Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Loose Parts Play

 

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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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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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What Makes us Unique?

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We finished our study of our own uniqueness! This went hand in hand with our beautiful self portrait work that we started the first few weeks of school. You can see more about our initial invitations to look more closely on this blog post about the Developmental Stages of Children’s Drawings.

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I laid out this same invitation of the black and white photo with a piece of transparancey paper over the top of the photo. Then I offered the children sharpie paint pens to “color in” the different parts of their faces. It was so interesting to see how they each filled in their picture in unique ways based on their development and understanding of themselves.

Then each child got the chance to create their own paint colors and paint the exterior of a cereal box. Mrs. Brittany worked so hard to cut each box out carefully to create a shadow box for their portrait. Then we put the transparency into the box and glued it together to create a 3D effect for the art work. I found the amazing idea for this project from the MerriCheri blog.

The final portraits were amazing!!

Then the children started talking about their hands, and we decided to take pictures of our hands one morning. Can you find your child’s hands in the following pictures? It is so neat just to see how unique even our hands are from child to child!

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We also measured ourselves over the course of a few days, to create this beautiful wall full of our heights. This was a great source of conversation and interest about who is the tallest, shortest, etc.

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Lastly, we looked closely at our eyes to see what each of our sets of eyes looked like! With the cut out pictures, some children were even having difficulty finding their eyes on the board.

I also made a “Whose Eyes are These?” book for closely inspection.

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In other news we still have been very, very busy building large and complex houses, towers, castles and more.

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This is H’s very tall, tall building!

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M and C worked over the course of a morning on this intricte castle area.

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We have also been digging all of the new loose parts around the classroom. They have turned into treasure, horse food, spaghetti, rocked, stones, and more details for our block building area.

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Lastly, I had these cork circles set out with a variety of buttons and gems to create faces and patterns as one of our table invitations last week.

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It was extremely popular and you can see the variety and complexity of arrangements that were made on the cork circles. Giving children a defined space to create is enticing for them to explore.. It creates a boundry and they love to fill it in with the different loose parts.

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More to come soon! We have been busy!


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Gak, Clean Mud, and Much More!

We have been introduced to so many new play experiences this first month of school! I apologize, but this will be a long post full of photos. I have been trying to focus on one exploration at a time in my past blog posts, but I wanted to use one post to quickly catch you up on all of our happenings!

We have been adding new materials to our classroom each week. Every time we add a new material we have a guided discovery about that material. My goal for the guided discoveries are to show everyone what the new materials are, how to care for them, how to clean them up, and where they are stored in the classroom.

As a disclaimer, I do my best to take lots and lots of photos around the classroom in the mornings. Please don’t get discouraged if you don’t see your child in lots of the photos. I promise there will be posts with lots of pictures of everyone as the year goes on. Some days just get busy and I don’t have as many chances to take photos.

Process Art:

I opened the easels this week! We discussed painting in the classroom, cleaning up, where to find smocks, how to put on smoack, and where to find paint brushes. I only put yellow, red, and blue paints at the easels. We these three colors the children have been seeing lots and lots of color mixing happening while they paint on the easels.

J and A are working on a collaborative painting!

Loose Parts Play:

This was an activity the children had access to outside last week. I painted an old train table with chalkboard paint and then I added chalk and lots of loose parts. I drew different lines and swirls onto the chalk board. Then they were offered a bunch of different loose parts to put ontop of the lines. They could lay them out in a pattern or add them in a unique way to the lines. This activity develops counting, math skills, fine motor skills, reasoning, spacial awareness, and creativity.

Many of the children took the lead and made their own lines or areas to create unique designs with the chalk and the loose parts!

Light and Shadows Project:

I gathered up all of my color blocks and window blocks into one location for a color provocation on the light table! I also added some color chain links!

Play Dough:

We have loved our new play dough, which I dyed yellow and added a lemon scent to it! We played with it outside on the tables and also for a few days inside the classroom. Other items on the play dough tray were cut up straws, yellow gems, yellow play dough liners, and little cups and a little pitcher.

The cut up straws were used a lot and a great source of interest to their play dough creations.

I love the above photo of D pretending to pour some play dough lemonade!

