10 Tot School Ideas for 9-12 months

Tiny Tot School Ideas for Ages 9-12 Months

{disclaimer ~ affiliate links are used}

Tot School is simply playing with your tot!  The name came from my son many years ago, but don’t let the term “school” fool you, it most certainly is not school in the traditional form.  It is simply exposing early learning skills through focused play with your tot, something parents have been doing for many, many years!  I am a firm believer in developmentally appropriate practice and letting kids grow and develop at their pace, not pushing education too soon.  However, it is usually the MOM who needs an actual plan, idea list, or even a program to follow. For those of you who love to gather ideas for playing with your tot, I am sharing several posts in a series, broken down by ages. Many have asked for this, and finally I am taking the time to do it!

See our other posts in this series…

Tot School Ideas for 12-18 Months

All ideas are presented with the understanding that you are playing WITH your baby, these are not all independent activities as some of the items are choking hazards. Please only use ideas that you feel comfortable with and feel you can ensure your tot’s safety.

1. Homemade Shakers

We made shakers out of breast milk bottles, they were slim and perfect for her little hands. I made about 6 different bottles, each with something different inside. We used: googly eyes, beads, mini erasers, plastic hearts, beans, and rice.  You can use anything, just seal the lid tightly! Ladybug used these from about 9 months until she was over 2, they were a long time favorite! See our Tot School post sharing these here.

Tiny Tot School Homemade Shakers 9-12 months


2. Exploring Ping Pong Balls

This was one of my fondest Tiny Tot School memories!  We gave her ping pong balls to explore when she was 11 months old and she was hooked!  We had more fun with a few ping pong balls, see what else we used with the ping pong balls here in our Tot School post!

Tiny Tot School Ping Pong Balls 9-12 months


3. Exploring Bells

Another fond memory from Tiny Tot School was seeing her explore bells! When she was 10 months old I gave her these large bells and she was fascinated. We did many different things with the bells; adding in paper towel tubes, string, baskets, and more to add to the fun.  See all we did here in our Tot School post.

Tiny Tot School Bells 9-12 months


3. Exploring String

Something as simple as string can provide many learning opportunities for a young tot!  We played with string a lot when Ladybug was this age.  She was fascinated by it. See how we played with it in our Tot School post here.

Tiny Tot School  Exploring String 9-12 months


4. In and Out

Such a fascinating concept for babies ~ IN and OUT!  We used many different objects to let her explore this concept and one of her very favorites was using Zoobs {shown below}. We used all sorts of recycled containers and items to transfer.  This idea was featured in this Tot School post.

Tiny Tot School In and Out 9-12 months


5. Metal Bowls

Adding metal bowls to Ladybug’s play was a big deal, mostly due to the loud noise they make.  She is a very sensitive child at age 4 now and I am constantly exposing her to different sensory experiences to help her.  I remember how she reacted to this bowl the first time and it foreshadowed what was to come with my sensitive girl. Some babies LOVE the loud noise metal makes {Krash}, and others are apprehensive {Ladybug}. Early sensory experiences like this are great for either type of baby.  You can see she was putting her shakers in the bowl this day.

Tiny Tot School Metal Bowls 9-12 months


6. Chunky Puzzles

We only had a few chunky puzzles like this but she loved them and used them for a long time.  They were a great introduction to puzzles and were durable to last!  See our Tot School post featuring this photo!

Tiny Tot School Chunky Puzzles 9-12 months


7. Exploring Cups

We all have cups!  She loved our Ikea cups in particular and played with them a lot! Many of the best early learning toys are already in your house!

Tony Tot School Cups 9-12 months


8. Wedgits

Krash actually got Wedgits for his 4th birthday but it was Ladybug who was just 1 who LOVED them.  The little white pieces were the perfect size for her hands and she loved the challenge of getting them to fit in the green pieces.  Although not a typical young tot toy, this is one you can get early and use for a long time! Here’s the Tot School post this photo is from.

Tiny Tot School Wedgits 9-12 months


9. Plastic Eggs

{& Easter grass if you feel brave}

Oh my did she ever have fun with the Easter grass and plastic eggs!  Yes, it made a mess, but her joy and intensity was well worth it!  Such a great sensory experience for young tots, just make sure they don’t eat it!  She wasn’t a mouth-er so it wasn’t a big deal for us.  See the Tot School post for more photos!

