Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


Leave a comment

Wildrock Adventure

IMG_5305.JPG

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.

IMG_5276.JPG

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

IMG_5288.JPG

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.

IMG_5279.JPG

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.

IMG_5302.JPG

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!

IMG_5292.JPG

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.

IMG_5306.JPG

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


Leave a comment

Melting Ice

IMG_1844.jpg

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!

IMG_1845.JPG

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.

IMG_1874.JPGIMG_1870.JPGIMG_1872.JPG

IMG_1834.JPG

IMG_1836.JPGIMG_1837.JPGIMG_1838.JPGIMG_1830.JPGIMG_1826.JPGIMG_1824.JPGIMG_1820.JPGIMG_1821.JPG

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!

IMG_1885.JPGIMG_1886.JPG

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


Leave a comment

Creating Community

IMG_7646.jpg

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).

 

IMG_7641.jpg

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

519NKBB2FXL._AC_US160_.jpg

51XYO1vfQyL-1._SX371_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

51nE8NN7-+L._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

51TP8iQo46L._SX378_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

51IdttgIn5L._AC_US160_.jpg

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

 

IMG_7963.jpg

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

IMG_7961.jpg

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.”

IMG_7600.jpg

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

51Zt6LPGyzL._AC_US160_.jpg

51XZmxCQzeL._AC_US160_.jpg

61QNt+cLQRL._AC_US160_.jpg

51aw8YhQeNL._AC_US160_.jpg

41EWdxohogL._AC_US160_.jpg

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!

IMG_7608.jpg

IMG_7602.jpgIMG_7644.jpgIMG_7761.jpgIMG_7769.jpgIMG_7752.jpgIMG_7754.jpgIMG_7782.jpgIMG_7994.jpgIMG_7403.jpgIMG_7717.jpg

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.

 

 


1 Comment

Murals and Spring Fun

IMG_4210.jpg

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.

IMG_3959.jpg

 

IMG_3960.jpg

IMG_4416.jpg

We also worked on our Desert Mural too!

IMG_4133.jpg

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.

IMG_4031.jpg

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.

IMG_4340.jpg

 

IMG_4341.jpg

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

 

IMG_4359.jpgIMG_4360.jpgIMG_4554.jpg

IMG_4557.jpg

 

IMG_4556.jpgIMG_4549.jpg

IMG_4558.jpgIMG_4552.jpgIMG_4553.jpgIMG_4548.jpg

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:

IMG_3948.jpg

 

 

IMG_3951.jpgIMG_3950.jpg

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!

IMG_3764.jpg

 

IMG_4407.jpg

More animal houses!

IMG_4408.jpg

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!

IMG_3955.jpg

IMG_4261.jpg

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!

IMG_3981.jpg

Light Table:

IMG_3966.jpg

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

IMG_3999 (1).jpg

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

IMG_4337.jpg

 

IMG_4388.jpg

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

 


Leave a comment

Rainbows and Shamrocks

 

IMG_3346.jpg

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!

IMG_3342.jpg

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

IMG_3343.jpg

Even our youngest friends enjoyed this art project!

IMG_3345.jpg

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

IMG_3376.jpg

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.

IMG_3365.jpg

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.

IMG_3459.jpgIMG_3460.jpg

IMG_3362.jpg

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

IMG_3367.jpg

 

IMG_3368.jpg

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:

IMG_3441.jpg

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

IMG_3443.jpg

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!

IMG_3450.jpg

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

IMG_3453.jpg

IMG_3447.jpg

 

More Process Art:

IMG_3489.jpg

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.

IMG_3490.jpg

IMG_3491.jpg

 

IMG_3493.jpg

Such a fun a messy project!

IMG_3494.jpg

 

IMG_3496.jpg

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

IMG_3497.jpg

 

 


Leave a comment

Light and Letters

IMG_3336.jpg

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.

IMG_3333.jpg

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.

IMG_3335.jpg

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

IMG_3341.jpg

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.

IMG_3429.jpg

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.

IMG_3432.jpg

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.

IMG_3434.jpg

 

IMG_3437.jpgIMG_3438.jpgIMG_3464.jpg

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.

