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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Melting Ice

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We have had a lot of stops and starts in the past two weeks!  After a long winter holiday break the children were just settling back into a school routine….then it snowed!  We had a long weekend with school closings and delays.  I thought it would be fun to talk about ice and how it melts.  First we had a big discussion of ice and snow and where it comes from.  Then we talked about why were haven’t been able to come to school these past few days.  Lastly the children hypothesized what they could do to melt the huge ice blocks in the art studio.  They got right to work exploring the materials and seeing how they could free the animals from the ice!

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I set up a large table with two blocks of ice, salt, and a variety of watercolors.  They could use small or large water droppers to put the watercolors on the ice.

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While the children were working on the ice they discussed a number of different learning topics:

  • how to squeeze the dropper was a BIG topic of discussion!  The dropper takes a lot of coordination, fine motor ability, and hand/eye coordination.  Many children struggled with the droppers, but they were so interested in the ice that they kept with it until they mastered the skill!
  • why was there water on the tray
  • why was the ice changing color
  • how come they could get the animals out of the ice that used to be stuck
  • what was the salt doing to the ice
  • how come the ice started to get holes inside of it
  • and many, many other thoughtful questions and ideas were posed while they were working

You can hear the children discussing some of these ideas in the videos:

For this science experiment, the children then came back to the carpet and drew pictures in their learning journals of the changes to the ice!  I will share some of their drawings next post.

By Friday morning we had melted and refroze our ice all week long, but it still wasn’t completely melted.  So we took the ice outside to see what the warmer temps and some hammers would do to the ice!

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Here is the video of the kids with the ice outside:


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Creating Community

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We have spent the past month focusing on our classroom community!  Using the Responsive Classroom approach to building community, I use morning meeting, guided discoveries, and a number of steps to create our classroom rules.  I don’t just tell the students what the rules of our school are, we work together to come up with rules and procedures to help our classroom time run smoothly.  It is a long process, but it ensures that the children are invested in the classroom rules.  They also are very aware what each rule is, and how it applies to our day to day classroom activities.

(The picture above is A and L working on cutting straws in our cutting tray).

 

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First we read a few books about children that don’t like to follow rules: 61P6MBGGK0L._AC_US160_.jpg

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These are some of my favorite books for talking about Cleaning, Caring about our school, Rules, and Getting in Trouble.

 

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After we have read a number of books like this, I ask the children to generate a list of rules:

No Throwing ~ D

No Pushing ~M

We don’t throw books ~ W

Don’t throw blocks ~ H

Don’t touch friends ~M

No hitting ~ B

No touching friends ~A

Walk inside the school ~ B

Play kindly ~ A

Play gently with dolls ~M

Clean up toys ~J

Don’t play rough ~B

Don’t throw food ~ H

No throwing the rice ~M

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The children generated this list over the course of a few days.  We decided that this list was just TOO long and had TOO many things to remember.  Ms Melissa and Ms Clare didn’t want to spend all day telling everyone “No!” just like the books.  Over a few sessions we narrowed our list down to:

Be Kind

Use Gentle Hands

Take Care of Our School

These rules are clear, concise, easy to remember, and most of all they are what we SHOULD be doing, not what we SHOULDN’T be doing.  It is much better to ask friends to “be kind” then “don’t be mean, that’s not nice.”

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We also read a series of books that encourage friendship, kindness, and how we should treat each other at school:

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While we have been working on community each day, we have also continued to explore the different sections of the classroom through “guided discovery.”  Children are beginning to get the flow of the classroom, feel at ease, and understand the materials at hand.  They are also learning how to tidy up when we are done!

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I have begun to look more closely at children’s interest and play.  I hope to see some topics and ideas emerge in the next few weeks to delve into for our first project.

 

 


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Murals and Spring Fun

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We worked hard throughout April to create our last few animal murals.  We spent a week discussing the ocean and all of the amazing animals that live in the ocean!

