Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Fizzing Watercolors

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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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Letters and Shapes

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Amongst all of our Valentine’s Day fun we have been still continuing with our investigation of letters and shapes.  Above is a picture of L and B looking closely at the large uppercase letters on the overhead projector.  They were lining up the letters, finding the letters in their names, discussing the letters as the pulled them out of the basket, and wondering why some letters looked “backwards” no the wall.  It is wonderful to see two children work for an extended period of time at one task, and scaffold each other with new information while they “play.”

Preschool Math:

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Since there is so much emphasis on the Heart at Valentine’s Day, I deduced to introduce other shapes through a series of books and activities this week.  We read some of my favorite shape books this week!  These are some of the titles we have been exploring…

This is a book of pictures and you can find shapes in each of the real-life photos

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The Greedy Triangle introduces the idea of geometry with lines and angles, but we focused on the shapes the triangle changes into from page to page.

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This is a great book that covers many different types of of shapes

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After reading many of these books we went on “Shape Hunts” around the classroom looking for shapes all around us!  The picture above is A holding up the Handwriting Without Tears wooden pieces into a circle.

We found Squares…

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A line and a square found by M…

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A circle and a rectangle found by H

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A semi circle and a rectangle found by D…

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A Rectangle and a Heart found by B…

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A Heart and Circle found by A…

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M found a circle on the edge of her cup…

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L found a circle and a line

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It was a lot of fun to do our shape hunt, and I was proud of how creative they were with their findings!

Process Art:

Of course we had to paint some shapes…We made these gorgeous Heart Mobiles with cardboard and tempera paints:

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Sensory Play:

We also explored hearts, pink salt, glass jars, and paintbrushes on the light panel this week:

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We made the most amazing SLIME from Fun at Home with Kids recipe on her blog!  It turned out perfect and the kids enjoyed it so much!!!

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We were also so lucky to get to go outside and on a bunch of walks this week with the warmer temperatures!  Ms. Kay came for yoga as well and we did partner yoga for the first time!

Preschool Gross Motor Development:

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Yep, I pretty much love my job!  What a great week!  Ms. Clare


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Process Art

The beginning of the year we have slowly been introducing different art mediums to be explored in an open ended way in the classroom. This is often referred to as “Process Art.”

The definition of process art is an artistic movement as well as a creative sentiment where the end objective is not the principal focus.

This means that I will often provide a few different materials and allow the children to explore them in anyway they want. They can stay at a project for as long they wish, do multiple projects or revisit the materials for more than one day.

There is a great article written by Debbie Celment on the Pre K and Sharing blog about the importance of free exploration or process art compared to craft projects. I have linked the articlehere if you would like to read more about this philosophy.

 

One of the first materials they explored were a few paints and pom poms clipped ontop a clothespin. The pom poms served as a mini paint brush. It was interesting to watch the children manipulate the paints in different ways based on their age. Below is a picture of M making dot marks around her paper, where as A is mixing her paint colors right away and brushing them across the paper.

 

 

We also had a guided discovery about the materials at our writing center the second week of school. My goal is for the children to have access to many types of art materials every day when they come to school. In our writing center they currently have access to:
pens
markers
crayons
black felt pens
glue
washi tape
papers
index cards
ABC stamps
Dot Art paints
Animal stamps

These pictures show everyone digging into the different supplies in our writing station.

 

Last week I put out a new art invitation of paints, cubby brushes, and mesh shapes. These shapes can be painted in the center and they create a different design on the paper. We also learned that once they were painted you can stamp them to create more shapes. I enjoyed watching them explore these materials!

Messy Art = Fun Art!

There may be times throughout the year when I will have everyone work on a project for the holidays or mother’s day or valentine’s day that is more in the style of a craft. The end result may be a bit more predetermined. But, for the most part our art is an exploration of materials, and may not resemble anything in particiular when they bring it home. They are still equally as proud of their work, and it is 100% their creation!


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The Great Nature Adventure!

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It already feels like ages ago, but just a few weeks ago we went for a long nature walk on the trails right by school!  We are so lucky to have little oasis like these so close to us for a little retreat.

 

Each child got a bag to collect their goodies while they were walking.  They picked up sticks, rocks, strips of bark, acorns and even a snail shell!