IMG_3465.jpg

 

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

IMG_3565.jpg


1 Comment

Fun with Letters

IMG_6821

 

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!

 

IMG_6855

 

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. 

 

IMG_6942

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.

 

IMG_6940IMG_6941

 

IMG_6845

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!

 

IMG_6884

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.

IMG_6886

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


1 Comment

Quadrilla Marble Run

IMG_6817

 

Lucky for us Santa brought this amazing new Quadrilla marble run!  The marble run is made by Hape, and their wooden toys are top notch.  The possibilities are endless for set up and use of this marble run.  Most of these pictures are taken on the same morning, but we have set it up multiple ways the first week of school.  The only downfall is that it can fall down fairly easily.  I tried to pick the marble runs with the sturdiest set-up, but it has toppled over a few times.  We just get right to work building a different one when it falls!  It also has taught them to be careful when they are playing with it if they want it to stay in one piece!

 

If you are reading this through the email browser, the video will not show up.  You will have to visit http://www.crozetplayschool.com to view the full videos!

 

playing with the marble run

 

IMG_6803IMG_6805IMG_6806

more videos from our marble run!

 

 

IMG_6808IMG_6809IMG_6811IMG_6813IMG_6814

 

The children are slowly starting to learn how all of the parts of the marble run work.  They have even built back parts of it if they knocked it over by Friday.  I can’t wait until they are building their own marble runs in the future!


Leave a comment

Beginning our Letter Exploration

 

IMG_5743

In the beginning of November I started a letter exploration with the whole class.  I have used a variety of medias and learning styles to introduce the letters and their sounds to the class.  In the picture above I made a parking lot out of blue painters tape on the carpet.  Then I put a piece of tape with the upper and lower case letter in each parking spot, and a matching car with the letters taped to the top.  Many of the kids went nuts over this.  You could expand this idea in many ways, by making the parking spots have only upper case letters, and the cars have lower case letters, or numbers, etc.  It gets the children playing, moving, and learning all at the same time!

 

IMG_5736

I also introduced the letters in a more traditional way.  Because many of the students in my group are familiar with most of the letters, I decided to read one book each day that had a focus letter.  The first morning we read “Alligator Baby” by Robert Munsch.  Then I made an alphabet box that has one letter in each drawer.  Each drawer holds a number of little charms or items I have collected.  In the picture above you can see all of the charms that start with the letter A:

alligator

airplane

apple

acorn

ant

 

After building the letter A with our wood pieces, we pulled out each charm and said the sound for A while labeling the charms.  The final part of our project was to make a letter A craft.  We made the A into an alligator!  So far we have discussed the letters A-N in the past two months. 

 

I have enjoyed the combination of approaches when talking about each letter.  With combing the phonics part of the letter study, it allows children that already may know how to write or form the letter a more advanced way to learn. 

 

IMG_5737

I made this glittery gel writing bag too.  While the children are at choice time I have been calling them over to make the letters out of wood pieces, trace the letters in the bag, and draw the letters in the learning journals. 

 

IMG_5752

 

One of our learning trays has been this alphabet monster (a baby wipe box in disguise!)  They can put the letters in the box in alphabetical order, or simply pick up a letter, name the letter and then feed it to the monster.

 

 

IMG_5776

We also ate a delicious letter snack!  Sarah (one of my preschool moms) told me about these pretzels you can make yourself.  We made the dough, and then each child rolled and formed the dough into the first letter of their name.  It was fun and yummy!

IMG_5777IMG_5778

Golden brown out of the oven!

IMG_5780IMG_5784IMG_5786IMG_6018

Gluing down fruit loops or stringing fruit loops is always excited to this group!  I wrote out their names using the different colors of the fruit loops.  Then they had to find the correct color and glue it onto their letters in their name. 

IMG_6020IMG_6022IMG_6025

The finished products looked great!

 

IMG_6037

We also made a hop scotch that was all of the letters of the alphabet!

IMG_6041

 

This week we also had pattern blocks and felt pieces on the tables to explore.  Lots of neat creations were made.

