Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Melting Ice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Animal Adventures Part Two

We have had so much fun exploring animals of all different shapes and sizes!  This animal unit of study came about from the children playing with these large sized animals from Learning Resources, as shown below.  They are great toys to have around the house, because you can get them muddy, dirty, and even covered with paint and they wash right up!  They also provide the type of open ended play that can go on and on without a intended goal in mind.  They might made a great gift to fill up an Easter Basket?

Here is a link to some of the animals we love so much:

 

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Jumbo Jungle Animals

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Ocean Animals

 

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Endangered Animals

 

We made animal footprints with our large animals by dipping them in a plate of paint.  The girls thought this was really fun!  I was hoping that the “prints” of the animals would show up a bit better, but they enjoyed the process so much I decided that wasn’t important.

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I love how C decided to make his animals have a little dance party, and it made his paint smear all over the paper.  It is amazing what happens when we let go of our “ideas about what they should do” and just let the children explore freely.

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Fine Motor Activities:

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I set up this really fun cutting activity last week for the children at the table using crepe paper.  My good friend is a pediatric OT, and she shared this simple idea with me.  It was a fun and unique way to practice our scissor skills while standing, moving, and cutting something unique.

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After we had a few days to work on our cutting I gathered up a new fine motor activity that we hadn’t seen this year:

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A bath mat flipped upside down, marbles, and tongs.

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The children all worked diligently to fill up the bathmat.  After they had used every last marble in the room H asked if there was anything else they could use for the project.  I got them some gems to fill up any of the last holes on the mat.  The marbles required more fine motor skill to keep them from rolling away, but the finished product of the whole mat filled with objects was really neat to see.  I love when they will stick with a project for the entire duration!

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Animal Adventures:

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We had a whole group discussion about what we already know about animals (which was a WHOLE LOT) and what we wonder about animals.  The overall theme that kept being discussed is where animals live.  They knew the names of many of the habitats, but we unsure of some of the animals that lived in each biome.  I have decided to move along those lines with our animal study, and we got our hands dirty playing in a sandy safari habitat above.  I used my sand cloud dough, added my large safari animals, scoops, rocks, and fake large leaves.  The weather was so beautiful we were able to have the sensory tub outside with the doors open to the school.

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I found M and D building this awesome animal habitat with the blocks.  I loved how the used the hollow blocks turned sideways and each little animal had a resting place inside the block.

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After morning meeting we also sorted our mini animal figures into two categories: wild animals and tame animals.  We read Dr. Suess’ new book “What Pet Should I Get” and discussed which types of animals live in people’s homes.  They were especially interested in animals such as birds or turtles that can be found in the wild AND in people’s homes.  Such detailed discussions happening everyday!

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Of course these little animals just begged to be played with, which M got right to work making them come to life one morning last week:

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Collaborative Art:

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Lastly, the children came in last week to find this blank rainforest mural hanging up in the classroom.  I got the foundation of the mural started, and then each day we added a new animal to the mural to make it complete!

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Although many of the animals are bit more on the “crafty” side as far as projects I choose to do with the children, I wanted to make a finished product that would allow them to visualize the rainforest.  I tried to choose child made animals as much as possible!  The toucans were cut out using paper that they had painted for their Eric Carle project.  They added feathers and eyes to their birds.  The snakes were stamped using painted bubble wrap.  Above is a picture of J painting the bubble wrap green, and then we pressed the plate onto the bubble wrap.  Lastly, we painted anteaters using forks and dipping them in brown paint to make the fir.  The mural turned out beautifully, and after we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this week, we will begin our mural of the savannah.

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Thank you for coming along on our animal adventures!


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Jack and the Beanstalk

 

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We spent the past week reading Jack and the Beanstalk and discussing seeds and beans!  The children absolutely loved the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and enjoyed hearing the many versions of the book. 

 

 

After reading Jack in the Beanstalk one day we decided to build our very own beanstalk in the classroom!  We taped 14 paper towel tubes together and got to painting!

