Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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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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Christmas Countdown

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This December packed a big punch at Crozet PlaySchool.  We had something up our sleeves in every corner of the room, and it was so fun to watch the play unfold this month.  Above is one of our many sensory tubs this month.  It was filled with Peppermint Cloud Dough!  I made a huge batch of green cloud dough, added peppermint extract, and lots of fun Christmas people, baking cups, and spatulas for pretend play.  This was by far the favorite tub of the month, and I actually didn’t change it because there were children playing with the dough every day!

Below is another tub that was filled with pretend snow (plastic type from the craft store) and lots and lots of festive finds tucked inside the snow.  The children loved to take the mini boxes and fill them with items and give gifts to each other.

Sensory Play:

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The last week before Christmas we made “Christmas Fluff.”  I found the recipe from Sow Sprout Play, and it was fantastic!

I am definitely going to make this again using different colors and bits and bobs, because the kids loved it!  You can see from the collage below how many hands were digging into this sensory bin.

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Table Invitations:

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This table might look like a wrapping station gone wrong, but it was actually one of the most popular table invitations this month.  I left out mini boxes, jingle bells, squares of paper, table, and ribbons.  The results were lots of wrapping, cutting, taping, measuring, and creating pretend presents for our friends.

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You can see in these step by step photos how much work went into each child trying to wrap their own gift.  B fills his box with jingle bells…

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Then he uses the tape to wrap up his box…

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Below are a few of the wrapped presents I found on the table later that morning.  B’s present is in the middle, wrapped with lots and lots of ribbon and tape!  There is so much fine motor work at this station, but the children saw it as a fun seasonal activity.  I know as a mommy, that often we get in a hurry this season and our children want to “help” us wrap, but we don’t have time to allow them to help (or maybe that is just me waiting until the last minute!).  This was a great way to allow them to help and do all of the fun wrapping activities they love!

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D hard a work cutting her wrapping paper.

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Another table invitation was playmobil Santa and his friends in the snow.  I created this table invitation using fake snow (white pebbles) and two different playmobil sets.  The children loved the little parts to the tray and acting out different holiday stories.

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Another wonderful table invitation was the light panel, jingle bells, and a magnetic wand.  A few of the boys above H and D spent a great deal of time taking turns picking up jingle bells with the magnetic wand.  They tried to see how large of a jingle bell shaker they could create if they collected them all!

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Below is an activity I have done in the past, and I pulled it out again this year.  It is a Light Brite cube!  I made my own paper drawings on each side of the Light Brite.  The children could stick in the pegs and make ornaments on the tree or details for the gingerbread men.  Some of the children loved to just see the light come through the holes once they had been created.  They spent a great deal of time just punching row after row of holes into the paper.  This is such a great sensory (light) and fine motor activity!IMG_1728

The last table invitation was left out on the train table the week before our break.  I put a large pile of Christmas colored pom poms, tree blocks, snowy trees, and ornaments for the children to play with.  They created different scenes including the one below by setting the wood blocks up in different ways and using the pom poms and trees as a way to “decorate” their creations.  I love seeing loose parts played with in the classroom!IMG_1811

This invitation to play wasn’t on a table, but it was located near our dramatic play area.  I set up a little tree for decorating, books for reading, and different hats/headbands for acting out Christmas stories!

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Preschool Math:

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This month we continued talking about numbers using snowmen!  As a group I would call out a different number, and they had to make their snowman that many snowballs tall!  Then they each tried to write the corresponding number next to their snowman.  (And yes, that is a random sock on the floor next to M’s work!)

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Some more of their hard work in their journals!  They added details to their snowmen including  arms, faces, and hats!IMG_1662

Preschool Literacy:

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We also wrote our names on circles and created our own snowman using our name!

Process Art:

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The children created this beautiful Christmas Tree on our window at the entrance of the classroom.  Ms. Brittany and I unrolled the contact paper so the sticky side would face the kids.  Then we offered them a variety of pipe cleaners, gems, and popsicle sticks to create a Christmas tree.  The results hung on our door for most of December!

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Christmas Crafts:

 

This month we also did a lot of “crafts.”   Most of the activities were pre-planned for the children to participate in during the month of December.  I always prefer process based art for little children, but I do feel that it is nice to do crafts that can have a specific outcome.  These Christmas tree ornaments are a good example!  Each child completed the project in their own way, but they still could be hung on the tree at home!  Lovely indeed!

 

Merry Christmas!

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Yoga For Kids

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We are so lucky to have Mrs. Kay visiting us twice a month for yoga!  It is so fun to watch children move their bodies, stretch, and get a chance to try something new.  Mrs. Kay usually uses a picture book to guide our yoga sessions.  The animals or pictures that they encounter in the book become different yoga poses to try.  The picture above shows the children moving their necks side to side like a gorilla.IMG_1576

These next two pictures show everyone stretching their backs on all fours, and making their hand into the Rhino’s tusk.