H was very interested in the textured rollers, and creating different impressions on the play dough.

M worked for a good part of the morning on a giant lizard made out of dough!

I love Ts use of the straws in the above picture!

Our First Batch of Gak:

We worked together to make our first batch of Gak. Gak is a mixture of glue, water, and a few tablespoons of borax. It turns into an interesting slime that is a great texture for sensory. It stretches and moves, but it doens’t leave any residue on hands, which makes it perfect for little children that don’t like to get really messy. We will be making lots of Gak this year, so I was happy to see they liked their very first experience with it!

Stir, stir, stir! They thought it was turning into “purple brains!!”

Once it was mixed completed, I separated the Gak into different piles for each child and gave them a few gems to squish into their Gak.

C is working intently on a huge pile of Gak and gems.

J spent a lot of time outside exploring the Gak and watching it stretch when we held it up really high.

Sensory Play:

J and A helped me make our first batch of “Clean Mud.” First we shredded two bars of white soap. Interestingly enough, J and A LOVED the white soap pieces. They spent a long time scooping them and pouring them. They offered such a fabulous smell too!

The second step was to unroll an entire roll of toilet paper. Lastly, we added a large pitcher of warm water to make the clean mud nice and foamy and squishy. As soon as it turned into mud J and A walked away from the activity. This clean mud is very squishy and will leave their hands feeling wet and foamy. They were not interested in messy hands! They sure did love making the mud with me though!

Our finaly product of clean mud!

My father came over a few weeks ago and made this fabulous top to our sensory tub. It is a wooden board with many different sized holes cut into the top of the board. I added black beans and many different types of scoops underneath the board. This new sensory top added an inviting level of interest to an average tub of beans. They got busy pouring, scooping, reaching, and trying to figure out this new table!

 

Sensory tables offer so much in the area of open ended play, but they give the children lots of chances to practice pouring, scooping, measuring and judging capacity. They also get the children talking to each other, comparing notes, and sharing their equipment. You can see from the photos how busy the sensory tubs are each morning!

Block Play:

We have had a lot of new block play going on these past few weeks. I put the mirror on the floor for some added interest, and D got right to work stacking animals ontop of the mirror. We discussed their reflections in the mirror.

I also made these block people for the class. These blocks were a wonderful springboard into imaginative play and also allowing the children to get to know each other better.

They worked a few mornings on different houses and areas for the people in our class to play and stand.

M and H spent the better part of the morning creating an elaborate home with their block people. Then they acted out play dates with their block people. One child would be sleeping and the other child would ring the doorbell and wake them up for a play date! The picture below shows just how large their home area became with the blocks.

Of course the large tubes and ramps have continued to be a daily play material.

Many of the children started playing with the little stuffed animals that they found in the loft. Mrs. Brittany and I got out the hollow blocks and made a pet home. Then the children added many details to the home including beds, blankets, food, and a play area for their pets.

Then J and M spent a long time creating the huge doggy obstacle course. Once they finished the obstacle course their doggies had to jump, leap, and scramble over the top of the course to complete the mission. It is amazing to see something as simple as a stuffed animal lead to such imaginative play!


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Our First Weeks of School

This has been a busy first few weeks of school! We have had many new areas of the classroom to explore! Often times throughout the year I will break down our blog updates into different areas:

Table Invitations: These are usually open ended activities with simple materials to engage children. These activities will sometimes be art related, sensory, fine motor, or just seasonal invtiations to play.

Light Play: The light area is a wonderful sensory experience in our classroom. The light play section is defined by any activity on the light panel or with the overhead projector.

Sensory Play: Sensory play is usually in the large red sensory tubs in the classroom, but it can often be smaller sensory activities we do related to art, getting messy, or engaging our senses!

Blocks and Mirrors: This seems to be an a very interesting and ever changing area with our group this year. My blog posts will usually highlight anything new or happenings at the block area.

Projects: This is a section where I will use documentation (pictures, words, quotes) to discuss areas we are learning more about in the classroom.

Learning Trays: These are the trays in the classroom that children can access at any time. Many of these trays have specific goals or activities for the children to complete. Examples of learning trays are color matching, shape games, math activities, and fine motor activities.

