Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Getting in the Spirit

We have just started to break away from all things turkey related, and begun to talk about the many holidays around the world!  It is fun to discuss each family’s traditions, and what we all do the same and do differently this holiday season.  One thing everyone can agree on at morning meeting is December is a month of fun, festivities, and special time with family.

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We opened a big batch of “hot cocoa” rice outside in the sensory tub.  I made a batch of rice by dying it brown and adding chocolate extract.  Then we added cups and cotton balls for the marshmallows.  It has been fun watching the children play pretend with tub while the weather has been warmer.

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Sensory Play:

The children and I made a batch of “snowy” gak in the art room on Friday.  We mixed a giant tub of glue, water, glitter, and borax.  This batch turned out great (sometimes we aren’t so lucky).  The children got busy squishing in gems, snowman, reindeer, and lots of mini holiday treasures.

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Process Art:

We made a beautiful set of votive candles for everyone to take home to their family.  The children used modge podge to cover the votives with tissue paper and gems.  This was such a fun project, and each individual candle turned out very unique. I’m so proud of all of their hard work, and willingness to work hard to complete projects.

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Yoga with Ms. Kay:

We always enjoy when Ms. Kay comes for yoga, but last week we played some games at the end of yoga.  The children pretended to be water, rain, and storm clouds.  They danced to the music with their “water” scarves.  I got some great action shots!

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We love you Ms. Kay!  This was the perfect activity on our rainy morning!

Preschool Literacy:

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This past week we did some fun activities to learn the letters in our name.  I am starting to transition to using upper and lowercase letters when writing their names.  We used glue to write their names and covered the glue in salt.  After dumping off the excess salt the children dipped paint brushes into watercolors and dabbed them onto the salt.  It is so fun to watch the colors spread through the salt.  Their names turned out beautiful!  Such fun process art!IMG_0242.jpg

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Then we played “hidden names” with watercolors.  I drew each child’s name on a piece of paper using white pastels, and then they water colored on top of the paper to find their names!  It was sweet to watch them squeal with delight as they uncovered their letters.

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More holiday fun coming soon!

 

 

 

 


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Giving Thanks

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The children worked on the most beautiful salt dough ornaments for Thanksgiving last week.  We made two batches of salt dough, added powdered paint, and then mixed the yellow and orange paint into the dough.

The results were bright, vibrant ornaments!  Some children chose one color, and some children chose to mix the two different colors.  Then we cut out the ornaments and pressed a variety of seeds and beans into them.  Lastly, I baked them in the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours.  I hope they looked lovely at Thanksgiving!

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Process Art:

Squiggly and Bumpy Art!

We tried a new painting technique last week as well!  It was extremely simple and cheap supplies, that anyone could do at home.  We drenched pieces of yarn into a cup of glue, then we laid the yarn in a design on a piece of cardboard.IMG_9744.JPG

 

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Once the yarn had dried overnight, we painted the board with these beautiful fall metallic paints.

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The last process art activity we did was making “bleeding tissue paper” turkeys for Thanksgiving.  The children were calling our turkey feathers a giant feather factory;)

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Each child was given five our six feathers, and a bowl of different colored tissue paper.  They simply painted over their tissue paper with water and we let it sit overnight.  The next day we peeled off the tissue paper to reveal the most beautiful colors underneath.

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Each child drew on their turkey’s face, and we added the feathers to the back of the turkey body for the finished turkey!

Preschool Literacy:

The children came into the classroom last week to find a new activity set up on the light panels.  I drew each of their names in a large dark marker on white paper.  They could trace over their names using different colored crayons for fine motor practice, letter development, and repetition practice.  I have begun to introduce everyone to their names with a capital letter first, followed by the lower case letters.  Many of them say, “that isn’t my name.”  It is important to see their name written in a variety of contexts, and begin to understand the lower case-capital letter connection.

