Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Seeds and Sprouts

We made little sprout houses for the window sill.  We filled the sprout houses with a wet paper towel and three sugar snap peas.  I soaked the peas overnight to get them softened up and ready to germinate!  Using the sprout houses allows the children to look closely at the life cycle of the seed.  They can peek at what happens “beneath” the soil!  Every other day we pulled out a set of seeds from the houses to check on them and see how they have grown.

The students documented their learning in our journals.  We asked them to write ‘seed,’ ‘sprout,’ and ‘roots’ in their journal to label the different parts of the seed.  This was their first time working on labeling and they did an excellent job!

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Here is a video of the learning journals:

For the last stage of the project everyone modge podged little potters to take their sugar snap pea sprouts home.  They got to use a spade to place potting soil in the pots, and dig a small hole for the seeds!

Last week we also worked on a few extremely top secret Mother’s Day Projects.  The children used liquid watercolors to die large portions of paper towels.

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Once these dried, we folded them into flowers and peeled the paper towels apart.  The results were stunning!

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The second project was a very large piece of contact paper rolled out on our tables.  The children pulled petals off of flowers to place them on the sticky paper.  I sealed the petals up, and then I cut them out in the shape of hearts.  The children told me little messages for their mommies and I dictated their words.

Lastly, we painted clear plastic plates with acrylic paints.  Then I sprayed each plate with a sealant and attached a garden stake.  They made the perfect homemade garden signs!

Here are a few little ones lined up to show Mommy their creations!

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I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend!


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Eggstra Fun!

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We had a great time incorporating some Easter themes into our days in April.  Above is a picture of an activity we had out on the light panel.  The children could crack open an egg, find the letter on the Handwriting Without Tears ABC chart.  We have used this chart for various activities throughout the year, so the children are familiar with the organization of the letters.  They enjoyed the cracking of the eggs as much as the letter hunt!

Table Invitations:

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One of the art invitation was an egg wrapping station with yarn and poster board egg shapes.  I cut small slits on the edges of the eggs to allow the yarn to hook and wrap.  Then I offered them a variety of colors and scissors for each child to switch colors during their wrapping.  This project encouraged the development of hand-eye coordination.

 

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I made a little “Chick Village” play tray for the children.  They could use the paint brushes to sweep the rice for the chickens, or move the rice to different areas of the tray.  The little wooden frame provided a house area for the Mama and baby chicks to live.  This was a simple set up that provided lots of open ended play.

Easter Themed Play Dough:

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We also had a beautiful batch of yellow dough that we added many Easter themed materials to go with it!  The children had cookie cutters, spring gems with flowers, carrot eggs and much more.  They were very creative with their play dough creations!

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Process Art:

Egg decorating is one of my favorite activities!  I love to try different techniques each year, and the children are always up for a creative way to sue the art supplies.  The first technique we tried was shaving cream and watercolors.  I will admit this technique was a bit of a bust.  The best eggs were in the first batch.  They truly had a very marbled look to them, but as the children continued to mix the eggs in the cream they lost their marbled look.  This would be a good technique if you just had one or two kids that were dying, but it didn’t lend itself to many kids in the classroom.

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Although the puffy shaving cream is always a hit!

The second day we tried a new technique of dripping watercolors onto the eggs.  They turned out beautiful!

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These turned out so bright vibrant!  I loved the colors and how they popped on the egg shells!  Squeezing and squirting the liquid watercolors is always a satisfying process for the children too.

Marbled Eggs:

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The children had so much fun with the shaving cream, I wanted to do another project with it!  We used the shaving cream to create a marbled technique on card stock!  First I made a layer of shaving cream on tin foil.  Then the children picked the colors they wanted to use to drip acrylic paint onto the shaving cream.  After they swirled the paint in the cream, we pressed the card stock onto the cream.  After it sat on the card stock for a few minutes we scraped it off!  The results were just wonderful!  Unfortunately, I completely forgot to get a picture of the final product:( I know the kids and parents loved them!