Process Art:

The picture below shows A coloring a tin foil fish with sharpies.  After they colored their fish, we squeezed out glitter glue on top of the foil to give the fish their scales.  A and C are using our watercolors to paint their jelly fish.  Once their jelly fished dried, they got to cut the long tentacles on the bags.

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We also worked on our Desert Mural too!

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We made cacti by painting large green strokes with the paint rollers, and then adding lots of prickly spikes!

Below is a close-up of our shape lizards.  The children glued shapes onto their lizards and then dropped silver paint on top to give them shiny skin.

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The last part of our animal project was creating our special animal with clay.  Each child got to pick an animal to represent with clay.  I printed out a real-life photo of the animal for each child to look at while they were making their project.

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Once the clay dried many children decided to paint their clay pieces too.

 

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While we were discussing the ocean I set up a large ocean sensory tub.  I filled the tub with water and lots of different colored water beads.  Then I added large ocean animals, and they went to town!

Sensory Play:

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The children have also still been very busy building animal homes and habitats around the classroom!  They love to use the Magnatiles to make divided homes for the animals.  The home area below using Magnatiles, connecting blocks, birds, elephants, and a stuffed animal brought from home!

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More animal houses!

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Sensory Play:

Another sensory tub I created for the end of April was a giant construction site.  The children love to play with the trucks, and play mobile people.  I combined both of these with a huge tub of pinto beans!

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In celebration of spring we put out a large tray with kinetic sand, spring cookie cutters, and lots of colorful gems.

 

Preschool Literacy:

We have continued to follow along with two to three Handwriting Without Tears lessons a week.  We have now covered all of the letters that only have straight lines and diagonal lines.  We only have curved letters left, and we will have worked through the entire alphabet!

In addition to the handwriting lessons, we have started discussing the phonetic sounds that each letter makes.  I pulled out my phonetic buckets to accompany our lessons.  Each bucket has small charms or tiny toys that represent each letter sound.  Then I laminated these Constant-Vowel-Constant grids.  Children got to come over to work in small groups to sound out these simple C-V-C words.  They had a great time with this new task!

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Light Table:

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I drew different lines and designs on large pieces of paper.  Then I collected different stones to place along the lines or around the spiral.  Each of the children got a chance to work at the light table, and they all had different versions on how to line up the pieces.IMG_4002.jpg

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Then I put stirring sticks and gem ice cubes on the light table.  They really came up with some creative designs.

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I can’t wait to see what adventures await the last month of school!

 


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Rainbows and Shamrocks

 

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We had a fun week waiting around for those silly leprechauns to visit Crozet PlaySchool!

Even though our main focus these past two months has been all about animals, I added some colors, rainbows, and a few science projects to go along with St. Patrick’s Day!

The picture above shows a simple Rainbow Stain glass window project we made.  Each student got their own window with lines, and then they added the colors of the rainbow using tissue paper.  The final results were so fun to see, and they made our classroom entrance really colorful!

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A is working on laying out her green pieces into the frame.

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Even our youngest friends enjoyed this art project!

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The picture below showed how beautiful the rainbows looked with the sun shining through our doors.

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Process Art:

Another very rainbow inspired project was our glue sun catchers.  The picture below shows H squeezing the glue into his lid, and a crowd gathered around him to see exactly how this project was going to unfold.

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Once we filled our lid with glue (and for many of us this was very fun to squeeeeeze out so much glue!), then we added a few drops of food coloring.  We found out the hard way that if your added too many colors of glue it would get very muddy.  Two colors seemed to work the best!  Then we mixed the food colors using a toothpick.

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These are pictures of our rainbow lids drying on the windowsill.  Aren’t they amazing?

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Once the glue dried, I peeled the glue out of the lid, punched a hole in the top, and hung them with a fishing wire.