Tiny Tot School Easter Grass 9-12 months Tiny Tot School Plastic Eggs 9-12 months


10. Bean Bags

My mom made our bean bags, but any set will do.  She loved these from the first time we gave them to her.  The weight, the beans to squish, and the way she could grip them well made bean bags a good choice. Another item that lasts a long time, we now use them for letter games! Here’s the Tot School post this photo is from.

Tiny Tot School Bean Bags 9-12 months

During this age period, I kept things VERY simple.  I only brought out one “new” thing per week, it wasn’t a great deal of thought or effort to be honest.

I created a simple PDF file featuring all of the images from this post on one page.  Back when we were Tot Schooling, I loved to have lists I could refer back to.

You can download the Tot School ideas for Ages 9-12 months here!

More ideas for this age group from around the web ~

Looking for more ideas, be sure to grab our Where to Begin with Tot School eBook for free here! In the eBook you will find pages with different ages and ideas for that age group!

Tot School Ideas By Ages

~ Coming Soon ~

Tot School Ideas for 24-30 Months

Tot School Ideas for 30-36 Months

Tot School Ideas for 3-4 Years

In the meantime, you can visit our Tot School Ideas by Ages!

Tot School ~ Easter

~Krash is currently 46.5 months old~

~Ladybug is currently 11.5 months old~

We are carrying on around here, getting ready for the big change from Tot School to Preschool with Krash.  I am spending hours and hours behind the scenes preparing for that.  We are going to officially begin mid-April.  We go on vacation April 10 for a little over a week, then plan to get into Preschool when we return!  For now we carry on in Tot School fashion, these being his final weeks…wow time flies!

Learning Toys

Krash has always been better at letter ID than number ID, so we are working hard!  Here he is putting his magnets in order {with help from me}.  We also practiced counting 1:1 several times once they were all in order.IMG_5799 copy

We went outside to play with our lowercase alphabet beanbags {my mom made them for us}

IMG_5805 copyIMG_5810 copy

We used our ABC floor puzzle letters to work on K’s name, here he is hopping on the letters as he says them.  IMG_5740 copy We dug out our bottle top spelling cards and this time he chose Nana first ;-).IMG_5785 copy

He also worked with his color wheel, I remember not so long ago when he couldn’t open clothespins at all!  He’s so big now! IMG_5795 copy


We continue to explore our Easter theme and added in our Resurrection Eggs this week.  Krash had a GREAT time exploring them each morning freely.  We are teaching through them, but I also gave him time to just explore.IMG_5716 copy

I made K color eggs, putting a few small items in the colored egg to match.  He opened them all, dumped them all out and then put them all back correctly. IMG_5729 copy

The boys played Roll an Easter EggIMG_5733 copy  We made more patterns with our eggsIMG_3250

We played the Easter Dice Game again… IMG_3248


Post SubTitles ABC

G is for goat!  We read a few farm books, his favorite being Grumpy Morning.IMG_3499 copy

Tiny Tot SchoolLadybug explored eggs this week!  She played with her eggs every day and loved them every single time.  We used a basket and also an empty parmesan cheese container to play with them.  She didn’t really like it when we put them all into the container and made her get them out herself 😉IMG_3439 copy

Pac Man counted one at a time for her as he put them in…she just stares at him, it’s adorable.IMG_3430 copy  IMG_5840 copyIMG_5831 copy

I was brave and let her explore our Sensory Box…Easter basket grass!  The box was mostly for Krash, but he wasn’t all that interested so it became for Ladybug.  I let her go at it on this day and she had a blast!IMG_3450 copyI think things like this are important {under CLOSE supervision} because it exposes babies to textures and sounds they probably wouldn’t encounter otherwise.  You can just see her little brain working as she plays.  I love her face below ;-).IMG_3474 copy She also loved playing with the pegs this week.  I gave her just a few and she loved holding them, perfect size for her little hands!  Pac Man is always stealing kisses ;-).IMG_5881

She joined us for morning calendar time this week and was so cute.  Lately she has been napping during calendar time but this day she was awake and she loved it!  She held our cards for us!IMG_5721 copy

Life School

Definite learning going on here during Fort Building 101.IMG_2956

Moms Favorite

Krash is obsessed with ladders.  Daddy was working outside hanging a new swing for us and Krash had to be right in the action.  I love his face below 😉IMG_3087

