Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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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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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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The Mitten & Animal Adventures

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Before I jump right into The Mitten and all of our new animal adventures, I wanted to share some of our last few Valentine’s activities we did throughout February.  Unfortunately this past month was really interrupted with National Holidays, teacher workdays, and lots and lots of snow!  We would just get started with something and then get interrupted for a snow break.  But, we managed to squeeze in some Valentine’s Day fun on two different days.

The blog has been quite quiet the past few weeks while I have busily working on assessments and portfolios.  I was able to write a portfolio for each child in the class, and meet individually with all of my parents.  It was so nice to sit down with everyone and discuss all of the growth and progress each child has made this year.

 

The pictures above and below are of D, C, and H playing in our huge sensory tub of pink salt.  I died many large boxes of salt pink, and then added scoops, glass containers, long pink spoons, heart gems, and a giant restaurant style salt shaker.  The kids quickly figured out how to unscrew the lid and fill it up with salt.  Then the boys would hold out their scoops and wait to have them quickly filled by the giant salt shaker.

This activity builds fine motor skills, cooperation, verbal skills, problem solving, and scientific processes of pouring and filling.  They were busy with this tub for quite some time.

Sensory Play:

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Process Art:

J brought in the most beautiful sunflowers for Mrs. Brittany and I for Valentine’s Day.  As much as we were enjoying them, we decided to put them in the art studio as an invitation to create.  I put the flowers in a large vase next to the easel with yellow, brown, and green paints.

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Fine Motor:

For some fun fine motor work I covered a table with long strips of crepe paper.  The children each got to stand at the end of the paper and cut all the way down to the tape.  This provided a fun way to cut using scissors in a new and different way.

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We turned it  into a cutting race to see who could make their way to the tape first!

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Classroom News:

Our new sweet friend A started coming to school in the past few weeks.  She had a great time making new friends, and getting adjusted to life at Crozet PlaySchool.  A quickly discovered the Valentine’s themed learning trays.  She made some bracelets for mommy and daddy.

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A and A spent a long time moving our winter erasers from the container to the muffin tray using the tongs.IMG_2930 2.JPG

She also explored the jump ropes with her buddy A outside.

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And they got out our new set of sidewalk chalk for spring.  It was so great to see both girls bond right away!  It was great to see her warm up to our school on the first day:)

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Preschool Literacy:

We kicked off our study of animals by reading one of my favorite winter stories, “The Mitten” by Jan Brett.

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After reading the book a number of times in the morning, we acted out the story using large puppets from the Jan Brett website.  If your child is still interested in the book and would like to learn more, Brett has a fabulous website with lots of resources.

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I brought a large sheet down into the classroom and we clipped it onto the chairs to make a large mitten fort.  Then each child got to act like their animal as they crawled, dug, or hopped their way into the mitten.  Lastly our mouse got in the mitten and caused the bear to sneeze!  This was a wonderful way to incorporate early literacy skills such as story parts, characters, and problem solving.

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To give the students another way to “act out” the story I opened a snow sensory tub.  We made a batch of “blizzard in a box,” and then I added the figurines from Safari Ltd that matched the story.  They had a great time hiding the animals in the snow and making snowy forest scenes just like the book.

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Little hands in the tub…

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Also to go along with our kick off to studying animals Mrs. Brittany came up with this simple and very popular sensory tub!!  She added our large safari animals, soap, water, scrub brushes, and sponges.  The children got busy washing, scrubbing, and bubbling up the animals!

I love to see all of their little hands reaching into the tub to get wet and soapy!

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D scrubbing the lion very carefully.

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Preschool Math:

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We also played some great animal inspired games last week!  The game pictured above is called “Hiss.”  A bunch of students were playing with us, but of course they walked away when I took the picture.  Each child draws a card and they add it to a snake on the table by matching up the colors.  Once the snake gets a head and a tail it is complete and the player says “Hissss” to keep their snake!  It was a great game for color recognition, problem solving, turn taking, and practicing patience.

Celebrations:

Although we had to postpone our Valentine’s Day celebrations, we still squeezed in some time to have fun.  We got to bounce in the bounce house one morning!  These were the best pictures I could get!

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Each child got to roll out their very own pretzel, and shape it into a heart.  Here is B and D rolling out their pretzels.  They went straight into the oven and into our bellies before I could get a picture.

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Once our pretzels were finished cooking we enjoyed them and M’s special heart shaped cookies for her birthday!  We even got to decorate the cookies with pink and white icing! Yummy!

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Happy Birthday M!

Yoga News:

Mrs. Kay also brought some new mats and a new format for our yoga time recently.  Instead of reading us a book and working on poses throughout the story, she told us a story out loud.  We had to listen to the story and then we posed as different story parts.  The picture below shows everyone trying to reach behind their legs to be a spider.  It was hard!

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And our favorite part of yoga, savasana.  Ahhhh relax and breathe.

