Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Shapes All Around

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The children worked so hard to sew the most beautiful embroidery for their Moms this Mother’s Day.  I know they were each so proud of their hard work!  I have done this activity in the past and each child colored a rainbow and we sewed the rainbow image.  This year I have a lot of different aged children from ages 3 to 5.  I decided to allow each child to choose their drawing, colors, and sewing.  I think the results are stunning and special for each child.  Above you can see pictures of someone’s mom, a flower, lots of colors/circles, a rainbow, and lastly a cake.  All for Mommy!

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It took Mrs. Brittany and I almost a week to get everyone’s pictures drawn and sewing finished.  I was proud of their work ethic and ability to keep their focus on such a long task.

Preschool Math

We have been working on our Shapes these past two weeks!  They have enjoyed many of these shape activities.  Below D and A are stamping shapes that are made out of cardboard tubes.

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We hunted for shapes around the classroom, and took pictures of our shapes!

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Oval!

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Triangle

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Rectangle

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Circle

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Triangle!

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Rectangle!

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Triangle!

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Triangle!

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A Line!

The children also really enjoyed these Tangram puzzles from my old first grade classroom! They are some smart cookies!

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Even on our walk to the library today children were finding squares and rectangles and triangles all over the place on our walk!

It has been a fun few weeks!


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Animal Adventures Part Two

We have had so much fun exploring animals of all different shapes and sizes!  This animal unit of study came about from the children playing with these large sized animals from Learning Resources, as shown below.  They are great toys to have around the house, because you can get them muddy, dirty, and even covered with paint and they wash right up!  They also provide the type of open ended play that can go on and on without a intended goal in mind.  They might made a great gift to fill up an Easter Basket?

Here is a link to some of the animals we love so much:

 

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Jumbo Jungle Animals

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Ocean Animals

 

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Endangered Animals

 

We made animal footprints with our large animals by dipping them in a plate of paint.  The girls thought this was really fun!  I was hoping that the “prints” of the animals would show up a bit better, but they enjoyed the process so much I decided that wasn’t important.

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I love how C decided to make his animals have a little dance party, and it made his paint smear all over the paper.  It is amazing what happens when we let go of our “ideas about what they should do” and just let the children explore freely.

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Fine Motor Activities:

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I set up this really fun cutting activity last week for the children at the table using crepe paper.  My good friend is a pediatric OT, and she shared this simple idea with me.  It was a fun and unique way to practice our scissor skills while standing, moving, and cutting something unique.

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After we had a few days to work on our cutting I gathered up a new fine motor activity that we hadn’t seen this year:

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A bath mat flipped upside down, marbles, and tongs.

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The children all worked diligently to fill up the bathmat.  After they had used every last marble in the room H asked if there was anything else they could use for the project.  I got them some gems to fill up any of the last holes on the mat.  The marbles required more fine motor skill to keep them from rolling away, but the finished product of the whole mat filled with objects was really neat to see.  I love when they will stick with a project for the entire duration!

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Animal Adventures:

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We had a whole group discussion about what we already know about animals (which was a WHOLE LOT) and what we wonder about animals.  The overall theme that kept being discussed is where animals live.  They knew the names of many of the habitats, but we unsure of some of the animals that lived in each biome.  I have decided to move along those lines with our animal study, and we got our hands dirty playing in a sandy safari habitat above.  I used my sand cloud dough, added my large safari animals, scoops, rocks, and fake large leaves.  The weather was so beautiful we were able to have the sensory tub outside with the doors open to the school.

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I found M and D building this awesome animal habitat with the blocks.  I loved how the used the hollow blocks turned sideways and each little animal had a resting place inside the block.

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After morning meeting we also sorted our mini animal figures into two categories: wild animals and tame animals.  We read Dr. Suess’ new book “What Pet Should I Get” and discussed which types of animals live in people’s homes.  They were especially interested in animals such as birds or turtles that can be found in the wild AND in people’s homes.  Such detailed discussions happening everyday!

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Of course these little animals just begged to be played with, which M got right to work making them come to life one morning last week:

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Collaborative Art:

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Lastly, the children came in last week to find this blank rainforest mural hanging up in the classroom.  I got the foundation of the mural started, and then each day we added a new animal to the mural to make it complete!

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Although many of the animals are bit more on the “crafty” side as far as projects I choose to do with the children, I wanted to make a finished product that would allow them to visualize the rainforest.  I tried to choose child made animals as much as possible!  The toucans were cut out using paper that they had painted for their Eric Carle project.  They added feathers and eyes to their birds.  The snakes were stamped using painted bubble wrap.  Above is a picture of J painting the bubble wrap green, and then we pressed the plate onto the bubble wrap.  Lastly, we painted anteaters using forks and dipping them in brown paint to make the fir.  The mural turned out beautifully, and after we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this week, we will begin our mural of the savannah.

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Thank you for coming along on our animal adventures!


