Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet

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More Winter Fun

We have been spending a lot of time exploring some of the new play areas in the classroom!  I wanted to share some of the other winter fun we have had besides just melting ice!

Sensory Play:

They have enjoyed the winter tub filled with rocky, white snow, arctic animals, and lot of fun scoops!



I also made a batch of play dough using Hair Conditioner and cornstarch!  It is a really soft dough, with a mint scent, perfect for a penguin playground!



We also had a new tub, called the “Tinker Tub”. It was filled with styrofoam, rubber bands, golf tees, and pipe cleaners.  They enjoyed pushing the golf tees into the foam, making “candles” attaching rubber bands, making “medicine droppers” and all sorts of other creative things!



I saved some white Gak from December and we used it with letter tiles to find letters and make our names.


Once we found all of the letters in our name, we squished up the Gak and tried to find the letters inside the giant ball of Gak.  The last challenge was to put our names back in order after finding the letters!


Process Art:

We got to explore print making with a large plastic sheet and a brayer!  We spread out paint on top of the plexiglass and then the children used different materials to make marks in the paint.  Lastly, we pressed a piece of paper onto the paint to see what image showed up on the paper!IMG_1649.jpg

Some of us simply made marks in the paint…IMG_1712.JPGIMG_1675.JPGIMG_1676.JPG

While other children drew letters in the paint…


And some children drew images of themselves or their family…


Each child’s piece turned out very different and so unique!


We also got out the watercolor paints and painted some beautiful paper!  The paper had the outlines of Matrushka dolls.




Preschool Literacy:

All throughout the week we did different lessons with our Handwriting Without Tears ABCs!  It was a great way to jump back into school after our break!  In the picture below three children are working together to put a small portion of the alphabet in order.  The HWT cards have a puzzle on the front to connect the letters in order, and then when the child flips the card there is a sandpaper letter to touch and feel.

I loved seeing three children, all different ages, and all working together to put the alphabet in the correct order.  Older children were helping the younger children, and so much learning was taking place from all of the groups.


We worked on this project over a series of different days so the children got mixed into many different learning groups by the end of the week.  You can tell by the multiple photos of children working with different partners!


Lastly, I don’t have any great photos of our Vet Clinic, but here are some videos of the children playing “vet” last week:

More winter fun will be coming soon!



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There’s No Such Thing as a Gruffalo


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Julia Donaldson is my new favorite children’s author!  I was introduced to her by one of my Mom’s during Halloween.  She came to our class dressed as a witch and read “Room on the Broom.”  That book became an instant favorite, and then I found her Grufflo books too!  My own children LOVE these stories, the element of the Grufflo, and the tricky mouse.  The mouse is able to trick all of the forest animals, and convince them that he is the scariest creature in the “deep, dark wood”!  He even scares the Grufflo.  I think children love when the underdog wins!


After reading the book we re-created the book using our wooden platform, tree blocks, and little figures to represent all of the characters.  I had the puppets for the mouse and Grufflo.  C had the great idea to add rocks from our nature table, and M thought we should add felt to represent the creek and river.  We acted out and re-told the story using the props, and the children played with the items as well!



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We also read the second book, “The Gruffalo’s Child” in which the Gruffalo’s baby learns an important lesson about the little mouse.


After all of this discussion about the Grufflo, I thought it would be great to set up an invitation for the kids to make him using clay and loose parts.

I gave them a variety of clay tools, wooden sticks and beads.  The results were awesome!  Below D made the Gruffly and used the wooden sticks to make his arms, claws on his feet and horns on his head.  I had the book propped up for the children to refer to the picture if they wanted to.


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T working with the clay above.  She rolled out the clay to form really, really long legs of the Gruffalo.  I love the way she used all of the wooden picks to make his belly.

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A above added a variety of eyes to her Gruffalo, and then decided to change her creation and put in lots and lots of wooden sticks all over his body.

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C was one of the few children that wanted his Gruffly to stand up on the cardboard.  He asked for help getting his clay to stand up tall, and then he got straight to work adding details to his face and body.

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At the end of the week we let everyone come to school in their PJs and we had a Gruffalo viewing party.  There is a short 25 min movie on Netflix that is based on the book.  We gathered on the couches in my family room area and snuggled up for popcorn and a movie.  Many of the children said they watched the movie at home as well!


It was so fun to dig in deep with this story!  Happy Reading!

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The Little Red Hen




We loved focusing on The Little Red Hen for a week at school!  This is such a simple story, with a lesson to be learned about helping others that is simple for preschoolers to understand.  We read a few different versions of the book:

  indexlittle red hen threelittle red hen two





Each version still told the same simple story, but sometimes the characters or friends that didn’t help the Red Hen were different.  We always had a discussion at the end of the book about the similarities and differences between all of the stories.


Then we got to bake our own batch of Honey Whole Wheat Bread!  I used this recipe from My Small Potatoes blog.  I used King Arthur’s whole wheat flour instead of white. 



