Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Creating Community

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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).

 

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

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

 

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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

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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.”

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

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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!

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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.

 

 


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First Day Jitters

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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:

blocks

kitchen

learning trays

sensory materials

painting

loft area

Duplos

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:

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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.

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Outside Play:

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

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Making new friends and visiting with old buddies:)

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Snack:

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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.

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Sensory Play:

Rice bins inside and bubble tables outside!

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Exploring Play Dough:

Purple play dough that is lavender scented!

 

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Listening to the stories:

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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Farmer Marisa also pulled up a teeny tiny carrot!

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

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What did you find A?

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

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

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

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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”

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Lastly we got to feed Dolly and Lollipop!

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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!

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

 

 

 


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Shapes All Around

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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.

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

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Oval!

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Triangle

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Rectangle

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Circle

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Triangle!

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Rectangle!

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Triangle!

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Triangle!

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A Line!

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

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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!


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Murals and Spring Fun

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We worked hard throughout April to create our last few animal murals.  We spent a week discussing the ocean and all of the amazing animals that live in the ocean!

Process Art:

The picture below shows A coloring a tin foil fish with sharpies.  After they colored their fish, we squeezed out glitter glue on top of the foil to give the fish their scales.  A and C are using our watercolors to paint their jelly fish.  Once their jelly fished dried, they got to cut the long tentacles on the bags.

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We also worked on our Desert Mural too!

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We made cacti by painting large green strokes with the paint rollers, and then adding lots of prickly spikes!

Below is a close-up of our shape lizards.  The children glued shapes onto their lizards and then dropped silver paint on top to give them shiny skin.

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The last part of our animal project was creating our special animal with clay.  Each child got to pick an animal to represent with clay.  I printed out a real-life photo of the animal for each child to look at while they were making their project.

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Once the clay dried many children decided to paint their clay pieces too.

 

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While we were discussing the ocean I set up a large ocean sensory tub.  I filled the tub with water and lots of different colored water beads.  Then I added large ocean animals, and they went to town!

Sensory Play:

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The children have also still been very busy building animal homes and habitats around the classroom!  They love to use the Magnatiles to make divided homes for the animals.  The home area below using Magnatiles, connecting blocks, birds, elephants, and a stuffed animal brought from home!

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More animal houses!

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Sensory Play:

Another sensory tub I created for the end of April was a giant construction site.  The children love to play with the trucks, and play mobile people.  I combined both of these with a huge tub of pinto beans!

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In celebration of spring we put out a large tray with kinetic sand, spring cookie cutters, and lots of colorful gems.

 

Preschool Literacy:

We have continued to follow along with two to three Handwriting Without Tears lessons a week.  We have now covered all of the letters that only have straight lines and diagonal lines.  We only have curved letters left, and we will have worked through the entire alphabet!

In addition to the handwriting lessons, we have started discussing the phonetic sounds that each letter makes.  I pulled out my phonetic buckets to accompany our lessons.  Each bucket has small charms or tiny toys that represent each letter sound.  Then I laminated these Constant-Vowel-Constant grids.  Children got to come over to work in small groups to sound out these simple C-V-C words.  They had a great time with this new task!

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Light Table:

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I drew different lines and designs on large pieces of paper.  Then I collected different stones to place along the lines or around the spiral.  Each of the children got a chance to work at the light table, and they all had different versions on how to line up the pieces.IMG_4002.jpg

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Then I put stirring sticks and gem ice cubes on the light table.  They really came up with some creative designs.

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I can’t wait to see what adventures await the last month of school!

 


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Rainbows and Shamrocks

 

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We had a fun week waiting around for those silly leprechauns to visit Crozet PlaySchool!

Even though our main focus these past two months has been all about animals, I added some colors, rainbows, and a few science projects to go along with St. Patrick’s Day!

The picture above shows a simple Rainbow Stain glass window project we made.  Each student got their own window with lines, and then they added the colors of the rainbow using tissue paper.  The final results were so fun to see, and they made our classroom entrance really colorful!

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A is working on laying out her green pieces into the frame.

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Even our youngest friends enjoyed this art project!

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The picture below showed how beautiful the rainbows looked with the sun shining through our doors.

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Process Art:

Another very rainbow inspired project was our glue sun catchers.  The picture below shows H squeezing the glue into his lid, and a crowd gathered around him to see exactly how this project was going to unfold.

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Once we filled our lid with glue (and for many of us this was very fun to squeeeeeze out so much glue!), then we added a few drops of food coloring.  We found out the hard way that if your added too many colors of glue it would get very muddy.  Two colors seemed to work the best!  Then we mixed the food colors using a toothpick.

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These are pictures of our rainbow lids drying on the windowsill.  Aren’t they amazing?

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Once the glue dried, I peeled the glue out of the lid, punched a hole in the top, and hung them with a fishing wire.

Preschool Science:

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One morning we did a “Magic Milk” Experiment.  If you would like to do this experiment you will need:

Dawn Dishsoap

Food Coloring

Milk

Old Food Lid

Q-Tips

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First we filled milk in the lid, added two different colors of food coloring.  Just a few drops! Lastly we dipped our Q-tip in Dawn dish soap, and placed it right in the center of the milk. The kids were really impressed with the magic of the milk!

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The best part was watching each friend getting a chance to try the magic milk experiment!

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More Process Art:

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For St. Patrick’s Day we had to make some Shamrocks too!  We covered a tray with white shaving cream, dropped two different shades of green into the cream, swirled, and squished the paper shamrocks into the cream.

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Such a fun a messy project!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Light and Letters

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Our beautiful classroom got a much needed face lift and I took some time to rearrange a ton of furniture in the room.  Many of the children have been building lots of building, ramps, moving the tubes around, and I felt they just plain needed more building space.  I moved around my train table area and brought out both of the wooden platforms that I have for building.  I also moved the projector out the light area to add another element to the building environment.

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It didn’t take them long to start exploring our new area!  B got busy moving around the color paddles to see how they looked projected around the room.

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It didn’t take long before B had an audience to see how they colors looked when they were manipulated on the overhead projector.

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The light also provided a very soft glow that made it the perfect spot for building.  I love seeing the whole group working on a building together.  Above they made a large building with the unit blocks, LED candles, and the large animals.  They spent a great deal of time here during the morning.

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After the next few days I added translucent letters to the overhead projector, and it was interesting to see how the letters added a new level of play to the projector.

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Immediately they loved to see all of the letters on the ceiling.  Each child wanted to see “their letter” on the ceiling.  As soon as their letter was projected they would climb up to the loft to touch their letter on the ceiling.

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After we explored the letters on the overhead for a few days, we also explored the letters in  our names using paper and pencil.  These little crayons the kids are using are called “flip crayons.”  They are purposely made very short and encourage the correct pencil grip when children are using them.  We made these name puzzles by cutting strips of paper and using one piece per each letter in their name.  Each child they wrote their letters down the strip of paper as many times as they could to practice their letters.  Once they were finished we mixed up the pieces and they put their names back together again.

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It was neat to see children’s names start to appear all around the room in different places.

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