Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Getting in the Spirit

We have just started to break away from all things turkey related, and begun to talk about the many holidays around the world!  It is fun to discuss each family’s traditions, and what we all do the same and do differently this holiday season.  One thing everyone can agree on at morning meeting is December is a month of fun, festivities, and special time with family.

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We opened a big batch of “hot cocoa” rice outside in the sensory tub.  I made a batch of rice by dying it brown and adding chocolate extract.  Then we added cups and cotton balls for the marshmallows.  It has been fun watching the children play pretend with tub while the weather has been warmer.

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Sensory Play:

The children and I made a batch of “snowy” gak in the art room on Friday.  We mixed a giant tub of glue, water, glitter, and borax.  This batch turned out great (sometimes we aren’t so lucky).  The children got busy squishing in gems, snowman, reindeer, and lots of mini holiday treasures.

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Process Art:

We made a beautiful set of votive candles for everyone to take home to their family.  The children used modge podge to cover the votives with tissue paper and gems.  This was such a fun project, and each individual candle turned out very unique. I’m so proud of all of their hard work, and willingness to work hard to complete projects.

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Yoga with Ms. Kay:

We always enjoy when Ms. Kay comes for yoga, but last week we played some games at the end of yoga.  The children pretended to be water, rain, and storm clouds.  They danced to the music with their “water” scarves.  I got some great action shots!

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We love you Ms. Kay!  This was the perfect activity on our rainy morning!

Preschool Literacy:

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This past week we did some fun activities to learn the letters in our name.  I am starting to transition to using upper and lowercase letters when writing their names.  We used glue to write their names and covered the glue in salt.  After dumping off the excess salt the children dipped paint brushes into watercolors and dabbed them onto the salt.  It is so fun to watch the colors spread through the salt.  Their names turned out beautiful!  Such fun process art!IMG_0242.jpg

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Then we played “hidden names” with watercolors.  I drew each child’s name on a piece of paper using white pastels, and then they water colored on top of the paper to find their names!  It was sweet to watch them squeal with delight as they uncovered their letters.

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More holiday fun coming soon!

 

 

 

 


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Christmas Countdown

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This December packed a big punch at Crozet PlaySchool.  We had something up our sleeves in every corner of the room, and it was so fun to watch the play unfold this month.  Above is one of our many sensory tubs this month.  It was filled with Peppermint Cloud Dough!  I made a huge batch of green cloud dough, added peppermint extract, and lots of fun Christmas people, baking cups, and spatulas for pretend play.  This was by far the favorite tub of the month, and I actually didn’t change it because there were children playing with the dough every day!

Below is another tub that was filled with pretend snow (plastic type from the craft store) and lots and lots of festive finds tucked inside the snow.  The children loved to take the mini boxes and fill them with items and give gifts to each other.

Sensory Play:

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The last week before Christmas we made “Christmas Fluff.”  I found the recipe from Sow Sprout Play, and it was fantastic!

I am definitely going to make this again using different colors and bits and bobs, because the kids loved it!  You can see from the collage below how many hands were digging into this sensory bin.

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Table Invitations:

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This table might look like a wrapping station gone wrong, but it was actually one of the most popular table invitations this month.  I left out mini boxes, jingle bells, squares of paper, table, and ribbons.  The results were lots of wrapping, cutting, taping, measuring, and creating pretend presents for our friends.

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You can see in these step by step photos how much work went into each child trying to wrap their own gift.  B fills his box with jingle bells…

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Then he uses the tape to wrap up his box…

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Below are a few of the wrapped presents I found on the table later that morning.  B’s present is in the middle, wrapped with lots and lots of ribbon and tape!  There is so much fine motor work at this station, but the children saw it as a fun seasonal activity.  I know as a mommy, that often we get in a hurry this season and our children want to “help” us wrap, but we don’t have time to allow them to help (or maybe that is just me waiting until the last minute!).  This was a great way to allow them to help and do all of the fun wrapping activities they love!

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D hard a work cutting her wrapping paper.