He is also obsessed with tools, apparently the ladder needed some fixing. IMG_3167 copy


This Weeks Tools

Tot School ~ Easter Fun

~Krash is 46 months old~

~Ladybug is 11 months old~

Learning ToysWe dug out our Magneatos and Krash made fireworks.  The best part was his detailed  {hilarious of course} descriptions of how the fireworks worked and what they looked like.IMG_3037

We had some Egg and Spoon Race fun!IMG_3029

He is VERY into clocks and time.  We are still doing a time of the day with our calendar time, but he needed more time fun so we got out the cards and clocks and he just played with them for so long! {that white clock was a consignment sale find for a dollar!}IMG_3003

He has progressed in the progressive puzzles, he can now do the 6 piece puzzles! IMG_2998

Krash is finally into building things, and was VERY proud of his towers!!! IMG_2923


We began our weeks of Easter Fun! I have tons of things, so we will keep this theme through Easter’s arrival!  Everything you’ll see below can be printed from links in the Totally Tots Mommy Made Printables Post!  {I used things from Erica-Confessions of a Homeschooler, Erin-Homegrown Hearts, and my own Tot Pack!}

One of our very favorite things, the colored baskets and eggs from Erin.  I laminated everything and put small velcro dots to help hold it all.We played several games with these {and aren’t done yet}.  Here K is flipping over one at a time with me to name the color and find it’s home.  It is good taking turns practice too.IMG_2864

The next time we used the eggs we got out tons of energy!!!  I gave 3 baskets to K and 3 to Pac and then hid the eggs accordingly {easier for K and harder for P}.  They had a race to see who could find their eggs the fastest.  I purposely put the baskets far away so they would have to run a lot {wear them out=possibility for a nap}.  IMG_2966

On another day I also tried to wear him out.  I put all of the eggs in a basket and laid the baskets in a row.  He had to run to get one from my basket and then run as FAST AS HE COULD to put it in the correct basket…all while yelling out the color!  We plan to use these eggs and baskets much much more!IMG_2997

I finally got around to making pom pom magnets and K loved them!  Here he is using them to work on the He is Risen! page…IMG_2862

He colored one color per day in his Jelly Bean Prayer mini book {from my Tot Pack}…IMG_2866

We read an adorable {and very inexpensive} book I got the boys, My Jellybean Prayer Book. I also bought him smelly Jolly Jelly Beans Stickers, he had fun making a lovely picture for us to hang up ;-)…IMG_2871Pac Man helped Krash with our new egg file folder game.  IMG_2939 We played the Easter Dice Game several times!IMG_2941  The boys made patterns with eggs…IMG_2962

K completed the entire Spring ABCs file folder…IMG_2991


Rock Star Tot

We are almost done with Moses and Krash colored a picture of Moses to put on the front of our final folder which will hold all of our Moses stuff! IMG_2946


Tiny Tot SchoolWe made Ladybug some shakers out of breastmilk bottles!  While searching for a new item, I saw these and realized they are the perfect slim size for her little hands.  Pac Man helped me fill them with neat things. We used: pom poms, mini erasers, small beads, small linking shapes, rice, beans, and wiggly eyes.  She loved them!!!IMG_2888 Although the cat was a bit distracting, she loves Buddy too!IMG_2893

P showed her how they roll down the slope of the upside down basket…this made her giggle! IMG_2894  I hid them under her rings for her to find…IMG_3014 I stacked them up for her to knock over…IMG_3046

Ladybug continues to love her books, Pac Man continues to be an amazing biggest brother.IMG_2895

She also enjoyed playing with blocks this week {mostly just banging them together}.IMG_2928


Life School

Pac Man was learning about magnets while K was “sleeping”.  He wandered downstairs and just had to be included!  He had fun seeing which things float…IMG_2898  Then he checked to see which things would attract to the magnet…IMG_2904

We did this neat trick, which he loved!!!IMG_2903


Moms Favorite

Ladybug’s birthday is less than a month away and we just couldn’t wait to give her her birthday present ;-)…a new swing!  It was warm and sunny and just begging to be put up for her.  Do you think she likes it? IMG_3174 copy


This Weeks Tools

Tot School ~ Spring Fun…Kites!

