Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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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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IMG_2437.JPGM and D are using the conversation heart candies to complete color patterns.  Below A is using beads and paper hearts to string a Valentine’s necklace.IMG_2431.JPG

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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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More Winter Fun

We have been spending a lot of time exploring some of the new play areas in the classroom!  I wanted to share some of the other winter fun we have had besides just melting ice!

Sensory Play:

They have enjoyed the winter tub filled with rocky, white snow, arctic animals, and lot of fun scoops!

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I also made a batch of play dough using Hair Conditioner and cornstarch!  It is a really soft dough, with a mint scent, perfect for a penguin playground!

 

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We also had a new tub, called the “Tinker Tub”. It was filled with styrofoam, rubber bands, golf tees, and pipe cleaners.  They enjoyed pushing the golf tees into the foam, making “candles” attaching rubber bands, making “medicine droppers” and all sorts of other creative things!

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I saved some white Gak from December and we used it with letter tiles to find letters and make our names.

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Once we found all of the letters in our name, we squished up the Gak and tried to find the letters inside the giant ball of Gak.  The last challenge was to put our names back in order after finding the letters!

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Process Art:

We got to explore print making with a large plastic sheet and a brayer!  We spread out paint on top of the plexiglass and then the children used different materials to make marks in the paint.  Lastly, we pressed a piece of paper onto the paint to see what image showed up on the paper!IMG_1649.jpg

Some of us simply made marks in the paint…IMG_1712.JPGIMG_1675.JPGIMG_1676.JPG

While other children drew letters in the paint…

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And some children drew images of themselves or their family…

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Each child’s piece turned out very different and so unique!

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We also got out the watercolor paints and painted some beautiful paper!  The paper had the outlines of Matrushka dolls.

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Preschool Literacy:

All throughout the week we did different lessons with our Handwriting Without Tears ABCs!  It was a great way to jump back into school after our break!  In the picture below three children are working together to put a small portion of the alphabet in order.  The HWT cards have a puzzle on the front to connect the letters in order, and then when the child flips the card there is a sandpaper letter to touch and feel.

I loved seeing three children, all different ages, and all working together to put the alphabet in the correct order.  Older children were helping the younger children, and so much learning was taking place from all of the groups.

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We worked on this project over a series of different days so the children got mixed into many different learning groups by the end of the week.  You can tell by the multiple photos of children working with different partners!

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Lastly, I don’t have any great photos of our Vet Clinic, but here are some videos of the children playing “vet” last week:

More winter fun will be coming soon!

 

 


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Cooking With Kids

 

IMG_3595.jpgWe had a fabulous visitor at the end of the March, our very own in-house executive chef!  Mr. Bryan was nice enough to come into our school, bring loads of supplies, and spend the morning cooking with our fabulous children.  Before we started cooking we first read the book Strega Nona by Tomie DePoala.  It is a wonderful fairy tale, that has been one of my family’s favorite books for many years.

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Strega has a magic pasta pot that gets used by Big Anthony after she warned him not to use it while she was gone.  Anthony fills the entire town up with pasta, and you have to read the book to find out what happens…

Then the children headed upstairs in groups of two or three to put their pasta dough through the machine and press it out.  IMG_3594.jpgIMG_3616.jpg

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Then they used Mr. Bryan’s special pasta rolling tool to roll out their noodles.  It went from a piece a dough to many pieces of spaghetti!

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After that they got to watch Mr. Bryan toss the pasta in some home made marinara sauce that he brought from home!  Of course then we ate!  Yummy!

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Mr. Bryan was nice enough to pack some of the pasta into a to-go bag for each and every family.  It was such a wonderful morning, and I feel so lucky to have such awesome families in our little school!  Thank you Mr. Bryan and his family for their generous time with our kids!

 

 


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Amphibians are Amazing!

We were so lucky to have a special guest or (guests) this week! David (Ts Daddy) brought in a wonderful group of salamanders, newts, a frog and a giant Toad! We are so lucky to have a recident Biologist in our school, and he found most of these creatures in their yard!

The salamanders were left in their wet dishes, but we were able to get out the newts and hold them! They were a few years old, bright orange, and so facinating to observe. We asked a lot of questions, overcame our fears, and got to giggle at these amazing creatures.

T was also an expert on all things Amphibian because of her Dad! She was able to answer almost every question her Dad asked the group. I guess we all need to do a bit of studying about Amphibians!

Thank you David for this fun experience for our children! He has promised to return with turtles next time, and I know the kids and I can’t wait!


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How Does Your Garden Grow?

