Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Wildrock Adventure

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We had the most wonderful field trip this week to the beautiful Wildrock Park.  The views were breathtaking, and we couldn’t have dialed up any more perfect weather!  Our adventure started in the woods, crossing a stream to find the activities that had been prepared for our group.

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We had to cross the stream with large rocks and the adventure began!

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We were so lucky to have one of our very own Moms as the leader for our field trip. Mrs. Sarah lead one of the stations that was a color hunt into the woods.  The children did a great job finding all of the colors of the rainbow during their nature walk.

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One of my favorite activities was a hunt for wooden gnomes.  The kiddos had to look carefully through the woods to find lots of different gnomes for them!  They had so much fun with this, and it would be very simple to set up at home!  Before they left the station, they had the hide the gnomes for the next group.

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The #1 station was definitely the “mud kitchen” set up by the stream.  There were boots, pots, pans, spoons, nets, and lots of fun equipment to go digging in the mud!

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There were a few other stations that I forgot to capture on camera, but we also loved building fairy houses and going on an animal hike.

Our last stop was a lunch after our morning adventure!  We gathered around the camp fire, and everyone enjoyed the sunshine and beautiful weather.

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Thank you Wildrock for the most beautiful outdoor adventures!  We will definitely be back!


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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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The Great Nature Adventure!

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It already feels like ages ago, but just a few weeks ago we went for a long nature walk on the trails right by school!  We are so lucky to have little oasis like these so close to us for a little retreat.

 

Each child got a bag to collect their goodies while they were walking.  They picked up sticks, rocks, strips of bark, acorns and even a snail shell!

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We stopped a few times along the way to talk about what we saw.  The mossy trees were always an attraction to stop and feel the tree!

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The biggest attraction was the creek, of course!  There were a few perfect spots to stop and throw rocks, watch the water, and climb on large rocks next to the creek.

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Once we made it back to school, we had a lot of nature items to use!  The first thing we did was pull the large stick inside that the children found.  I laid it on a piece of paper with different sets of acrylic paints.  They went to town painting it over two days.  They would sit down in different groups and work on all of the different sides and edges of the stick.

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I wanted to use a variety of the materials at the same time.  I made a clay invitation using small lumps of clay, beads, and their bags of nature items.  They were so interested in the clay and it’s properties!  We used clay only a small number of times last year, so it was neat to see them so interested in this art form.

 

The results of their nature clay sculptures were fantastic!  After their clay dried Ms. Lori walked around the room and had each child talk about and describe their clay sculpture.  The stories and names of the sculptures varied as widely as the children’s interests.  Some children said they created race cars, fairy worlds, the beach, and some made themselves with the clay.  We displayed our work on the block shelf for a few weeks.

 

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Their final nature sculptures on display in the classroom:

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Another art invitation I offered was painting bark and their leftover nature items with the acrylic paints.  With the nice weather we have been having, I was able to set this invitation up outside for children to paint under the deck. 

 

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One of the last nature crafts we did after our nature walk was making fairy wands.  This was a great fine motor activity!  They had to slide the beads onto the sticks and then I wrapped them in ribbon.  The fairy wands turned out great, but I learned the hard way that the weight of the beads and ribbon caused the wands to snap easily.  My girls broke their wands very quickly!  It is about the process, right?!!

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After we finished the large branches I covered the paint in modge podge to seal in the paint.  They have become pieces of art for our classroom, and I have incorporated them into fairy play in the block area.

 

I can’t wait for our next great outdoor adventure!


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Tweet, Tweet

 

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Over the cold winter months the class and I would take walks around the neighborhood to get some fresh air.  While we were on our walks the students started noticing the bird nests in the empty trees around the neighborhood.  These nests brought a lot of discussions about birds, where they went during winter, and what happened in those nests we noticed in the trees.  After a few days we headed back out with some sticks and plastic bags and we took down some of the old nests for inspection.  They were fascinated by how the nests were built and the materials the birds used for building.

 

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After all of this excitement about birds I set up a bird sensory bin for the students.  I filled it with bird seed, nests, felt birds, and little wooden bird houses.  I also found some fake bird eggs at the craft store.  The sensory tub provided a new level of interest around birds, their life cycle, and their habitat.

 

Table Invitations:

 

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I noticed that many of the children were taking the birds out of the sensory bin and lining them up along the edges and making up stories about the birds.  After two weeks I removed the birds from the sensory bin and put them out on the table for further pretend play.

