Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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The Great Pumpkin Investigation

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We have soaked up the last few moments of Halloween, and the children enjoyed coming to school in their costumes to share or their favorite dress up from home.  I loved watching the children move about the classroom with their costumes!

Learning Trays:

Our learning trays are changed once a month, or sometimes a bit more frequently.  There are 12 trays for the children to choose from in the classroom.  I try to have the trays focus on math, literacy, fine motor, pouring/scooping, or sensory play.

This month the children have really enjoyed exploring the new “sorting circles.”  The circles are opened up, and then they sort the pumpkins into “Big, Medium, and Small.”

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B had no trouble sorting pumpkins into the correct category of “Big, Medium, and Small” in his Transformer Bumblebee costume!

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H was also able to get a bunch of sorting accomplished while donning his fireman get-up!

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Fairies and Princesses also did a great job with the new sorting circles!

Below is a picture of a fine motor tray.  There is a thick sensory material called “floam” lining the bottom of the tray, and then pumpkin toothpicks.  The children have to use their pincher grip to get the toothpicks into and out of the floam.

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Then they all sat together and worked on pushing the pumpkin toothpicks into the thick container of green foam.  This is great fine motor and pinching work.

Preschool Math:

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A new table invitation this week was a squirrel counting game.  I used the acorns we collected a few weeks ago as the manipulatives.  The children had to roll the dice and then feed an acorn to each squirrel until all of the squirrels got some food.  They played this again and again throughout the week this week!

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Below is another whole group counting lesson we did that went along with the Halloween fun!  I made a large poster with pumpkins, and numbers inside of the pumpkins.  They used mini Halloween manipulatives to put the correct number of manipulatives inside of each pumpkin shape.

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This is a picture of our pumpkin investigation that we worked on together as a class over the course of a few weeks.  This investigation incorporated Math and Science goals throughout the lessons.

The class looked closely at our “classroom” pumpkin and gave me describing words to tell what the pumpkin looks like, how it feels, and information they may have already known about pumpkins in general.

Then we “guessed” how many lines were on our classroom pumpkin.  This was the first time we had discussed estimation and guessing as a math skill.  Many children weren’t sure how to even give a best guess…for example many people chose numbers that were very small even though we could see lots of lines on the pumpkin.  This is an advanced thinking skill, and you can practice it at home with your child.

“How many steps do you think it will take to get to the car?” Give some guesses and then test out your answer.

“How many pretzels are left in the bucket?”

“How many pairs of socks do we have in this pile?”

Try to pick examples with smaller numbers when you are just starting.  If your answer is in the 100s or even over 50 it is going to frustrate them.  Then as they gain confidence you can increase the estimation amount.

We used this same strategy to figure out “How Tall is our pumpkin?” and then we measured it with uni-fix cubes. As well as “How wide is our pumpkin” and we cut pieces of yarn to wrap around the pumpkins circumference.

Often times I will cover concepts well above their comfort zone, or talk about things that are brand new to them.  But, hopefully over time and repeating the lesson in new ways these concepts will solidify.

Lastly, we took our pumpkin outside and hammered it with golf tees!

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Preschool Sensory Play:

I set up a pumpkin washing station outside complete with mini pumpkins, gourds, brushes, and lots of bubbles.

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I also dyed a batch of spaghetti noodles in lots of different shades to play with on the light table….gooey, spooky, and oh so fun!

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We have begun to play with the classroom train tracks, and are beginning to build confidence with new tracks around the room…

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And lastly, when you are spiderman it is always important to take some time to listen to a book…

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That might be one of my favorite pictures from the week!  Thank you to A’s mom for visiting us on Monday!

Happy Halloween!

 


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Gak, Clean Mud, and Much More!

We have been introduced to so many new play experiences this first month of school! I apologize, but this will be a long post full of photos. I have been trying to focus on one exploration at a time in my past blog posts, but I wanted to use one post to quickly catch you up on all of our happenings!

We have been adding new materials to our classroom each week. Every time we add a new material we have a guided discovery about that material. My goal for the guided discoveries are to show everyone what the new materials are, how to care for them, how to clean them up, and where they are stored in the classroom.

As a disclaimer, I do my best to take lots and lots of photos around the classroom in the mornings. Please don’t get discouraged if you don’t see your child in lots of the photos. I promise there will be posts with lots of pictures of everyone as the year goes on. Some days just get busy and I don’t have as many chances to take photos.

