Daily Quiet Boxes/School Totes for the Little Toddler

I saw an idea on Pinterest about making daily totes to keep your kiddos busy and learning each day and I thought it was pure genius. I wanted to make Henry some before his baby sister came and soaked up a part of my time and energy, so I'm glad I finished them before she got here. :) 

Most of these ideas came from Pinterest, my brilliant sister Laiken, and a few of them I made up myself. I thought I'd share these ideas for any other mamas of young toddlers (as in before age 2, my son is 19 months!) to help them keep their little ones busy and learning at the same time. 

First things first, I went to Walmart and bought 5 totes, one for Monday-Friday.  I liked this larger size because a full size of paper could fit in it without being folded, and the height was nice to fill it with more options! Next, I wrote out daily labels for the top and sides of each tote. 

Here is what is in each one: 


Coloring book and crayons, a learning book (Let's Count to Ten), a toy that teaches shapes (what do you call those things.. shape toys? shape puzzles?) a bag of "fuzzies" as we call them, a plastic ice tray, two paper cups and a toy spoon. The fuzzies are fun because I can help Henry color sort them, or help him count them using the ice tray. They are also fun for fine motor skills development as the kiddos move them from cup to cup using the toy spoon or their fingers. We're at a pretty basic level of learning right now seeing as how Henry won't be 2 until September, but these activities create a great base for the learning subjects ahead! 


Blocks, a learning book (Colors), Pasta Practice (colored pasta noodles that Henry can put in the cut out holes in the cardboard box- fine motor skills), ABC cut outs he can trace with his finger, and contact paper with fun little things he can put on it. (in the ziplock baggie) 


Balls, (gross motor skills) quiet book, animal shape and sound puzzle, learning book (Animals), and popcicle stick matching. (Demonstrated in the two pictures below. The first picture is still quite above Henry, but the second picture is totally his current pace. He LOVES matching the "fuzzies.")


Sponge blocks, musical toys, learning book (baby beep beep!) play dough with tiny plastic animals uncooked spaghetti noodles and cheerios. He can work on fine motor skills or just have fun squishing things in play dough. 


Magnetic felt fishing (made by my sister!), fine motor skill practice with the Parmesan cheese container filled with straws, cotton balls and fuzzies, a learning book (How do you wear it?) and sensory play with ziplock bags of beans and rice. Henry loves hiding tiny plastic animals in the beans/rice or using a toy spoon to fill a paper cup of them. 

I also added 3 song options on the back of each lid. I chose one fun song, one fun primary song, and then a reverent primary song. 

I love these boxes because now it only takes minimal effort to give Henry something exciting and different to do each day that will also help him learn. Winning all around! 

Pack Easy Lunches

I enjoy packing lunch for Kyler and making sure he has mainly healthy, delicious food to eat during the day. Plus, it saves us money while he is still in school instead of buying lunch every day, because boy does that add up fast! 

Most days, packing his lunch is no problem. But on some days when I am so tired or just wanting to take a break, I often feel like packing a lunch is an inconvenience. Kyler has never ever expected it from me, and I think that's why I still enjoy providing them for him. But, I've come up with some little ways to help make packing his lunch a fast, efficient, and enjoyable process so that even if I'm so tired, it will only take a few minutes. 

My first tip is to open up all of the "lunch items" and take them out of their original packaging. Break them down into separate helpings so they are easy to grab right away. I used this picture in my food organization post, but this picture helps here too. You'll note that the yogurt, peaches etc are all separate on the top row. Also, I separated each string cheese in the middle row basket as well. This way I can grab item quickly instead of having to pull something from the package each time, which can actually be kind of difficult to do at times. 

Then, with things like granola bars, fruit snacks etc, I keep them in the box but rip off the flaps so I can grab them out quickly. I think I mainly rip off the flaps so they still look nice ha ha so if it's not worth it to you, then by all means skip that step, but keep the box opened so you can still grab things easily!  

Then, on days when I am feeling ambitious, typically when I get back from grocery shopping, I pull out snack size bags and fill them with good snack sized portions of whatever I'm dealing with.  Gold fish, grapes, strawberries, carrots, animal crackers.. all that good lunch stuff.  Then it's easy to grab and put into his lunch and yet he's still getting healthy things. This takes about a half hour for two weeks worth of lunches. 

I stick everything that doesn't need to be refrigerated in his lunch bag and leave it on the counter by the back door. I make sure to give him plastic forks/spoons if he needs them. 

I make Kyler PB&J's the night before and stick them in the freezer. I leave him a note that they are in there, he pulls them out the next morning, and by lunch time they have thawed and taste like I just freshly made them. I like doing this because waking up and making the sandwiches before he leaves in the morning is just harder for me to get excited about. :)

I also do that with fridge items. I put them in a certain spot in the fridge that he knows is his "lunch" spot, and I leave a note on the counter and he grabs them in the morning.

I like doing things this way because it's a stress free, easy way for me to provide a service to my husband.