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IMG_4871.JPGEgg Wrapping:

On a whim I purchased a bunch of paper mache type eggs at Walmart.  Then we added sharpies, washi tape, and scissors to wrap, cut and decorate the eggs.  This was one of the most popular activities, and the children created many eggs throughout the week.  I am sometimes surprised how the simple things are the most fun for the group.

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Egg Hunts:

We ended all of our Eggstra Fun with a giant Egg Hunt outside!  Thank you to all of the parents for supplying eggs that were filled with fun treats and surprises!

 

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Glow in the Dark Discovery

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Last week I had the pleasure of teaching my first inservice for a nearby preschool.  It was such a humbling experience to be up in front of a group of peers, and showing them different things I do in my classroom.  They were most interested in learning about sensory play, so I spent a couple of hours pulling out a bunch of my favorite materials.  Down in the bottom of the bin I uncovered my “glow in the dark” rice.  I had done a number of glow in the dark activities in the past.  It is funny how you forget all of the things you do from year to year!  My black light lamp had broken last year and I just forgot about it.  I decided after my inservice that I would get some new black lights and pull out all of my fun materials.

The first thing I grabbed was my set of fluorescent paints.  My assistant Melissa and I offered the children a few of the color options for each paint set.  It was interesting to see if they noticed that some of the paints had a brighter glow than the other paint sets.

 

These paints are actually a set of finger paints, and it is a good thing!  Many of the children couldn’t resist the temptation to paint themselves (sometimes all the way up their arms) with the paint.  They would do this to see their own body glow in the dark!  They also would paint their hands, and then press them to the paper.  They loved seeing their handprint light up on the paper.

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The children have continued to go in and out of the art room to paint additional pieces with the glow in the dark paint.  I am planning to leave them out for a few more days for the class to enjoy.

I also set up the rice table with the glow in the dark rice.  A few years ago I dyed a batch of rice with the different fluorescent paint colors, and it is still glowing very bright under the black light.

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It is more difficult to see who is playing with the rice, because it is dark around the sensory tub.  But, at one point Melissa and I noticed ALL of the children surrounding the tub.  That rarely happens!  They just loved it!IMG_1989.JPG

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Outside of our dark room we also played with lentils and a doggie set!  It is from constructive play things and the children were really drawn to it.  I thought it would be a great addition to the vet clinic that was set up in the dramatic play area.

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We had Yoga this Wednesday and yoga remains to be one of my favorite days of the week:

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We also learned about Mat Man this week from the Handwriting Without Tears Program.  Mat Man uses the wooden pieces from the HWT program to help the children learn how to draw their body in more detail.  It also gives them more awareness of their physical body. We will begin to transfer this concept to paper through paint, drawing, and art.

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Giving Thanks

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The children worked on the most beautiful salt dough ornaments for Thanksgiving last week.  We made two batches of salt dough, added powdered paint, and then mixed the yellow and orange paint into the dough.

The results were bright, vibrant ornaments!  Some children chose one color, and some children chose to mix the two different colors.  Then we cut out the ornaments and pressed a variety of seeds and beans into them.  Lastly, I baked them in the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours.  I hope they looked lovely at Thanksgiving!

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Process Art:

Squiggly and Bumpy Art!

We tried a new painting technique last week as well!  It was extremely simple and cheap supplies, that anyone could do at home.  We drenched pieces of yarn into a cup of glue, then we laid the yarn in a design on a piece of cardboard.IMG_9744.JPG

 

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Once the yarn had dried overnight, we painted the board with these beautiful fall metallic paints.

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The last process art activity we did was making “bleeding tissue paper” turkeys for Thanksgiving.  The children were calling our turkey feathers a giant feather factory;)

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Each child was given five our six feathers, and a bowl of different colored tissue paper.  They simply painted over their tissue paper with water and we let it sit overnight.  The next day we peeled off the tissue paper to reveal the most beautiful colors underneath.

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Each child drew on their turkey’s face, and we added the feathers to the back of the turkey body for the finished turkey!