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We stopped a few times along the way to talk about what we saw.  The mossy trees were always an attraction to stop and feel the tree!

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The biggest attraction was the creek, of course!  There were a few perfect spots to stop and throw rocks, watch the water, and climb on large rocks next to the creek.

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Once we made it back to school, we had a lot of nature items to use!  The first thing we did was pull the large stick inside that the children found.  I laid it on a piece of paper with different sets of acrylic paints.  They went to town painting it over two days.  They would sit down in different groups and work on all of the different sides and edges of the stick.

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I wanted to use a variety of the materials at the same time.  I made a clay invitation using small lumps of clay, beads, and their bags of nature items.  They were so interested in the clay and it’s properties!  We used clay only a small number of times last year, so it was neat to see them so interested in this art form.

 

The results of their nature clay sculptures were fantastic!  After their clay dried Ms. Lori walked around the room and had each child talk about and describe their clay sculpture.  The stories and names of the sculptures varied as widely as the children’s interests.  Some children said they created race cars, fairy worlds, the beach, and some made themselves with the clay.  We displayed our work on the block shelf for a few weeks.

 

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Their final nature sculptures on display in the classroom:

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Another art invitation I offered was painting bark and their leftover nature items with the acrylic paints.  With the nice weather we have been having, I was able to set this invitation up outside for children to paint under the deck. 

 

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One of the last nature crafts we did after our nature walk was making fairy wands.  This was a great fine motor activity!  They had to slide the beads onto the sticks and then I wrapped them in ribbon.  The fairy wands turned out great, but I learned the hard way that the weight of the beads and ribbon caused the wands to snap easily.  My girls broke their wands very quickly!  It is about the process, right?!!

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After we finished the large branches I covered the paint in modge podge to seal in the paint.  They have become pieces of art for our classroom, and I have incorporated them into fairy play in the block area.

 

I can’t wait for our next great outdoor adventure!


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Ocean Adventures ~ Exploring the Sea

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My children and I spent two weeks at the beach this summer, and I really wanted to kick off the school year with all things “beachy.”  Most of the children in the classroom have some relationship to the beach, memories from the beach, or have played in the sand.  All children seem to be fascinated with ocean animals as well!  They are so vastly different from us, I can see why! 

 

This post is packed full of some of the activities we did about the ocean the first two weeks of school. 

 

Sensory Play:

 

One of the sensory tubs, that is actually still open this week because it was so popular is the mermaid lagoon.  The addition of Ariel and lots and lots of seashells has made this a popular place.

 

 

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Some of the children gathered around the mermaid lagoon:

 

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Ocean Cloud Dough:

 

Cloud dough is a wonderful silky smooth sensory material.  It is a combination of flour and oil that makes a substance that will hold its shape, but can be manipulated easily.  I added blue powdered paint to our cloud dough to make it more ocean-like!  I added large sea shells and larger ocean animals to the cloud dough.  Bringing the sensory tubs outside has really allowed the children to enjoy them in the beautiful weather.

 

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“Frozen Ice Castle” Sensory Tub

The first week of school Ms. Lori and I had a lot of fun watching the children interact with this Frozen themed sensory tub.  I froze different sized blocks of ice in the deep freezer each night.  Once choice time started Ms. Lori would pop all of the ice blocks out and let the children play with the Frozen movie characters in the sensory tub.  I added silver beads, charms, and snowflake beads to the water to add to their imaginative play.  M probably spent two full mornings at this tub, and it was so sweet to see her playing pretend on her own for such long periods of time!  That is the exact purpose of these tubs!

 

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Small Group Activities:

 

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Last week I called over children one at a time to work on their number sense.  This is the first time they had a chance to use the “links” which was a learning process in itself to get them linked up.  Here is a picture of L with his linked up number lines.  I had number cards with a hole punched in them.  They have to create the correct length chain and attach it to the number card.  Each child had a chance to work on this activity with me last week.

 

 

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Exploring our Materials:

 

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I have enjoyed watched the children really interact with the materials so far this year.  They have gotten out more of the blocks and manipulatives in the block area then ever before.  It may be their growth and development from last year, but the easy access to the materials is helping aid this interest.