Preschool Science:

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One morning we did a “Magic Milk” Experiment.  If you would like to do this experiment you will need:

Dawn Dishsoap

Food Coloring

Milk

Old Food Lid

Q-Tips

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First we filled milk in the lid, added two different colors of food coloring.  Just a few drops! Lastly we dipped our Q-tip in Dawn dish soap, and placed it right in the center of the milk. The kids were really impressed with the magic of the milk!

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The best part was watching each friend getting a chance to try the magic milk experiment!

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More Process Art:

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For St. Patrick’s Day we had to make some Shamrocks too!  We covered a tray with white shaving cream, dropped two different shades of green into the cream, swirled, and squished the paper shamrocks into the cream.

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Such a fun a messy project!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Light and Letters

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Our beautiful classroom got a much needed face lift and I took some time to rearrange a ton of furniture in the room.  Many of the children have been building lots of building, ramps, moving the tubes around, and I felt they just plain needed more building space.  I moved around my train table area and brought out both of the wooden platforms that I have for building.  I also moved the projector out the light area to add another element to the building environment.

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It didn’t take them long to start exploring our new area!  B got busy moving around the color paddles to see how they looked projected around the room.

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It didn’t take long before B had an audience to see how they colors looked when they were manipulated on the overhead projector.

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The light also provided a very soft glow that made it the perfect spot for building.  I love seeing the whole group working on a building together.  Above they made a large building with the unit blocks, LED candles, and the large animals.  They spent a great deal of time here during the morning.

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After the next few days I added translucent letters to the overhead projector, and it was interesting to see how the letters added a new level of play to the projector.

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Immediately they loved to see all of the letters on the ceiling.  Each child wanted to see “their letter” on the ceiling.  As soon as their letter was projected they would climb up to the loft to touch their letter on the ceiling.

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After we explored the letters on the overhead for a few days, we also explored the letters in  our names using paper and pencil.  These little crayons the kids are using are called “flip crayons.”  They are purposely made very short and encourage the correct pencil grip when children are using them.  We made these name puzzles by cutting strips of paper and using one piece per each letter in their name.  Each child they wrote their letters down the strip of paper as many times as they could to practice their letters.  Once they were finished we mixed up the pieces and they put their names back together again.

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It was neat to see children’s names start to appear all around the room in different places.

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Fun with Letters

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We have jumped back into January with a bang!  We picked up where we left off in December discussing our letters.  Each morning we continue to read a book associated with the letter we are concentrating on that day.  After talking about the way the letter is formed, we will look inside of our sound box and see what items represent that letter’s sound.   

 

I have also been trying to incorporate a whole language letter approach into lots of other parts of our morning activities.  The picture above shows one of the games we played at morning meeting last week.  I had post-it notes with upper and lower case letters on the ground.  Then each child used a piece of yarn to find the matching lower case letter on the floor.  It was like a giant matching game with yarn!

 

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Last week we had a discussion around the magnetic board about our letters.  One side of the board was labeled “Letters with Holes” and the other side was labeled “Letters without Holes.”  After I modeled a few examples I called on each child to pick a letter and place it in the correct category.  This really got the children analyzing the formation of the letters and how they are made.  After we completed the activity, I moved all of the letters to the bottom and invited everyone to move the letters around during choice time later that morning. 

 

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I made a batch of plain gelatin in muffin tins, and hid our transparent letters inside of each muffin container.  I popped out all of the gelatin and left it in the art room to explore with kitchen knives.  They were really interested in this new texture and freeing the trapped letters.

 

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Of course we wrote some of our letters in our learning journals.  The “F” is much easier to form than the letter “G.”  Therefore I gave some starting points and guiding dots to help some of the class with their letter G.  They have come a long way, and many of them are displaying such wonderful pencil grip and fine motor control.  It must be all of the play dough and tweezers work we have been doing!

 

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Ellie helped me get our “I Spy” wall hung up.  Each child has been bringing in environmental print to share that they have “spied” letters on the cover.  I will share a picture of our completed “I Spy” wall soon.

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We are back to school, and it has gotten off to a great start!