Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


Leave a comment

Signs of Fall

We have interwoven signs of fall throughout our past few weeks in the classroom.  The weather has been a bit warmer than a normal fall, but we are beginning to see all of the beautiful changes all around us!

Below are some pictures from our first batch of Gak in the classroom!  A few of the students helped me make the first batch of the year, and it was a huge hit!  Gak is a mixture of water, glue, liquid watercolors, and borax.  It is stretchy, slimy, part liquid and part solid.  It is a great sensory tool in the classroom, and a fun medium other than play dough.

Sensory Play:

IMG_8213.jpg

Below is W breaking apart the Gak and putting it into cupcake liners.

IMG_8219.jpg

M was showing other students if you held up the Gak it would stretch longer and longer.

IMG_8217.jpgIMG_8222.jpg

I added some leaf gems to push, squish, and hide inside of the Gak.

IMG_8209.jpg

Process Art:

We used real apples to make a rolled art project.  I added a few dabs of paint to a large box, and the children rolled the apple around and around to “paint” the apple.  They thought it was really silly to paint an apple with an “apple paintbrush”!

IMG_8476.jpgIMG_8477.jpgIMG_8474.jpg

Preschool Math:

IMG_8657.JPG

Of course after all of our apple cooking, we had to taste test three different types of apples.  We tried Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.  After everyone had a chance to taste and vote for their favorite apple, and then we analyzed our results.  Which apple was our favorite?  Which apples had the most votes?  Which apple had the least votes?

Preschool Science:

Signs of Fall

IMG_8735.jpg

We have been going on quite a few walks in this beautiful weather!  On one of our walks we decided to travel down to the creek and check out the “rapids.”

IMG_8723.JPG

IMG_8721.JPG

On the way to the creek we discovered a ‘wooly bear’ caterpillar.  He curled up into a ball once we walked past. The boys were trying to decide why he was curled up?

IMG_8716.JPG

There was a big investigation of the caterpillar and a lot of discussion of where he was going!

IMG_8718.JPG

 

IMG_8714.JPG

We collected two large baskets of acorns, and used them to fill up our sensory tub.  To add another dimension to the tub, I put the top with different sized holes that my Dad made for me last year.  It is so fun to watch the children dig in through the holes, and fill the buckets up with lots of acorns.

IMG_8734.JPGIMG_8811.jpg

IMG_8803.JPG

IMG_8809.JPG

The sensory tub inside the classroom was filled with birdseed, tree blocks, and forest animals.  This tub has been a busy place the past week!

IMG_8834.jpg

Preschool Literacy:

IMG_8654.JPG

We have been doing a number of finger plays and fall songs!  Many are very simple, but the children love to do them again and again.  I will do my best to post a video of our songs this week!

Pumpkin ABC Hunt

After morning meeting this past week we have done an ABC pumpkin hunt!  The children each got an ABC hunting sheet and a clipboard.  Then we pulled the ABCs out of the jack o’ lantern and tried to find the Capital or Lowercase Matching letter on their paper.  Once they found the match they covered it up with the Dot Art marker.

IMG_8748.JPG

 

IMG_8711.JPGIMG_8710.JPGIMG_8709.JPG

We have also begun to do small lessons from the Handwriting Without Tears Program.  The children have learned a few of the songs, and I have slowly started to introduce the materials in a small group and whole class setting.  Children were able to use the wooden pieces to create their “special letter” for the whole group.  Then as a small group I worked with children on their entire first name and their last name (for those that are ready).  We built their names using wooden pieces, and then we drew the letters on the Handwriting Without Tears chalkboard.

IMG_8801.JPGIMG_8800.JPG

 

IMG_8799.JPG

Light Exploration:

I put gems, apples, and sticks on the light panel.  Two little buddies worked for a long while creating apple trees and apple houses on the light panel.

IMG_8565.JPGIMG_8567.JPGIMG_8561.JPGIMG_8563.JPG

Process Art:

Children have also been busy creating all around the classroom during choice time. They have been busy painting…

IMG_8651.JPG

IMG_8650.JPG

This group loves working with paper, scissors, stickers, washi tape, and oil pastels.  I have been leaving one table open for creating with the art supplies, because it is usually busy each and every day!

Thank you to one of our moms who donated all of the fun paper for coloring!  The children have really enjoyed it!

IMG_8652.JPGIMG_8708.JPG

Lastly, children were given a variety of materials to decorate pinecones.  They used the glue to add pom poms, yarn, and sequence to make beautiful pine cone creations.

IMG_8649.jpg


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.