 

M spent a lot of time last week working with the rainbow blocks.  Here is one of his master creations.  I love seeing the younger students watching in awe at his building skills!

 

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We added some new materials to the light and shadow area this summer as well.  I also added a book shelf to store the array of materials I had accrued last year for this part of the classroom.  The shelf holds Widgets, Blockus blocks, ABC see through pieces, flashlights, magnitiles, X-rays, and these new insect blocks.  They are quite creepy, but the kids have enjoyed examining them!

 

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The fairies and their friends have also been an exciting new discovery the past two weeks.  M had lined up all of the peg people on the fairy house, and was arranging the blocks underneath.

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Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the process that went into creating this fairy world.  M and E spent a good part of the morning creating this land.  Everything had a purpose.  The line of trees to the bottom were the “dark forest.” And the bark painted yellow was the bridge to the rainbow to get through the dark forest.  It all had a part in their play.  After they were finished creating, MH had another story line going with snails and them disrupting the fairies.  Not long after C and MR were intrigued by their set up and came to play.  They joined right in, and I loved seeing their work.  We actually left it out to be played with again this week.

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Open Ended Art:

 

Last week we did one ocean themed art project, but for the most part I provided open ended art activities in the classroom.  One of the MOST popular ones was this bottle cap canvas.  I had three large bowls of bottle caps, a blank canvas, and two glue bottles.  They really enjoyed squeezing the glue and flipping over the caps to find a perfect space on the canvas.  They used up all of my bottle cap stash, so if you have bottle caps send them in!  I know the children would enjoy doing this activity again!

 

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The art room was back in a big way last week too! Both easels were opened again, and the painting, painting, and more painting has begun!

 

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For a new art process that we didn’t explore last year I covered cardboard boxes with aluminum foil.  Then I purchases Sharpie paint pens.  They offer a really neat drawing experience because of the texture and sheen, as well as the crunchy noises when you draw on the foil.

 

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We Love GAK!

 

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One child discovered the joy of cutting gak and it spread around the classroom.  Everyone stopped by the gak table last week to try their hand at cutting gak.

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LP also figured out how to shred gak using the hammers to shred the gak up.  We really spent a lot of time exploring our ocean gak!

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Last but not least, here are the pictures of our sand casting in the sand box.  What a neat process and the results were stunning.  I can’t wait to do this again!

 

 

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After the children added their stones to their hole in the sand, Ms. Lori and poured plaster of paris into the holes and allowed them to dry.  Then we lifted the plaster out of the sand to reveal their art.  I love how different and unique each sandcast turned out!

 

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I know that was quite a post, but we have been so busy the past few weeks!  Soon we will be sharing all of our weather activities!


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Lucky Leprechauns and Rainbows

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This post is full of March madness!  I am little behind on my blogging so you will have to stick with me while I show you all of the great fun we had last month exploring green and rainbows!

 

Play Dough:

 

For play dough this month I made a batch of green dough with gold sparkles.  On the play dough tray I included shamrocks, gold coins, green straws and pipe cleaners and a collection of green dyed pasta.  The rainbow pipe cleaners were very popular with the kids.  They would form two balls and then create their very own rainbows!

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You can see from the pictures all of the variety of ways the children used the loose parts with the play dough.

 

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Math Concepts:

 

To incorporate counting, numbers, and gold coins I found the idea for a “Lucky Hunt” from the No Time for Flashcards blog.  I know I have linked back to her blog before, but she really has some fantastic and simple ideas for playing and learning!  I simply used a piece of green construction paper and put seven circles on the paper to represent seven gold coins.  To add on to her idea, on my lucky hunt paper I wrote down the numbers one through seven and sent the children out to hunt for gold coins around the classroom.  Once they found their coins we pointed and counted the coins slowly together as a group.  We repeated this game a few times throughout the week!  

 

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Process Art:

 

We did some wonderful process art over the month of March! 

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For this rainbow painting, the children helped me squirt the colors of the rainbow on the paper and then they used a large comb scrapper and scrapped the colors across the paper.  I also cut out a shamrock from a sponge from the dollar store and they stamped shamrocks along the bottom of their rainbow.

