Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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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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It’s Getting Spoooooky in Here

Halloween is right around the corner and we have been enjoying lots of silly and fun Halloween themed books and activities.  I have tried to weave in a number of activities using acorns, leaves, and pumpkins while also having fun with all of the Halloween excitement!

Preschool Science:

Pumpkin and Acorn Investigations

Before heading to our field trip last week we discussed pumpkins, their life cycle, and studied in detail our own ‘classroom pumpkin.’

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After reading many books about pumpkins we discussed the life cycle of the pumpkin, and the children put in order life cycle cards as a group.

We Modge Podged pumpkins with pieces of tissue paper.  They chose a pumpkin, put glue on the pumpkin, and then carefully glued a small piece of tissue paper on top of the glued area.  It was a delicate art task, and they did a beautiful job!  Each of the pumpkins turned out very unique!
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We are still in the process of completed a class Pumpkin Investigation!  More details on that coming soon!

Preschool Literacy:

Last week we read this silly story, “Where’s My Mummy?”  The children thought it was so funny that the Mummy was scared of a teeny, tiny mouse after seeing all of the other Halloween creatures creeping around at night.

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After this story we made these toilet paper mummies:
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The children have also loved this Halloween Parody of “Goodnight Moon”

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Another Halloween favorite is “Room on the Broom”

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“Big Pumpkin” is another holiday favorite!  Each of the Halloween characters tries to pull the pumpkin, but can’t do it.  Of course the tiny bat has a great idea to work together, and they pull the pumpkin off of the vine!

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You can usually find one or two students at any point in the morning reading some of the many books found around the classroom:

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I pulled out the architecture blocks on our platform.  For a special Halloween addition, I added small Halloween creepy, crawlers.  Children worked together to build detailed “haunted houses.”

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Sensory Play:

We have had a lot of opportunities to get our hands dirty with Halloween sensory play!  They came into the classroom last week to find our sensory tub filled to the brim with black beans, and lots of fun Halloween items to explore!

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Today the children got to make Oobleck with me for the first time!  This sensory recipe is always tricky for me to perfect!  It is a simple combination of cornstarch and water.  But, the combination has to be just right to get the solid/liquid/sticky/drippy substance just right.  If you want to make this at home, here is a link to Fun at Home with Kids.  She has a great recipe for it!

We made one tray of purple and one tray of black oobleck.  We were able to get the combo just right, and it was super, slimy fun!

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Preschool Math:

We have been working on our counting, one to one correspondence, and using objects in our to count with every day!

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We used the acorns we collected to practice our counting outside on the blacktop!  Some children worked by themselves, and other children worked as a team!IMG_9066.JPGIMG_9068.JPG

 

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I’m proud of their progress!

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We have also counted pumpkin gems on the light panels.  We used the dry erase markers, and they have worked on writing their numbers next to each circle.

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Field Trip:

Last Thursday our class all went together to a local farm for a field trip!  To prepare for our field trip, I pulled out my giant barn, barn animals, and a tray of oatmeal for the pumpkin patch.

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There was a lot of pretend play around the barn, and this led to discussions about what we were going to see and do at the pumpkin patch!

We had a fabulous trip the pumpkin patch, despite the heat!  We learned about pumpkins…

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Slide down the slides into a giant corn pit…

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Played in the corn pit…

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Went on a hay ride to visit the cows…

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And we even attempted a super long corn maze…

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All in all it was successful first field trip!  What a busy month, with more fun things right around the corner!

 

 

 

 

 


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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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Fall is Around Us

We have been taking time lately to notice the beautiful changing of season around us! Our walks have been filled with finding leaves and other fun treasures. We decided to make our own fall tree in the classroom.

We tried a brand new art process of melting crayons inside a pocket of wax paper. First the children sprinkled crayon shavings inside of the paper, and then with the help of an adult they watched as their crayons were ironed inside of the paper.

