Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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A Series of Learning Videos

In February I shot a few short videos of two students working together on the magnetic board. I wanted to share them with you and note a few things:

The students are doing their own alphabet activity, even though I had something different laid out on the magnetic board that corresponded with the sorting circles from the previous blog post.  This is one of the aspects I love about the Reggio Emilia Approach…letting children find their way and explore the classroom as they wish.  I didn’t stop the activity or try to re-direct them.  They were on-task, learning, and being 100% appropriate.

Secondly, they are working together, as a team.  This is called “scaffolding” in early childhood lingo.  One student is expanding the knowledge of another student in a stair step model.  They are learning from each other.  One is teaching, one is learning.  The model reverses itself through the videos…

The two students start to talk about some other things in this video, but then get back on track with looking for letters.  They are helping each other in such a great way!

 

Next, B continues with the work on his own and gets really far through the alphabet.

 

Lastly, another student comes along.  She quietly observes, and doesn’t interrupt his play.  But, she is taking in the lesson in her own way!  Learning from a different angle.

This is just a short series of videos that I captured, but I thought it demonstrated how active learning takes place in our classroom each and every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Letters, Letters Everywhere

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We have tried to incorporate letters into many of the learning activities this late winter.  We have done a number of letter activities that the kids have loved!

These pictures are from some beautiful letter names the children made with sequence pieces, and glue.  They had to work very diligently to get the many pieces of sequences on their name. Each name turned into a work of art, and the kids were very proud of them!

 

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Here is a video of some children working on their names:

Light Play:

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On the light panel I used small pink glasses to write upper and lower case letters on two sets of glasses.  The children had to find the lowercase match from around the edge of the light panel to match to the uppercase letter in the center of the light panel.

Below are some pictures of D and J matching up the letters on the light panel.

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Some of our glasses cracked so we added in new colors and alphabet letters:

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Large Group Lessons:

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In our large group circle time, we have done a series of lessons from the Handwriting without Tear Program.  I also added some sorting letters activities at the end of our circle time.  I pulled out the large sorting circles, and we studied the letters together as a whole group.  The first sort we did was: Letters with Straight Lines & Letters with Curved Lines.  These lessons allow children to take a closer look at each letter, what components make up the letter and how it is formed.  After I sorted a few of the letters first, I had each child come to the front of the room to be the ‘teacher.’  They sorted a letter or two for their friends, and the children watching got to check their answer!

Below B is examining his letter before sorting:

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A short clip from our sorting lesson:

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After we finished the activity I cleaned up the letters, but left the sorting circles out for choice time.  Below is a picture of J and she sorted the entire alphabet by herself!  I love when they extend our group learning into their class time choices!

Here is a video of J sorting her letters:

J posing with her circles:

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Lastly we used our mini chalkboards to practice our letter writing!  The Handwriting without Tears chalkboards use mini pieces of chalk to encourage the correct pencil grip, and give students just the perfect amount of space to practice their uppercase or lowercase letters:

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Everyone holding up their different letters:

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In our play time area I set up a very large parking lot with the matchbox cars and the garage.  Each car had a letter written on the top of it with tape, and then they had to park the cars in the corresponding parking lot!

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Sensory Play:

I set up a large kinetic sand tray with our ABC stamps for the children to explore.  They could dig in the sand and press the stamps into the kinetic sand to see the impressions of the letters.

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Dinosaurs and Letters:

A few of my students just love dinosaurs!  I thought I would incorporate both of these ideas into a sensory table.  I added sand, plastic dinosaurs, and then some salt dough letter cakes I made with my students a few years ago.  The letters are pressed into the cakes, and are fun to uncover in the sand!

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More of our past February activities will be shared soon!  I will slowly be catching up with our posts over spring break since my computer is back:)

 

 


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Lines and Curves

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Spielgaben Study

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Last week I set up this simple invitation to study lines, curves, and shapes in a variety of ways using our Spielgaben wooden pieces.  Four years ago my families from Crozet PlaySchool all got together and bought this beautiful math set.  I look forward to using it each year!  The pieces provide open ended math exploration.

On one side of the table I put four cork circles, and on the other side of the table was the large wooden grid that is part of the math set.

I let the children use the pieces to create their own designs, and their imaginations were their only limit.

