We have started formal homeschool this week and it’s been so much fun watching Bou who is now 2.5 years and eager to learn, already thriving in this more structured purposeful play environment. I have been partly inspired by the concept of Tot Trays as widely developed and discussed HERE but also mostly by the Montessori method. Now I am by no means an expert on this subject, but it’s an approach to learning that I have become passionate about and determined to implement at home in the absence of a local Montessori nursery school in our area.


Schooling is a loose term here as we only really do approx 2 hours max of actual structured play and learning a day. 1 hr in the morning and another 1 hr later in the afternoon. Some days less, depending on what other plans we have as a family. Its definitely cut down on screen time and I have even noticed a real change in Bou’s attitude in regard to her toys and things. She is now much more considerate and respectful of her ‘work’ and tidying up is no longer an issue, its just part of the process of purposeful play.


To make a start we utilised some child friendly shelves and I bought a WOODEN TRAY SET then I got busy arranging everything as you might find in a Montessori classroom. Providing a prepared environment where everything should have its place and be easily accessible to the child is a key part of the Montessori practice. Most other materials needed we found either around the house or in Bou’s existing toy stash. We did purchase a few child size utensils – a mini grater, ladles, whisks, tongs etc. However this is by no means essential, as long as your little one can comfortably and safely use the tools and materials thats all that matters.







We organise one activity per tray and then leave the trays out for one week at a time. Little ones will happily complete a task over and over again until satisfied as they are essentially interested in the learning process rather than the end result, unlike us grown ups! Its worth noting that an activity should never be forced upon the child – you are simply presenting them with interesting and engaging opportunities to learn. The child should also be free to participate or not and will let you know when a task has been completed.


We kicked off our first week of homeschool with Montessori practical life activities which is all about learning from everyday real-life experience through practical exercises. This helps develop concentration, co-ordination, fine motor skills and most importantly how to master skills to become independent and confident.


We began with doll washing as bathing baby is a fun reminder for self care. Washing soaping, scrubbing and then drying off baby created a sequence of actions with a rewarding end result.





Here is Bou squeezing oranges to prepare herself a mid morning refreshment. This is harder than it looks and took quite a bit of practice to squeeze out all of that juice. She did get a little frustrated at moments, so we will carry on with this exercise to help build up her confidence. We also strained the pulp and poured the juice into her cup which she guzzled down with great delight!





Flower arranging proved very popular. We tried it with real flowers and fake plastic ones and she took great care with both arrangements, all the while telling me which flower was for each one of her friends. I think she had just about someone in mind for every flower in that vase!





Washing potatoes was another opportunity for water play with a satisfying end result. Plus helping out with food prep makes her feel like a valued member of the family. Toddlers just love to help and this such a great job for them to do! Bou really enjoys helping me in the kitchen and is so interested in learning about all the different ingredients used in cooking.





Dry transfer work like scooping and pouring is another great skill to master and can easily be switched up by changing utensils, containers, funnels and pouring materials. Exploring the equipment at hand can sometimes result in the funnel becoming a telescope or getting your fingers temporarily stuck in a ladle! Whoops!





Next some fine motor skill work – practicing the pincer grip with pegging and the classic Montessori task – pouring yourself a drink with a real ceramic jug and glass. Look how happy and satisfied she looks!




I did change up the activities a bit throughout the week as I noticed her interest begin to wane, sometimes it was only as simple as switching a utensil or replacing a material to make it feel fresh and fun again. I just love how organic this type of schooling feels – using everyday objects and items from around the house to create interesting, educational activities. But best of all Bou has been so excited about starting school with me and kept exclaiming “this is fun!” Phew.


Next week we will be doing valentines themed trays so watch this space!













Hey!  I’m Jazz Domino Holly – author, designer and mama to daughter and mini-muse, Boo. Welcome to our online home where we share our everyday adventures and document our days, living life colourfully and creatively by the British more ›