The students and teachers alike loved watching the crayons melt and become watery inbetween the sheets of wax paper. The iron also stuck together once it was ironed so the whole creation was sealed up! I found this inspiration from the Artful Parent blog, that I always go to when I am looking for great process art ideas.

Once their crayons had dried, we cut the beautiful colors into different leaf shapes to hang on our classroom branches. M and D worked diligently to hang many of the leaves.

We placed our newly decorated tree on our fall nature table. It is filled right now with mini pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn. This week we spent time looking at the pugourdsmpkins, playing with them, and discussing what the items are on the table.

Next week I am hoping to turn this table into a pumpkin stand for buying and selling!

After our fabulous visit to the pumpkin patch I thought I should add some invitations to the classroom that would extend our play. Below is a picture of our farm and pumpkin patch that has been busy with children all week.

We also got hands on with a pumpkin and decorated it an unique way! Using real hammers and tools was fun for everyone. Every child understand the guidelines of using the hammer and wearing the goggles. Everyone one got a chance to hammer the pumpkin this week. Next week we will open the pumpkin and pull out the inside of it! It will be fun to see how spooky our pumpkin looks with lots of holes all over it.

The children have been exploring our new fall learning trays as well. These are some pictures of a few of our trays. Above the children can peel, pick and pry the dried corn off of the cob.

Above the children move the corn kernels from one leaf tray to the other using a spoon.

This last one is placing the gems onto the fall themed pictures in the circles.

Happy Fall! It is beautiful out there!


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Featuring Fall

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Throughout September we spent a great deal of time talking about the weather, but here and there I have been incorporating fall based play opportunities here and there.  We spent a great deal of time discussing fall last year.  We learned about apples, pumpkins, life cycles, and much more.  Since my group of children is the same this school year, I wanted to discuss some new topics.  Of course the seasons and temperature changes were another part of our weather discussions. 

 

Play Dough:

 

These are some pictures from my fall play dough tray that I had out for a few weeks.  The tray had wooden acorns, acorns on toothpicks, leaf cookie cutters, and leaf gems.  I can never, ever get enough of play dough.  I am constantly blown away by the children’s continued interest in play dough, and the things they create.  They loved pushing the wooden acorns deep into the dough, such great fine motor work!

 

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Then I moved the play dough tray inside of the classroom.  I added red cinnamon scented dough to tray, and it renewed an interest in the dough again.  I also added scissors, because they love rolling and cutting the dough into pieces.

 

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Sensory Play:

 

The oatmeal table came back out this fall.  I love oatmeal and cinnamon sticks in the sensory table!  The child loved scooping it and sending it down through the paper towel tubes.  This year I added a bunch of handfuls of chestnuts (thank you Max’s family), and three beautiful leaf votive I found at the dollar store. 

 

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Light and Shadow Play:

 

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The light table has a continued interest this year.  I keep trying to add new and interesting materials to engage the kids and keep them coming back for more!  This year I put silk leaves, leaf gems, and popsicle sticks on the light panel.  The children made patterns, and loved looking at the details on the leaves.

 

Of course there is always something interesting to create with the overhead projector!

 

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Invitation to Play:

 

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This was a wonderful fall invitation to play that was left on the tables for a week or two.  The tray was filled with woodland animals, flaxseed, cinnamon sticks, grass balls from the craft store, and wooden pieces.  The children came back to this tray day after day.  The flax seeds were a new sensory material for us, and they enjoyed scooping them, and moving them around on the tray.  The animals were always

 

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Outdoor Art:

 

 

 

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I recently purchased some plexi-glass boards from Lowe’s for a cheap outdoor easel.  I set up this painting invitation with the boards, paints, and squeegees.  They of course went right to town experimenting with the paints and this new form of a paint brush!

 

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Learning Trays:

 

 

This year I am trying to introduce more and more games into our learning trays.  The company “Blue Orange” makes some of my most favorite games.  If you are looking for a great Christmas gift that doesn’t require batteries, their games are my #1 pick!