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Another table invitation was playmobil Santa and his friends in the snow.  I created this table invitation using fake snow (white pebbles) and two different playmobil sets.  The children loved the little parts to the tray and acting out different holiday stories.

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Another wonderful table invitation was the light panel, jingle bells, and a magnetic wand.  A few of the boys above H and D spent a great deal of time taking turns picking up jingle bells with the magnetic wand.  They tried to see how large of a jingle bell shaker they could create if they collected them all!

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Below is an activity I have done in the past, and I pulled it out again this year.  It is a Light Brite cube!  I made my own paper drawings on each side of the Light Brite.  The children could stick in the pegs and make ornaments on the tree or details for the gingerbread men.  Some of the children loved to just see the light come through the holes once they had been created.  They spent a great deal of time just punching row after row of holes into the paper.  This is such a great sensory (light) and fine motor activity!IMG_1728

The last table invitation was left out on the train table the week before our break.  I put a large pile of Christmas colored pom poms, tree blocks, snowy trees, and ornaments for the children to play with.  They created different scenes including the one below by setting the wood blocks up in different ways and using the pom poms and trees as a way to “decorate” their creations.  I love seeing loose parts played with in the classroom!IMG_1811

This invitation to play wasn’t on a table, but it was located near our dramatic play area.  I set up a little tree for decorating, books for reading, and different hats/headbands for acting out Christmas stories!

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Preschool Math:

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This month we continued talking about numbers using snowmen!  As a group I would call out a different number, and they had to make their snowman that many snowballs tall!  Then they each tried to write the corresponding number next to their snowman.  (And yes, that is a random sock on the floor next to M’s work!)

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Some more of their hard work in their journals!  They added details to their snowmen including  arms, faces, and hats!IMG_1662

Preschool Literacy:

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We also wrote our names on circles and created our own snowman using our name!

Process Art:

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The children created this beautiful Christmas Tree on our window at the entrance of the classroom.  Ms. Brittany and I unrolled the contact paper so the sticky side would face the kids.  Then we offered them a variety of pipe cleaners, gems, and popsicle sticks to create a Christmas tree.  The results hung on our door for most of December!

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Christmas Crafts:

 

This month we also did a lot of “crafts.”   Most of the activities were pre-planned for the children to participate in during the month of December.  I always prefer process based art for little children, but I do feel that it is nice to do crafts that can have a specific outcome.  These Christmas tree ornaments are a good example!  Each child completed the project in their own way, but they still could be hung on the tree at home!  Lovely indeed!

 

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas at Crozet PlaySchool

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Even while we were focusing on our letters each morning, the classroom was filled to the brim with lots and lots of Christmas fun!  The first week in December the children walked into the art room to find Playmobil Santa had landed in our art room on a pile of white cloud dough!  The cloud dough was filled with silver glitter for some added sparkle.

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Table Invitations:

 

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The tables were filled with fun invitation to decorate Christmas trees in a few different ways.  We had a felt tree, a tree on the old Light Brite, and a mini Christmas tree with little ornaments.  They got a chance to decorate and re-decorate their trees throughout December. 

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Sensory Play:

 

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For some themed sensory play we had a large tub filled with fake snow.  Then I filled it to the brim with snowman cups, Christmas  goodies, and present boxes.

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We also had fun digging into the hot chocolate sensory tub.  I dyed rice brown last year and also added chocolate extract to made it smell like cocoa.  I was surprised to find that the rice still smelled great when I opened the bag from last winter!  I added some holiday spatulas, cotton balls for marshmallows, and cups and plates. 

 

Process Art:

 

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We also had a lot of fun working with a new art process.  Buggy and Buddy highlighted this technique on her website, and I thought it looked fun and the end product was beautiful.  First we filled a tray with Sta-Flo (liquid starch).  Then each child dropped acrylic paint onto the Sta-Flo starch.  After swirling the paint around on the pan each child laid their watercolor paper onto of the starch.  It was quite drippy and messy, but we embraced it!  After the papers dried I cut them into Christmas tree shapes, and we glued them down onto white paper.  I thought the end product was lovely and each tree was so different.