 

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Above is a picture of a few of the Leprechauns the children made too!  I gave them strips of orange paper and they had to use their fine motor skills to rip the paper into strips.  This is actually quite hard work for little hands!  They we discussed the parts of the face, and they added eyes, drew the nose mouth and freckles.  I love how different each of the leprechauns looked in the end!

 

 

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One of my favorite projects this month was our clay rainbows.  Above C is beading each of the pony beads onto the pipe cleaners of her rainbow.  Once they were happy with the amount of beads they added to the pipe cleaners, we rolled a second ball out of clay for the other side of the rainbow.

 

Isn’t the finished project amazing?!  Again, I love how all of the rainbows are a little bit different (including Ls rainbow in the middle that just has one cloud)!

 

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We also made shamrocks by rolling around marbles!  L is working on his shamrock above and you can see the amount of concentration he has on his project.  It takes a great deal of hand-eye coordination to get the marbles to roll the way they wanted them to in the box!

 

Rainbow Snack:

 

I asked each child to contribute one part of our rainbow snack activity (thank you Moms!!)  Everyone participated in helping to make our snack!  After washing their hands each child got to peel, cut or place their fruit in the correct order of the rainbow.  This was such a simple snack of all fruit, and was gobbled up by the children! 

 

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Below is my attempt at a group shot!  They really were excited about the rainbow snack, I promise!

 

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Sensory Tables:

 

In my last blog post about Dr. Suess, I forgot to include my “Green Eggs and Ham” sensory table that we had up last month.  For this sensory table I lined the bottom of the tub with green colored sand, added the pots and pans from our kitchen, along with some of my youngest daughter’s egg toy.  There was quite a bit of baking and imaginative play that took play in this tub!

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Our St. Patrick’s Day tub was filled to the brim with split peas, gold coins, pots of gold, and shamrock treasures.  It was used again and again for pouring, scooping, hiding, counting, and talking about all things green!

 

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For the first time we explored Jell-O in school.  I made a very large batch of green Jell-O.  I cut the Jell-O into small squares and laid it on one of our large white trays.  They children spent time exploring it, squishing it, and using their hands to investigate the different texture of Jell-O.

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After they had explored the Jell-O, I added a bowl of green shaving cream and some paint brushes.  I didn’t give them any directions for this portion of the exploration.  They enjoyed scooping the green cream onto the Jell-O tray and mixing it up.

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Process Art:

 

I made a batch of homemade paint last month too!  I mixed clear hair gel (from the dollar store), liquid watercolors, and confetti.  The gel give the paint a shiny texture and is sticky enough to pick up the confetti as you paint with it!  This paint tends to bleed while it dries, so I simply rolled out large pieces of butcher paper to let them paint on.

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Math and Shapes:

 

Another theme that I wove into March was a discussion on shapes!  We read a few shape books, and we will be re-visiting shapes again in May.  Both of these great art ideas below came from two websites I highly recommend.  I actually get both of them sent directly to my email account when they post a new blog post. 

 

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In the picture above I drew on large pieces of finger painting paper with a sharpie different shapes.  I ordered these wonderful confetti finger paints from Discount School Supply and they are really great.  The colors are vibrant and each color has different little pieces of confetti in the paint.  They had to use the finger paint to fill in the shapes on the paper.  I saw this idea on Fun at Home With Kids!  It is a wonderful blog, packed full of ideas!

 

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Another great shape project we did last month came from the Imagination Tree blog.  She posts about all sorts of things from sensory bins, art projects, and homemade light tables.  This activity was so simple and cheap too!  I took old cardboard tubes and bent them into different shapes.  The kids used the tubes as stampers and put the tube in the paint and stamped it onto the paper.  Great for shape recognition and color re-enforcement! 

 

I will stop here, but I still have more to share from last month’s adventures!  Stay tuned!


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That’s a Wrap

 

 

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Over the past two weeks of the holiday break, I really tried to breath, enjoy my children and take a little break from all things school related!  That worked until the Thursday before we returned when I hit the ground running each night planning and prepping for everyone to return and all sorts of winter themed fun!  Before I start telling you about all of the winter fun, I need to share our last few moments in 2013.  I truly can’t believe how quickly the first half of the year passed by!  It went by in a blink for me, trying to keep up with all of these wonderful kiddos!