 

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Pengoloo is a simple memory and matching game.  Children roll the colored dice, and try to find a penguin with the matching egg color.  If they find a match they get to place the penguins on their iceberg.  They are learning their colors, using their reasoning skills, and of course learning about turn taking.  This game was a hit with everyone.IMG_4930

 

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Here is a simple color match you could set up at home!  I painted toilet paper tubes different colors, and then stacked them in a line for some popsicle stick sorting.  You don’t even need to paint the sticks, you can find colored sticks at the craft store!

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Another great and cheap fine motor activity: skewer the beads!  I simply stuck cooking skewers in the play dough and put a bowl of beads in the learning tray.  They went right to work filling up their sticks. 

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I pre-wrote children’s names on paper in another learning tray.  They could use stickers or dot art to trace over their name.  Most of my crew chose stickers of course!

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Lastly, these aren’t the greatest photos, but we had the Duplo blocks out for about three weeks.  Last year the children mostly loved driving the trucks and trains around the classroom.  This year they worked together to make some of the most creative castles, train sets, and playgrounds.  I snapped a few photos of their work, but this type of creativity went on and on for weeks.  They were making elaborate Duplo trains to take around the classroom.  I have truly enjoyed seeing how much they have all grown since last year, and how this has affected their play and use of materials!

 

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A Chill is in the Air

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We are entering that wonderful time of year, Fall!!!  It is one of my favorite seasons, pumpkins, Halloween, the colors, the warmer clothes, I pretty much can’t get enough of it!  Getting to incorporate fall into our classroom play invitations has been very fun too!

 

I set up this simple play dough invitation last week.  I flattened out play dough, added fall colored leaves with simple popsicle sticks, peg people, acorn sticks, and pumpkins to the mix too!  The kids loved exploring the play dough in a different way.  They weren’t manipulating the play dough as much as using it as a canvas to create a fall scene.  It got cleaned up and used again and again.

 

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To wrap up some of our discussions of apples we did an apple taste test!  The kids got to try as little (or as much!!) of three different types of apples.  Then they told me which apple was their favorite and we graphed our answers on a chart.  I did this activity with both groups, so they could see which apples were the favorite overall at Crozet PlaySchool!

 

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We also made yarn acorns this past week.  I thought that both groups would just Love to dip the yarn pieces into the glue and squeeze off the excess before adhering it to the acorn, but many of the children didn’t like this activity.  You can tell who enjoyed it based on the amount of yarn they stuck on their acorn.  That is the great thing about process art, they just did as much as they wanted and left the project when they had enough of gluing the yarn.

 

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One of our fall sensory bins was “Bean and Pumpkin Themed.”  I filled the sensory tub up with pinto beans, glittery pumpkins and gourds, silk flowers, and lots of different measuring cups.  The kids loved scooping and pouring and transferring beans from one cup to another. 

 

The other fall sensory bin was a pumpkin patch.  I filled up the bin with rice, pumpkin gems, playmobil people and tractors, and I also found long orange and green spoons that are so inviting to scoop and sift rice with!  The kids jumped right in moving the rice around with the tractors and pretending with the pumpkin patch people. 

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Our pumpkin pie play dough also made its fall debut.  I simply used my favorite play dough recipe, added orange food coloring and lots of pumpkin pie spice to the dough.  It smells just like a fresh pumpkin pie!  On the play dough tray I included, pumpkin toppers on toothpicks, pumpkin and leaf gems, two different silicone wrappers, and lots of craft sticks for cutting and poking in the play dough. 

 

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And of course we did some pumpkin stamping with our little mini pumpkins cut in half!

 

 

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We have had so much fun diving into all things fall! 


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Apples, Apples, Apples

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The past few weeks have been filled with lots of fun apple activities and some discussions about fall.  The weather is starting really cool off in the morning, and I have seen a few leaves beginning to change colors around the neighborhood.  Hopefully your children are starting to notice all of these changes as well, because we have been reading about them, discussing them, and playing with lots of apple themed activities.