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Yoga is fun!  The picture above is a great action shot of everyone growling like a lion.  You can see Mrs. Kay’s hands on the side showing us just how to do it!  Roooooar!!

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Each session we usually try to do many of the same poses as well.  Mrs. Kay always uses the correct yoga term, so they would know what to do if they visited a different yoga class.  Downward dog!

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And child’s pose:

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Each week Mrs. Kay ends with a relaxation exercise.  We lay still on our mats with the lights off and practice slow breathing.  Then we flex all of our muscles very, very tightly and relax them.  After a few rounds of this Mrs. Kay will give us a calm story to listen to while we relax on our mats.  We have even had some children fall asleep last year!

I love this weekly time with my little yoga kiddies!

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Fall is Around Us

We have been taking time lately to notice the beautiful changing of season around us! Our walks have been filled with finding leaves and other fun treasures. We decided to make our own fall tree in the classroom.

We tried a brand new art process of melting crayons inside a pocket of wax paper. First the children sprinkled crayon shavings inside of the paper, and then with the help of an adult they watched as their crayons were ironed inside of the paper.

The students and teachers alike loved watching the crayons melt and become watery inbetween the sheets of wax paper. The iron also stuck together once it was ironed so the whole creation was sealed up! I found this inspiration from the Artful Parent blog, that I always go to when I am looking for great process art ideas.

Once their crayons had dried, we cut the beautiful colors into different leaf shapes to hang on our classroom branches. M and D worked diligently to hang many of the leaves.

We placed our newly decorated tree on our fall nature table. It is filled right now with mini pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn. This week we spent time looking at the pugourdsmpkins, playing with them, and discussing what the items are on the table.

Next week I am hoping to turn this table into a pumpkin stand for buying and selling!

After our fabulous visit to the pumpkin patch I thought I should add some invitations to the classroom that would extend our play. Below is a picture of our farm and pumpkin patch that has been busy with children all week.

We also got hands on with a pumpkin and decorated it an unique way! Using real hammers and tools was fun for everyone. Every child understand the guidelines of using the hammer and wearing the goggles. Everyone one got a chance to hammer the pumpkin this week. Next week we will open the pumpkin and pull out the inside of it! It will be fun to see how spooky our pumpkin looks with lots of holes all over it.

The children have been exploring our new fall learning trays as well. These are some pictures of a few of our trays. Above the children can peel, pick and pry the dried corn off of the cob.

Above the children move the corn kernels from one leaf tray to the other using a spoon.

This last one is placing the gems onto the fall themed pictures in the circles.

Happy Fall! It is beautiful out there!


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March Madness

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We had so much fun on St. Patrick’s Day this year!  The kids came into the classroom to find that some little leprechaun vandals had left a mess in our classroom overnight.  There were gold coins, rainbow yarn, and green confetti all over the place.  Then some of the students noticed a clue located on our bookshelf. 

 

We worked together, read the clues, and used our thinking skills to determine where to go next!

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We ended up finding chocolate coins and treasure hidden in our trashcan!  The leprechauns sure know how to be tricky!

 

During our morning meeting we had a “lucky hunt” around the classroom.  Each child was given a hunt paper and had to find golden coins hidden around the classroom.  Then they had to race back and try to fill up the lucky hunt papers as quickly as possible.  This was so much fun that we played it a few times!

 

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We also found some very green gak in the art room on St. Patrick’s Day.  Gak is still a favorite in our classroom, and we loved sticking the gak full of coins, shamrocks, and green gems.

 

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In March we opened a new construction area in the classroom.  It included our golf tees and foam board, with real hammers and goggles.  This is such a great activity for everyone in the class.  Holding up the hammers and pounding them into the board is great muscle building for our arms and hands.  Also getting the chance to use real tools is enticing and empowering for children.

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New in our construction area were vests, hard hats, and all our construction vehicles.  The vests and hats have become a permenant part of our dramatic play area of the room.

 

 

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We played with pasta, tubs, scoops, and bowls in one of the sensory tubs.

 

 

 

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After reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears a bunch of times we got to act out the story using the sensory tub.  I filled the tub with oatmeal, added three bears and a goldilocks.  Then I put the furniture from our doll house to act out the beds and chairs.  They always know just what to do when they see these activities around the classroom.

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Last year we spent a great deal of time discussing rainbows, colors, and color mixing.  I still did a few projects that included rainbows this spring.  We painted rainbows on a large sheet of paper.  Before they started painting I put a rainbow piece of contact paper on their sheet.  Once their paintings dried, I peeled off the contact paper to reveal an opposite rainbow picture.  They were very confused about the process, but once they saw me peel off the contact paper the whole idea made more sense to them!