 

The picture above is the kids playing “Hullaballoo” on a really cold winter morning.  It is a fun movement and learning game that is made by the same company as Cranium.  I have played it twice now with the group and they are getting better and better!  There is a little speaker that calls out directions, i.e. find the circles, stomp to an animal, put your foot on a red.  Learning and playing at the same time!

 

 

 

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I love seeing my younger group really coming together over these winter months.  They are interacting, talking, and playing together more and more each school day.  K and M are working on K’s gingerbread man ornament together.  I love to see the bonds they are forming.

 

Table Invitations:

 

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One of the table invitations I had out in December was the light panel and letter construction.  I recently bought this letter construction set from amazon.  They are great for building upper and lower case letters, and working with the light table is always a crowd pleaser at school!

 

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Here is another great picture of my younger group working together!  This fun math game was out on the tables for them last month too.  It was very simple to make.  A Christmas tree with circles drawn on it.  I had a little bowl with counters and one dice.  Roll the dice and add that number of counters to the Christmas tree.  L, K, and D are all playing together!  They played this game a bunch of times.

 

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This was another fun holiday themed fine motor activity.  Candy cane sewing!

 

 

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I also found this great idea to use our “Light Bright.”  It has been tucked away in our playroom closet for quite some time.  I have been wondering if we would ever use it again.  Then I saw this idea on Pinterest to create my own drawings for the light bright.  I made a simple outline of Christmas trees and Gingerbread Men.  They enjoyed filling up the trees with little ornaments of light.

 

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Special Events:

 

In December spent a whole week talking and reading about Gingerbread Men.  At the end of the week the children got to decorate gingerbread houses.  They loved every part of the process…the icing, the candy, and licking their fingers was their favorite part.

 

THANK YOU for all of the parents who donated food items, volunteered during the party, and a special thank you to Sarah and Allie for making the finicky graham cracker houses.  They were not easy to put together!

 

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Play Dough:

 

 

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To go along with our Gingerbread theme we played with “Gingerbread Play Dough.”  It smelled just like a bakery in the art room!

 

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Art:

 

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On the chalk board wall a few mornings I would draw the blank outline of a Christmas tree and the squares for the gifts underneath.  The kids had so much fun filling the tree in with ornaments and even adding twinkle lights to the stars.  P turned all of the boxes into gifts by adding lines for ribbon and a bow on top!  I repeated this again and again for both groups.

 

One of my favorite art projects from December was this gift to the parents.  I was a salt dough ornament.  It was filled with a handprint and then once I baked the ornament in the oven they painted the hand part with dots for a Christmas tree.  We wrapped them up along with a picture I took of them tangled up in lights.  Around the lights are all of their thumb prints.  Such a great homemade Christmas present!

 

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We made A LOT of ornaments in December!  I don’t think I took pictures of all of them, but below is a picture of Ellie making a snowflake ornament.  The children were allowed to use the cool glue gun.  It still melts the glue, but the gun and glue won’t burn you.  Perfect for little hands!  Many of the children had a hard time squeezing the glue gun, so I would squeeze it and they would place the gems onto their snowflake.

 

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We also made Christmas votive candles with tissue paper and modge podge.

 

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And snowmen ornaments using their handprints. 

 

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Sensory Play:

 

The last few weeks of December we had two very fun sensory bins.  One was “Clean Mud” and Christmas themed goodies. 

 

Clean Mud Recipe:

three rolls of toilet paper

one bar of Ivory soap grated

warm water

 

I had the kids unroll the toilet paper (which they thought was really fun!).  Then we slowly added warm water and squeezed the paper to help it break down.  The clean mud gave off such a nice scent from the Ivory soap.  This would last you a couple of days.  The paper would start to dry up each day, and I just added a bit of warm water to get the paper softened up again.

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Lastly we had Peppermint scented rice in the other sensory bin.  The rice was dyed red and then I added peppermint extract to it!  Before it was all mixed together I had the rice placed in red and white stripes in the sensory bin.  It looked like a huge candy cane! 

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All in all it was a busy and fun month of traditions, holidays, and Christmas Spirit!

 

I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for Crozet PlaySchool!