 

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We also made some Candy Cane puffy paint.  We mixed glue and shaving cream and red watercolors for some puffy paintings.

 

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We also found our names hidden inside of ornaments while we watercolored!

 

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Special Events:

 

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We also had fun celebrating L’s 5th birthday!  Thanks to his mom for these fabulous Olaf and snowflake cookies! 

 

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The kids worked on these beautiful Christmas tree ornaments for their parents.  I hope they were surprised when they opened their gifts!  Each child planned out their tree, and they are each so different.  I helped them with the sewing, but they quickly caught the hang of it.  Then we sewed the tree closed and added stuffing to the inside.  Of course they each wrapped up their tree for their parents to open.

 

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Learning Trays:

 

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I also saw this simple coloring idea on Buggy and Buddy.  I made a sheet for each child and they added all of the details.  E even added a string of lights behind her tree. They were really drawn to this activity.  Sometimes coloring books have so many details, and think the simplicity of the coloring paper made it fun for them.

 

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We also had some fun holiday themed learning trays, too.  They worked on moving the holiday erasers into a gingerbread men muffin tray.  They also got a chance to make icicle ornaments with these fun glittery pipe cleaners. 

 

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Sensory Play:

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After reading The Grinch Who Stole Christmas we made some fun glitter “grinchy” gak.  We loved exploring this glittery gak. 

 

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When they had so much fun filling the Christmas coloring pages, I left the invitation to fill in Christmas trees and gingerbread men on the chalk board.  E went to town filling it out one morning.

 

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All in all it was a very Happy Christmas in our classroom!


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That’s a Wrap

 

 

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Over the past two weeks of the holiday break, I really tried to breath, enjoy my children and take a little break from all things school related!  That worked until the Thursday before we returned when I hit the ground running each night planning and prepping for everyone to return and all sorts of winter themed fun!  Before I start telling you about all of the winter fun, I need to share our last few moments in 2013.  I truly can’t believe how quickly the first half of the year passed by!  It went by in a blink for me, trying to keep up with all of these wonderful kiddos!

 

The picture above is the kids playing “Hullaballoo” on a really cold winter morning.  It is a fun movement and learning game that is made by the same company as Cranium.  I have played it twice now with the group and they are getting better and better!  There is a little speaker that calls out directions, i.e. find the circles, stomp to an animal, put your foot on a red.  Learning and playing at the same time!

 

 

 

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I love seeing my younger group really coming together over these winter months.  They are interacting, talking, and playing together more and more each school day.  K and M are working on K’s gingerbread man ornament together.  I love to see the bonds they are forming.

 

Table Invitations:

 

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One of the table invitations I had out in December was the light panel and letter construction.  I recently bought this letter construction set from amazon.  They are great for building upper and lower case letters, and working with the light table is always a crowd pleaser at school!

 

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Here is another great picture of my younger group working together!  This fun math game was out on the tables for them last month too.  It was very simple to make.  A Christmas tree with circles drawn on it.  I had a little bowl with counters and one dice.  Roll the dice and add that number of counters to the Christmas tree.  L, K, and D are all playing together!  They played this game a bunch of times.

 

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This was another fun holiday themed fine motor activity.  Candy cane sewing!

 

 

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I also found this great idea to use our “Light Bright.”  It has been tucked away in our playroom closet for quite some time.  I have been wondering if we would ever use it again.  Then I saw this idea on Pinterest to create my own drawings for the light bright.  I made a simple outline of Christmas trees and Gingerbread Men.  They enjoyed filling up the trees with little ornaments of light.

 

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Special Events:

 

In December spent a whole week talking and reading about Gingerbread Men.  At the end of the week the children got to decorate gingerbread houses.  They loved every part of the process…the icing, the candy, and licking their fingers was their favorite part.

 

THANK YOU for all of the parents who donated food items, volunteered during the party, and a special thank you to Sarah and Allie for making the finicky graham cracker houses.  They were not easy to put together!

