A Look Inside Our Organized Learning Tubs

The following post contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Teacher Voice vs. Mom Voice

Since I’m staying at home with the boys now, they aren’t in school daily, so I try to make sure that I am teaching them the things they would be learning if they were in daily school. Let me tell you from experience, I think it is much easier to teach other peoples children than your own. You homeschool mommas deserve a medal. Isn’t it amazing how with someone else’s kids you can totally mostly keep your patience?

I definitely had my “teacher voice” when I was in the classroom.  Just ask my husband. He didn’t like when I used it on him, unbeknownst to me that I was using it.  Anyone that has ever taught knows what I’m talking about. That voice where you don’t have to scream or yell, but the students know you mean business and willingly comply. Why can’t there be a mom voice? Oh wait, there is, it’s called yelling at your kids and they still don’t do what you ask of them. Sounds like a double standard to me. So you’ll listen to the teacher, but not me? Ok, cool. Even though in all reality, I would MUCH rather my child listen and behave for a teacher than for me if they can only choose one.

Teacher Supplies

This past weekend, Chad and I started going through our garage. Our house in Houston doesn’t have as much storage as we had in our previous house, so we had a lot of boxes stored in our garage. To get rid of some clutter, we pulled out all of my teaching boxes (the majority of the boxes in the garage to begin with), and I started going through them. It’s hard to get rid of stuff if you teach because you are always thinking about the fact that one day you may need that binder filled with materials from a specific program at that one school you taught at five years ago. The struggle is real.

I was excited to go through the boxes, because I was looking for two specific things: my flair pens, and my hot glue gun. I didn’t find the hot glue gun, but I did find my beloved flair pens, and that made my day. If you don’t have any, they’re amazing, and you should definitely invest in some. I found some other exciting things that I pulled out to use with the boys, and that made me start thinking of different ways I could work with them at home.

Teacher Mindset

One of the easiest ways for me to get in the mindset of teaching my own boys at home is to remind myself of things I did when I taught in the classroom. Many teachers, myself included, would do what we called “tubs.” When I say tubs, think of centers. It is basically different activities that students are doing pertaining to a subject you have taught them. They are called tubs because the materials you need to do the activity are in a plastic tub type container, or in my case, plastic green baskets.

I mostly did tubs during math time. For instance, if we were working on multiplication there may be six different multiplication tubs. Each tub would contain an activity that would help the students practice the skills that were taught, i.e. multiplication on the iPads, a multiplication game with dice, a multiplication art project, etc.

Most teachers do tubs their own way depending on their teaching style and what works for them. I am super Type A and like routines and an organized classroom, so my students didn’t rotate, the tubs did. That way, everyone did every tub at their own desk and I didn’t have to worry about how everyone got to the next place and if they had all their materials and if so and so went through their desk, etc. Trust me, you have to think about these things, or there will be total chaos. Side note: Just typing this out and talking about classroom management really makes me miss teaching. I’m a dork.

Our Toddler Tubs

I started thinking about how implementing tubs with my boys would be a good way to keep things organized and also a good way to make sure they are working on the skills I want them to be learning. I keep the tubs packed with the materials we need to learn about a certain topic, and I can easily change out the materials when the skill is either mastered, or the boys need a change up. I of course make sure to include books on each topic as one of our tub activities.

Instead of focusing on one skill in my tubs such as a specific math skill, I created one tub for each of the topics I want to focus on with them at the moment: shapes, colors, letters, animals, and numbers. Now, throughout the day, we do other activities that focus on fine motor skills, gross motor skills, independent play, arts, etc., but those aren’t in the tubs.

With all of this being said, I thought I would break our tubs down and tell you what we have in them and what we have been learning about lately. Today, I’m going to give you a look inside our Alphabet Tub. Subscribe here to make sure you see the next blog post with a peak inside the other tubs!

Alphabet Tub

It always seems so easy to find skills to work on with James and so difficult to find things to work on with Weston. Weston can’t do the things James can, so I have to keep him occupied when I try to work with James. Then, when I try to give him an activity to do, it inevitably goes straight to his mouth. I’m just telling myself he is hearing everything I’m telling James.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, so don’t tell me otherwise.

