Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet

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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.’


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!







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.


After this story we made these toilet paper mummies:

The children have also loved this Halloween Parody of “Goodnight Moon”


Another Halloween favorite is “Room on the Broom”


“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!


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


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!


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!


Preschool Math:

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


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!


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.


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.


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…





Slide down the slides into a giant corn pit…


Played in the corn pit…


Went on a hay ride to visit the cows…


And we even attempted a super long corn maze…


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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Witches, Brews, and Fizzes



We had so much fun celebrating Halloween this fall!  In between our study of the human body, I tried to squeeze in some spooky Halloween fun.  The purple glittery play dough was a hit.  The addition of witches fingers made the Halloween play dough tray a lot of fun.



After reading the book Ten Timid Ghosts I found this great activity from No Time for Flash Cards blog


First we read the book, and a witch scares the timid ghosts out of their haunted house.  First we matched the numbers on the haunted house to the numbered ghosts hanging on the side. 








Then I put some simple addition facts on the haunted house.  For most of the students this was the first time we have talked about addition and the concept of adding two numbers together.  I laid out little ghost manipulatives, and each child got to come forward and add their ghosts together.  They did a great job counting, adding, and using one to one correspondence when they were counting up their ghosts.





Another fun math activity was our pumpkin counting board.  We matched the correct number of ghosts and pumpkins to our big poster board.



For some sticky fun, I made a batch of gray and blue oobleck on trays in the art room.  The oobleck is a mixture of water, cornstarch, and liquid watercolors.  They had fun using the spoons to mix up the oobleck or their hands!



The trays looked like this at the end of the morning!





We also used lentils, kidney beans, black beans, and coffee beans to make some super spooky “Monster or Witch Hands.”







The weather was still fairly mild the week before Halloween.  I took advantage of the warmer temps and set up a colorful witches brew outside at the sensory table.  I had test tubs, basters, buckets, and lots and lots of colorful water.




We played this over a couple of mornings and it never seemed to get old!



We also made some witch faces!  Each child colored a coffee filter and then sprayed it with water.  Once the coffee filters were dry we glued them onto a paper plate.  Each child added all of the facial features and they even used folding skills to make crinkly or curly hair.



I think the children’s favorite part of Halloween was snack!  Each day I made a set of instructions for them to create their own Halloween themed snack.


I placed the instructions with pictures on the table for the children to follow and make their own snack food.  Of course we don’t usually eat these treats normally, so the children thought this was extra special!







This snack was a pumpkin pudding with crushed Oreos!



Donut spiders!




The kids had fun making some simple stamping crafts.  They made candy corn and stamped ghosts using potato stamps.







The biggest treat was the fizzing spider experiment.  I found this great idea from Fun at Home with Kids.  I made a mixture of baking soda. water, and liquid watercolors.  You form the baking soda into balls and then freeze them until you are ready to use them.  Then I got a large tub and filled it with vinegar.  Each child got to put one spider in at a time and watch their spider fizz and pop.  Leo even had fun exploring the vinegar after the project was done!


Each spider had a plastic spider hidden inside.  They kept calling them their spider babies!




I am hoping to get back on track with my seasons and blog posts soon! 

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Creepy Crawlers



I know we are all sick of Halloween, but I have a few more pictures to share about our last few days of Halloween fun from this year! 


Both groups were really interested in spiders when we are playing with all of our Halloween themed items in the classroom.  I dug through my non fiction books and found a treasure trove of great books and pictures of spiders.  I decided to make a spider themed play dough tray with black play dough and glitter.  Behind the play dough tray I opened up one of my larger non-fiction books to information on spiders.  They dove right in making their own spider variations with the dough.


Then K in my younger group walked over to the easels and started to draw a spider on the easel paper.  I had to get a picture of him transferring his ideas to paper.

I was impressed with his version of a spider, even including the eyes! 


Table Invitations to Play:




I also set up some spider themed learning/sensory trays for the kids to look at more closely and view more great spider pictures I found.  On the left is a spider sort, with different colored spiders, pom poms and tongs.  On the right is a spider sifting activity where they sifted the spiders from the rice using a spatula.  This proved to be difficult for many of the students.  We will have to work on our fine motor/sifting skills!




I also added a bunch of spiders to our wonderful orange gak that continued to be a hit in the art room!


For a wonderful fine motor activity the kids ripped construction paper to create their own candy corn collages.


Process Art:



And for a wonderful process art activity we made puffy paint using a mixture of equal parts glue and shaving cream along with orange food coloring to create orange puffy paint.  Once they painted a pumpkin I gave them different shapes for the eyes, nose and mouth to turn their pumpkin into a jack o lantern!


The final product was quite lovely, with a mixture of raised “puffy paint” and sunken in areas that just looked like orange paint. 


I feel it is important to give the children as little direction as possible when they are in the middle of a process art project.  G spent a huge amount of time dipping his paint brush into the gooey paint and swirling it around and around on his paper.  It is more about the process than the final product looking like a perfect pumpkin.