 

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Play Dough:

 

 

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To go along with our Gingerbread theme we played with “Gingerbread Play Dough.”  It smelled just like a bakery in the art room!

 

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Art:

 

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On the chalk board wall a few mornings I would draw the blank outline of a Christmas tree and the squares for the gifts underneath.  The kids had so much fun filling the tree in with ornaments and even adding twinkle lights to the stars.  P turned all of the boxes into gifts by adding lines for ribbon and a bow on top!  I repeated this again and again for both groups.

 

One of my favorite art projects from December was this gift to the parents.  I was a salt dough ornament.  It was filled with a handprint and then once I baked the ornament in the oven they painted the hand part with dots for a Christmas tree.  We wrapped them up along with a picture I took of them tangled up in lights.  Around the lights are all of their thumb prints.  Such a great homemade Christmas present!

 

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We made A LOT of ornaments in December!  I don’t think I took pictures of all of them, but below is a picture of Ellie making a snowflake ornament.  The children were allowed to use the cool glue gun.  It still melts the glue, but the gun and glue won’t burn you.  Perfect for little hands!  Many of the children had a hard time squeezing the glue gun, so I would squeeze it and they would place the gems onto their snowflake.

 

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We also made Christmas votive candles with tissue paper and modge podge.

 

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And snowmen ornaments using their handprints. 

 

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Sensory Play:

 

The last few weeks of December we had two very fun sensory bins.  One was “Clean Mud” and Christmas themed goodies. 

 

Clean Mud Recipe:

three rolls of toilet paper

one bar of Ivory soap grated

warm water

 

I had the kids unroll the toilet paper (which they thought was really fun!).  Then we slowly added warm water and squeezed the paper to help it break down.  The clean mud gave off such a nice scent from the Ivory soap.  This would last you a couple of days.  The paper would start to dry up each day, and I just added a bit of warm water to get the paper softened up again.

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Lastly we had Peppermint scented rice in the other sensory bin.  The rice was dyed red and then I added peppermint extract to it!  Before it was all mixed together I had the rice placed in red and white stripes in the sensory bin.  It looked like a huge candy cane! 

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All in all it was a busy and fun month of traditions, holidays, and Christmas Spirit!

 

I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for Crozet PlaySchool!


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A Very Merry Classroom

Table Invitations:

 

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We have kept things festive this month with lots of fun activities that children enjoy around the holidays.  Of course I am always trying to find ways to sneak in some fine motor practice, or numbers and counting without them even realizing it!  I set up a mini tree for the class (above).  I think it has been decorated and taken down over 10 times so far this month.  It was a Table Invitation the first week of December and now I have moved it to the book shelf so children can visit it whenever they want!  Sometimes ornaments with hooks came be tricky for little fingers, so I have half of the ornaments attached to circle pipe cleaners.  They are easier to take on and off the tree because they hold their shape.

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Another fun table invitation was called “Decorate the Tree.”  Children simply rolled the dice, counted the dots and added gems or counters to their tree until it was filled up.  Simple math and number practice with a twist!  This activity was out on the tables for one week and then I added it to the learning trays for further exploration.

 

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Another fun idea I got from a great website, Buggy and Buddy, was this felt cone Christmas tree.  I simply hot glued felt to a Styrofoam cone shape and then cut out small felt pieces as ornaments for the tree.  They also have visited this tree again and again.  I placed it on the book shelf too for easy access to be decorated any time during the morning. Team work!

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This table invitation was more sensory inspired!  I brought out my playmobil Santa set and a few extras (red gems, artic animals, and people) and added some white navy beans for some great imaginative play.  This invitation was visited by both groups and very popular.  Playmobil is so easy to manipulate and the children like all of the little parts and pieces to add to the story lines during imaginative play.

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Santa’s Workshop was just a little brainstorm idea I had last week for the tables.  I cut out smaller rectangles and squares of paper, added rolls of tape, mini boxes, and small pom poms and bendable people for gifts.  They spent the morning, cutting, using the tape, and wrapping “presents” for their classmates.  It was so much fun to see them working like little elves.  They always want to help with Christmas wrapping, but if you are like me I often time do it myself. 

