Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet

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Fizzing Watercolors


We tried a fun science experiment this week that is extremely cheap and simple to set up!  Parents can do this at home for just a few dollars, and it provides lots of fun!  I filled an old egg crate with little amounts of baking soda.  Then I made small bowls filled with vinegar which I colored with liquid watercolors.  Then the students used the droppers to drip into the different compartments.  Not only did it fizz, bubble, and make a reaction, it also provided a chance to do some color mixing.



In addition to the science skills that are being explored, the children also had to really focus and concentrate to get the vinegar into each of the different areas using hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills.




The standards that are being met are:

  • predict changes to matter when various substances are to be combined
  • observe and conduct simple experiments that explore what will happen when substances are combined


Doing this activity on the light table just added an element of sensory input, and often will encourage a longer attention span from learners.







Everyone really enjoyed this activity, and they were extremely focused when they were working with the science materials.  I’m proud of how much they have learned this year!

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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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Creating Community


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).



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






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



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


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.”


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






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!



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


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.





We also worked on our Desert Mural too!


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.


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.




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







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:





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!




More animal houses!


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!



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!


Light Table:


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.




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


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Light and Letters


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.




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.



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


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Preschool Happenings


Process Art:

The colder months tend to keep us inside a bit more, but we also get a chance to explore new materials and techniques in the classroom!  We have worked on a few projects using liquid watercolors this month in a variety of ways.  Liquid watercolors are similar to water color paints, but with a lot of versatility.  You can paint with them of course, but also add them to play dough, gak, and lots of sensory recipes for a pop of color.

For these paintings the children were given large bowls filled with the watercolors and paint brushes.  They went to town painting different designs with the liquids.  After their paintings dried, I thought it would be great to introduce our crayon melter to the class.  We discussed the safety rules for the crayon melter, because it can get quite HOT!  They did a wonderful job being very careful with the melted wax.  Using the Q-tips they simply dripped or painted with the different wax colors.


H and M wanted to try the crayon melter on plain white paper instead.  They were busy working with this new medium for a long time.  Painting with the melted crayons provides wonderful hand-eye coordination and development.  It also allows them to assess risks and take risks in a safe way, by being careful around the heater.  Lastly, it was always important to put the Q-tip back in the correct color or the crayons would get really muddy.  We learned this the hard way, and everyone worked diligently to make sure their Q-tips were put back correctly (color matching!!).




Another way we used the watercolors was with the pipettes and paper towels.  The children simply squeezed the colors out of the pipettes to create beautiful designs and images on their paper towel.  They had to make sure not to get the paper towel too wet or the colors would run together.


The pipettes can sometimes be a bit tricky to use, and they really have to concentrate while using their pincher skills to squeeze the paint onto the towels.


C and D working side by side above!  I loved seeing Cs two-handed pipette painting!


After our paper towels dried we cut them into snowflakes and hung them on our classroom doors.





I think my group this year has used up almost every last piece of chalk that I have!  They simply love side walk chalk.  As a group they are really starting to come together, play as a group, and do group projects that they plan together.  One of their favorite things to do outside has been to “paint” with the chalk in the rain puddles on the road.  They will gather up all of the chalk and get to work!


You can see B above offering different colors to friends in the roadway.  The results are very cheerful on a rainy day too!

Light and Shadows:


Another fun invitation to create has been these tracing papers on the light table.  I got the great idea from the Teach Preschool blog.  She has a fantastic blog and so many wonderful ideas.  I drew simple lines, curves, and points for the children to trace on the light panel.  They had to lay a piece of tracing paper on top of my original and trace the lines with a marker.  You may have seen some of these tracing papers coming home.  Many students did this again and again!


Sensory Play:


In the sensory tubs we have had two new materials!  The multicolored rice “Ice Cream” tub is pictured above.  The students have really enjoyed this tub, and have opened up a few ice cream shops during the day.  They will make different flavors and offer them to friends that happen to pass by!


We also had this really colorful “Valentine’s Day tub.”  I filled the tub with white beans, cupcake liners, and lots of fun Valentine’s Day goodies.  They love the heart boxes, and filling them up with beans.


Our play dough this month has been this beautiful rose scented pink play dough.  I added a lot of soap scent to this dough, and it really fills up the room when the children start manipulating it!

The play dough tray has pink gems, heart roller, heart shaped cookie cutters, and lots of heart cupcake liners.

T made the most beautiful creation with all of the heart shaped cookie cutters.  I had to capture it in a picture!  Stunning!




Now that the snow has finally melted, it left my yard a beautiful muddy mess!  That has made the mud kitchen a hot commodity!  H is stirring up a large batch of mud soup, and M is making cupcakes below!  She even requested a special pouring cup to measure each muddy cupcake correctly.



Preschool Math:


Lastly, we have been getting out our preschool learning trays almost everyday!  They have really enjoyed all of the math games that use old candy.  In the pictures above M is completing a color pattern.  The first patterns are given to her, and then she fills in the blank hearts with the corresponding candies.

You could even play this at home, and it would be a fun way to use your extra candy!


T and B getting to work on their pattern papers.


D working diligently to find the correct colors to match the patterns.  I was so so proud of their hard work and math skills!

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Painting on the Light Table


We had so much fun with this project last week I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it today!  I purchased this amazing and large light panel from another preschool over Christmas break.  I was excited to try some new activities with it, since our light panel is rather small and not great for large art projects.  I laid a piece of plexiglass overtop of the light panel, and then protected the wooden edges with Saran Wrap (just in case!).  I gave each child a few large scoops of finger paint.  They chose the color combinations they preferred, and got straight to mixing their paints on the panel!


Children love to finger paint, and usually can spend long periods of time doing just that!  But, when I added the light table to the finger painting experience they really went to town.  Each child seemed to take their time, have more deliberate mixing techniques, and use their fingers in different ways to create lines, circles, and curves in their painting.  These marks were made more apparent because of the light panel shining through!


As each child started to paint they began to realize that they were changing the color.  Almost each child would exclaim in the middle of the activity, “I’m making PINK or I’m making PURPLE”  It is so fun to watch these experiences unfold, and to revisit some concepts we discussed in the beginning of the year like colors and color mixing.



Once each child had painted for quite awhile on the light panel I then asked them if they could create lines, circles, squiggles, or a pattern of some kind in their paint.  Then I laid a white sheet of paper on top of their design and we created a print from the pattern they made.  We would repeat this same thing two or three times.


Then I would clean up the plexiglass for the next child to start anew.  It was so neat to see a line begin to form and the oohs and aaahs while they watched their friends paint on the panel.  Such anticipation for their change at painting!




I love the picture below I caught of M showing me her sticky, messy fingers!  “Look Ms. Clare!!”


We will definitely be painting on the light table again very soon!  More updates coming later this week as well!