Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet

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Lines and Curves


Spielgaben Study


Last week I set up this simple invitation to study lines, curves, and shapes in a variety of ways using our Spielgaben wooden pieces.  Four years ago my families from Crozet PlaySchool all got together and bought this beautiful math set.  I look forward to using it each year!  The pieces provide open ended math exploration.

On one side of the table I put four cork circles, and on the other side of the table was the large wooden grid that is part of the math set.

I let the children use the pieces to create their own designs, and their imaginations were their only limit.












Swirls and Lines

Then I moved the Spielgaben to the block area in the classroom and set up the chalkboard table top.  On the table I drew a series of lines and swirls, along with offering a large supply of gems.  They children loved this activity, and we changed the drawings on the table throughout the week.








We will see where this exploration takes us in the weeks to come!



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Celebrating Dr. Suess


We had such a fun week celebrating Dr. Suess and all of his wonderful works the first week of March!  We started our celebration by creating our own “Cat in the Hat” inspired hats.  Then I painted each child with a kitty face!  They sure did look like some cute kitties.

Dr. Suess Inspired Art


Another activity the children did was Dr. Suess inspired paper art project.  The invitation had strips of paper, glue sticks, and some Dr. Suess books opened for inspiration.  I modeled how to put a little bit of glue on each end of the construction paper, and then hold them down to create an arch.  They got right to work, and the paper art turned out very colorful!






“Yertle The Turtle” Book Study

The second book we read over a few days was “Yertle the Turtle.”  This book is about a very mean king that wants his throne to be higher and higher, even if it hurts the other turtles in the pond.  It is a creative book about rights for everyone, even the turtles at the bottom of the pile.  The children loved the story and we read it a number of times!



We also made an Anchor Chart after reading the book.  An anchor chart is a way to categorize different parts of the story and discuss the beginning, middle, end or problem/solution.

After the book we created ‘turtles’ using rocks and acrylic paints.



Cooking up Alphabet Soup

Lastly we cooked some delicious ABC soup!  We used Dr. Suess’s ABC book as our inspiration.  We added carrots, celery, onion, alphabet pasta and chicken broth to the pot.  Most of the kids gobbled it up!




I’m so glad to have my computer back!  More blog posts coming soon!


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Letters and Shapes


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:


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


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.


This is a great book that covers many different types of of shapes


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…


A line and a square found by M…


A circle and a rectangle found by H


A semi circle and a rectangle found by D…


A Rectangle and a Heart found by B…


A Heart and Circle found by A…


M found a circle on the edge of her cup…


L found a circle and a line


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:





Sensory Play:

We also explored hearts, pink salt, glass jars, and paintbrushes on the light panel this week:




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!!!



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:


Yep, I pretty much love my job!  What a great week!  Ms. Clare

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Hearts and Art


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


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.



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…


The second sensory tub was filled with Valentine’s colored water beads, and lots of other Valentine cups and saucers.





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.


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


Video of the children working on a learning tray:


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:)


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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Loose Parts Play



This week I got a large tray, added black paper to the background, and then added a large helping of Epsom Salt.  the children then used a paintbrush to draw their names or favorite letters in the salt.  Epsom Salt is great for this activity because it is nice and thick, and stays put after they moved it around on the tray.

Each child had a visual example of their name either in all Uppercase letters if they are just learning their letters, or Uppercase and Lowercase letters if they are ready to incorporate upper and lowercase.  I also included some examples of our favorite words “Mom” and “Dad” which is great for every child to learn after they have mastered their name!



We also worked with Bristle Blocks on our other table this week…IMG_2215.JPG

Some of our friends got a chance to do some glue and salt painting.  We didn’t to everyone, but next week everyone will have a chance at this fun painting process art.


I got caught up in Yoga this week, but finally captured some pictures of the children relaxing in their Savasanah…


At the end of yoga this week Mrs. Kay lead us through a fruit meditation.  Each child got one clementine and we thanked the Earth, rain, and sun for growing the fruit and bringing it to us.  It was a wonderful way to be mindful of our food and how it gets all the way to the grocery store.

This week I placed a large assortment of loose parts to add to our play and block areas.  The children got right to work playing, building, and pretending with:

mini led candles

fabric squares

beaded necklaces

wooden place mats

long ribbons

“Loose Part Play” is a unique way to incorporate Reggio Inspired play into your school or home.  Loose parts are simply everyday materials that can be collected and used for alternative purposes through play.  I love loose part play, because there isn’t an intended goal with the pieces.  They can be used in any which way that the child sees fit to become part of their play scene.  They are usually cheap or even throw away materials that get a second life through the classroom!  It really falls under the saying “they liked the box more than the present.”  Children truly see a multitude of possibilities when they play with materials.  They love to imagine one items as something entirely different.  It lets the play continue and grow without limiting it to the parameters of a boxed toy.




Lastly, H and D spent a long time working together create an very in depth Arctic world with the light panel, animal figurines, and colored boxes.




First H had a big plan for the penguins and they were all living on the iceberg.  Then the polar bears joined in the play, but they had to live on the outside edges.  Then D got involved and the scene grew and grew.  I was proud of their collaboration, ideas, ability to share and work together, and continued focus on the project.




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Glow in the Dark Discovery


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.



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.


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



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.


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



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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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!



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!



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!



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


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!


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…


And some children drew images of themselves or their family…


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


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




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.


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!


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!