Preschool Literacy:

The children came into the classroom last week to find a new activity set up on the light panels.  I drew each of their names in a large dark marker on white paper.  They could trace over their names using different colored crayons for fine motor practice, letter development, and repetition practice.  I have begun to introduce everyone to their names with a capital letter first, followed by the lower case letters.  Many of them say, “that isn’t my name.”  It is important to see their name written in a variety of contexts, and begin to understand the lower case-capital letter connection.

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On the other light panel I put a large jar of gems for them to cover their name with the gems.  Using the light panel with this literacy work is a wonderful way to engage  their senses while children work on a more traditional “paper/pencil” task.  They are able to sit at the light panels for longer periods of time, and the light holds their interest longer than just desk or seat work.

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Look at the concentration…

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Sensory Play:

We had a new fall play dough table set up the past few weeks.  I made a batch of orange play dough  and added cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to give it a nice fall scent.  Then I made a play dough tray packed to the brim with leaf gems, pumpkin gems, wooden acorns, and leaves attached to popsicle sticks.

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Pumpkin Soup:

We read this great fall book a few mornings, and we decided our room needed a batch of pumpkin soup!

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We made a large tub of orange colored water; added gems, scoops, bowls, and egg beaters.  They went right to town mixing, stirring, and chatting about their “soups.”

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Preschool Math:

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We have been counting so many things this fall!  Leaves, pumpkins, ghosts, and much more!  It was time to put our counting knowledge and transfer it to number recognition.  I set up this math table before the holiday, to work on our numbers!  The table had Handwriting without Tears Number Cards.  These cards are made it the tiniest piece of sandpaper, so children can trace the numbers with their fingers.  There were wax “wiki stix” that they could use to shape into the numbers, cork boards, beans, gems, and wooden numbers.  Children could freely explore the table throughout the week.  Some children made the numbers on the cork boards, and then counted the corresponding amount of gems.IMG_9903.JPGIMG_9902.JPGIMG_9904.JPGIMG_9623.JPG

Then Ms. Melissa and I worked with each child to create a number page in their learning journals.  We traced the sandpaper numbers, drew the numbers on the chalkboards, counted the numbers, and lastly dotted the numbers in our journals.  They worked hard to write the numbers on their own, or using small dots as a guide.  Most everyone in the class has 10 pages filled with the numbers 1 – 10!  I hope they are noticing numbers all around them!

We also had a great time setting up some very simple marble runs during free time in the classroom!

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Going on a Leaf Hunt

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We had a great morning “hunting” for leaves around Crozet PlaySchool.  We went for a long walk, and along the way collected leaves from all around the neighborhood!

Once we got back to the classroom we sorted our leaves by color and made a large graph by gluing down our leaves into color categories.  This simple graphing activity includes color recognition, math, and preschool science skills all at once.

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Of course we had to stop and enjoy the view while we were searching for our leaves!

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We have also been able to enjoy our outdoor space so much in the past few weeks.  Some mornings have been a bit chilly, but once the sun warms up we have played outside for a long time each day.  I took some time to set up different activities outdoors for the children to enjoy.

Sensory Play:

We spent a long time picking all of the dried corn off the cobs in our large sensory tub outdoors.  I think they have almost all of the corn cleaned off!  Now we have been pouring, scooping, and piling up the corn in different containers in the sensory tub!

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The children have also enjoyed washing the mini pumpkins and gourds outdoors in a large basin.  Children love to do “chores” or activities that they see their parents do each day.  Often times we are busy cleaning the dishes and don’t have time to let our children participate.  Setting up little wash tubs like this with cars, plastic people, rocks, etc. will give children the chance to practice life skills in an open setting.  They also enjoy the bubbles, water, and the sensory feel of washing.

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I think they might be the cleanest pumpkins around!

 

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Fine Motor Skills & Provocation:

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I printed out some Fall Foliage pictures for the children, and set up this simple provocation on our tables.  They had access to the photos, paper, glue sticks, small squares, and fall colored markers.  I didn’t give them any direction, but they knew just what to do!