 

 


Leave a comment

Shapes All Around

IMG_4712.jpg

The children worked so hard to sew the most beautiful embroidery for their Moms this Mother’s Day.  I know they were each so proud of their hard work!  I have done this activity in the past and each child colored a rainbow and we sewed the rainbow image.  This year I have a lot of different aged children from ages 3 to 5.  I decided to allow each child to choose their drawing, colors, and sewing.  I think the results are stunning and special for each child.  Above you can see pictures of someone’s mom, a flower, lots of colors/circles, a rainbow, and lastly a cake.  All for Mommy!

IMG_4582 (1).jpgIMG_4613.jpg

It took Mrs. Brittany and I almost a week to get everyone’s pictures drawn and sewing finished.  I was proud of their work ethic and ability to keep their focus on such a long task.

Preschool Math

We have been working on our Shapes these past two weeks!  They have enjoyed many of these shape activities.  Below D and A are stamping shapes that are made out of cardboard tubes.

IMG_4716.jpg

We hunted for shapes around the classroom, and took pictures of our shapes!

IMG_4795.jpg

Oval!

IMG_4800.jpg

Triangle

IMG_4799.jpg

Rectangle

IMG_4797.jpg

Circle

IMG_4789.jpg

Triangle!

IMG_4791.jpg

Rectangle!

IMG_4793.jpg

Triangle!

IMG_4846.jpg

Triangle!

IMG_4847.jpg

A Line!

The children also really enjoyed these Tangram puzzles from my old first grade classroom! They are some smart cookies!

IMG_4772.jpg

 

IMG_4773.jpg

Even on our walk to the library today children were finding squares and rectangles and triangles all over the place on our walk!

It has been a fun few weeks!


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


Leave a comment

Our “Mixed Up Animals”

 

535D59FB-EB66-4E21-ADE9-6ABC1C91D5CD.jpgAs we began our journey to learning more about animals, I went through my classroom library searching for any books that would work well to kick off our study!  Next thing I knew I had a huge pile of Eric Carle books.  His books are beautiful, easy to read, and classics that all children love.

We started reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” every day for a week before we went outside.  The children loved the repetitive nature of the story and singing it along with me.    We added “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you see?” and “Polar Bear, Polar Bear What do you see?” to our favorite song book list.

During all of these read-alouds we worked on three key literacy terms:

Author

Illustrator

Title Page

When you are reading books with your children at night, take some time to talk to them about the author/illustrator of the story, where their names are located, and where they can find the title page inside the book.  These are great early literacy skills!

I just happened to pick up “What’s Your Favorite Animal?” by Eric Carle at the library.  The children were very intrigued by the picture on the cover.  The discussions kept going back to the funny animal on the front page and what were all of the different types of animal parts that made the cover picture.

51Zlsl+HiIL._SX394_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

After some discussion about this silly animal the children wanted to make up their own animals too.  We studied the covers and illustrations of Eric Carle’s books and looked closely at the paints, lines, and textures he created in his pictures.  Then each child got a turn to paint two large pieces of thick watercolor paper with paint.  They put the paint on very thick and then used forks, cups, popsicle sticks and rollers to make different impressions on the papers.  I got the idea for this from Merri Cherry’s blog and Eric Carle.

Below is a picture of A making marks on her beautiful blue painting.  The right side shows an up close picture of orange paint that was scraped with a fork.

15E62561-D223-42A7-B25D-6D1EA0E528AF.jpg

M is below painting her large paper, and then getting ready to scrape it!

IMG_3131.jpgIMG_3126.jpg

T and H working together painting and scraping their papers.

IMG_3125.jpg

 

IMG_3143.jpg

For some reason I always love the aftermath.  Here is our table after everyone was done painting.  There is something really satisfying about a messy workspace and children that got busy painting the morning away.

IMG_3144.jpg

Once the papers dried, Mrs. Brittany and I cut apart different animals parts to make “creation station” of sorts.  We cut out silly animal heads, some with long necks, bear heads, bird heads, etc.  We cut out wings of different shapes and sizes, and legs that were webbed, flat, curved, and had hooves.  The children came over the cut up pieces and picked what they liked best to create their own unique, one of a kind animal.  Once their animal was completed, we dictated a story about their mixed up animal.  IMG_3205.jpg

“My baby bird likes to fly.  He likes to eat worms.  The mama gives the baby the worms.  He knows how to fly.  He likes to fly in the trees.”

IMG_3208.jpg

T’s amazing animal

IMG_3209.jpg

C’s Flying Bear

IMG_3232.jpgIMG_3236.jpg

M’s Flying Cat Bat

IMG_3238.jpg

M’s Flying Cat

IMG_3239.jpg

 

IMG_3240.jpgIMG_3241.jpg

D’s Flying Cat

IMG_3244.jpg

What an amazing project!  This will definitely be done again in the future!  I think I had as much fun seeing their mixed up animals, as they had creating them.