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Then I took picture of the kids as they pretended to crawl up a beanstalk.  Once we painted our entire stalk we put it up to the ceiling and then we put everyone’s picture climbing up it!

 

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Each child colored their own “sprout house” and then we placed snap pea seeds inside of wet paper towels.  We hung up our sprout houses on the window and everyone got very excited when we saw our seeds actually sprouting!  We took notes and drew pictures in our learning journals of the changes in our seeds.  After reading books about seeds and their growth we labeled our pictures with these science words:

 

  1. Seed, Sprout, Root, Root Hairs, Soil, and Sun

 

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Today we painted flower pots and we will be bringing home our snap pea plants this week!

 

 

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We have been working on these puppet box theatres for the past two weeks.  Each child got to pick their favorite fairy tale and plan a puppet theatre inside their box.  It has been a long process for each child, with painting, planning, prepping, and choosing their design.  I am so proud of each child and how hard they have worked on their puppet theatre.  Above is a picture of a Little Red Riding Hood story box, and below is an example of The Three Little Pigs.

 

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Once each child has finished their puppet box, they will have the choice to act out their fairy tale in front of the class!

 

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Above is D painting his wheat garden for The Little Red Hen.

 

We have also been enjoying this beautiful weather with lots of walks and activities outside!

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We have walked down to the playground and visited the fountain a few times.

 

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We have also walked down the creek and community gardens a few times as well.  I have been trying to take everyone on one long walk a week.

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We got lucky at our last visit to the community gardens.  They had a huge rock pile that we got to climb and play in!

 

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There has also been a few rainy days, but that doesn’t stop us!

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And of course our mud kitchen got re-opened for the spring weather too.

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When we are at school, I have been trying to bring one or two big activities outside to enjoy.  We mixed up our own batch of sidewalk paint and got right to work decorating Crozet PlaySchool’s driveway.

 

 

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I am looking forward to our last few weeks of adventures as May approaches!


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Witches, Brews, and Fizzes

 

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We had so much fun celebrating Halloween this fall!  In between our study of the human body, I tried to squeeze in some spooky Halloween fun.  The purple glittery play dough was a hit.  The addition of witches fingers made the Halloween play dough tray a lot of fun.

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After reading the book Ten Timid Ghosts I found this great activity from No Time for Flash Cards blog

 

First we read the book, and a witch scares the timid ghosts out of their haunted house.  First we matched the numbers on the haunted house to the numbered ghosts hanging on the side. 

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Then I put some simple addition facts on the haunted house.  For most of the students this was the first time we have talked about addition and the concept of adding two numbers together.  I laid out little ghost manipulatives, and each child got to come forward and add their ghosts together.  They did a great job counting, adding, and using one to one correspondence when they were counting up their ghosts.

 

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Another fun math activity was our pumpkin counting board.  We matched the correct number of ghosts and pumpkins to our big poster board.

 

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For some sticky fun, I made a batch of gray and blue oobleck on trays in the art room.  The oobleck is a mixture of water, cornstarch, and liquid watercolors.  They had fun using the spoons to mix up the oobleck or their hands!

 

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The trays looked like this at the end of the morning!

 

 

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We also used lentils, kidney beans, black beans, and coffee beans to make some super spooky “Monster or Witch Hands.”

 

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The weather was still fairly mild the week before Halloween.  I took advantage of the warmer temps and set up a colorful witches brew outside at the sensory table.  I had test tubs, basters, buckets, and lots and lots of colorful water.

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We played this over a couple of mornings and it never seemed to get old!

 

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We also made some witch faces!  Each child colored a coffee filter and then sprayed it with water.  Once the coffee filters were dry we glued them onto a paper plate.  Each child added all of the facial features and they even used folding skills to make crinkly or curly hair.

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I think the children’s favorite part of Halloween was snack!  Each day I made a set of instructions for them to create their own Halloween themed snack.