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We had a few extra minutes at the end of yoga, so Mrs. Kay joined our mats together into a long line and we made a “Dragon’s Rainbow.”  Everyone got into downward dog, and then the first person crawled under the tunnel and went into downward dog at the end.  This repeated again and again!  It was really fun and hard work to stay up in down dog for so long!

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Now that we are mostly caught up, I can’t wait to share more of our animal study with you soon!

 


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Preschool Happenings

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Process Art:

The colder months tend to keep us inside a bit more, but we also get a chance to explore new materials and techniques in the classroom!  We have worked on a few projects using liquid watercolors this month in a variety of ways.  Liquid watercolors are similar to water color paints, but with a lot of versatility.  You can paint with them of course, but also add them to play dough, gak, and lots of sensory recipes for a pop of color.

For these paintings the children were given large bowls filled with the watercolors and paint brushes.  They went to town painting different designs with the liquids.  After their paintings dried, I thought it would be great to introduce our crayon melter to the class.  We discussed the safety rules for the crayon melter, because it can get quite HOT!  They did a wonderful job being very careful with the melted wax.  Using the Q-tips they simply dripped or painted with the different wax colors.

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H and M wanted to try the crayon melter on plain white paper instead.  They were busy working with this new medium for a long time.  Painting with the melted crayons provides wonderful hand-eye coordination and development.  It also allows them to assess risks and take risks in a safe way, by being careful around the heater.  Lastly, it was always important to put the Q-tip back in the correct color or the crayons would get really muddy.  We learned this the hard way, and everyone worked diligently to make sure their Q-tips were put back correctly (color matching!!).

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Another way we used the watercolors was with the pipettes and paper towels.  The children simply squeezed the colors out of the pipettes to create beautiful designs and images on their paper towel.  They had to make sure not to get the paper towel too wet or the colors would run together.

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The pipettes can sometimes be a bit tricky to use, and they really have to concentrate while using their pincher skills to squeeze the paint onto the towels.

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C and D working side by side above!  I loved seeing Cs two-handed pipette painting!

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After our paper towels dried we cut them into snowflakes and hung them on our classroom doors.

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I think my group this year has used up almost every last piece of chalk that I have!  They simply love side walk chalk.  As a group they are really starting to come together, play as a group, and do group projects that they plan together.  One of their favorite things to do outside has been to “paint” with the chalk in the rain puddles on the road.  They will gather up all of the chalk and get to work!

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You can see B above offering different colors to friends in the roadway.  The results are very cheerful on a rainy day too!

Light and Shadows:

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Another fun invitation to create has been these tracing papers on the light table.  I got the great idea from the Teach Preschool blog.  She has a fantastic blog and so many wonderful ideas.  I drew simple lines, curves, and points for the children to trace on the light panel.  They had to lay a piece of tracing paper on top of my original and trace the lines with a marker.  You may have seen some of these tracing papers coming home.  Many students did this again and again!

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Sensory Play:

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In the sensory tubs we have had two new materials!  The multicolored rice “Ice Cream” tub is pictured above.  The students have really enjoyed this tub, and have opened up a few ice cream shops during the day.  They will make different flavors and offer them to friends that happen to pass by!

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We also had this really colorful “Valentine’s Day tub.”  I filled the tub with white beans, cupcake liners, and lots of fun Valentine’s Day goodies.  They love the heart boxes, and filling them up with beans.

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Our play dough this month has been this beautiful rose scented pink play dough.  I added a lot of soap scent to this dough, and it really fills up the room when the children start manipulating it!

The play dough tray has pink gems, heart roller, heart shaped cookie cutters, and lots of heart cupcake liners.

T made the most beautiful creation with all of the heart shaped cookie cutters.  I had to capture it in a picture!  Stunning!

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Now that the snow has finally melted, it left my yard a beautiful muddy mess!  That has made the mud kitchen a hot commodity!  H is stirring up a large batch of mud soup, and M is making cupcakes below!  She even requested a special pouring cup to measure each muddy cupcake correctly.

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Preschool Math:

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Lastly, we have been getting out our preschool learning trays almost everyday!  They have really enjoyed all of the math games that use old candy.  In the pictures above M is completing a color pattern.  The first patterns are given to her, and then she fills in the blank hearts with the corresponding candies.

You could even play this at home, and it would be a fun way to use your extra candy!

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T and B getting to work on their pattern papers.

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D working diligently to find the correct colors to match the patterns.  I was so so proud of their hard work and math skills!


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Let’s Talk Turkeys

 

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We had so much fun this week making lots and lots of turkeys!  We made these adorable clothespin turkeys using cardboard and painted clothespins.  They are great because the feathers can get moved all around, AND it works in a great deal of fine motor pinching practice at the same time!