 

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On my last blog post I shared our little sprout houses that the children created last month.  Over a period of a few weeks we took our seeds out the sprout house to observe them and write about them in our learning journals.  We even worked on labeling portions of the pictures with some of the key science words we have learned such as:  SEED, SPROUT, and ROOT.  They did a great job looking closely at their sprouts and drawing their pictures.

 

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Once we finished with our drawings, I gave each child a copy of the plant life cycle to color and put in the correct order.

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They did all of the coloring and cutting themselves.  I am so proud of their progress with coloring and cutting and how much their fine motor skills have improved this year.

 

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The children got to work and draw their observations while enjoying the fresh breeze in our new outdoor area! 

 

Then we painted and filled up flower pots with soil, and added our bean sprouts to the pots to take home!

 

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This week we cut apart an order for potting a plant.  We discussed the words first through sixth.  Then we put the cards in the correct order from start to finish in our learning journals.

 

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We also read the book, “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle.  After reading the story we worked on a painting project using a variety of paint brushes.  After the paintings dried we cut the paper into petal shapes and added the flower parts to the art work.  The results were stunning!

 

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We also created plastic plate flowers as a garden decoration.  They painted plastic plates with acrylic paint, and I sprayed the plate with an acrylic shell to protect for the weather and elements.  Then we attached them to a garden stake, and gave them to our Moms on Mother’s Day!  I have mine proudly displayed in our garden.

 

 

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We also used our chocolate play dough to create these beautiful nests with our safari limited birds and mini eggs.

 

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It has been so fun exploring flowers, plants, and seeds this spring!  Only a few more weeks of school, and soon summer will be upon us!


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Valentine’s Celebrations

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We had so much fun celebrating Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago! We got the chance to have a small party in the classroom, and enjoy each other!  Valentine’s Day started with some face painting, and necklace making.  Instead of making necklaces for themselves, the finished necklaces were given to a friend in the classroom!  Extra care was taken to string necklaces for our buddies!

 

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We did a TON of baking the week of Valentine’s Day!  First we made our own sugar cookie dough, rolled our dough, and stamped our own heart cookies.

 

 

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They looked quite sweet after we baked them in the oven!

 

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The morning of our Valentine’s Party we tried our hand a mini heart cheery pies.  This was our first time making cherry pies, and they turned out perfectly. 

 

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We rolled out the dough, cut out our hearts, put in our filling, and shut our pies by pressing a fork around the edges.  Then we sprinkled some sugar on top!

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Lastly, we licked our fingers to remove any extra sugar!

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Then our parents arrived, and we got to work decorating our cookies!  Instead of mounds of sugar and sprinkles we opted for a different decorating technique!  We dipped q-tips in food coloring and made designs on top of our cookies!

 

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We also played some Valentine’s math games, decorated heart crowns, and enjoyed our snacks.

 

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Before leaving the parents got to hear some of our friendship songs we had learned in the past two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.  All in all it was a great day celebrating all of these cuties and their friendships with each other!

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Christmas at Crozet PlaySchool

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Even while we were focusing on our letters each morning, the classroom was filled to the brim with lots and lots of Christmas fun!  The first week in December the children walked into the art room to find Playmobil Santa had landed in our art room on a pile of white cloud dough!  The cloud dough was filled with silver glitter for some added sparkle.

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Table Invitations:

 

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The tables were filled with fun invitation to decorate Christmas trees in a few different ways.  We had a felt tree, a tree on the old Light Brite, and a mini Christmas tree with little ornaments.  They got a chance to decorate and re-decorate their trees throughout December. 

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Sensory Play:

 

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For some themed sensory play we had a large tub filled with fake snow.  Then I filled it to the brim with snowman cups, Christmas  goodies, and present boxes.

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We also had fun digging into the hot chocolate sensory tub.  I dyed rice brown last year and also added chocolate extract to made it smell like cocoa.  I was surprised to find that the rice still smelled great when I opened the bag from last winter!  I added some holiday spatulas, cotton balls for marshmallows, and cups and plates. 

 

Process Art:

 

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We also had a lot of fun working with a new art process.  Buggy and Buddy highlighted this technique on her website, and I thought it looked fun and the end product was beautiful.  First we filled a tray with Sta-Flo (liquid starch).  Then each child dropped acrylic paint onto the Sta-Flo starch.  After swirling the paint around on the pan each child laid their watercolor paper onto of the starch.  It was quite drippy and messy, but we embraced it!  After the papers dried I cut them into Christmas tree shapes, and we glued them down onto white paper.  I thought the end product was lovely and each tree was so different.

 

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We also made some Candy Cane puffy paint.  We mixed glue and shaving cream and red watercolors for some puffy paintings.