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On the other light panel I put a large jar of gems for them to cover their name with the gems.  Using the light panel with this literacy work is a wonderful way to engage  their senses while children work on a more traditional “paper/pencil” task.  They are able to sit at the light panels for longer periods of time, and the light holds their interest longer than just desk or seat work.

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Look at the concentration…

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Sensory Play:

We had a new fall play dough table set up the past few weeks.  I made a batch of orange play dough  and added cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to give it a nice fall scent.  Then I made a play dough tray packed to the brim with leaf gems, pumpkin gems, wooden acorns, and leaves attached to popsicle sticks.

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Pumpkin Soup:

We read this great fall book a few mornings, and we decided our room needed a batch of pumpkin soup!

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We made a large tub of orange colored water; added gems, scoops, bowls, and egg beaters.  They went right to town mixing, stirring, and chatting about their “soups.”

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Preschool Math:

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We have been counting so many things this fall!  Leaves, pumpkins, ghosts, and much more!  It was time to put our counting knowledge and transfer it to number recognition.  I set up this math table before the holiday, to work on our numbers!  The table had Handwriting without Tears Number Cards.  These cards are made it the tiniest piece of sandpaper, so children can trace the numbers with their fingers.  There were wax “wiki stix” that they could use to shape into the numbers, cork boards, beans, gems, and wooden numbers.  Children could freely explore the table throughout the week.  Some children made the numbers on the cork boards, and then counted the corresponding amount of gems.IMG_9903.JPGIMG_9902.JPGIMG_9904.JPGIMG_9623.JPG

Then Ms. Melissa and I worked with each child to create a number page in their learning journals.  We traced the sandpaper numbers, drew the numbers on the chalkboards, counted the numbers, and lastly dotted the numbers in our journals.  They worked hard to write the numbers on their own, or using small dots as a guide.  Most everyone in the class has 10 pages filled with the numbers 1 – 10!  I hope they are noticing numbers all around them!

We also had a great time setting up some very simple marble runs during free time in the classroom!

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Going on a Leaf Hunt

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We had a great morning “hunting” for leaves around Crozet PlaySchool.  We went for a long walk, and along the way collected leaves from all around the neighborhood!

Once we got back to the classroom we sorted our leaves by color and made a large graph by gluing down our leaves into color categories.  This simple graphing activity includes color recognition, math, and preschool science skills all at once.

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Of course we had to stop and enjoy the view while we were searching for our leaves!

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We have also been able to enjoy our outdoor space so much in the past few weeks.  Some mornings have been a bit chilly, but once the sun warms up we have played outside for a long time each day.  I took some time to set up different activities outdoors for the children to enjoy.

Sensory Play:

We spent a long time picking all of the dried corn off the cobs in our large sensory tub outdoors.  I think they have almost all of the corn cleaned off!  Now we have been pouring, scooping, and piling up the corn in different containers in the sensory tub!

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The children have also enjoyed washing the mini pumpkins and gourds outdoors in a large basin.  Children love to do “chores” or activities that they see their parents do each day.  Often times we are busy cleaning the dishes and don’t have time to let our children participate.  Setting up little wash tubs like this with cars, plastic people, rocks, etc. will give children the chance to practice life skills in an open setting.  They also enjoy the bubbles, water, and the sensory feel of washing.

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I think they might be the cleanest pumpkins around!

 

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Fine Motor Skills & Provocation:

Preschool Science

I printed out some Fall Foliage pictures for the children, and set up this simple provocation on our tables.  They had access to the photos, paper, glue sticks, small squares, and fall colored markers.  I didn’t give them any direction, but they knew just what to do!

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Everyone took some time to visit the table and create with the paper and markers.  Some children chose to glue a lot of paper down, while others drew detailed pictures of leaves and trees.  They would study the pictures, and then transfer that knowledge to their own work.