We mixed the dough!





Then we kneaded and baked the bread!  Everyone enjoyed their own little loaf, and got to take them home fresh from the oven!  I think we will be making this recipe again before the school year is out!


We also made some little red hens, and they laid rhyming eggs!


This is our new shadow puppet theatre!  I retold the story of The Little Red Hen using the transparency puppets a few times during the week.  I was hoping this would inspire some of their own puppet making, but for now they were just really interested in hearing the story.




little red hen pizza 

The last book we read this week was The Little Red Hen (makes a pizza).  Of course we had to make our own class pizza! 


We rolled the dough…


Added the pizza sauce and cheese!





0189abb061620bef7c962c04d6cb8463d313d18f41And gobbled it up!  This was enjoyed by everyone in the classroom!





On Friday we also made our own shape pizzas, and then counted how many of each shape we put on our pizza pie!


As a wrap up of The Little Red Hen each child was sent home with their first homework assignment to help out around the house for the weekend.  They got to earn a sticker for each time they did a chore or helped their parents in any way!


Songbooks and Stories ~ Early Literacy Activities



We have spent quite a bit of time singing songs and listening to new books in this first month of school.  One of the focuses has been on song books.  I have a huge collection of song books.  They are wonderful for building early literacy skills.  What does that mean exactly?


The foundations of early reading are:

building the concepts of literacy understanding

creating a positive attitude towards reading and writing

understanding that print letters have sounds, create words, and these words can by read together to tell a story

involves children playing and being creative by telling or acting out stories


These skills will help to build a solid foundation for literacy learning.  This is also called in teacher jargon “emergent literacy.”


Some of the activities I have been doing to promote early reading skills and a love of books is repetitive reading.  When children hear stories again and again (which we all know they love from bedtime routines), they begin to develop a better understanding of books and literature.  I have read many different books throughout these first few weeks of school, but I have focused on a select few to emphasize with the class.


We spent a great deal of time reading “Little Bunny Foo Foo.”  It is a silly song that has an accompanying songbook.  I also have a few different versions of the book, and that makes the read alouds exciting for the group.  They love to compare the books and talk about the similarities among the story lines.


In addition to the multiple copies of the book, I also have the book read aloud on tape, which we listened to many times and the song on the CD player which they loved as well.  At the end of our multiple readings of “Little Bunny Foo Foo” I provided the group with some props to facilitate their learning even further.  I gave them green felt to represent the forest floor, a fairy, a bunny, and three little mice to be the “field mice.”  The kids even found my other fairies to add to the prop center for this songbook.


I would leave the props out during free time, and told them they could visit the Little Bunny Foo Foo area whenever they wanted.  I would find children singing the song and acting out the story for their friends.  They would usually gather an audience once they started singing. 


When I am teaching I am by myself with the kids.  The trickiest time of day is right after snack.  Children are finishing eating, washing their dishes, using the bathroom, and getting on their shoes for outside time.  I have started pulling out my song book basket to give me some time to help children finish washing their dishes while their friends wait.  They always pull out the books we have read again and again.  I will hear them singing along to the book, turning the pages, and adding in some extra verses.  This is all the beginning of literacy development!


These are some of my favorite songbooks:



Little Bunny Foo Foo



Little Rabbit Foo Foo


The Lady with the Alligator Purse



Miss Mary Mack


Down By the Bay


Five Little Ducks


OH, A-Hunting We Will Go


The Misty Bitsy Spider



I can go on and on with song books!  Please email me if you would like some more suggestions for getting started with song books in your house!


If there is a book that the kids really show interest in, I will do activities to follow up with the book.  One book the children loved this fall was “Ten Apples Up on Top.”



Ten Apples up on Top by Dr. Suess


We had so much fun reading this book a few mornings in a row.  I created a magnet board activity that coordinated with the book reading.  While I was reading the book aloud, children would come up and put apples on top of the different animals as the actions were happening in the story.  They loved this activity!


I came out of the art room and I found M manipulating the magnet board and moving the apples around.  She remembered the story and was talking to herself as she moved the pieces on the board.  I also had this same magnet activity on our very large magnet board.  They had two areas in the room to visit this re-telling of the story.



After I took this picture of M, she picked up the book and began to re-read the story to herself.  I was able to catch the end of this on video.  Check it out:


M reading 10 apples up on top!





To reinforce our friends and classroom community building, I created an “Apples on Top” activity with stamping.  L’s hand is blurry, but they were given a pom pom that was being squeezed by a clothespin.  They were able to add apples to each of their friend’s heads.  For some of my pre-K students we counted the apples and wrote the number under each of their pictures to reinforce the math portion of this activity.



Literacy readiness can be incorporated into most of our activities at preschool.  I love to see them really get excited about the books and song books we have been discussing.  They are building such a great foundation and enthusiasm for reading!