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The Mitten & Animal Adventures

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Before I jump right into The Mitten and all of our new animal adventures, I wanted to share some of our last few Valentine’s activities we did throughout February.  Unfortunately this past month was really interrupted with National Holidays, teacher workdays, and lots and lots of snow!  We would just get started with something and then get interrupted for a snow break.  But, we managed to squeeze in some Valentine’s Day fun on two different days.

The blog has been quite quiet the past few weeks while I have busily working on assessments and portfolios.  I was able to write a portfolio for each child in the class, and meet individually with all of my parents.  It was so nice to sit down with everyone and discuss all of the growth and progress each child has made this year.

 

The pictures above and below are of D, C, and H playing in our huge sensory tub of pink salt.  I died many large boxes of salt pink, and then added scoops, glass containers, long pink spoons, heart gems, and a giant restaurant style salt shaker.  The kids quickly figured out how to unscrew the lid and fill it up with salt.  Then the boys would hold out their scoops and wait to have them quickly filled by the giant salt shaker.

This activity builds fine motor skills, cooperation, verbal skills, problem solving, and scientific processes of pouring and filling.  They were busy with this tub for quite some time.

Sensory Play:

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Process Art:

J brought in the most beautiful sunflowers for Mrs. Brittany and I for Valentine’s Day.  As much as we were enjoying them, we decided to put them in the art studio as an invitation to create.  I put the flowers in a large vase next to the easel with yellow, brown, and green paints.

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Fine Motor:

For some fun fine motor work I covered a table with long strips of crepe paper.  The children each got to stand at the end of the paper and cut all the way down to the tape.  This provided a fun way to cut using scissors in a new and different way.

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We turned it  into a cutting race to see who could make their way to the tape first!

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Classroom News:

Our new sweet friend A started coming to school in the past few weeks.  She had a great time making new friends, and getting adjusted to life at Crozet PlaySchool.  A quickly discovered the Valentine’s themed learning trays.  She made some bracelets for mommy and daddy.

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A and A spent a long time moving our winter erasers from the container to the muffin tray using the tongs.IMG_2930 2.JPG

She also explored the jump ropes with her buddy A outside.

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And they got out our new set of sidewalk chalk for spring.  It was so great to see both girls bond right away!  It was great to see her warm up to our school on the first day:)

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Preschool Literacy:

We kicked off our study of animals by reading one of my favorite winter stories, “The Mitten” by Jan Brett.

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After reading the book a number of times in the morning, we acted out the story using large puppets from the Jan Brett website.  If your child is still interested in the book and would like to learn more, Brett has a fabulous website with lots of resources.

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I brought a large sheet down into the classroom and we clipped it onto the chairs to make a large mitten fort.  Then each child got to act like their animal as they crawled, dug, or hopped their way into the mitten.  Lastly our mouse got in the mitten and caused the bear to sneeze!  This was a wonderful way to incorporate early literacy skills such as story parts, characters, and problem solving.

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To give the students another way to “act out” the story I opened a snow sensory tub.  We made a batch of “blizzard in a box,” and then I added the figurines from Safari Ltd that matched the story.  They had a great time hiding the animals in the snow and making snowy forest scenes just like the book.

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Little hands in the tub…

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Also to go along with our kick off to studying animals Mrs. Brittany came up with this simple and very popular sensory tub!!  She added our large safari animals, soap, water, scrub brushes, and sponges.  The children got busy washing, scrubbing, and bubbling up the animals!

I love to see all of their little hands reaching into the tub to get wet and soapy!

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D scrubbing the lion very carefully.

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Preschool Math:

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We also played some great animal inspired games last week!  The game pictured above is called “Hiss.”  A bunch of students were playing with us, but of course they walked away when I took the picture.  Each child draws a card and they add it to a snake on the table by matching up the colors.  Once the snake gets a head and a tail it is complete and the player says “Hissss” to keep their snake!  It was a great game for color recognition, problem solving, turn taking, and practicing patience.

Celebrations:

Although we had to postpone our Valentine’s Day celebrations, we still squeezed in some time to have fun.  We got to bounce in the bounce house one morning!  These were the best pictures I could get!

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Each child got to roll out their very own pretzel, and shape it into a heart.  Here is B and D rolling out their pretzels.  They went straight into the oven and into our bellies before I could get a picture.

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Once our pretzels were finished cooking we enjoyed them and M’s special heart shaped cookies for her birthday!  We even got to decorate the cookies with pink and white icing! Yummy!

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Happy Birthday M!

Yoga News:

Mrs. Kay also brought some new mats and a new format for our yoga time recently.  Instead of reading us a book and working on poses throughout the story, she told us a story out loud.  We had to listen to the story and then we posed as different story parts.  The picture below shows everyone trying to reach behind their legs to be a spider.  It was hard!

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And our favorite part of yoga, savasana.  Ahhhh relax and breathe.

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We had a few extra minutes at the end of yoga, so Mrs. Kay joined our mats together into a long line and we made a “Dragon’s Rainbow.”  Everyone got into downward dog, and then the first person crawled under the tunnel and went into downward dog at the end.  This repeated again and again!  It was really fun and hard work to stay up in down dog for so long!

