Preschool Work Trays

Warning~ this is a VERY long post intended to give massive details to the few of you who like it this way!  For those of you who are skimmers, I have tried to bold main points so you can scroll through and see the basics.

Preschool Work Trays

I used a version of Workboxes with Krash when he began preschool and they worked well for him then. I also wrote a post about transitioning from Tot School {child-led} to PreK {more teacher/parent led}.  I am on this journey again and thought I would share how it is working for Ladybug!  Ladybug is currently 3, she will turn 4 in April. She is a bit more academically advanced than Krash was, but mostly it is that her interest in school-type activities is WAY more intense!  I am following the lead of the child and starting her with home preschool now!

The main differences in my mind between Tot School and Preschool are outlined in this post, having to do with student led free choice and parent directed learning.  Both are mostly hands on, led by the child’s interests, fun, playful, and have a focus on exposure vs. mastery.  I absolutely do not believe in pushing kids at this age academically, there is much time for that later in life!

One way I transition from student led free choice {Tot Tray style} into our home preschool format is through the use of Preschool Workboxes, or in our casecurrently Preschool Work Trays.  I meant to get to Ikea to grab Ladybug a set of drawers but never found time, so I set hers up with trays and so far it is working. We may switch to drawers, so the name is not the focus; drawers, trays, boxes…all the same to me.

For our first week with this system, I chose a fun winter theme, focused around the book, The Mitten.  I set up her work shelves for the very first day like this:

Home Preschool Winter Theme -6993

I took MANY photos this week so I could show you in detail what and how I switched things out for her week. I DO change out her trays every day now, which is different from Tot School.  I am doing things a bit different with her than I did with Krash, mostly because each child is different and I am basing my decisions around her.

Instead of Ladybug choosing which activities she wants to do, I have her go in order, which she thrived on!  Krash was a bit more of a fight when we made this transition, so it is different for each child.

Here is a detailed outline of our 4 days of planned home preschool using work trays.

For those of you wondering, this first preschool week occurred the week before we began Raising Rock Stars Preschool.  I chose a theme to ease her into the concept of working in order before bringing in the new RRSP work!  We are using work trays with RRSP now and I will be blogging her home preschool adventure also!



Tray #1 ~ Read the book to her, using a cookie sheet and Story Props {she LOVED this}

Home Preschool Winter Theme -7000


Tray # 2 ~ Clothespin Clip Number Cards from The Mitten  Pack

Home Preschool Winter Theme -6996

Tray # 3 ~ The Mitten Color mini book {the blog I got this from has been removed so the printable is no longer available}

Home Preschool Winter Theme -7003

Tray #4 ~ The Mitten Dot Fun

Home Preschool Winter Theme -7006 Home Preschool Winter Theme -7010

Tray # 5 ~ Winter Stickers and colored paper {no photo, sorry}

Tray # 6 ~ Pattern Block Snowman from PreKindersHome Preschool Winter Theme -7013

Tray # 7 ~ Color to Match Snowman {we did this coloring together so no photo}

Tray # 8 ~ Winter book, read aloud  {Amy Loves the Snow}Amy loves the snow

Tray # 9 ~ Sound Blocks {something fun from our homeschool storage room that she hasn’t played with in awhile.  These are SUPER hard but we still had fun matching them together!Home Preschool Winter Theme -7016

~ Day TWO ~

Tray # 1 ~ read the book, use printables from Jan Brett’s site to follow along with the story. I used these images.Home Preschool Winter Theme -7101

Tray # 2 ~ The Mitten Roll and GraphHome Preschool Winter Theme -7103

Tray # 3 ~ 3 Part Cards from The Mitten  Pack, in mini pocket chartHome Preschool Winter Theme -7107

Tray # 4 ~ Snowman counting {cards from S is for Snowman}Home Preschool Winter Theme -7111

Tray # 5 ~ Where is the Mitten? book from The Mitten PackHome Preschool Winter Theme -7110

Tray # 6 ~ snowman and magnetic pattern blocksHome Preschool Winter Theme -7114

Tray # 7 ~ color the letters on the snowman Home Preschool Winter Theme -7117

Tray # 8 ~ Winter book  {Puppies in the Snow}Puppies in the snow

Tray # 9 ~ match the cookie shapes gameHome Preschool Winter Theme -7122



Tray # 1 ~ Read book, use story props again, this time add in words.Home Preschool Winter Theme -7124

Tray # 2 ~ The Mitten 1-10 PuzzleHome Preschool Winter Theme -7128

Tray # 3 ~ The Mitten Dot Fun with magnetic letters.Home Preschool Winter Theme -7130

Tray # 4 ~ Syllable countingHome Preschool Winter Theme -7134

Tray # 5 ~ ABC The Mitten MazeHome Preschool Winter Theme -7135

Tray # 6 ~ Snowflake Pattern blocksHome Preschool Winter Theme -7140

Tray # 7 ~ Listen and color from Winter Just Color.Home Preschool Winter Theme -7141

Tray # 8 ~ read aloud book {Oh!}Oh

Tray # 9 ~ Measuring Motors, we sorted them all by size togetherHome Preschool Winter Theme -7147

~ Day FOUR ~

Tray # 1 ~ read the book, put the animals in order using ordinal number cardsHome Preschool Winter Theme-7466

Tray # 2 ~ Snowflake in Shapes mini bookHome Preschool Winter Theme-7467

Tray # 3 ~ read aloud {The Snowman}The Snowman

Tray # 4 ~ snowman color by shapeHome Preschool Winter Theme-7470

Tray # 6 ~ 3 part word puzzles Home Preschool Winter Theme-7472

Tray # 7 ~ ABC and 123 Jingo {Krash LOVED this game, she didn’t care for it so much}Home Preschool Winter Theme-7477

A few summarizing notes:

  • I change out trays every day, 4 days per week.
  • Work trays last about an hour or less for us.
  • I have 9 spots, but won’t always have 9 activities per day.  Usually 6 is average, unless we have a heavy theme going on and I have prepped lots of fun stuff for her!
  • I do “require” her to do the work, but it is carefully chosen by what I know her interests are, I purposely do not choose things she won’t enjoy. I WILL help her complete an activity {such as coloring} if she just isn’t in the mood to do it.  At this point I do not let her skip a tray, this is to enforce the new concept of following mommy’s lead with school and transitioning into our future with homeschooling.
  • The trays are from Oriental Trading, they aren’t always in stock, search for “plastic trays”
  • The shelf is Trofast from Ikea
  • Her work trays will consist of her RRSP work and any special theme we have going on.  I don’t mind mixing stuff up, neither does she!
  • I prepare the week’s work prior to the week {printing, cutting, etc} and have a loose plan in mind, but nothing too specific. I keep the week’s worth in a big bin and each night I load up her trays with activities!

On top of her shelves I put her winter sensory bin.

Home Preschool Winter Theme -6994

She is free to play with this any time and played with it a LOT!  So did her brothers!Home Preschool Winter Theme -7023

Another key aspect to our home preschool is books!  I build in read alouds on her work trays, but far more of our reading is done during free time, as she selects books from our theme shelves quite often!

Winter Books-8200

Crayons are in these from Ikea, the white ledge is this from Ikea.

That’s home preschool for us!  It looks like we do a lot from the photos, but her school time only takes an hour or less per day! I am now working with her very first thing in the morning, which she enjoys. The rest of her day is spent learning through free play, and just being with us!