Sensory Tables and Sensory Exploration:



One of my mommies happens to be a special education teacher who is home with her young children.  She purchased this corn from the local farm store, and let us borrow it for two weeks!  Corn and scoops was one of our favorite and most visited sensory tubs.  The simpler the better!  Thank you Jessie!



I changed the Halloween creepy crawler sensory bin just a bit.  I removed the black beans and added a huge collection of water beads.  If you haven’t played with water beads, they are from the floral section of the craft store.  They can shrink in size when out of water, and tend to expand when submerged in water.  Water beads are such a fun sensory tool, they pour, scoop, squish, escape, and the kids loved exploring with them.  They also look really interesting on the light table!


We also made Goop.  Goop is a wonderful, sticky, slimy sensory activity.  It is a combination of cornstarch and water.  I learned the hard way that you only need little bits of water (the first batch turned into soup).  I added some orange liquid watercolors and some of Halloween creepy crawlers to the goop to spark their interest. 


This sensory tub definitely wasn’t a hit with all of the kids, the goop leaves your hands quite messy and many of them shied away from the feeling of the goop.  But, those that liked it spent A LOT of time picking it up and moving it around.  It is really sticky and stretchy…


Goop Recipe:

one container of cornstarch



pour the cornstarch into a bowl.  Slowly begin to add water a little at a time until you have stretchy, slimy mixture.  Too much water and your goop will be soupy, too little water and your goop will be too sticky to pick up.


Add glitter, food coloring, plastic animals or insects, gems, and get dirty!


Some of us really had a ball with it though!



Early Literacy:




For some of our more traditional activities we sang, acted out, and used the Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on the Gate felt board during our song book story time.



We also had parents bring in some fabulous Halloween themed snacks the last week of October.  I didn’t get a picture of all of them, but a special thank you to Jessie, Dina, Lynn, and Jill for making our Halloween week so special.  The kids truly enjoyed and got such a kick out of the snacks. 



Thank you parents for all of your help and donations to make this a wonderful holiday for the kids!

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A Very “Witchy” Visitor



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!






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




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. 








More color mixing coming soon!


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Five Little Pumpkins Rolled out of Sight



The classroom has been filled to the brim with Halloween and fall inspired learning this month!  This post is packed full of pictures from our classroom, and all of the activities we have been working on.  Each week I try to lay out different “Invitations to Play” on our classroom tables.  The activities may be a type of game, art, craft, or sensory experience that is tied into our classroom discussions.


Table Invitations:


This months we had felt pumpkins with matching cards.  Children pulled a card and then tried to find the matching pieces of felt to build their pumpkin correctly!







We have also been doing a lot of activities to build up our fine motor strength.  One of the table invitations was grabbing and squeezing pumpkin erasers with tongs and placing them in the “witches cauldrons.”  This has been a classroom favorite!




This “invitation to play” was on our tables a few weeks ago: coffee beans, trucks and differs, playmobil construction men.  We love trucks and cars, and I am trying to find ways to incorporate car play into the classroom.





Mr. Potato head is always fun and great fine motor practice too!


We also have had a lot of Halloween inspired learning on the tables this month:


Making fun jack o’ lantern faces on the magnet boards:





Squeezing spiders on the spider web and fall themed toothpicks pushed into Styrofoam. 



I also had jack o’ lantern faces on the large magnetic board this month too!




Weaving practice with Halloween themed ribbons…



Counting practice was on the tables last week.  I simply drew a few pumpkins with numbers inside.  Children counted out the correct number of ghosts and placed them in their pumpkin.



We have also had a few more discussions on sorting objects.  This month we sorted our pumpkins into Big, Medium, and Small.



Play Dough:

Play dough continues to be a common core of our classroom.  The children visit it daily.  We are learning through our play every day.  Just take a look…




We have had our pumpkin and fall themed play dough tray out for a few weeks now on and off.  I will add and change the materials in the tray as the weeks go on.  Here is some of our most recent “play dough play.”







L realized that if she pushed her play dough into the jack o lantern, it would imprint on to the dough!



C spent a great deal of time creating a little fall scene with her play dough.


E was inspired by the craft sticks.  First she was making Xs and then she began to make more letters with the sticks in the dough.



M and P spent most of the time making “pumpkin popcorn.”  They would roll the dough into a long snake and then cut it apart with the craft sticks.


Below are more pictures of different play dough work I have found around the classroom….






Exploring Art and Colors:

Another art exploration we did this month was color mixing.  I provided the children with ice cube trays and droppers.  Then I put blue, red, and yellow colored water in their trays.  I showed them how to draw up the water and move it to another section of the tray.  Then they could change colors by mixing the colors in different ways.  This exploration was visited over and over again by all of the age groups.  (This is also such great practice for fine motor coordination for the children to squeeze up the water and release it into another part of the tray.)


I am going to expand this learning next month by introducing color mixing with paint trays.  We are going to make our own class set of paints by having the children mix them on their own!





Look at all of the different shades C was able to make with her colored water:





Our art activities have been really fun this month!  I have tried to balance as much process art and project art as possible.  I posted about the importance of process art previously, but I still love to do some “themed” projects especially around the holidays!