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Now that we are mostly caught up, I can’t wait to share more of our animal study with you soon!

 


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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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“Egg”stravagant Spring Time

Our bird study blended right into a big discussion all about “eggs”.  We talked about eggs, we painted eggs, we played with eggs, and of course there was some discussion of the Easter bunny too!

 

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R joined our class for the last few months of school, and she has blended right in with the group perfectly!  She is full of excitement, and art projects seem to be her passion right now.  She enjoyed this contact paper project I presented on the easel.  I cut out shapes and provided the outline along with cellophane paper to fill in the shape.  The result was just beautiful in the art room.

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This art project is great for fine motor development, and using an easel for preschool art actually has many benefits.  Another wonderful blog that I read frequently, Small Potatoes, describes 5 wonderful benefits of easel art in this blog post.  This blog is a wonderful resource for play tips, sensory activities, and art inspiration at home.

Table Invitations:

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One week children found this on the classroom tables.  These are actually little drink glasses from the dollar store.  I turned them upside down and wrote upper case and lower case letters on the glasses.  Children matched the lower case letter to the uppercase letter on the light table. 

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I love providing unique materials that engage the kids in new ways.  This is a long bath mat turned upside down.  Children had to use the tongs to move the marbles from the bowl to balance on the suction cups of the bath mat!

 

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Exploring Sense of “Self”:  I presented this table invitation to encourage students to learn to draw themselves.  I have been doing small mini lessons with the Handwriting Without Tears program to encourage self portraits and develop their ability to draw their bodies and faces.  They have come a long way since the beginning of the year!  I love seeing their self portraits, and the details they choose to include…

 

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Play Dough:

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We explored some lovely spring colors with our play dough last month!  I made a large batch and then split it into purple, pink and blue.  On the play dough tray I provided spring gems in bright colors, flower gems, and then an assortment of cookie cutters including sheep, bunnies, and eggs.

 

Learning Trays: 

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Our learning trays this month have been filled with all sorts of different interests.  The picture above shows a counting tray I created.  Using small play dough cakes, I would place a number in the play dough and the child would match the correct number of matchsticks to the number.

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This was a fun egg and sound guessing game.  I filled plastic eggs with different loose parts from around the house.  The child would shake the egg and try to guess what was inside based on the sound of the egg.  Some of the items were easy to distinguish like the pennies and paper clips, and some were more difficult like the plastic tags and links.

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R is exploring a learning tray of fettuccini pasta and a small colander.  This would be a quick and easy exploration to set up while you are trying to cook dinner!

 

 

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I printed out each child’s name and they placed an assortment of stickers overtop of their letters.  It was great fine motor and letter practice!

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We played with this learning tray a few times as a whole class, and then I put in on the shelf for individual exploration.  Each child would crack open an egg to find a letter inside.  Then they matched their letter to the ABC sheet provided.  Just adding the opening of the egg created so much excitement to a simple letter puzzle!

 

Sensory Play:

 

 

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Our Easter Sensory Bin:  green Easter grass, eggs large and small, bunnies, and carrots.

 

 

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This water sensory tub was a huge hit for most of the week!  I created it using the liquid watercolors, gutters cut in half, a second tub to catch water, funnels and cups.  They loved watching the water splash, move, and fill up again and again.  In the picture above M and L are pouring the water while L is entranced by it sliding down the gutters!

 

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Both age groups were super involved with this water activity.  It will be repeated again I am sure!

Dramatic Play:

 

 

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For some wonderful spring themed dramatic play I created a “Flower Shop” for the kids.  I provided a shelf filled with cups, pots, and loose flowers, a store front, cash register, money, paper and pens for note taking.  This was a busy flower shop, and the children enjoyed making flower arrangements for each other.

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Process Art:

 

 

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This past month the children created a wonderful group art project using a very large sheet of contact paper.  I laid the paper out on the table and provided lots of spring colors to stick anyplace they wanted.  The results were so pretty, and I love seeing it hanging on our doorway everyday.

 

 

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I drew a bunch of blank eggs on the chalk board wall and waited to see if they would fill in the eggs with different designs!

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One of my favorite projects this past month was a super sized egg!  I got the idea from Fun at Home With Kids’ blog about a big Easter Egg.  I changed our eggs slightly and provided the textured rolling pins for the students to make large scale designs for their eggs.  Here is L in the middle of making her Very Large Egg!

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The children painted wooden eggs with our liquid watercolors, we added them to the Easter Sensory bin and played hide and seek with the eggs outside.  The hide and seek game was such a great way to reinforce colors, counting, and more and less than. While we were playing I would hear,

“We need one more blue”

“There aren’t any pink eggs in the carton, help me find them”

“Only one more egg left!”

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We paper mached paper eggs with tissue paper and modge podge!

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I had so much extra tissue paper we used some to do some bleeding tissue paper art work!

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And just for fun we made Easter bunnies using Easter colored marshmallows.  They got to eat a few marshmallows when they finished their bunny too!

 

That just about covers all of our “Egg”stravagant Spring exploring!