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Everyone took some time to visit the table and create with the paper and markers.  Some children chose to glue a lot of paper down, while others drew detailed pictures of leaves and trees.  They would study the pictures, and then transfer that knowledge to their own work.

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Our Fall Tree:

Process Art:

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a great deal of photos of our fall tree coming together!  I did manage to capture M and M as they were painting the acorns with glitter glue.  The acorns tops and nuts were painted, dried, and then we attached a ribbon to each of them.  While some children were painting acorns, other children were painting large pictures on our easels with a metallic paint set.  These large paintings were cut into leaves to create our fall classroom tree.IMG_9545.JPG

The pictures don’t really do the tree justice!  Each of the leaves is so pretty and unique, and the added element of the hanging acorns is so special. I hope the children will treasure looking at it all winter when we are cold and stuck inside!  We can remember our fall days, long walks, and look forward to spring!

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I ended up taking a video of our tree to give you the full effect of its beauty!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 


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The Great Pumpkin Investigation

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We have soaked up the last few moments of Halloween, and the children enjoyed coming to school in their costumes to share or their favorite dress up from home.  I loved watching the children move about the classroom with their costumes!

Learning Trays:

Our learning trays are changed once a month, or sometimes a bit more frequently.  There are 12 trays for the children to choose from in the classroom.  I try to have the trays focus on math, literacy, fine motor, pouring/scooping, or sensory play.

This month the children have really enjoyed exploring the new “sorting circles.”  The circles are opened up, and then they sort the pumpkins into “Big, Medium, and Small.”

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B had no trouble sorting pumpkins into the correct category of “Big, Medium, and Small” in his Transformer Bumblebee costume!

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H was also able to get a bunch of sorting accomplished while donning his fireman get-up!

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Fairies and Princesses also did a great job with the new sorting circles!

Below is a picture of a fine motor tray.  There is a thick sensory material called “floam” lining the bottom of the tray, and then pumpkin toothpicks.  The children have to use their pincher grip to get the toothpicks into and out of the floam.

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Then they all sat together and worked on pushing the pumpkin toothpicks into the thick container of green foam.  This is great fine motor and pinching work.

Preschool Math:

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A new table invitation this week was a squirrel counting game.  I used the acorns we collected a few weeks ago as the manipulatives.  The children had to roll the dice and then feed an acorn to each squirrel until all of the squirrels got some food.  They played this again and again throughout the week this week!

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Below is another whole group counting lesson we did that went along with the Halloween fun!  I made a large poster with pumpkins, and numbers inside of the pumpkins.  They used mini Halloween manipulatives to put the correct number of manipulatives inside of each pumpkin shape.

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This is a picture of our pumpkin investigation that we worked on together as a class over the course of a few weeks.  This investigation incorporated Math and Science goals throughout the lessons.

The class looked closely at our “classroom” pumpkin and gave me describing words to tell what the pumpkin looks like, how it feels, and information they may have already known about pumpkins in general.

Then we “guessed” how many lines were on our classroom pumpkin.  This was the first time we had discussed estimation and guessing as a math skill.  Many children weren’t sure how to even give a best guess…for example many people chose numbers that were very small even though we could see lots of lines on the pumpkin.  This is an advanced thinking skill, and you can practice it at home with your child.

“How many steps do you think it will take to get to the car?” Give some guesses and then test out your answer.

“How many pretzels are left in the bucket?”

“How many pairs of socks do we have in this pile?”

Try to pick examples with smaller numbers when you are just starting.  If your answer is in the 100s or even over 50 it is going to frustrate them.  Then as they gain confidence you can increase the estimation amount.

We used this same strategy to figure out “How Tall is our pumpkin?” and then we measured it with uni-fix cubes. As well as “How wide is our pumpkin” and we cut pieces of yarn to wrap around the pumpkins circumference.

Often times I will cover concepts well above their comfort zone, or talk about things that are brand new to them.  But, hopefully over time and repeating the lesson in new ways these concepts will solidify.

Lastly, we took our pumpkin outside and hammered it with golf tees!