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Swirls and Lines

Then I moved the Spielgaben to the block area in the classroom and set up the chalkboard table top.  On the table I drew a series of lines and swirls, along with offering a large supply of gems.  They children loved this activity, and we changed the drawings on the table throughout the week.

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We will see where this exploration takes us in the weeks to come!

 

 


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Celebrating Dr. Suess

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We had such a fun week celebrating Dr. Suess and all of his wonderful works the first week of March!  We started our celebration by creating our own “Cat in the Hat” inspired hats.  Then I painted each child with a kitty face!  They sure did look like some cute kitties.

Dr. Suess Inspired Art

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Another activity the children did was Dr. Suess inspired paper art project.  The invitation had strips of paper, glue sticks, and some Dr. Suess books opened for inspiration.  I modeled how to put a little bit of glue on each end of the construction paper, and then hold them down to create an arch.  They got right to work, and the paper art turned out very colorful!

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“Yertle The Turtle” Book Study

The second book we read over a few days was “Yertle the Turtle.”  This book is about a very mean king that wants his throne to be higher and higher, even if it hurts the other turtles in the pond.  It is a creative book about rights for everyone, even the turtles at the bottom of the pile.  The children loved the story and we read it a number of times!

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We also made an Anchor Chart after reading the book.  An anchor chart is a way to categorize different parts of the story and discuss the beginning, middle, end or problem/solution.

After the book we created ‘turtles’ using rocks and acrylic paints.

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Cooking up Alphabet Soup

Lastly we cooked some delicious ABC soup!  We used Dr. Suess’s ABC book as our inspiration.  We added carrots, celery, onion, alphabet pasta and chicken broth to the pot.  Most of the kids gobbled it up!

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I’m so glad to have my computer back!  More blog posts coming soon!

 


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Letters and Shapes

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Amongst all of our Valentine’s Day fun we have been still continuing with our investigation of letters and shapes.  Above is a picture of L and B looking closely at the large uppercase letters on the overhead projector.  They were lining up the letters, finding the letters in their names, discussing the letters as the pulled them out of the basket, and wondering why some letters looked “backwards” no the wall.  It is wonderful to see two children work for an extended period of time at one task, and scaffold each other with new information while they “play.”

Preschool Math:

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Since there is so much emphasis on the Heart at Valentine’s Day, I deduced to introduce other shapes through a series of books and activities this week.  We read some of my favorite shape books this week!  These are some of the titles we have been exploring…

This is a book of pictures and you can find shapes in each of the real-life photos

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The Greedy Triangle introduces the idea of geometry with lines and angles, but we focused on the shapes the triangle changes into from page to page.

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This is a great book that covers many different types of of shapes

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After reading many of these books we went on “Shape Hunts” around the classroom looking for shapes all around us!  The picture above is A holding up the Handwriting Without Tears wooden pieces into a circle.

We found Squares…

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A line and a square found by M…

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A circle and a rectangle found by H

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A semi circle and a rectangle found by D…

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A Rectangle and a Heart found by B…

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A Heart and Circle found by A…

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M found a circle on the edge of her cup…

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L found a circle and a line

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It was a lot of fun to do our shape hunt, and I was proud of how creative they were with their findings!

Process Art:

Of course we had to paint some shapes…We made these gorgeous Heart Mobiles with cardboard and tempera paints:

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Sensory Play:

We also explored hearts, pink salt, glass jars, and paintbrushes on the light panel this week:

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We made the most amazing SLIME from Fun at Home with Kids recipe on her blog!  It turned out perfect and the kids enjoyed it so much!!!

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We were also so lucky to get to go outside and on a bunch of walks this week with the warmer temperatures!  Ms. Kay came for yoga as well and we did partner yoga for the first time!

Preschool Gross Motor Development:

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Yep, I pretty much love my job!  What a great week!  Ms. Clare


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Hearts and Art

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This week we have had a lot of fun discussing Valentine’s Day and Friendship.  We made beautiful hearts using our spin art machine.  Our old machine used batteries, and after it broke, this new machine needs to be pumped by hand.  It takes a lot of arm strength and fine motor control to pump the machine and drip the paint at the same time!