~Krash is currently 46 months old~

Learning Toys

We did ALL of his ladybug ABCs together, but it was way more fun to drive cars on the bug-road!IMG_2419

Stacker Pegs…always a BIG HIT {with both boys}… IMG_2440

He learned to put them on his fingers! {Visit my Play with Me post on Totally Tots for more play ideas with this awesome toy!}IMG_2444

K continues to LOVE these puzzles. By far his favorite puzzles. He has these and the dino set and asks for them a lot!IMG_2771

Remember these? Yup, we still love them. Krash can build them all by himself now…IMG_2827but his favorite thing to do is this… IMG_2828


We began our SPRING FUN this week {thankfully the SUN cooperated}, we enjoyed tons of KITE activities! You can find all of the files for these activities here on my Spring Fun webpage and also from Erica’s K is for Kite post!

He matched the kites…IMG_2343

Traced the lines {and amazed me with his ability to focus on this}! IMG_2346His control while tracing is unreal to me {since Pac Man was TOTALLY different}. IMG_2363

He dot painted his K is for Kite… IMG_2381

He counted 1-10 with me, putting his kites all in order {with help}…IMG_2560Then I had him practice 1:1 counting by moving each number over as he said it, to make sure he didn’t go too fast or skip any!IMG_2568

On another day we used erasers to match to the numbers 1-5…IMG_2804

We played the Build a Kite game… {I love these games for the number ID practice he gets}IMG_2597

He cut out all of his triangles and put his colored kite together… IMG_2796 IMG_2800

He read his Spring mini book a few times {Pac enjoys helping}…IMG_2554

He worked on his Spring ABC file folder several times. I gave him just a handful of letters to do each time so he wouldn’t get overwhelmed.IMG_2576


Post SubTitles ABC

We read the Gingerbread Baby and made F is for Fox!

IMG_2812 Some of you have asked if our letter matches up with our theme. NO it does not. I don’t worry about everything matching ;-). We do lots of stuff within a theme and lots of random stuff. Young kiddos don’t care nearly as much as we moms do about things all going together!

Techy TotMy iPod has been a sought after item this week for both boys. It’s funny how some weeks they barely ask for it, and some they are both fighting over it! Krash has especially enjoyed his different apps this week. IMG_2748I got him a new one in honor of the Dr. Seuss sale! We have enjoyed reading through the book together with this app and he has played with it alone too! Adorable and only 99 cents right now! Find this app and more on our website!


Rock Star Tot

Each morning during our calendar time, we practice our old verses. I always LOVE hearing Krash recite {sing} his verses from memory-it is so encouraging to me! IMG_2789


Tiny Tot School

Ladybug explored SPOOLS this week! I had a few plastic spools and some wooden ones my mom had saved for me. Again, such a simple object {and free}, but filled with opportunities to explore for a Tiny Tot! I love seeing her dig things out of the basket! IMG_2727She really liked seeing how many she could fit in her chubby little hands!IMG_2734

I added a clear empty container {parmesan cheese} and put them all inside, she had fun dumping them out, although she still just preferred to bang them together and hold lots in one hand!IMG_2778

Little bug is learning to get around much better now! I find her like this a lot now, just trying to get the courage up to drop and scoot!IMG_2745We had a little Tot School in the sun for a few days when God blessed us greatly!!!!!IMG_2663 Nothing better than the sun and big brothers who adore you, right? 😉 This princess has it made.IMG_2677IMG_2470Ladybug loves turning pages in books and will sit by herself and do this for a really long time! {yes, I know I am blessed-neither of the boys did this often or for nearly as long}. IMG_2481


Life School

The sun made for some awesome deck fun this past week. It is raining now {POURING actually} as I write this, so these pictures make me smile and long for the sun to return this week!

Krash practiced using a fan to cool himself from severe heat stroke {you know in the 58 degree weather}.

IMG_2507 Krash dresses himself most days now;-)IMG_2499


Moms Favorite

This boy just makes me smile. I simply adore him. Those brown eyes, that silly grin, those chubby cheeks. IMG_2397

Those are my feet, tickling him. I love remembering his contagious laugh.IMG_2409


This Weeks Tools

Tot School ~ Baby Animals

~Krash is currently 46 months old~

Learning Toys

Zoobs continue to be a BIG hit with both boys.  I just love how Krash likes to “read” the instruction booklets.  He is so good at building things with these now, completely on his own!IMG_1871