 

Their wrapping paper was all rumpled, twisted, and covered with tape, but they were proud of their wrapping jobs!  This station will be coming out again this week while we wrap presents for our parents!

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Play Dough:

 

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This month I made the children a Christmas themed play dough tray.  I had little bulb gems, craft rhinestones, red and green gems, red bead cut into smaller strips, and Santa and Elf cupcake toppers.  The possibilities were endless!

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Sensory Play:

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This snow themed Christmas tub was one of my favorite sensory tables I have made this year.  We often times tell our kids at Christmas, “watch out, don’t touch, that’s fragile!” to all of the special holiday decorations around the house.  What better way to make the holidays more accessible to them than creating a sensory tub with all special Christmas items that they CAN touch! 

 

I searched the stores high and low and found, little mini nutcrackers, bristle trees, holiday finger puppets, mini reindeer ornaments, soft gnome ornaments, and snowmen ornaments.  I filled up an entire table with fake snow that I found at Target and cut up a few strings of read beading to lay in the snow.  This table was so inviting!  The children used the little boxes to make presents for each other, the snowman and Santa’s came to life!  It just went on and on.  I also think it is easier to ask them not to touch things when they have their own place to play with the holiday décor without getting in trouble!

 

Before I put the playmobil Santa set on the tables, I had it in the Sensory room first!  I put the lid on one of our large sensory tables and put a large white tray on top.  Then I put glittery white “cloud dough” on the tray and added the Santa set.  Playmobil is great too because most of the pieces can get a little dirty and wet, but will wash up just fine. 

 

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The second week of December I opened up the tray and we made “Snow Dough.”  This was my first time making this type of dough with the class and it was really fun.  You combine equal parts cornstarch and shaving cream to create a fluffy dough.  It will form into balls, but once it begins to dry it will start to flake apart.  I added some bowls, buttons, and some foam shapes cut up to look like carrot noses, hats, and scarves.  I thought they would like to make snowmen, but they mostly enjoyed moving the dough all around and scooping it.  It was very light and fluffy, who can blame them?

 

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Art:

 

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In art we have been very busy!  I think the children have taken home a new ornament for the tree almost every time they visit school.  We have been busy making some surprises for the parents too!  Shhhh!  The first week in December we made Salt Dough Ornaments!  This might be something fun to do over the Winter Break next week!

Recipe:

2 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 1 cup warm water.

Knead into a dough, roll out and cut out shapes. Color your dough with food coloring or paint after it has baked in the oven. Just be sure to poke a hole into the dough with a straw if you want to hang it on the tree!

Bake @250 for two hours. Flip over half way through!

I like to paint a coat of Modge Podge on top of my ornaments for a more shiny look!

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We have been slowly adding items to our group effort Christmas Tree sun catcher.

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We also made this simple toilet paper roll Christmas tree.  They dipped the roll into green paint to stamp out the shape of a tree.  Then they covered the tree with gems and glitter!

 

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We tried out hand at another puffy paint project!  It was a great success!  This was brown puffy paint (glue and shaving cream and powdered paint mixed together).  It dries fluffy and it is a lot of fun to paint with!  They added buttons and smiles to their gingerbread men too!

 

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I need to get more pictures of our Learning trays this month, but here are a few that have been really popular with the kids. 

 

Learning Trays:

Squeezing Christmas erasers:

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Make your own candy cane ornament:

 

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Some new items out in the classroom are:

 

My cousins’ vintage Fisher Price Dollhouse.  The people are precious, there is even a little art easel for the kids room inside.  It has been visited every day by just about every child!

 

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Magnatiles on the light table!  These have been extremely popular in the classroom.  A lot of toys and manipulatives only come out for short periods of time and then are switched for another item after a few weeks.  There are a few items that have a permanent home in the classroom: blocks, cars, books, kitchen, and now magnatiles! I even gave the tiles a permanent home one on our shelves!

 

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