 

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We also found our names hidden inside of ornaments while we watercolored!

 

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Special Events:

 

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We also had fun celebrating L’s 5th birthday!  Thanks to his mom for these fabulous Olaf and snowflake cookies! 

 

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The kids worked on these beautiful Christmas tree ornaments for their parents.  I hope they were surprised when they opened their gifts!  Each child planned out their tree, and they are each so different.  I helped them with the sewing, but they quickly caught the hang of it.  Then we sewed the tree closed and added stuffing to the inside.  Of course they each wrapped up their tree for their parents to open.

 

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Learning Trays:

 

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I also saw this simple coloring idea on Buggy and Buddy.  I made a sheet for each child and they added all of the details.  E even added a string of lights behind her tree. They were really drawn to this activity.  Sometimes coloring books have so many details, and think the simplicity of the coloring paper made it fun for them.

 

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We also had some fun holiday themed learning trays, too.  They worked on moving the holiday erasers into a gingerbread men muffin tray.  They also got a chance to make icicle ornaments with these fun glittery pipe cleaners. 

 

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Sensory Play:

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After reading The Grinch Who Stole Christmas we made some fun glitter “grinchy” gak.  We loved exploring this glittery gak. 

 

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When they had so much fun filling the Christmas coloring pages, I left the invitation to fill in Christmas trees and gingerbread men on the chalk board.  E went to town filling it out one morning.

 

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All in all it was a very Happy Christmas in our classroom!


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Doctor Knows Best

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We have been learning, talking, and reading about the human body for over a month now.  The children have learned about the skeletal system, circulatory system, and some of our major organs.  I haven’t had a chance to share all of the amazing inquiries and investigations we have done on the blog yet…But, I wanted to share a special field trip we took on Monday. 

 

One of our parents happens to be a local doctor with a family practice.  He invited us in for a visit and let us explore all of his tools!  In the picture above M was the first brave one to let the doctor look down his throat. 

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He even let the doctor show how to use the tongue depressor to look really deep down your throat!

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Everyone was really nervous about the blood pressure machine, so I broke the ice!

 

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Then E decided it must not be that bad!

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Then we went off to test the scales.  Everyone was right around the same weight and height!  Everyone except our littlest peanut M who happens to be our youngest friend.  This brought up some discussion about why she weighed the least and was the shortest!

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Some of us gave the eye chart a whirl, and we talked about what happens if you have eye trouble.  Which doctors help us with our eyes and our teeth, etc.!

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Then we were all very interested in listening to our hearts and lungs!  Every child participated in this and seemed to loosen up with the doctors.  It was so nice to be in the office without the pressure of shots or being poked and prodded.  I hope this visit will help the children feel safer with their own doctors and know that they are always trying to keep them healthy!

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One of their most favorite organ systems was the digestive track ((of course!!))  So we all took part in listening for stomach gurgles.  I love seeing their intently listening faces.

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Then we spent a great deal of time looking through the doctor’s anatomy book.  The children were fascinated by the drawings and diagrams.

 

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Overall the visit was such a success!  Other topics the doctor discussed was staying healthy, hand washing, growing bones, healthy habits, exercising and eating, and much more! 

 

We owe M’s father a big THANK YOU for taking his time out to show us all about his profession.  I know the children have been talking about it all week!


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Featuring Fall

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Throughout September we spent a great deal of time talking about the weather, but here and there I have been incorporating fall based play opportunities here and there.  We spent a great deal of time discussing fall last year.  We learned about apples, pumpkins, life cycles, and much more.  Since my group of children is the same this school year, I wanted to discuss some new topics.  Of course the seasons and temperature changes were another part of our weather discussions. 

 

Play Dough:

 

These are some pictures from my fall play dough tray that I had out for a few weeks.  The tray had wooden acorns, acorns on toothpicks, leaf cookie cutters, and leaf gems.  I can never, ever get enough of play dough.  I am constantly blown away by the children’s continued interest in play dough, and the things they create.  They loved pushing the wooden acorns deep into the dough, such great fine motor work!

 

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Then I moved the play dough tray inside of the classroom.  I added red cinnamon scented dough to tray, and it renewed an interest in the dough again.  I also added scissors, because they love rolling and cutting the dough into pieces.

 

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Sensory Play:

 

The oatmeal table came back out this fall.  I love oatmeal and cinnamon sticks in the sensory table!  The child loved scooping it and sending it down through the paper towel tubes.  This year I added a bunch of handfuls of chestnuts (thank you Max’s family), and three beautiful leaf votive I found at the dollar store. 