Our beads are also still a favorite, they can’t get enough of these! IMG_1800Not really how the book, “How to Build an A” is supposed to be used, but I suppose it does work well as a race track, right? IMG_1801 We had LOADS of fun with Twister Hopscotch this week, SO much fun in fact that it will be the featured toy for my “Play with Me” post on Totally Tots this month, stay tuned!IMG_1804

He did his lower case ABC puzzle all by himself {with his hammer of course}IMG_2326


We enjoyed a week of BABY ANIMALS! We enjoyed reading tons of books about baby animals, many of which are here.  I made a Baby Animals Tot Pack, but just haven’t had the chance to get it posted…I promise I will share SOON!  Here’s K checking out his first day’s workboxes {I can’t believe I caught his face like that, he was honestly happy about his stuff!}…IMG_1779  He made baby animal collages using our Ultimate Baby Animal Sticker Book…IMG_1780 He colored his baby animal cards to match the color of their name…IMG_1797 He put together is baby animal puzzles…IMG_1793 After the 1st one was so wiggly, I decided to put Velcro on the back of the laminated pieces and let him use a piece of felt-he loved this!IMG_1863

He loved matching his mommy & baby cards…IMG_1777

I made him an I Spy bottle {don’t have a photo} by putting these little images with rice in it.  He hated it.  The next day I dumped it into a box like this and he loved it.IMG_2096

He played with just the rice for a long time after finding the animals, AND did a great job obeying my keep the rice in the box instruction!!!IMG_2112

He matched his Mommy & Baby animals…IMG_2317

We got out our Is Your Mama a Llama shadow matching {form our Itty Bitty Bookworm} IMG_2296


tub of funA tub of dry beans and baby animals 😉  hours of fun for a tot!  He did ask for cups and a spoon…silly mommy didn’t even think about that!IMG_1748


Post SubTitles ABC

We read Rumble in the Jungle and made an Elephant EIMG_1859


Techy Tot

Krash is in love with this new FREE app I got for him, Giraffe’s Matching Zoo.  I honestly didn’t even think he would like it but he plays it all the time!image As with all free apps, be careful of the pop ups that try to get your child to buy something ;-). See this app and more we love for tots here on our web page.

Tiny Tot School

I brought out our gears toy for Ladybug and she is in love!!!IMG_2261Our item this week was ping pong balls {we have these}! She loved them!!!!  First I put them in a basket for her to explore…IMG_1838 I love how she dug right in to get them!!!IMG_1839IMG_1843 Of course Pac Man played with her tons.  Here he is throwing them into the basket for her…I think he taught her how to juggle too.IMG_1846 Next time I gave her the balls on a tray and added in an empty container.  She was fun to watch as she explored this!IMG_1994IMG_2011She loved it when I showed her how the balls rolled around on the tray! IMG_2043

I have to be careful now, my little scooter is getting her self around pretty good.  I walked out of the room for a sec and came back to find she had scooted over to the toy shelves and helped herself! IMG_2052


Getting Ready

Independent reading time has been something we have done for years {here’s an old post about Pac Man and reading}.  I just fall off the wagon with scheduling it in at times.  We are back on the wagon and each boy has a new book basket which I keep loaded with books that I think will interest them.IMG_1788I am now having them read while I prepare lunch each day, and we did it every day last week.  It was AWESOME.  I am also using the book baskets as a time filler if I have to put Ladybug down for a nap or something and need something quick to engage the boys while I am away for a few minutes.  Krash quickly found a few favorites in his basket and read them over and over again all week, it was so cute! IMG_1832

He continues to cut his way through his Kumon Cutting Workbook…IMG_1865

Krash finally did his very first unprompted “writing”  He is advancing so quickly with school type things these days.  It’s like he has turned a corner and all of the sudden is into this stuff now!IMG_1857


Life School

“Look Mommy, it’s a g!!!!” {yes, Mommy was very proud, considering I didn’t even think he could identify a lower case g}IMG_1879

K’s new obsession…Team UmiZoomi {if you haven’t seen it, it is a cross between Super Why, Little Einsteins & Wonder Pets-focused on MATH}.  I think it is super cute and he is not usually really into certain shows, so it is cute to see him get up and dance with it!!!IMG_2271


Moms Favorite

Krash and Ladybug are really developing a sweet bond together now that she is a bit older.  It is so awesome.  He is the wildest kid but is so soft spoken and gentle with her.  It just melts my heart.


This Weeks Tools