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Then we made these beautiful “Salty” turkeys as I called them!  First we drew a turkey outline with glue.  Then we covered the entire picture with a huge layer of salt.  After we dumped the extra salt off, the children used droppers and liquid watercolors to paint the turkey.  This is an art project and a science experiment rolled into one!  They were fascinated with watching the paint spread out through the salt.  Some of the colors even mixed on the salt to make new colors!

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I tried to take a lot of pictures, because this art is very fragile.  Once the salt, glue and paint begin to dry the salt starts to fall off.  It definitely isn’t art you can hang on the wall.  I tried something new this year, and I sprayed the turkeys after they dried with an acrylic coat of spray, but they still were falling apart.  We will send them home (sorry about the mess), but they probably won’t last too long!

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We also made beautiful turkey patterns using this homemade felt puzzle!

 

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One of my favorite projects this week was making these Thanksgiving Day Centerpieces.  First they filled little glass jars with rice, pipe cleaners, and bits and bobs.  They were so creative with this project, and each one turned out so unique.

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Our final products!  We will definitely do this again!

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This is a picture from our rainy day walk this week.  It is so hard to get everyone to look at the camera!

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This is little M taking her turkey painting very seriously.  Ms. Brittany drew these awesome turkeys for the kids to paint at the easels.

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Spring is Here!

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We had such a fabulous week of school celebrating all things spring and Easter related right before spring break!

 

The kids really enjoyed dyeing the eggs on Friday before our very first Easter Egg Hunt!  Each child got to choose between dip dyeing their eggs or rolling them in shaving cream and food coloring for a new dyeing technique!  Once the shaving cream had to sit on the eggs for a few hours before wiping it off.  The results were a cool marbled look.

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M wanted to dip dye all of her eggs!

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The kids had just a great time hunting around the school and outside of our play ground area for lots of Easter Eggs!  The parents each donated a dozen stuffed eggs for each child, so we had plenty of eggs to find!

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Sweet D running around and excited about his loot!

 

Process Art:

 

We made lots of beautiful Eggstra special Easter art this week too! 

 

I found this idea for Easter Egg sun catchers from The Artful Parent blog.  She is very creative, and her ideas are so inspiring for incorporating art into your home or classroom. 

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My parents donated some beautiful spring flowers that we took apart to place on the contact paper.  We also used tissue paper, and then I helped them use washi tape to outline the edges of the eggs. 

 

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Another window invitation was laid out this past week.  I gave them long piece of contact paper, tissue paper, and a cellophane paper cut into flower shapes and stems.  It was fun to see them get right to work creating spring pictures with the contact paper.

 

 

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We got a brand new art material and I was so excited to try it out this week!  The picture shows L and L using our new tempera paint cakes!  To use the paint cakes they dipped the paint brushes in water and then swirl them on the color of choice.  The result is a much more vibrant paint than watercolor, and they made the most beautiful eggs!

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Of course we added washi tape to the top of our eggs!

The results were stunning!

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We received the most stunning floral arrangements from one of our students this past week as well!  I put out paints in all of the beautiful spring colors and the children got right to work.  Their paintings are really evolving as they grow and learn!

 

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I am blown away by their growth and development as we approach the end of this school year!

 

Happy Spring and Easter to my wonderful students!  I can’t wait to see them again in a few days!


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Make New Friends and Keep the Old

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Before we had our great Valentine’s Day Celebration, we took a great deal of time talking about the friendships.  We specifically discussed how to make friends, what we do with our friends, and how we can keep or help our friends in our classroom.  Above is a picture of our sweet wire hearts we gave to our mommies for Valentine’s Day.

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Each child got their own copy of a friendship book I created using pictures of the children doing different activities with their friends throughout the school year.  They dictated the words of the book to me, and then we read the books during our meeting time.

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The kids loved our Friendship flower shop that we set up in the dramatic play area.  The shop had a cash register, flowers, money, bracelets and necklaces, and lots of loose flowers!

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We had so much fun in both of our Valentine’s sensory bins, the Valentine’s Soup and white beans with lots of Valentine’s goodies.

 

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The Valentine’s play dough got lots of use from everyone in the classroom.  I always love to go into the art room after they are done and see what types of creations have been left behind by their busy fingers.

 

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Cupid’s fruit kebobs were one of our favorite snacks as well!  They are getting so adept at serving themselves, and preparing their own snacks.

 

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Some other fun Valentine’s fun included the Sweethearts game pictured below.  They had to roll the dice and fill up the Sweethearts board with heart candies.

 

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L and D were loving the spin art hearts we made!

 

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Each child got to work on a “Friendship Painting” by rolling balls in a box by working together to get the paint splattered all over the paper.  At the end of the painting they each painted their hand and put in on top of the picture.

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We also gave ideas for what our recipe for friendship would be during morning meeting.

 

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One of our favorite baking activities was making a loaf of friendship bread.  We made two loaves, and gave one loaf to our favorite assistant Brittany! 

 

Now that I am back up and running on my computer, I should get us up to date on our blogs and happenings in the classroom!