 

 

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Through books we studied the life cycle of the bird.  I offered another table invitation for baby chicks.  I provided rice, little chicks, gems, and plastic eggs for exploring.

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I created a bird puzzle from felt and then made labels for the bird puzzle.  We worked on this puzzle as a whole group, and then I offered the puzzle as a table invitation for them to work on independently.

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I also created this bird matching game.  It was out on the tables for a few days, and then I put it in one of the learning trays for students to match up the types of birds.

Pretend Play:

 

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The children were pretending to be birds during choice time, so I created this large bird nest.  I used a kiddie pool, covered it with brown paper and filled it with shredded paper and large plastic eggs.  I put this large nest up in the loft, just like a bird makes her nest up high and out of sight.

Process Art:

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We created little paper bag birdies in their nests using brown paper bags and pom poms.

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The children also made bird window art using tissue paper and contact paper.

 

 

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During this bird study we re-read “Five Little Ducks” a number of times.  I also have the felt board pieces to match this story, and the children have heard it before.  To give them a chance to practice the story at home I offered this painting invitation.  They painted their rocks different colors for the mommy and the five baby ducks.  Then I added little eyes and a beak. 

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Each child got to take home their ducks to sing and practice the story at home.

 

 

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We also painted wooden bird houses with acrylic paints to take home too!

 

Extending their Interest:

 

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We created homemade bird feeders!  These are the easy, old fashioned feeders: toilet paper rolls, peanut butter, birdseed, and yarn.  We hung some of them on the trees by school and some children also took their bird feeders home.

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It was almost as if the birds knew we were interested in them, because a robin made her nest right under the deck on top of the columns of the preschool.  I was brave enough to take some pictures of her eggs for the kids.  After the eggs hatched the children figured out if they stood on the chairs on the preschool patio they could see the chicks waiting for their mom to return with food.  Just this week my T/TH group got to see the baby robins on the swing set, having just left their nest.  They flew off and it was a hot topic for the group!

 

Displaying our Learning:

 

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At the end of our discussion on birds the children put the life cycle of the bird in the correct order in their learning journals.  Then they drew lines to connect each part of the life cycle.  I dictated their understanding of the bird’s life cycle on the page for each child.


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We’re Going on a Nature Hunt

 

 

 

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A few weeks ago we packed up our wagon and headed out on a nature walk through the neighborhood.  Lucky for us there is a large park near preschool that we can walk to just a few minutes away!  With the help of lots of parents we were able to navigate the neighborhood and find some great nature treasures along the way.  I packed a brown paper bag for each child with some ideas for the nature hunt stapled to the front of the bag.  Inside each bag I also included a marker and a pair of scissors for cutting leaves, cattails, and wildflowers along the way!

 

  D’s mom got a picture of him cutting one of many, many cattails!

 

 

 

Once we got down into the park, there is a beautiful community garden which we stopped to visit.  The above picture shows the edge of the community garden.  Right next to the garden is also a huge pumpkin patch.  We got to stop by and visit the pumpkins too!

 

Then I showed the kids how to do a leaf rubbing.  D’s mom got a picture of me showing the group how to do a leaf rubbing using paper and pastels.  Then they went off to work, finding the perfect leaves and rubbing away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These pictures just fill me with such joy!  Parents and kids working together, outside in the beautiful surrounding and weather!  I feel so lucky to have such wonderful parents that are involved and excited about the children’s early childhood education experience!

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When we got done with our nature walk we came back to the classroom and sorted our findings.  We had baskets and baskets of leaves and wildflowers.  We also found some corn husks, berries, poke berries, rocks, and bird feathers!

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The next day we did our first “sorting” activity as a whole group.  I showed the children the Venn Diagram circles and how we were going to organize our nature treasures.  We organized our treasures into Big, Medium, and Small sizes. 

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After our sorting activity, I read “Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert.  You can guess by the cover how this book inspired our next nature and art project!

 

 

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To follow up on our nature walk, I also set up a nature table in our classroom.  There are many items from our walk, along with other nature treasures that children have brought in to share.  We have a bowl of hickory nuts, acorns, bark, and of course magnifying glasses so we can study things up close.

 

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I hope you will be on the look out for more nature treasures when you are out and about!