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I placed the instructions with pictures on the table for the children to follow and make their own snack food.  Of course we don’t usually eat these treats normally, so the children thought this was extra special!

 

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This snack was a pumpkin pudding with crushed Oreos!

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Donut spiders!

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The kids had fun making some simple stamping crafts.  They made candy corn and stamped ghosts using potato stamps.

 

 

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The biggest treat was the fizzing spider experiment.  I found this great idea from Fun at Home with Kids.  I made a mixture of baking soda. water, and liquid watercolors.  You form the baking soda into balls and then freeze them until you are ready to use them.  Then I got a large tub and filled it with vinegar.  Each child got to put one spider in at a time and watch their spider fizz and pop.  Leo even had fun exploring the vinegar after the project was done!

 

Each spider had a plastic spider hidden inside.  They kept calling them their spider babies!

 

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I am hoping to get back on track with my seasons and blog posts soon! 


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Doctor’s Office Transformation

 

 

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Last month I transformed Crozet PlaySchool into a little doctor’s office.  We had lab coats, chairs for the waiting patients, lots of supplies, and plenty of learning taking place.

 

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Students could check on their patient and fill out a patient report.  I made this simple form for each of them to use when they were playing the “doctor.”

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I also hung up my pocket chart with pictures of each child next to their names.  This gave them a chance to practice writing and recognizing their friend’s names while playing.  Below the names I also laminated some human body cards for the children.  They could list the body part that was bothering their “patient” by looking over the cards.

 

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I had lots of tools for them to use: ace bandages, stethoscopes, pretend medicine, face masks from the dollar store and lots of other trinkets.

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The scale was a big hit too!

 

 

My daughter has been extremely interested in the human body for over a year now.  I thought it would be fun to incorporate this idea into the Halloween time frame.  We started our discussions talking about the skeletal system.  I did a little experiment with rubber gloves.  The first glove was filled with just flour, and the second glove was filled with popsicle sticks and then flour.  They passed the gloves around and felt for the bones in the glove.  They also quickly noticed how the boneless glove drooped to the group, where the glove with the bones kept its shape!

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We worked on some skeleton art!  The first project was a handprint using white paint on black paper.  After the handprint dried we represented our bones by gluing down q-tips.

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Another fun activity was our pasta skeletons.  I laid out a variety of different pastas and they looked at the pictures to represent their skeletons with pasta.

 

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We played with a Play Mobil doctor’s office for a few weeks!

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After discussing the skeletal system we moved on to our organs.  We focused on some of the major organs heart, lungs, stomach, and brain.  I set up this blood sensory table for them to explore.  The red water beads represented our red blood cells, the ping pong balls represented our white blood cells, and the red foam rectangles represented our platelets.

 

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We read some fantastic books about the human body:

 

This is a book that Ellie and I bought this summer, and it is fabulous!  I love Discovery Kids books.  Great pictures and lots of information!

 

Ms. Frizzle took us on an adventure inside of the human body!

And my favorite human body book is this “Outside-In” flip book.  The pictures are detailed, but not too complicated for a younger group of children.  It highlights all of the major body systems.  We read parts of this book over a series of days, and the children loved it!

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One of our final projects was a review of our body systems.  Over the course of a few days children drew themselves, and then colored the different systems, organs, muscles, and skeleton.  Each picture fit inside their self portrait.

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The final project we worked on was a life sized representation of some of their body systems.  I got the idea from Pink and Green Mama’s blog.  She is an art teacher, and always does wonderful projects with her girls.  Each child laid down on the floor and I traced them.  Then we added lots of details: they colored in their brain, we colored and glued on eye balls, sponge painted their lungs, glued on their heart, stomach and intestines, taped our bones, and lastly they helped me glue long pieces of yarn to represent their blood vessels.  The finished product was so great!

 

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All in all it was a great study, and I think I learned just as much as the children about our amazing human body!