IMG_5768

 

IMG_5769

 

IMG_5771

 

IMG_5774

 

These next photos are just some of the things we did while we were studying letters, or moments captured around the classroom.

IMG_6023

The trains were a lot of fun the past two months.  They made endless different train tracks.

IMG_5725

This was group art project outside.  The paints were made of clear hair gel, liquid watercolors and confetti.

 

IMG_5721

The mud kitchen continues to be a hit!

 

IMG_5733

The purple rice bin was filled with gems, hearts, test tubes, and ice cube trays.

 

IMG_5730

Another art project was an simple invitation of metallic pens, popsicle sticks, and washi tape.  They had so much fun coloring the sticks and covering them with different styles of tape.

 

IMG_5738

 

IMG_5740

 

IMG_5742


Leave a comment

Exploring “Loose Parts” in the Classroom

DSC_0107

 

IMG_5295

 

This year one of my goals was to have more “loose parts” in the classroom.  The theory of loose parts is ingrained in the Reggio Emilia Approach.  To some it may look like clutter or just stuff, but loose parts are a magical part of play.  I got this wonderful list of loose parts and their uses from Let the Children Play blog

 

Why Loose Parts?
There are many reasons why play spaces should include a multitude of loose parts, including:

  • Loose parts can be used anyway children choose. 
  • Loose parts can be adapted and manipulated in many ways.   
  • Loose parts encourage creativity and imagination.
  • Loose parts develop more skill and competence than most modern plastic toys
  • Loose parts can be used in many different ways
  • Loose parts can be used in combination with other materials to support imagination
  • Loose parts encourage open ended learning.
  • Children choose loose parts over fancy toys.

 

lIMG_5290

 

All of the reasons for loose part play can be found in these pictures I have compiled from the past few months.  The bottoms of the castles are placemats from World Market, unit blocks, peg people, and led candles.

 

Imagination, building, balance, creativity, play at work…

 

 

IMG_5293

 

 

IMG_5481

The beauty of loose parts is they can be combined, moved, stacked, dragged, and transformed.  There aren’t any rules, buttons, right or wrong ways to play with loose parts.  The above picture shows window blocks, unit blocks, our large hollow blocks, and Mr. Bones were all part of the creation the children were working on.

 

 

 

IMG_5308

The next two photos show a sensory and loose parts area I set up this fall.  There was rice in the sensory bin, rocks, pumpkin and corn gems, lots of animals, and pieces of felt to move about.

 

IMG_5307

 

These photos show how much the area changed over the course of a morning:

 

 

IMG_5302

The pumpkins were dredged up, and were placed in the barn.  Lots of horses and animals joined up inside the barn too.  The great thing about loose parts and free play in the classroom is allowing the materials to stay put.  One child can start working with something and then another child can change it later or pick up where they left off!

IMG_5303

 

 

The following photos show the children’s interest in marbles and tubes.  This has been an on-going interest in the group.  We decided to bring the tubes and gutters outside to play with them on the swing set.

IMG_5309

IMG_5310

 

 

IMG_5312

 

I set up our tree branches on the train table.  I left of a variety of materials including silk leaves, play dough, gems, wall putty, and pumpkins.  The children worked with the tree on and off throughout the morning and the end product was lovely! 

 

IMG_5444IMG_5446IMG_5457

 

STEM building with marshmallows and toothpicks was left on the tables in October.  I found really fun candy corn marshmallows at the store.  The children got busy building 2D and 3D shapes with the toothpicks.  They were engaged and creative, and I was surprised by all of the different shapes and designs they made. 

IMG_5470IMG_5471IMG_5472IMG_5473IMG_5475IMG_5476IMG_5477IMG_5478IMG_5480

 

I was looking for new and interesting ways to use our wooden Rainbow set.  I saw the idea to lay the pieces on their side to make different rooms or areas.  I set up our little hospital unit with a waiting room, operating room, doctor’s offices, and patient’s beds.  They got busy using the blocks and the Playmobil set in a new way!

 

IMG_5559IMG_5561

I hope to share more of our recent adventures soon!