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Our Fall Tree:

Process Art:

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a great deal of photos of our fall tree coming together!  I did manage to capture M and M as they were painting the acorns with glitter glue.  The acorns tops and nuts were painted, dried, and then we attached a ribbon to each of them.  While some children were painting acorns, other children were painting large pictures on our easels with a metallic paint set.  These large paintings were cut into leaves to create our fall classroom tree.IMG_9545.JPG

The pictures don’t really do the tree justice!  Each of the leaves is so pretty and unique, and the added element of the hanging acorns is so special. I hope the children will treasure looking at it all winter when we are cold and stuck inside!  We can remember our fall days, long walks, and look forward to spring!

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I ended up taking a video of our tree to give you the full effect of its beauty!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 


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The Great Pumpkin Investigation

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We have soaked up the last few moments of Halloween, and the children enjoyed coming to school in their costumes to share or their favorite dress up from home.  I loved watching the children move about the classroom with their costumes!

Learning Trays:

Our learning trays are changed once a month, or sometimes a bit more frequently.  There are 12 trays for the children to choose from in the classroom.  I try to have the trays focus on math, literacy, fine motor, pouring/scooping, or sensory play.

This month the children have really enjoyed exploring the new “sorting circles.”  The circles are opened up, and then they sort the pumpkins into “Big, Medium, and Small.”

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B had no trouble sorting pumpkins into the correct category of “Big, Medium, and Small” in his Transformer Bumblebee costume!

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H was also able to get a bunch of sorting accomplished while donning his fireman get-up!

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Fairies and Princesses also did a great job with the new sorting circles!

Below is a picture of a fine motor tray.  There is a thick sensory material called “floam” lining the bottom of the tray, and then pumpkin toothpicks.  The children have to use their pincher grip to get the toothpicks into and out of the floam.

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Then they all sat together and worked on pushing the pumpkin toothpicks into the thick container of green foam.  This is great fine motor and pinching work.

Preschool Math:

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A new table invitation this week was a squirrel counting game.  I used the acorns we collected a few weeks ago as the manipulatives.  The children had to roll the dice and then feed an acorn to each squirrel until all of the squirrels got some food.  They played this again and again throughout the week this week!

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Below is another whole group counting lesson we did that went along with the Halloween fun!  I made a large poster with pumpkins, and numbers inside of the pumpkins.  They used mini Halloween manipulatives to put the correct number of manipulatives inside of each pumpkin shape.

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This is a picture of our pumpkin investigation that we worked on together as a class over the course of a few weeks.  This investigation incorporated Math and Science goals throughout the lessons.

The class looked closely at our “classroom” pumpkin and gave me describing words to tell what the pumpkin looks like, how it feels, and information they may have already known about pumpkins in general.

Then we “guessed” how many lines were on our classroom pumpkin.  This was the first time we had discussed estimation and guessing as a math skill.  Many children weren’t sure how to even give a best guess…for example many people chose numbers that were very small even though we could see lots of lines on the pumpkin.  This is an advanced thinking skill, and you can practice it at home with your child.

“How many steps do you think it will take to get to the car?” Give some guesses and then test out your answer.

“How many pretzels are left in the bucket?”

“How many pairs of socks do we have in this pile?”

Try to pick examples with smaller numbers when you are just starting.  If your answer is in the 100s or even over 50 it is going to frustrate them.  Then as they gain confidence you can increase the estimation amount.

We used this same strategy to figure out “How Tall is our pumpkin?” and then we measured it with uni-fix cubes. As well as “How wide is our pumpkin” and we cut pieces of yarn to wrap around the pumpkins circumference.

Often times I will cover concepts well above their comfort zone, or talk about things that are brand new to them.  But, hopefully over time and repeating the lesson in new ways these concepts will solidify.

Lastly, we took our pumpkin outside and hammered it with golf tees!

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Preschool Sensory Play:

I set up a pumpkin washing station outside complete with mini pumpkins, gourds, brushes, and lots of bubbles.

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I also dyed a batch of spaghetti noodles in lots of different shades to play with on the light table….gooey, spooky, and oh so fun!

