Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet

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Signs of Fall

We have interwoven signs of fall throughout our past few weeks in the classroom.  The weather has been a bit warmer than a normal fall, but we are beginning to see all of the beautiful changes all around us!

Below are some pictures from our first batch of Gak in the classroom!  A few of the students helped me make the first batch of the year, and it was a huge hit!  Gak is a mixture of water, glue, liquid watercolors, and borax.  It is stretchy, slimy, part liquid and part solid.  It is a great sensory tool in the classroom, and a fun medium other than play dough.

Sensory Play:


Below is W breaking apart the Gak and putting it into cupcake liners.


M was showing other students if you held up the Gak it would stretch longer and longer.


I added some leaf gems to push, squish, and hide inside of the Gak.


Process Art:

We used real apples to make a rolled art project.  I added a few dabs of paint to a large box, and the children rolled the apple around and around to “paint” the apple.  They thought it was really silly to paint an apple with an “apple paintbrush”!


Preschool Math:


Of course after all of our apple cooking, we had to taste test three different types of apples.  We tried Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.  After everyone had a chance to taste and vote for their favorite apple, and then we analyzed our results.  Which apple was our favorite?  Which apples had the most votes?  Which apple had the least votes?

Preschool Science:

Signs of Fall


We have been going on quite a few walks in this beautiful weather!  On one of our walks we decided to travel down to the creek and check out the “rapids.”



On the way to the creek we discovered a ‘wooly bear’ caterpillar.  He curled up into a ball once we walked past. The boys were trying to decide why he was curled up?


There was a big investigation of the caterpillar and a lot of discussion of where he was going!




We collected two large baskets of acorns, and used them to fill up our sensory tub.  To add another dimension to the tub, I put the top with different sized holes that my Dad made for me last year.  It is so fun to watch the children dig in through the holes, and fill the buckets up with lots of acorns.




The sensory tub inside the classroom was filled with birdseed, tree blocks, and forest animals.  This tub has been a busy place the past week!


Preschool Literacy:


We have been doing a number of finger plays and fall songs!  Many are very simple, but the children love to do them again and again.  I will do my best to post a video of our songs this week!

Pumpkin ABC Hunt

After morning meeting this past week we have done an ABC pumpkin hunt!  The children each got an ABC hunting sheet and a clipboard.  Then we pulled the ABCs out of the jack o’ lantern and tried to find the Capital or Lowercase Matching letter on their paper.  Once they found the match they covered it up with the Dot Art marker.




We have also begun to do small lessons from the Handwriting Without Tears Program.  The children have learned a few of the songs, and I have slowly started to introduce the materials in a small group and whole class setting.  Children were able to use the wooden pieces to create their “special letter” for the whole group.  Then as a small group I worked with children on their entire first name and their last name (for those that are ready).  We built their names using wooden pieces, and then we drew the letters on the Handwriting Without Tears chalkboard.




Light Exploration:

I put gems, apples, and sticks on the light panel.  Two little buddies worked for a long while creating apple trees and apple houses on the light panel.


Process Art:

Children have also been busy creating all around the classroom during choice time. They have been busy painting…



This group loves working with paper, scissors, stickers, washi tape, and oil pastels.  I have been leaving one table open for creating with the art supplies, because it is usually busy each and every day!

Thank you to one of our moms who donated all of the fun paper for coloring!  The children have really enjoyed it!


Lastly, children were given a variety of materials to decorate pinecones.  They used the glue to add pom poms, yarn, and sequence to make beautiful pine cone creations.


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10 Apples Up on Top


We have had so much fun exploring apples this fall!  It has been a great way to introduce the changing of the seasons, do some cooking and baking and delve into some school related activities.

We have done lots and lots of cooking and baking this week!  We made applesauce in the crockpot.  Everyone got a turn to peel the apple and they loved it!




Once everyone had a turn we put our peeled apples into the crockpot with Apple Cider and let them cook down for a few hours.


After our applesauce had baked for a few hours, we took turns having a taste test!  It was about 50/50 response for the children that loved it or thought it was ok.IMG_8431.jpg


Then we made mini apple pies with the children.  This was their favorite baking activity!  Again we got to use the big peeler to peel the apples.


Once we added some cinnamon and sugar to our apples we cut out circles from pre-made pie crust.  They baked into small mini apple pies in the muffin tray.  It was the perfect size for a taste test!







I’m not sure what they liked better…the apple pies or the ice cream?!!

We have also read “Ten Apples up on Top” a few mornings in a row.  The children loved to stop the book, count the apples, and see which character was in the lead.


I extended this concept by putting up an apple activity on the magnetic board.  Each of the characters are on magnets, and then I put lots and lots of apples on the board.  We would stack them up high and try to count how many apples were on top!  You can see B below put almost all of the apples on the dog!


We have also read a few fiction and non-fiction apple stories as well:





For sensory play we have had “Apple Pie Play Dough.”  I made a large batch of red play dough and added cinnamon and nutmeg for an additional sensory element.  I put out some laminated play dough mats with trees on them for creating their own apple trees.  I also brought down two really big pie trays so they could made their own “apple play dough pies.”


It has been a very busy week of baking and eating!  I can’t wait see what adventures we can have next week!

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We’re Going on a Nature Hunt



We finally had a patch of beautiful, cool weather and we were able to get out and explore our community!  We took a few nature walks around our school, and our farthest walk yet to the creek!

Below is my attempt at a “group photo”!



While we were doing all of our exploring, we have been reading these books about nature hunts, leaf hunts, and pretend bear hunts too!




Gross Motor Development/Nature/Seasons/Community Building:

We also walked down to the local playground, the pond, and stopped by the amazing Weeping Willow tree.



Sensory Play:

The children were collecting items while we were walking…branches, sticks, rocks, and more rocks!  I decided to lay out a few rock provocations to explore rocks in the classroom.


I filled this sensory tub with pebbles, smaller rocks, and our play mobile construction set.


Table Invitations:


Another table in the classroom held a large rock collection that my children started years ago.  My past students have added more and more rocks to our collection.  I checked out some interesting books about rocks to have on display.  By far their favorite rock book that we read was “If Rocks Could Sing” by Leslie McGuirk.


Leslie created an alphabet book by collecting lots of different rocks on the beaches by her Florida home.  These rocks are all so unique, and the book is fantastically put together.  I have returned this book to the library, and I highly recommend checking it out!


The children instantly started organizing the rocks by shade, and trying to stack them on top of one another.  This week I put the rocks next to our space shuttle, because there was a lot of discussion about meteorites and rocks in space.  The children have used the rocks in their pretend play this week as well.


Process Art:

Of course we had to explore these mediums through art as well.

We painted branches with acrylic paint:





Lastly, we “painted” rocks by heating them in the oven and melting crayons on top of the rocks.  I got this idea from “The Artful Parent” and the rocks turned out lovely!  I’m not sure what they enjoyed more, melting the crayons or getting to come upstairs into the kitchen!






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Creating Community


We have spent the past month focusing on our classroom community!  Using the Responsive Classroom approach to building community, I use morning meeting, guided discoveries, and a number of steps to create our classroom rules.  I don’t just tell the students what the rules of our school are, we work together to come up with rules and procedures to help our classroom time run smoothly.  It is a long process, but it ensures that the children are invested in the classroom rules.  They also are very aware what each rule is, and how it applies to our day to day classroom activities.

(The picture above is A and L working on cutting straws in our cutting tray).



First we read a few books about children that don’t like to follow rules: 61P6MBGGK0L._AC_US160_.jpg






These are some of my favorite books for talking about Cleaning, Caring about our school, Rules, and Getting in Trouble.



After we have read a number of books like this, I ask the children to generate a list of rules:

No Throwing ~ D

No Pushing ~M

We don’t throw books ~ W

Don’t throw blocks ~ H

Don’t touch friends ~M

No hitting ~ B

No touching friends ~A

Walk inside the school ~ B

Play kindly ~ A

Play gently with dolls ~M

Clean up toys ~J

Don’t play rough ~B

Don’t throw food ~ H

No throwing the rice ~M


The children generated this list over the course of a few days.  We decided that this list was just TOO long and had TOO many things to remember.  Ms Melissa and Ms Clare didn’t want to spend all day telling everyone “No!” just like the books.  Over a few sessions we narrowed our list down to:

Be Kind

Use Gentle Hands

Take Care of Our School

These rules are clear, concise, easy to remember, and most of all they are what we SHOULD be doing, not what we SHOULDN’T be doing.  It is much better to ask friends to “be kind” then “don’t be mean, that’s not nice.”


We also read a series of books that encourage friendship, kindness, and how we should treat each other at school:






While we have been working on community each day, we have also continued to explore the different sections of the classroom through “guided discovery.”  Children are beginning to get the flow of the classroom, feel at ease, and understand the materials at hand.  They are also learning how to tidy up when we are done!



I have begun to look more closely at children’s interest and play.  I hope to see some topics and ideas emerge in the next few weeks to delve into for our first project.




First Day Jitters


We have had such a lovely first few weeks of school!  This new group is coming together, learning each other’s names, and exploring all of the materials in the classroom.

We always start the year playing, exploring, and then cleaning small sections of the classroom.  This is a process that responsive classroom calls “guided discovery.”  I will hide a few items in a bag from the new area of the classroom that will open each day.  We will look in the bag, discuss the items, how to play with them, and where they are located.  Then we will all play with that area of the room.  It gives everyone lots of chances to explore just one space in the room, observe other children and how they play with the items, and then practice putting them away.

