouncy balls, etc.) In hind sight, I think I should have added a bit more corn syrup (I added about 1 ½ Cups) and maybe a bit of glitter. Smiley does love the sensory bottle though.
Be sure to check out our other Tot School Posts: