Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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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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Letters, Letters Everywhere

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We have tried to incorporate letters into many of the learning activities this late winter.  We have done a number of letter activities that the kids have loved!

These pictures are from some beautiful letter names the children made with sequence pieces, and glue.  They had to work very diligently to get the many pieces of sequences on their name. Each name turned into a work of art, and the kids were very proud of them!

 

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Here is a video of some children working on their names:

Light Play:

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On the light panel I used small pink glasses to write upper and lower case letters on two sets of glasses.  The children had to find the lowercase match from around the edge of the light panel to match to the uppercase letter in the center of the light panel.

Below are some pictures of D and J matching up the letters on the light panel.

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Some of our glasses cracked so we added in new colors and alphabet letters:

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Large Group Lessons:

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In our large group circle time, we have done a series of lessons from the Handwriting without Tear Program.  I also added some sorting letters activities at the end of our circle time.  I pulled out the large sorting circles, and we studied the letters together as a whole group.  The first sort we did was: Letters with Straight Lines & Letters with Curved Lines.  These lessons allow children to take a closer look at each letter, what components make up the letter and how it is formed.  After I sorted a few of the letters first, I had each child come to the front of the room to be the ‘teacher.’  They sorted a letter or two for their friends, and the children watching got to check their answer!

Below B is examining his letter before sorting:

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A short clip from our sorting lesson:

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After we finished the activity I cleaned up the letters, but left the sorting circles out for choice time.  Below is a picture of J and she sorted the entire alphabet by herself!  I love when they extend our group learning into their class time choices!

Here is a video of J sorting her letters:

J posing with her circles:

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Lastly we used our mini chalkboards to practice our letter writing!  The Handwriting without Tears chalkboards use mini pieces of chalk to encourage the correct pencil grip, and give students just the perfect amount of space to practice their uppercase or lowercase letters:

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Everyone holding up their different letters:

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In our play time area I set up a very large parking lot with the matchbox cars and the garage.  Each car had a letter written on the top of it with tape, and then they had to park the cars in the corresponding parking lot!

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Sensory Play:

I set up a large kinetic sand tray with our ABC stamps for the children to explore.  They could dig in the sand and press the stamps into the kinetic sand to see the impressions of the letters.

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Dinosaurs and Letters:

A few of my students just love dinosaurs!  I thought I would incorporate both of these ideas into a sensory table.  I added sand, plastic dinosaurs, and then some salt dough letter cakes I made with my students a few years ago.  The letters are pressed into the cakes, and are fun to uncover in the sand!

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More of our past February activities will be shared soon!  I will slowly be catching up with our posts over spring break since my computer is back:)

 

 


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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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Light and Letters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our “Mixed Up Animals”

 

535D59FB-EB66-4E21-ADE9-6ABC1C91D5CD.jpgAs we began our journey to learning more about animals, I went through my classroom library searching for any books that would work well to kick off our study!  Next thing I knew I had a huge pile of Eric Carle books.  His books are beautiful, easy to read, and classics that all children love.

We started reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” every day for a week before we went outside.  The children loved the repetitive nature of the story and singing it along with me.    We added “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you see?” and “Polar Bear, Polar Bear What do you see?” to our favorite song book list.

During all of these read-alouds we worked on three key literacy terms:

Author

Illustrator

Title Page

When you are reading books with your children at night, take some time to talk to them about the author/illustrator of the story, where their names are located, and where they can find the title page inside the book.  These are great early literacy skills!

I just happened to pick up “What’s Your Favorite Animal?” by Eric Carle at the library.  The children were very intrigued by the picture on the cover.  The discussions kept going back to the funny animal on the front page and what were all of the different types of animal parts that made the cover picture.

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After some discussion about this silly animal the children wanted to make up their own animals too.  We studied the covers and illustrations of Eric Carle’s books and looked closely at the paints, lines, and textures he created in his pictures.  Then each child got a turn to paint two large pieces of thick watercolor paper with paint.  They put the paint on very thick and then used forks, cups, popsicle sticks and rollers to make different impressions on the papers.  I got the idea for this from Merri Cherry’s blog and Eric Carle.

Below is a picture of A making marks on her beautiful blue painting.  The right side shows an up close picture of orange paint that was scraped with a fork.

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M is below painting her large paper, and then getting ready to scrape it!

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T and H working together painting and scraping their papers.

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For some reason I always love the aftermath.  Here is our table after everyone was done painting.  There is something really satisfying about a messy workspace and children that got busy painting the morning away.

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Once the papers dried, Mrs. Brittany and I cut apart different animals parts to make “creation station” of sorts.  We cut out silly animal heads, some with long necks, bear heads, bird heads, etc.  We cut out wings of different shapes and sizes, and legs that were webbed, flat, curved, and had hooves.  The children came over the cut up pieces and picked what they liked best to create their own unique, one of a kind animal.  Once their animal was completed, we dictated a story about their mixed up animal.  IMG_3205.jpg

“My baby bird likes to fly.  He likes to eat worms.  The mama gives the baby the worms.  He knows how to fly.  He likes to fly in the trees.”

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T’s amazing animal

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C’s Flying Bear

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M’s Flying Cat Bat

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M’s Flying Cat

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D’s Flying Cat

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What an amazing project!  This will definitely be done again in the future!  I think I had as much fun seeing their mixed up animals, as they had creating them.

 


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There’s No Such Thing as a Gruffalo

 

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Julia Donaldson is my new favorite children’s author!  I was introduced to her by one of my Mom’s during Halloween.  She came to our class dressed as a witch and read “Room on the Broom.”  That book became an instant favorite, and then I found her Grufflo books too!  My own children LOVE these stories, the element of the Grufflo, and the tricky mouse.  The mouse is able to trick all of the forest animals, and convince them that he is the scariest creature in the “deep, dark wood”!  He even scares the Grufflo.  I think children love when the underdog wins!

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After reading the book we re-created the book using our wooden platform, tree blocks, and little figures to represent all of the characters.  I had the puppets for the mouse and Grufflo.  C had the great idea to add rocks from our nature table, and M thought we should add felt to represent the creek and river.  We acted out and re-told the story using the props, and the children played with the items as well!

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We also read the second book, “The Gruffalo’s Child” in which the Gruffalo’s baby learns an important lesson about the little mouse.

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After all of this discussion about the Grufflo, I thought it would be great to set up an invitation for the kids to make him using clay and loose parts.

I gave them a variety of clay tools, wooden sticks and beads.  The results were awesome!  Below D made the Gruffly and used the wooden sticks to make his arms, claws on his feet and horns on his head.  I had the book propped up for the children to refer to the picture if they wanted to.

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T working with the clay above.  She rolled out the clay to form really, really long legs of the Gruffalo.  I love the way she used all of the wooden picks to make his belly.

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A above added a variety of eyes to her Gruffalo, and then decided to change her creation and put in lots and lots of wooden sticks all over his body.

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C was one of the few children that wanted his Gruffly to stand up on the cardboard.  He asked for help getting his clay to stand up tall, and then he got straight to work adding details to his face and body.

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At the end of the week we let everyone come to school in their PJs and we had a Gruffalo viewing party.  There is a short 25 min movie on Netflix that is based on the book.  We gathered on the couches in my family room area and snuggled up for popcorn and a movie.  Many of the children said they watched the movie at home as well!

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It was so fun to dig in deep with this story!  Happy Reading!