Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Pumpkin Spice is in the Air

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Yummmm!  Pumpkin Spice is in the air at Crozet PlaySchool!  We have been enjoying our very delicious smelling pumpkin spice play dough for two weeks.   Along with the great smelling dough I laid out pumpkin gems, leaf gems, laminated fall pieces, and large silk leaves on popsicle sticks.  The combinations are endless!

Sensory Play:

IMG_1077I loved stopping by throughout the morning and seeing what creations had been made in the play dough.  Little pumpkin patches, forests, and lots of leaves on the  ground.
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In another sensory tub we have been playing with is oatmeal, acorns, pumpkin dishes, and cinnamon sticks.  I also placed some different sized spoons for scooping and pouring.

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The pumpkin washing station was out this week, and C and J had a great time getting their hands nice and soapy.  They used the sponges to squeeze, create bubbles, scrub pumpkins, and hunt for gems under the bubbles.  Water play is always a popular sensory experience, and adding bubbles makes it even better!

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J cleaning her pumpkin off with soap.

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C getting nice and soapy and cleaning his pumpkin off with a mesh brush.

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On the tables this week we had an assortment of pumpkins and gourds, along with shades of colors to aid in drawing these objects.  This area definitely wasn’t very popular, and we only had a few children sit down and do some drawing.  I will continue to offer these opportunities though, in hopes that it will spark their interest.  Ms. Brittany even drew an example for them as seen below, but we didn’t get a lot of visitors.  As teachers it’s important to realize when some things are hits and misses and learn from them!  I ended up taking this provocation down and creating the pumpkin washing tub (shown above) which was MUCH more popular!

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This isn’t really on the table, but I thought I would include it in this category.  I try to offer different activities on the magnetic board every two weeks.  This was something that I put up at the last minute a week ago, and the kids LOVED it!  We talked about our self portraits a long time ago, and I thought this would be good to revisit the idea.

I taped two heads onto the magnetic board that look a bit like aliens:)  Then I used a variety of magnetic eyes, noses and mouths for them to make their own silly faces.

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Process Art:
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I love working on collaborative art projects that the whole class gets to be a part of and enjoy!  This beautiful window installation was made with leaves we found outside, sequence, and contact paper.  The children ran around outside looking for the best leaves we could find that hadn’t gotten too crunchy.  Then we stuck them all over our contact paper, and added lots and lots of sequence. IMG_0984

M and D hard at work squishing down the leaves to make sure they would stick!IMG_0998

The results were stunning!

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Brittany helped the children while I was away paint bubble wrap using finger paints.  Then they pressed a sheet of paper onto the bubble wrap.  Once it dried we wrapped the paper around a paper towel tube, and filled the tube with dried corn.  The corn shakers were loved by everyone.  I hope they haven’t exploded anywhere at home!

Enjoying the outdoors:

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Trips to the pond to check on the fish!

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Splashing in the rain!

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I enjoyed seeing these fall leaves and pumpkins on the overhead projector this week too!

Happy Fall!


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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 Very “Witchy” Visitor

 

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Last week a witch stopped by our classroom for a visit!  She was a nice witch luckily and she brought a witch book along with a really fun witch potion activity.  The children got to make their own witches brew on the new light table.  They made the brew by squeezing their own combination of colors into the water.  Using their magic wand they stirred the water to create a new color.  Watching the colors mix up was such a magical process for the grown ups and kids alike!

 

 

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Thank you Sarah for helping us have such a witchy fun morning.  We had a blast with you!

 

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This color mixing exploration was a great follow up to our previous color mixing we did this month with the ice cube trays.  I was able to capture some more images of children working at the tables squeezing, mixing, and dropping. 

 

Understanding colors is a primary part of early childhood education.  “Knowing our colors” might seem to be such a basic skill, but color  knowledge is the beginning of all math, science and literacy learning.  Color words are often some of the first words that children use as descriptors of objects, shapes, and the world around them.  We use color knowledge all of the time in our world, from noticing the changes of the seasons, folding laundry, to shopping at the grocery store.  When children begin to explore beyond basic colors, but even their hues they begin to assimilate items in their world. 

 

“This is a light green, like celery.”

 

“A banana and pear are both different shades of yellow.”

 

When your child begin to discern differences in colors and shapes they will then be able to tell the difference between letters and numerals.  We aren’t simply playing with colored water, we are learning through play!

 

These activities then build the skills to sort colors, shapes, leaves, or attributes of objects. 

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More color mixing coming soon!

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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!