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Preschool Sensory Play:

I set up a pumpkin washing station outside complete with mini pumpkins, gourds, brushes, and lots of bubbles.

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I also dyed a batch of spaghetti noodles in lots of different shades to play with on the light table….gooey, spooky, and oh so fun!

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We have begun to play with the classroom train tracks, and are beginning to build confidence with new tracks around the room…

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And lastly, when you are spiderman it is always important to take some time to listen to a book…

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That might be one of my favorite pictures from the week!  Thank you to A’s mom for visiting us on Monday!

Happy Halloween!

 


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Signs of Fall

We have interwoven signs of fall throughout our past few weeks in the classroom.  The weather has been a bit warmer than a normal fall, but we are beginning to see all of the beautiful changes all around us!

Below are some pictures from our first batch of Gak in the classroom!  A few of the students helped me make the first batch of the year, and it was a huge hit!  Gak is a mixture of water, glue, liquid watercolors, and borax.  It is stretchy, slimy, part liquid and part solid.  It is a great sensory tool in the classroom, and a fun medium other than play dough.

Sensory Play:

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Below is W breaking apart the Gak and putting it into cupcake liners.

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M was showing other students if you held up the Gak it would stretch longer and longer.

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I added some leaf gems to push, squish, and hide inside of the Gak.

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Process Art:

We used real apples to make a rolled art project.  I added a few dabs of paint to a large box, and the children rolled the apple around and around to “paint” the apple.  They thought it was really silly to paint an apple with an “apple paintbrush”!

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Preschool Math:

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Of course after all of our apple cooking, we had to taste test three different types of apples.  We tried Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.  After everyone had a chance to taste and vote for their favorite apple, and then we analyzed our results.  Which apple was our favorite?  Which apples had the most votes?  Which apple had the least votes?

Preschool Science:

Signs of Fall

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We have been going on quite a few walks in this beautiful weather!  On one of our walks we decided to travel down to the creek and check out the “rapids.”

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On the way to the creek we discovered a ‘wooly bear’ caterpillar.  He curled up into a ball once we walked past. The boys were trying to decide why he was curled up?

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There was a big investigation of the caterpillar and a lot of discussion of where he was going!

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We collected two large baskets of acorns, and used them to fill up our sensory tub.  To add another dimension to the tub, I put the top with different sized holes that my Dad made for me last year.  It is so fun to watch the children dig in through the holes, and fill the buckets up with lots of acorns.

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The sensory tub inside the classroom was filled with birdseed, tree blocks, and forest animals.  This tub has been a busy place the past week!

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Preschool Literacy:

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We have been doing a number of finger plays and fall songs!  Many are very simple, but the children love to do them again and again.  I will do my best to post a video of our songs this week!

Pumpkin ABC Hunt

After morning meeting this past week we have done an ABC pumpkin hunt!  The children each got an ABC hunting sheet and a clipboard.  Then we pulled the ABCs out of the jack o’ lantern and tried to find the Capital or Lowercase Matching letter on their paper.  Once they found the match they covered it up with the Dot Art marker.

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We have also begun to do small lessons from the Handwriting Without Tears Program.  The children have learned a few of the songs, and I have slowly started to introduce the materials in a small group and whole class setting.  Children were able to use the wooden pieces to create their “special letter” for the whole group.  Then as a small group I worked with children on their entire first name and their last name (for those that are ready).  We built their names using wooden pieces, and then we drew the letters on the Handwriting Without Tears chalkboard.

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Light Exploration:

I put gems, apples, and sticks on the light panel.  Two little buddies worked for a long while creating apple trees and apple houses on the light panel.

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Process Art:

Children have also been busy creating all around the classroom during choice time. They have been busy painting…

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This group loves working with paper, scissors, stickers, washi tape, and oil pastels.  I have been leaving one table open for creating with the art supplies, because it is usually busy each and every day!

Thank you to one of our moms who donated all of the fun paper for coloring!  The children have really enjoyed it!

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Lastly, children were given a variety of materials to decorate pinecones.  They used the glue to add pom poms, yarn, and sequence to make beautiful pine cone creations.

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