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We have begun to play with the classroom train tracks, and are beginning to build confidence with new tracks around the room…

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And lastly, when you are spiderman it is always important to take some time to listen to a book…

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That might be one of my favorite pictures from the week!  Thank you to A’s mom for visiting us on Monday!

Happy Halloween!

 


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It’s Getting Spoooooky in Here

Halloween is right around the corner and we have been enjoying lots of silly and fun Halloween themed books and activities.  I have tried to weave in a number of activities using acorns, leaves, and pumpkins while also having fun with all of the Halloween excitement!

Preschool Science:

Pumpkin and Acorn Investigations

Before heading to our field trip last week we discussed pumpkins, their life cycle, and studied in detail our own ‘classroom pumpkin.’

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After reading many books about pumpkins we discussed the life cycle of the pumpkin, and the children put in order life cycle cards as a group.

We Modge Podged pumpkins with pieces of tissue paper.  They chose a pumpkin, put glue on the pumpkin, and then carefully glued a small piece of tissue paper on top of the glued area.  It was a delicate art task, and they did a beautiful job!  Each of the pumpkins turned out very unique!
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We are still in the process of completed a class Pumpkin Investigation!  More details on that coming soon!

Preschool Literacy:

Last week we read this silly story, “Where’s My Mummy?”  The children thought it was so funny that the Mummy was scared of a teeny, tiny mouse after seeing all of the other Halloween creatures creeping around at night.

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After this story we made these toilet paper mummies:
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The children have also loved this Halloween Parody of “Goodnight Moon”

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Another Halloween favorite is “Room on the Broom”

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“Big Pumpkin” is another holiday favorite!  Each of the Halloween characters tries to pull the pumpkin, but can’t do it.  Of course the tiny bat has a great idea to work together, and they pull the pumpkin off of the vine!

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You can usually find one or two students at any point in the morning reading some of the many books found around the classroom:

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I pulled out the architecture blocks on our platform.  For a special Halloween addition, I added small Halloween creepy, crawlers.  Children worked together to build detailed “haunted houses.”

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Sensory Play:

We have had a lot of opportunities to get our hands dirty with Halloween sensory play!  They came into the classroom last week to find our sensory tub filled to the brim with black beans, and lots of fun Halloween items to explore!

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Today the children got to make Oobleck with me for the first time!  This sensory recipe is always tricky for me to perfect!  It is a simple combination of cornstarch and water.  But, the combination has to be just right to get the solid/liquid/sticky/drippy substance just right.  If you want to make this at home, here is a link to Fun at Home with Kids.  She has a great recipe for it!

We made one tray of purple and one tray of black oobleck.  We were able to get the combo just right, and it was super, slimy fun!

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Preschool Math:

We have been working on our counting, one to one correspondence, and using objects in our to count with every day!

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We used the acorns we collected to practice our counting outside on the blacktop!  Some children worked by themselves, and other children worked as a team!IMG_9066.JPGIMG_9068.JPG

 

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I’m proud of their progress!

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We have also counted pumpkin gems on the light panels.  We used the dry erase markers, and they have worked on writing their numbers next to each circle.

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Field Trip:

Last Thursday our class all went together to a local farm for a field trip!  To prepare for our field trip, I pulled out my giant barn, barn animals, and a tray of oatmeal for the pumpkin patch.

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There was a lot of pretend play around the barn, and this led to discussions about what we were going to see and do at the pumpkin patch!

We had a fabulous trip the pumpkin patch, despite the heat!  We learned about pumpkins…

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Slide down the slides into a giant corn pit…

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Played in the corn pit…

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Went on a hay ride to visit the cows…

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And we even attempted a super long corn maze…

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All in all it was successful first field trip!  What a busy month, with more fun things right around the corner!

 

 

 

 

 


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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:

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

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

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

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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”!

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Preschool Math:

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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

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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.”

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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?

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

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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.

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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!

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Preschool Literacy:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Process Art:

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

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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!

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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

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.”

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