We mixed our own shaving cream paint with fall colors and glitter.  Then we pressed paper onto our paint tray.  I am on the look out for a REALLY large branch (hint, hint parents if you come across a cool branch I can hang from the ceiling).  I am going to cut our paper pieces into leaf shapes to hang from the ceiling.



I think mixing paint colors might be the best part!




Process art Pumpkin painting:

We collected our pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, and I laid out a variety of acrylic paints for the children to choose from.  Once they had painted their pumpkin, they could add glitter or googlie eyes for some spooky Halloween fun!







Frankenstein and Mummy Art:

For more of a product art activity the children made Frankenstein for the front door.  I provided them with the cut out shapes for his face, and they filled him in with tissue paper before we sealed him up!  He looks very spooky on our front entrance!







After reading “Where is My Mummy” this month I invited students over to make their own mummies using gauze and a toilet paper roll.





One of the groups did some sponge painting with jack o’ lantern foam pieces.  We laid the foam onto the paper and then painted around the foam with different colors.  I loved watching their faces as they lifted the jack o’ lanterns off the paper to reveal their pumpkins.



Science and Math Investigations:




This month we have also been working on a pumpkin investigation.  We have been filling out our “investigation” chart little by little throughout the month.  First we thought of describing words for our pumpkin, then we guessed and counted how many lines were on our pumpkin.  Third we guessed and then measured how tall our pumpkin was using unifix cubes.  Finally today we wrapped our pumpkin in yarn to measure exactly how big around our pumpkin is. 


This project has lead to many great discussions about estimating, math, numbers, and exploring an object further than we usually get a chance to.  You can see from their numbers that estimating is a very new skill.  Hopefully we will get more and more practice with estimating throughout the year.




Halloween and Fall Sensory Play:

Sensory play continues to be a integral part of our classroom environment.  I know that I have posted some of our sensory bins this month, but here is a re-cap.


Pinto bean pumpkin patch, beans, scoops, fall leaves, and of course pumpkins!


Pumpkin washing:  pumpkins, drying rack, scoops, cups, sponges, and droppers.  Children spent A LOT of time at this sensory bin.  They love water!  Pouring water on the pumpkins and in and out of cups, and squeezing the sponges was a much loved activity.


Halloween creepy crawlers: black beans, Halloween items, bouncy eye balls, snakes, and cups and scoops.





There is still more Halloween and fall fun to share!  I hope your children are still enjoying their school year, it is so much fun for me each and every day!!

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The Wonderful and Mysterious…Gak!


The kids in the class have been overjoyed for our most recent sensory experience…Gak.  Some people have different names for this fun part liquid/part solid/part slime/part liquid/part moldable stuff, but I call it Gak!

I made two different batches of Gak with my groups.  One group got to make orange gak and the other group made a batch of purple Gak.  They loved mixing up this slimly solution and watching the glue change right before our eyes!  This is a fun process from start to finish.


To make Gak you need three ingredients:

Elmer’s Glue



These are the directions I use for my Gak:

The measurements do not have to be exact but it’s a good idea to start with the proportions below for the first batch.  Just change the amounts of each ingredient to get a new and interesting batch of goo.

This recipe is based on using a brand new 8 oz bottle of Elmer’s Glue.  Empty the entire bottle of glue into a mixing bowl.  Fill the empty bottle with warm water and shake (okay, put the lid on first and then shake). Pour the glue-water mixture into the mixing bowl and use the spoon to mix well.

Go ahead… add a drop or two of food coloring.

Measure 1/2 cup of warm water into the plastic cup and add a teaspoon of Borax powder to the water. Stir the solution – don’t worry if all of the powder dissolves. This Borax solution is the secret linking agent that causes the Elmer’s Glue molecules to turn into slime.

While stirring the glue in the mixing bowl, slowly add a little of the Borax solution.

Immediately you’ll feel the long strands of glue and water starting to connect. It’s time to abandon the spoon and use your hands to do the serious mixing. Keep adding the Borax solution to the glue mixture (don’t stop mixing) until you get a perfect batch of Gak.

Helpful hints:

I like mine with a bit more “glue” and a little less “slime” so I usually end up adding a bit of glue at the end of the recipe.  You can decide how you like your Gak!

It stores wonderfully in a Ziploc bag.

It will stick to your carpet or sometimes clothing, so be careful where you play with your Gak…kitchen is probably the best place.

Pick fun plastic objects to put in your Gak, they will pop right back out when you are done with your play time:


googlie eyes

cookie cutters

plastic animals or people (Duplo or Play Mobil brand)


utensils, spoons, forks, etc.

plastic cups or scoops

Here are some pictures of us playing with it at Crozet PlaySchool….


Ellie was showing us how the Gak stretches!!!


L was making imprints in the Gak.  You can see the outlines of the spiders underneath her snake.  Gak will hold a shape or an imprint for a few minutes before it starts to disappear.  Such a fun texture to watch!


L is pounding out his Gak while D is making some imprints.


D told me that he made a Gak monster, isn’t it great?!