Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Seeds and Sprouts

We made little sprout houses for the window sill.  We filled the sprout houses with a wet paper towel and three sugar snap peas.  I soaked the peas overnight to get them softened up and ready to germinate!  Using the sprout houses allows the children to look closely at the life cycle of the seed.  They can peek at what happens “beneath” the soil!  Every other day we pulled out a set of seeds from the houses to check on them and see how they have grown.

The students documented their learning in our journals.  We asked them to write ‘seed,’ ‘sprout,’ and ‘roots’ in their journal to label the different parts of the seed.  This was their first time working on labeling and they did an excellent job!

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Here is a video of the learning journals:

For the last stage of the project everyone modge podged little potters to take their sugar snap pea sprouts home.  They got to use a spade to place potting soil in the pots, and dig a small hole for the seeds!

Last week we also worked on a few extremely top secret Mother’s Day Projects.  The children used liquid watercolors to die large portions of paper towels.

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Once these dried, we folded them into flowers and peeled the paper towels apart.  The results were stunning!

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The second project was a very large piece of contact paper rolled out on our tables.  The children pulled petals off of flowers to place them on the sticky paper.  I sealed the petals up, and then I cut them out in the shape of hearts.  The children told me little messages for their mommies and I dictated their words.

Lastly, we painted clear plastic plates with acrylic paints.  Then I sprayed each plate with a sealant and attached a garden stake.  They made the perfect homemade garden signs!

Here are a few little ones lined up to show Mommy their creations!

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I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend!


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Fizzing Watercolors

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We tried a fun science experiment this week that is extremely cheap and simple to set up!  Parents can do this at home for just a few dollars, and it provides lots of fun!  I filled an old egg crate with little amounts of baking soda.  Then I made small bowls filled with vinegar which I colored with liquid watercolors.  Then the students used the droppers to drip into the different compartments.  Not only did it fizz, bubble, and make a reaction, it also provided a chance to do some color mixing.

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In addition to the science skills that are being explored, the children also had to really focus and concentrate to get the vinegar into each of the different areas using hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills.

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The standards that are being met are:

  • predict changes to matter when various substances are to be combined
  • observe and conduct simple experiments that explore what will happen when substances are combined

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Doing this activity on the light table just added an element of sensory input, and often will encourage a longer attention span from learners.

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Everyone really enjoyed this activity, and they were extremely focused when they were working with the science materials.  I’m proud of how much they have learned this year!


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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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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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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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Glow in the Dark Discovery

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Last week I had the pleasure of teaching my first inservice for a nearby preschool.  It was such a humbling experience to be up in front of a group of peers, and showing them different things I do in my classroom.  They were most interested in learning about sensory play, so I spent a couple of hours pulling out a bunch of my favorite materials.  Down in the bottom of the bin I uncovered my “glow in the dark” rice.  I had done a number of glow in the dark activities in the past.  It is funny how you forget all of the things you do from year to year!  My black light lamp had broken last year and I just forgot about it.  I decided after my inservice that I would get some new black lights and pull out all of my fun materials.

The first thing I grabbed was my set of fluorescent paints.  My assistant Melissa and I offered the children a few of the color options for each paint set.  It was interesting to see if they noticed that some of the paints had a brighter glow than the other paint sets.

 

These paints are actually a set of finger paints, and it is a good thing!  Many of the children couldn’t resist the temptation to paint themselves (sometimes all the way up their arms) with the paint.  They would do this to see their own body glow in the dark!  They also would paint their hands, and then press them to the paper.  They loved seeing their handprint light up on the paper.

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The children have continued to go in and out of the art room to paint additional pieces with the glow in the dark paint.  I am planning to leave them out for a few more days for the class to enjoy.

I also set up the rice table with the glow in the dark rice.  A few years ago I dyed a batch of rice with the different fluorescent paint colors, and it is still glowing very bright under the black light.

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It is more difficult to see who is playing with the rice, because it is dark around the sensory tub.  But, at one point Melissa and I noticed ALL of the children surrounding the tub.  That rarely happens!  They just loved it!IMG_1989.JPG

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Outside of our dark room we also played with lentils and a doggie set!  It is from constructive play things and the children were really drawn to it.  I thought it would be a great addition to the vet clinic that was set up in the dramatic play area.

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We had Yoga this Wednesday and yoga remains to be one of my favorite days of the week:

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We also learned about Mat Man this week from the Handwriting Without Tears Program.  Mat Man uses the wooden pieces from the HWT program to help the children learn how to draw their body in more detail.  It also gives them more awareness of their physical body. We will begin to transfer this concept to paper through paint, drawing, and art.

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Melting Ice

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We have had a lot of stops and starts in the past two weeks!  After a long winter holiday break the children were just settling back into a school routine….then it snowed!  We had a long weekend with school closings and delays.  I thought it would be fun to talk about ice and how it melts.  First we had a big discussion of ice and snow and where it comes from.  Then we talked about why were haven’t been able to come to school these past few days.  Lastly the children hypothesized what they could do to melt the huge ice blocks in the art studio.  They got right to work exploring the materials and seeing how they could free the animals from the ice!

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I set up a large table with two blocks of ice, salt, and a variety of watercolors.  They could use small or large water droppers to put the watercolors on the ice.

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While the children were working on the ice they discussed a number of different learning topics:

  • how to squeeze the dropper was a BIG topic of discussion!  The dropper takes a lot of coordination, fine motor ability, and hand/eye coordination.  Many children struggled with the droppers, but they were so interested in the ice that they kept with it until they mastered the skill!
  • why was there water on the tray
  • why was the ice changing color
  • how come they could get the animals out of the ice that used to be stuck
  • what was the salt doing to the ice
  • how come the ice started to get holes inside of it
  • and many, many other thoughtful questions and ideas were posed while they were working

You can hear the children discussing some of these ideas in the videos:

For this science experiment, the children then came back to the carpet and drew pictures in their learning journals of the changes to the ice!  I will share some of their drawings next post.

By Friday morning we had melted and refroze our ice all week long, but it still wasn’t completely melted.  So we took the ice outside to see what the warmer temps and some hammers would do to the ice!

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Here is the video of the kids with the ice outside:


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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!