Process Art:

I opened the easels this week! We discussed painting in the classroom, cleaning up, where to find smocks, how to put on smoack, and where to find paint brushes. I only put yellow, red, and blue paints at the easels. We these three colors the children have been seeing lots and lots of color mixing happening while they paint on the easels.

J and A are working on a collaborative painting!

Loose Parts Play:

This was an activity the children had access to outside last week. I painted an old train table with chalkboard paint and then I added chalk and lots of loose parts. I drew different lines and swirls onto the chalk board. Then they were offered a bunch of different loose parts to put ontop of the lines. They could lay them out in a pattern or add them in a unique way to the lines. This activity develops counting, math skills, fine motor skills, reasoning, spacial awareness, and creativity.

Many of the children took the lead and made their own lines or areas to create unique designs with the chalk and the loose parts!

Light and Shadows Project:

I gathered up all of my color blocks and window blocks into one location for a color provocation on the light table! I also added some color chain links!

Play Dough:

We have loved our new play dough, which I dyed yellow and added a lemon scent to it! We played with it outside on the tables and also for a few days inside the classroom. Other items on the play dough tray were cut up straws, yellow gems, yellow play dough liners, and little cups and a little pitcher.

The cut up straws were used a lot and a great source of interest to their play dough creations.

I love the above photo of D pretending to pour some play dough lemonade!

H was very interested in the textured rollers, and creating different impressions on the play dough.

M worked for a good part of the morning on a giant lizard made out of dough!

I love Ts use of the straws in the above picture!

Our First Batch of Gak:

We worked together to make our first batch of Gak. Gak is a mixture of glue, water, and a few tablespoons of borax. It turns into an interesting slime that is a great texture for sensory. It stretches and moves, but it doens’t leave any residue on hands, which makes it perfect for little children that don’t like to get really messy. We will be making lots of Gak this year, so I was happy to see they liked their very first experience with it!

Stir, stir, stir! They thought it was turning into “purple brains!!”

Once it was mixed completed, I separated the Gak into different piles for each child and gave them a few gems to squish into their Gak.

C is working intently on a huge pile of Gak and gems.

J spent a lot of time outside exploring the Gak and watching it stretch when we held it up really high.

Sensory Play:

J and A helped me make our first batch of “Clean Mud.” First we shredded two bars of white soap. Interestingly enough, J and A LOVED the white soap pieces. They spent a long time scooping them and pouring them. They offered such a fabulous smell too!

The second step was to unroll an entire roll of toilet paper. Lastly, we added a large pitcher of warm water to make the clean mud nice and foamy and squishy. As soon as it turned into mud J and A walked away from the activity. This clean mud is very squishy and will leave their hands feeling wet and foamy. They were not interested in messy hands! They sure did love making the mud with me though!

Our finaly product of clean mud!

My father came over a few weeks ago and made this fabulous top to our sensory tub. It is a wooden board with many different sized holes cut into the top of the board. I added black beans and many different types of scoops underneath the board. This new sensory top added an inviting level of interest to an average tub of beans. They got busy pouring, scooping, reaching, and trying to figure out this new table!

 

Sensory tables offer so much in the area of open ended play, but they give the children lots of chances to practice pouring, scooping, measuring and judging capacity. They also get the children talking to each other, comparing notes, and sharing their equipment. You can see from the photos how busy the sensory tubs are each morning!

Block Play:

We have had a lot of new block play going on these past few weeks. I put the mirror on the floor for some added interest, and D got right to work stacking animals ontop of the mirror. We discussed their reflections in the mirror.

I also made these block people for the class. These blocks were a wonderful springboard into imaginative play and also allowing the children to get to know each other better.

They worked a few mornings on different houses and areas for the people in our class to play and stand.

M and H spent the better part of the morning creating an elaborate home with their block people. Then they acted out play dates with their block people. One child would be sleeping and the other child would ring the doorbell and wake them up for a play date! The picture below shows just how large their home area became with the blocks.

Of course the large tubes and ramps have continued to be a daily play material.

Many of the children started playing with the little stuffed animals that they found in the loft. Mrs. Brittany and I got out the hollow blocks and made a pet home. Then the children added many details to the home including beds, blankets, food, and a play area for their pets.

Then J and M spent a long time creating the huge doggy obstacle course. Once they finished the obstacle course their doggies had to jump, leap, and scramble over the top of the course to complete the mission. It is amazing to see something as simple as a stuffed animal lead to such imaginative play!