Please let me know if there is a section that pops up and you aren’t sure what I am referring too in our classroom day!

Light Play:

We opened our light area, and there are few different items to explore on both the overhead projector and the light panel. The children have most interested in the Magnatiles, and have been exploring them on a flat surface, three dimensional, and up into towers.

D and I built quite a tower!

I was so interested to see this 3 dimensional building that C and H worked on for the better part of a morning.

B was playing in the light and talking about his shadow on the wall with the overhead projector.

Table Invitations:

The first week of school I laid out a simple art invitation of paper, oil pastels, and vegetable oil. Once the children colored with the oil pastels they dipped the q-tips into the vegetable oil. This changes the oil pastels into a type of paint. We explored this invitation over a couple of days.

The children also enjoyed the leftover stickers from last year. They had a great time digging the box and finding many different types of stickers. Then they used crayons and markers to decorate our papers.

Learning Trays:

We have pulled out the learning trays a bunch of times over the past two weeks. The children have actually lined up to complete some of the tasks in the learning trays! One of the most popular trays has been the Cheerio Towers. You can see the pictures of our amazing towers below:

T worked so hard to put each and every cheerio on her tower! We placed a skewer in a ball of play dough and then very carefully put cheerios onto the skewer. This is a great activity for fine motor building and gaining attention spans.

They have also dug around in the tray of kinetic sand. This is such an interesting sensory material to manipulate. I offered buttons and small colored sticks to dig, hide, and poke into the kinetickenetic sand.

We also placed the color sticks into a parmesan cheese shaker. This is another great fine motor activity building the pincher grip and hand-eye coordination.

Blocks and Mirrors:

Everyone also stopped by to explore our Wedgits on top of the long mirror. We did a lot of building, crashing and starting over and over again. Wedgits are a great manipulative and provide lots of open ended exploration.

D is proud of his creation!

 

Play Dough:

The first two weeks of school we got to dig our hands into natural play dough and wooden beads. Such a simple invitation that led lots of cupcakes and pies to eat!


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Snowy Fun

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In between all of our letter fun, we have been playing with lots of snowy items or making wintry art in the classroom.  I started a little penguin exploration on the light table.  We talked a lot about penguins last year, their habits, and types of penguins.  They are always such a fun animal for children to use in imaginative play.  I place the penguins on the light table with shades of blue ice cubes.  They made little houses and igloos and homes for the penguins.

 

Sensory Play:

 

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The following week I made a batch of snow dough using cornstarch and hair conditioner.  It is soft flaky dough, and the children really seemed to enjoy it.  It doesn’t bode well for cookie cutters, but it is perfect for shaping and squishing little penguin down inside of it.  I placed the dough and some wax paper on the light table to extend their interest in the penguins.  These are just a few of the photos of the different penguin set ups the children made.

 

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I thought it would be fun to juxtapose our snowy activities with some sand in the sensory tables.  It has been a long time since our sand box was opened up too!  I pulled both of the tables together to make a sand slide to connect them.  I also added a funnel holder by cutting apart a box to make a ledge and shoving the funnels down inside.  They enjoyed the funnels the most, and loved to watch the sand fill up under the funnels.

 

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Next to the sand tables I laid out something new on the art tables….Kinetic sand!  It is a very thick sand that is moldable, squishy, and just plain fun to get your hands on!  I also discovered these tiny castle molds at the craft store that were perfect for the kinetic sand.

 

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This is how many of the children have spent their mornings in January.  They have been collecting all of the paper supplies they can find and punching, coloring, cutting, taping, and making lots and lots of things for each other and their homes.  I love giving them a variety of materials and seeing what they come up with!  Their play sure is evolving right before our eyes!

 

Process Art:

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The children uncovered some patterned mittens with our watercolors.

 

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Then the watercolors were used for creating our own photos.

 

 

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We dripped acrylic paints inside of a box filled with marbles.  Then we got busy rolling them around to create some beautiful snowflakes.

 

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I put some different snowflake materials on the table one morning, and they got busy making lots and lots of snowflakes.  The biggest hit was the squeezable glitter glue! 