Clearly, Weston isn’t quite ready to learn his letters yet, but he can listen as we sing the ABC’s, read the books with us, and he enjoys playing with some of the activities in the tub while I’m working with James, even if he is just chewing on the cards or throwing the letters.

Here’s a look at what’s inside our Alphabet Tub:

  1. Books – We always start each tub by reading books that go along with the topic. Here are some of the alphabet books we are enjoying right now: Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom, LMNO Peas, ABCer’s, and Litter Critter’s ABCs. The best part of all of these is that they are great for toddlers, and they are all less than $10 on Amazon!
  2. LeapFrog Magnetic Letters – These are great because you can change out the letters, and each letter sings a song using the sound(s) that letter makes. I have been working on letter sounds with James lately, so this is great for him. They are meant to be used on the refrigerator, but I let the boys play with them on a cookie sheet so that we can use them during our tub time at the table.
  3. Little Hands ABC Flashcards – These are amazing because they aren’t just your typical flashcards. They are touch and feel cards, so it is a great sensory activity as well.
  4. ABC Matching – This activity is super quick and easy to make. You simply need wooden craft sticks and wooden clothes pins. I wrote uppercase letters on both the craft sticks and the clothes pins. If your child is older, I’d write uppercase letters on one and lowercase letters on the other so they can learn to match the corresponding letters. I wrote the letter on the clothes pin going sideways so that when we clipped it on the matching craft stick you could see both letters to reinforce that the letters matched. Added bonus: this is a great fine motor skills activity. It is difficult for Jame to open the clothes pin, but it’s great practice, and he loved this activity! Although he isn’t identifying his letters yet, he is becoming familiar with them and is recognizing which letters look the same.
  5. DO-A-DOT Markers – If you’ve read some of my posts in the past, you know I love these markers! They can be used for so many different activities. I simply take a piece of card stock and draw a large, uppercase letter on the paper (top to bottom). I then have James pick a DO-A-DOT marker and have him dot along the lines of the letter to help him practice making that letter.
  6. Melissa and Doug On the Go Water Wow! Splash Cards – Y’all, I know I put these on my Rainy Day Activities post, but that’s how great they are. Not only are they mess-free, but they also have this set of alphabet flashcards that your child can “paint” and the card reveals an animal that begins with that letter.

ABC Activities

I hope you enjoyed a look inside our Alphabet tub! What letter activities are you doing with your little ones?


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24 thoughts on “A Look Inside Our Organized Learning Tubs

    1. Thank you so much, I really appreciate that! The different tubs definitely help me stay more organized and have less prep work if I keep them full!

    1. So glad you found some things that will work for you! The boys have really enjoyed them. Thanks for reading!

    1. That is almost the exact same age as my oldest! He can say them, if only I can start getting him to identify them 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Hopefully you found something you can do with you son!

    1. Oh, how awesome! Hopefully your students will enjoy them as much as we did. Thanks Carrie for stopping by and reading!

    1. Clothespins are great for so many things! If you look on my blog, there’s a link to where you can get them on Amazon, or if you’re out shopping, I usually find them at Walmart!

  1. I love your method for keeping everything organized! Also, I’ve been looking EVERYWHERE for MONTHS for that leapfrog magnetic school bus. Every target near me is sold out and so is Toys R US! Grrr!

    1. Thank you Rachel! I am super Type A, so I have to stay somewhat organized to stay sane in this wild household. If you go back to my blog where I talked about the LeapFrog magnetic letters, there is a link that will take you to an Amazon store that carries it. My boys love it! The former school teacher in me loves that they pronounce all of the letter sounds correctly because a lot of times things don’t haha.

  2. I love finding new and fun activities to do with my kiddos and these are great. I love the activity tubs and I feel like my kids would really love it. I really want those LeapFrog letters!

    1. Thank you, Tabitha! Good luck with your new adventure. I think homeschool mommas are rockstars 🙌🏻

    1. Thank you! I love hands-on learning – so rewarding! They don’t even realize they’re learning half the time 😉 Hope your kids enjoy!

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