So far we have followed this process with:



learning trays

sensory materials


loft area


art supplies

light area

As the classroom areas grow or change, we will revisit this topic in the same way to allow children to practice using our room.  I love this process, because it creates clear guidelines for how we use and move in the space.  It also allows us to have important discussions after we are finished playing.

For example after painting we had a class meeting about: Putting the paint brushes back in the same jar so our paints won’t get mixed up.  Then we examined a jar of yellow paint that had turned brown.  We all decided we wanted our paints to keep their original color, so we we work hard to put them back in the correct jar.  They talked, discussed, and problem solved this issue.

After using the light area we had a class meeting about: moving the arm and glass pieces around on the overhead projector.  We walked over the projector and noticed that the mirror on top had been moved up and down so much that the screws had loosened and the light would no longer reflect on the wall.  Everyone thought they liked the projector better when the wall was filled with light.  I got out my screwdriver and tightened it up, and we said we wouldn’t touch that particular part of the projector.

The following pictures are from the first two weeks of school, and taken after we had discussed different aspects of the classroom:














Learning Trays:

Each learning tray has a different activity which will focus on math, literacy, fine motor, and seasonal skills.  Below B is exploring a tray that is filled with kinetic sand and the number stamps.




Outside Play:

We have been spending our cool mornings outside!  They have enjoyed the play set, sensory tables, sand box, and mud kitchen!


Making new friends and visiting with old buddies:)












Art Materials:

The children have access to a variety of art supplies throughout the morning.  Sometimes they work on a project that is all of their own, or it may have some direction/materials specially provided for them.





Sensory Play:

Rice bins inside and bubble tables outside!


Exploring Play Dough:

Purple play dough that is lavender scented!



Listening to the stories:

We are learning to listen to books as a large and small group!




There is so much to learn and navigate as a group of children in a classroom!  We are working hard everyday to gain the skills to move about the room independently.

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Life on the Farm


We had a awesome field trip today to a local farm!  It was quite a muddy adventure after the weeks and weeks of rain we have had, but we wore our boots and toughed it out.


We started our tour by getting a show from the two turkeys that live on the farm.  They followed us around on our whole field trip and were part of our class by the end of the trip. Some of the children did not like their funny features and sounds, but some of the little kids surprised me how much they liked the turkeys!




Our next stop was as tour of the green house or the “hoop house.” We got peel back and open some kale seeds, and smell some fresh garlic that was curing.


Our next stop was the chicken coop.  The children got to hold the chicks and also go inside the chicken coop to collect some fresh eggs.




We also got to view the meat producing chickens, and see how they move around their coops throughout the farm.


Our next stop was the outdoor garden!  There were so many plants to look at, but we first found a bunch of ladybugs.


Farmer Marisa also pulled up a teeny tiny carrot!


C loved seeing, holding, and smelling the vegetables!  He looks like a true chef!


What did you find A?




We made some wishes at the weeping willow tree, and met Farmer Tom who runs the farm!


Then we went to the barn for a quick lesson about the difference between “straw” and “hay” from Farmer Tom.


Then we met some wild and adorable piglets!IMG_5124.jpgIMG_5172.jpgIMG_5130.jpg


After a trip through the woods we found the piglets mama “Penelope!”IMG_5146.jpgIMG_5155.jpg

And then we met her friends “Dolly” and “Lollipop”


Lastly we got to feed Dolly and Lollipop!


We were completely tired and hungry after all that so we had a picnic snack.  We were so lucky to have the clouds finally break for the morning and get to enjoy such a memorable experience!


We will definitely be back again in the years to come!




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Shapes All Around


The children worked so hard to sew the most beautiful embroidery for their Moms this Mother’s Day.  I know they were each so proud of their hard work!  I have done this activity in the past and each child colored a rainbow and we sewed the rainbow image.  This year I have a lot of different aged children from ages 3 to 5.  I decided to allow each child to choose their drawing, colors, and sewing.  I think the results are stunning and special for each child.  Above you can see pictures of someone’s mom, a flower, lots of colors/circles, a rainbow, and lastly a cake.  All for Mommy!

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It took Mrs. Brittany and I almost a week to get everyone’s pictures drawn and sewing finished.  I was proud of their work ethic and ability to keep their focus on such a long task.

Preschool Math

We have been working on our Shapes these past two weeks!  They have enjoyed many of these shape activities.  Below D and A are stamping shapes that are made out of cardboard tubes.


We hunted for shapes around the classroom, and took pictures of our shapes!


















A Line!

The children also really enjoyed these Tangram puzzles from my old first grade classroom! They are some smart cookies!




Even on our walk to the library today children were finding squares and rectangles and triangles all over the place on our walk!

It has been a fun few weeks!