 

This first picture might be one of my favorite so far from Crozet PlaySchool.  The discussions that happen around our sensory activities are the most engaging conversations.  When children are engrossed in learning through their senses, lots of other learning and bonding takes place in the classroom.  We all begin by learning about our world through our senses.  Babies feel their mother’s touch, they put every and all objects in their mouth as much as we try to stop them, and they crawl around their world feeling and making sense of their environment.  Preschool children love to learn through their senses.  That is why I put such an emphasis on our sensory tubs, play dough trays, and other tactile activities such as art.  This is an image of some of the girls around the “Apple Pie Cloud Dough” tub.  P is in the middle of a huge discussion with E and C.  They are immersed in their exploration, but listening and reacting to her story after she is finished. 

 

The Basic Cloud Dough Recipe:

1 cup flour

A few tablespoons of oil (vegetable, baby oil, lavender oil, etc)
Mix until the flour begins to form into balls that will hold together in your hand

 

Variations:

To make apple pie dough I added cinnamon to the flour for an apple pie scent.  Then I took red pieces of sidewalk chalk and crushed them in a ziplock baggie with a meat mallet.  I added this to the flour to give it a red hue.  I added apple containers, spoons, and pipe cleaners to make apple stems.

 

You could add glitter to your cloud dough for a fun twist

 

You could make your cloud dough many different colors using sidewalk chalk crushed up.

 

Add a number of different scents or spices to your dough.

 

To play with the dough use: cupcake liners, sea shells, stones, spoons, large kitchen utensils, small cups or plates, candles, sticks, muffin tins, animals figures that can be cleaned off, cars or trucks that can be washed off, plastic babies or small figurines, princesses, fairies, etc.

 

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We have also had a lot of fun digging and exploring in our apple picking sensory bin.  I caught some more pictures of the kids in action in this sensory bin.  L was working here for quite some time, baking apple pies, picking apples, pouring and scooping.


 

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Along with our apple picking bin I also had a Forest Sensory Bin.  This sensory activity was really fun and interactive.  Lots of exploring with the tubes and seeds, learning about the forest animals and their habitats too!

 

 

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D is a huge fan of our sensory bins, and always the first to jump in to try them out!  L is busy at the forest table too, she is also another little one that loves the sensory tubs.

 

 

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A new sensory tub that we added this week is an oatmeal tub.  This one is simple, dried oatmeal, cinnamon sticks, pine cones, card board tubes, and spoons/scoops.  Simple activities are often the best!

 

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L getting his hands dirty in the oatmeal!

 

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As part of our apple unit we decided to make some mini apple pies! 

 

This was such a fun activity!  It was the first time that parents got to come and help us with a classroom activity too!  We peeled and cored the apples with tabletop apple peelers.  The kids faces says it all!  Then we measured, poured, mixed, and baked our little pies.  Yummy!

 

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C and her Mom peeling our apples!

 

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M’s turn to peel, look at that concentration!

 

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Using a cookie cutter to cut out our pie crust.  M gets a little help from mommy in the picture below.

 

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Big brother K, helping his little sister peel her apple.  A crowd is forming!

 

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Time to eat our apple pies!  I thought it was delicious, but it did get mixed reviews from both groups.  The taste testers approved the dollop of ice cream though!

 

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Some of our apple art is hanging up around the classroom!  We all worked together to create an apple orchard.  For this project I cut out the green tree tops, the children added as many apples to their trees as they wanted, helped me glue their trees to the mural, and then they painted their tree trunks.  The finished product is stunning!

 

 

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Last but not least, we have had more and more fun playing with our apple pie play dough.  I posted all about my love for play dough play in this post.  This week I captured some more images of children playing with the apple pie play dough, apple pie play dough mats, and the sticks. 

 

 

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L working hard to make apples for his apple tree.

 

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P made a forest with the play dough and gems.

 

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“Apple cupcake anyone?”  says M.

 

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I love this photo of M working at the play dough table.  The remnants of lots of play dough play and used up easels behind her make me one happy teacher!