 

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Light and Shadow Play:

 

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The light table has a continued interest this year.  I keep trying to add new and interesting materials to engage the kids and keep them coming back for more!  This year I put silk leaves, leaf gems, and popsicle sticks on the light panel.  The children made patterns, and loved looking at the details on the leaves.

 

Of course there is always something interesting to create with the overhead projector!

 

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Invitation to Play:

 

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This was a wonderful fall invitation to play that was left on the tables for a week or two.  The tray was filled with woodland animals, flaxseed, cinnamon sticks, grass balls from the craft store, and wooden pieces.  The children came back to this tray day after day.  The flax seeds were a new sensory material for us, and they enjoyed scooping them, and moving them around on the tray.  The animals were always

 

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Outdoor Art:

 

 

 

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I recently purchased some plexi-glass boards from Lowe’s for a cheap outdoor easel.  I set up this painting invitation with the boards, paints, and squeegees.  They of course went right to town experimenting with the paints and this new form of a paint brush!

 

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Learning Trays:

 

 

This year I am trying to introduce more and more games into our learning trays.  The company “Blue Orange” makes some of my most favorite games.  If you are looking for a great Christmas gift that doesn’t require batteries, their games are my #1 pick!

 

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Pengoloo is a simple memory and matching game.  Children roll the colored dice, and try to find a penguin with the matching egg color.  If they find a match they get to place the penguins on their iceberg.  They are learning their colors, using their reasoning skills, and of course learning about turn taking.  This game was a hit with everyone.IMG_4930

 

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Here is a simple color match you could set up at home!  I painted toilet paper tubes different colors, and then stacked them in a line for some popsicle stick sorting.  You don’t even need to paint the sticks, you can find colored sticks at the craft store!

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Another great and cheap fine motor activity: skewer the beads!  I simply stuck cooking skewers in the play dough and put a bowl of beads in the learning tray.  They went right to work filling up their sticks. 

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I pre-wrote children’s names on paper in another learning tray.  They could use stickers or dot art to trace over their name.  Most of my crew chose stickers of course!

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Lastly, these aren’t the greatest photos, but we had the Duplo blocks out for about three weeks.  Last year the children mostly loved driving the trucks and trains around the classroom.  This year they worked together to make some of the most creative castles, train sets, and playgrounds.  I snapped a few photos of their work, but this type of creativity went on and on for weeks.  They were making elaborate Duplo trains to take around the classroom.  I have truly enjoyed seeing how much they have all grown since last year, and how this has affected their play and use of materials!

 

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The Great Nature Adventure!

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It already feels like ages ago, but just a few weeks ago we went for a long nature walk on the trails right by school!  We are so lucky to have little oasis like these so close to us for a little retreat.

 

Each child got a bag to collect their goodies while they were walking.  They picked up sticks, rocks, strips of bark, acorns and even a snail shell!

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We stopped a few times along the way to talk about what we saw.  The mossy trees were always an attraction to stop and feel the tree!

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The biggest attraction was the creek, of course!  There were a few perfect spots to stop and throw rocks, watch the water, and climb on large rocks next to the creek.

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Once we made it back to school, we had a lot of nature items to use!  The first thing we did was pull the large stick inside that the children found.  I laid it on a piece of paper with different sets of acrylic paints.  They went to town painting it over two days.  They would sit down in different groups and work on all of the different sides and edges of the stick.

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I wanted to use a variety of the materials at the same time.  I made a clay invitation using small lumps of clay, beads, and their bags of nature items.  They were so interested in the clay and it’s properties!  We used clay only a small number of times last year, so it was neat to see them so interested in this art form.

 

The results of their nature clay sculptures were fantastic!  After their clay dried Ms. Lori walked around the room and had each child talk about and describe their clay sculpture.  The stories and names of the sculptures varied as widely as the children’s interests.  Some children said they created race cars, fairy worlds, the beach, and some made themselves with the clay.  We displayed our work on the block shelf for a few weeks.

 

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Their final nature sculptures on display in the classroom:

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Another art invitation I offered was painting bark and their leftover nature items with the acrylic paints.  With the nice weather we have been having, I was able to set this invitation up outside for children to paint under the deck. 

 

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One of the last nature crafts we did after our nature walk was making fairy wands.  This was a great fine motor activity!  They had to slide the beads onto the sticks and then I wrapped them in ribbon.  The fairy wands turned out great, but I learned the hard way that the weight of the beads and ribbon caused the wands to snap easily.  My girls broke their wands very quickly!  It is about the process, right?!!

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After we finished the large branches I covered the paint in modge podge to seal in the paint.  They have become pieces of art for our classroom, and I have incorporated them into fairy play in the block area.

 

I can’t wait for our next great outdoor adventure!