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I finally purchased a giant container of white paint.  I added white paint to different shades of blue and purple, to create this lovely paint invitation.  They painted the remainder of Brittany’s snowflakes and poured some glitter on top for good measure.

 

 

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Block Play:

 

 

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Block play continues to be a vital part of our morning play time.  These three buddies were proud of this enormous tower they put together using all sorts of blocks and chairs for standing on their tippy toes.

 

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We have continued to explore our marble run and make new marble paths to explore.

 

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D built this unique block house with a mixture of our unit blocks and smaller block pieces.

 

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The Magnatiles continue to be used again and again.  L lined up the magnatiles on the floor to create “Pizza Planet.”

 

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Our new dollhouse was untouched the first week back to school, but then I added some Lalaloopsys to the table and it was soon a popular spot in the room.

 

 

Even in the coldest of weather we continue to go outside everyday.  We usually stick to a brisk walk if the weather is really cold and windy.  But, one morning we had a break from the cold and made our way to the play ground.  What a treat!!

 

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A New Year, New Friendships, New Beginnings

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I wanted to share some pictures from our first week of school!  It already seems like ages ago that we met up again in our sweet school to meet new friends, visit with old friends, connect, play, get messy, dance and have fun!

 

The first weeks are always spent working on routines, establishing classroom culture, and easing back into the classroom basics.  Many of the areas of the room weren’t open the first few days of school.  We opened one area at a time and talked carefully about how to play, care for, and clean up each area in our classroom.  The first day of school was focused on our new and improved block area.

 

We built an amazing road:

 

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Most of the students stopped back by the invitation to add more gems to our classroom branches.  We now have a beautiful branch filled to the brim with beads!

 

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Sensory Play:

We explored with ice the first week of school!  The children were given glitter star ice cubes, salt, colored water squeeze bottles, and other tools for exploring the ice cubes.

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At first I thought the ice cubes were the most exciting part of this sensory tub, but pretty soon Ms. Lori and I realized that the squeeze bottles were actually the best part of this activity.  These kids loved to squeeze the water, refill the bottles, and repeat the process again and again.  I started the morning with many different colors in the bottles, but by the end of the day the water was a glittery blue.  They didn’t seem to mind what color was in the bottle as long as it was ready to squeeze!

 

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I love the ice, glitter, and squeeze bottles.  It added such a fun element to a simple water sensory tub.  The large bottles I purchased from amazon, they are restaurant bottles.  A fun addition to your play at home!

 

Play Dough:

The first few weeks of school we have been playing with coconut play dough.  This year I added mini popsicle sticks, mosaic pieces, mini shells, and gems.  I always love to see their creations in the dough!

 

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L’s creation!

 

 

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It is always important to be dressed as a fairy princess when you are working with your play dough!

 

Process Art:

The first week of school Ms. Lori brought this amazing crayon melting machine to our art room for the children to explore.  It heats up on a low temperature and melts the crayon pieces.  The children “painted” with melted crayon on sea shells and onto paper plates. 

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Look at that smile!  I swear M is giggling in the background!

 

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A few pictures of the children interacting with our wonderful Ms. Lori the first few days of school!

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One of the mornings we did a combination of process art and sensory play!  I filled a tub with shaving cream, added ice cubes of paint, bowls, scoops, and popsicle sticks and paint brushes.  The children loved mixing the melting paint into the shaving cream!

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New Routines:

We have started a number of new routines this school year.  This year we have “Classroom Jobs.”  The children are very excited about these jobs and have been taking them very seriously.  They helped me create the list of classroom jobs:

 

Plant Caretaker

Song Stopper (turns off the ipod for me!)

Light Manager (turns the lights on to the overhead and light table before choice time)

Line Leader

Play Dough Bagger (Bags up the play dough at the end of the morning)

Trash Collector (looks for trash under tables after snack)

Loft Manager (checks the loft after choice to see if any toys have been left up there!)

On Vacation

 

I will take a picture of our new Classroom Jobs sign that the children wrote!

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D and M enjoying our light area together!

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Just had to end of this hilarious picture of “practicing lining up.”  This was the closest I got to all of them looking at me!

 

We’re off to a great start!