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We also finger painted rainbows with our glitter filled paints.  Each child decided if they wanted their rainbow to run across the paper or in an arch.  After our rainbows dried we taped rainbow yarn to the bottom of the paper and turned it into a windsock.  They loved taking them outside and seeing them blow in the wind.

 

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This winter was filled with a lot of snowy days, and we have loved adding the addition of yoga into our monthly routines.  The children are quickly picking up on the poses, terms, and the breathing elements of yoga.  They are so flexible and can quickly move from one position to the next.  I am in awe of their attitude to embrace new ideas and jump into yoga feet first!  We will continue to have Ms. Kay visit us throughout the spring too!

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Ms. Kay begins each lesson with an affirmation that we repeat a few times before an after our yoga exercises.  Then she guides the yoga session by reading a book that usually has animals in the story.  Each animal leads the children to the next pose they are going to encounter.

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Moose ears and breathing right to left

 

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Whale pose: laying on belly and lifting arms and legs

 

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Wolf pose:  downward dog with a leg lift to be the wolf’s tail wagging. 

 

Ms. Kay is so creative, and makes yoga fun for the kids!


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Quadrilla Marble Run

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Lucky for us Santa brought this amazing new Quadrilla marble run!  The marble run is made by Hape, and their wooden toys are top notch.  The possibilities are endless for set up and use of this marble run.  Most of these pictures are taken on the same morning, but we have set it up multiple ways the first week of school.  The only downfall is that it can fall down fairly easily.  I tried to pick the marble runs with the sturdiest set-up, but it has toppled over a few times.  We just get right to work building a different one when it falls!  It also has taught them to be careful when they are playing with it if they want it to stay in one piece!

 

If you are reading this through the email browser, the video will not show up.  You will have to visit http://www.crozetplayschool.com to view the full videos!

 

playing with the marble run

 

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more videos from our marble run!

 

 

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The children are slowly starting to learn how all of the parts of the marble run work.  They have even built back parts of it if they knocked it over by Friday.  I can’t wait until they are building their own marble runs in the future!


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Beginning our Letter Exploration

 

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In the beginning of November I started a letter exploration with the whole class.  I have used a variety of medias and learning styles to introduce the letters and their sounds to the class.  In the picture above I made a parking lot out of blue painters tape on the carpet.  Then I put a piece of tape with the upper and lower case letter in each parking spot, and a matching car with the letters taped to the top.  Many of the kids went nuts over this.  You could expand this idea in many ways, by making the parking spots have only upper case letters, and the cars have lower case letters, or numbers, etc.  It gets the children playing, moving, and learning all at the same time!

 

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I also introduced the letters in a more traditional way.  Because many of the students in my group are familiar with most of the letters, I decided to read one book each day that had a focus letter.  The first morning we read “Alligator Baby” by Robert Munsch.  Then I made an alphabet box that has one letter in each drawer.  Each drawer holds a number of little charms or items I have collected.  In the picture above you can see all of the charms that start with the letter A:

alligator

airplane

apple

acorn

ant

 

After building the letter A with our wood pieces, we pulled out each charm and said the sound for A while labeling the charms.  The final part of our project was to make a letter A craft.  We made the A into an alligator!  So far we have discussed the letters A-N in the past two months. 

 

I have enjoyed the combination of approaches when talking about each letter.  With combing the phonics part of the letter study, it allows children that already may know how to write or form the letter a more advanced way to learn. 

 

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I made this glittery gel writing bag too.  While the children are at choice time I have been calling them over to make the letters out of wood pieces, trace the letters in the bag, and draw the letters in the learning journals. 

 

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One of our learning trays has been this alphabet monster (a baby wipe box in disguise!)  They can put the letters in the box in alphabetical order, or simply pick up a letter, name the letter and then feed it to the monster.

 

 

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We also ate a delicious letter snack!  Sarah (one of my preschool moms) told me about these pretzels you can make yourself.  We made the dough, and then each child rolled and formed the dough into the first letter of their name.  It was fun and yummy!

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Golden brown out of the oven!

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Gluing down fruit loops or stringing fruit loops is always excited to this group!  I wrote out their names using the different colors of the fruit loops.  Then they had to find the correct color and glue it onto their letters in their name. 

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The finished products looked great!

 

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We also made a hop scotch that was all of the letters of the alphabet!

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This week we also had pattern blocks and felt pieces on the tables to explore.  Lots of neat creations were made.

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These next photos are just some of the things we did while we were studying letters, or moments captured around the classroom.

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The trains were a lot of fun the past two months.  They made endless different train tracks.

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This was group art project outside.  The paints were made of clear hair gel, liquid watercolors and confetti.

 

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The mud kitchen continues to be a hit!

 

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The purple rice bin was filled with gems, hearts, test tubes, and ice cube trays.

 

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Another art project was an simple invitation of metallic pens, popsicle sticks, and washi tape.  They had so much fun coloring the sticks and covering them with different styles of tape.

 

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