Process Art:

We also made some salt art paintings using glue, salt, and liquid watercolors.  The children drew designs in glue or guided me with the glue to draw the images they desired.  Then they used a small dish to drip salt on top of the glue.  After the excess salt was moved away they carefully dripped liquid watercolors onto their images.  This project has a bigger focus on the “process” than the product.  Although this was our first time making them on cardboard and they held up much better than paper once they dried.IMG_2369.JPGIMG_2370.JPGIMG_2365.JPGIMG_2367.JPGIMG_2402.JPGIMG_2399.JPGIMG_2403.JPGIMG_2405.JPGIMG_2406.JPG

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This week on our table a large Valentine Station was set up for the class!  They had access to hearts, doilies, glue, stickers, and Valentine’s stamps.  They created Valentine’s for their family and then started making them for their friends in the classroom.

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Sensory Play:

The children arrived on Monday to find two brand new sensory tubs in the classroom!  One was inspired by The Imagination Tree, and it was a birthday cake themed cloud dough tray.  I made a large batch of cloud dough with flour, oil, and sprinkles.  Then I added cupcake molds, number candles, and regular candles.  This was one of the most popular areas this week!

I got a few videos of the children playing in the birthday cake sensory tub…

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The second sensory tub was filled with Valentine’s colored water beads, and lots of other Valentine cups and saucers.

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I also got some videos of the children playing in the water beads:

Learning Trays:

Everyone seemed to love all of the new learning trays that were brought out this month.  The learning trays are usually tasks based on fine motor skills, math development, letter awareness or phonetic development, or sensory play.  Each month I change the learning trays to offer a variety of independent goal tasks that the children can work on, at their own pace.

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Video of the children working on a learning tray:

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We also worked on writing our letters and shapes in a squishy bag on the light panel.  This was SO much fun that both bags popped by the end of the week:)

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We also dined on H’s delicious King Cake that he made with his Mommy last weekend.  They brought it in for our snack.  It was so big that we ate it on Monday and Tuesday!

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Loose Parts Play

 

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This week I got a large tray, added black paper to the background, and then added a large helping of Epsom Salt.  the children then used a paintbrush to draw their names or favorite letters in the salt.  Epsom Salt is great for this activity because it is nice and thick, and stays put after they moved it around on the tray.

Each child had a visual example of their name either in all Uppercase letters if they are just learning their letters, or Uppercase and Lowercase letters if they are ready to incorporate upper and lowercase.  I also included some examples of our favorite words “Mom” and “Dad” which is great for every child to learn after they have mastered their name!

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We also worked with Bristle Blocks on our other table this week…IMG_2215.JPG

Some of our friends got a chance to do some glue and salt painting.  We didn’t to everyone, but next week everyone will have a chance at this fun painting process art.

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I got caught up in Yoga this week, but finally captured some pictures of the children relaxing in their Savasanah…

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At the end of yoga this week Mrs. Kay lead us through a fruit meditation.  Each child got one clementine and we thanked the Earth, rain, and sun for growing the fruit and bringing it to us.  It was a wonderful way to be mindful of our food and how it gets all the way to the grocery store.

This week I placed a large assortment of loose parts to add to our play and block areas.  The children got right to work playing, building, and pretending with:

mini led candles

fabric squares

beaded necklaces

wooden place mats

long ribbons

“Loose Part Play” is a unique way to incorporate Reggio Inspired play into your school or home.  Loose parts are simply everyday materials that can be collected and used for alternative purposes through play.  I love loose part play, because there isn’t an intended goal with the pieces.  They can be used in any which way that the child sees fit to become part of their play scene.  They are usually cheap or even throw away materials that get a second life through the classroom!  It really falls under the saying “they liked the box more than the present.”  Children truly see a multitude of possibilities when they play with materials.  They love to imagine one items as something entirely different.  It lets the play continue and grow without limiting it to the parameters of a boxed toy.

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Lastly, H and D spent a long time working together create an very in depth Arctic world with the light panel, animal figurines, and colored boxes.

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First H had a big plan for the penguins and they were all living on the iceberg.  Then the polar bears joined in the play, but they had to live on the outside edges.  Then D got involved and the scene grew and grew.  I was proud of their collaboration, ideas, ability to share and work together, and continued focus on the project.

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