Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet

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Letters, Letters Everywhere


We have tried to incorporate letters into many of the learning activities this late winter.  We have done a number of letter activities that the kids have loved!

These pictures are from some beautiful letter names the children made with sequence pieces, and glue.  They had to work very diligently to get the many pieces of sequences on their name. Each name turned into a work of art, and the kids were very proud of them!






Here is a video of some children working on their names:

Light Play:


On the light panel I used small pink glasses to write upper and lower case letters on two sets of glasses.  The children had to find the lowercase match from around the edge of the light panel to match to the uppercase letter in the center of the light panel.

Below are some pictures of D and J matching up the letters on the light panel.


Some of our glasses cracked so we added in new colors and alphabet letters:



Large Group Lessons:


In our large group circle time, we have done a series of lessons from the Handwriting without Tear Program.  I also added some sorting letters activities at the end of our circle time.  I pulled out the large sorting circles, and we studied the letters together as a whole group.  The first sort we did was: Letters with Straight Lines & Letters with Curved Lines.  These lessons allow children to take a closer look at each letter, what components make up the letter and how it is formed.  After I sorted a few of the letters first, I had each child come to the front of the room to be the ‘teacher.’  They sorted a letter or two for their friends, and the children watching got to check their answer!

Below B is examining his letter before sorting:




A short clip from our sorting lesson:



After we finished the activity I cleaned up the letters, but left the sorting circles out for choice time.  Below is a picture of J and she sorted the entire alphabet by herself!  I love when they extend our group learning into their class time choices!

Here is a video of J sorting her letters:

J posing with her circles:


Lastly we used our mini chalkboards to practice our letter writing!  The Handwriting without Tears chalkboards use mini pieces of chalk to encourage the correct pencil grip, and give students just the perfect amount of space to practice their uppercase or lowercase letters:


Everyone holding up their different letters:


In our play time area I set up a very large parking lot with the matchbox cars and the garage.  Each car had a letter written on the top of it with tape, and then they had to park the cars in the corresponding parking lot!


Sensory Play:

I set up a large kinetic sand tray with our ABC stamps for the children to explore.  They could dig in the sand and press the stamps into the kinetic sand to see the impressions of the letters.


Dinosaurs and Letters:

A few of my students just love dinosaurs!  I thought I would incorporate both of these ideas into a sensory table.  I added sand, plastic dinosaurs, and then some salt dough letter cakes I made with my students a few years ago.  The letters are pressed into the cakes, and are fun to uncover in the sand!



More of our past February activities will be shared soon!  I will slowly be catching up with our posts over spring break since my computer is back:)



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Letters and Shapes


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:


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


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.


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


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…


A line and a square found by M…


A circle and a rectangle found by H


A semi circle and a rectangle found by D…


A Rectangle and a Heart found by B…


A Heart and Circle found by A…


M found a circle on the edge of her cup…


L found a circle and a line


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:





Sensory Play:

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




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!!!



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:


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

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Getting in the Spirit

We have just started to break away from all things turkey related, and begun to talk about the many holidays around the world!  It is fun to discuss each family’s traditions, and what we all do the same and do differently this holiday season.  One thing everyone can agree on at morning meeting is December is a month of fun, festivities, and special time with family.


We opened a big batch of “hot cocoa” rice outside in the sensory tub.  I made a batch of rice by dying it brown and adding chocolate extract.  Then we added cups and cotton balls for the marshmallows.  It has been fun watching the children play pretend with tub while the weather has been warmer.


Sensory Play:

The children and I made a batch of “snowy” gak in the art room on Friday.  We mixed a giant tub of glue, water, glitter, and borax.  This batch turned out great (sometimes we aren’t so lucky).  The children got busy squishing in gems, snowman, reindeer, and lots of mini holiday treasures.



Process Art:

We made a beautiful set of votive candles for everyone to take home to their family.  The children used modge podge to cover the votives with tissue paper and gems.  This was such a fun project, and each individual candle turned out very unique. I’m so proud of all of their hard work, and willingness to work hard to complete projects.


Yoga with Ms. Kay:

We always enjoy when Ms. Kay comes for yoga, but last week we played some games at the end of yoga.  The children pretended to be water, rain, and storm clouds.  They danced to the music with their “water” scarves.  I got some great action shots!


We love you Ms. Kay!  This was the perfect activity on our rainy morning!

Preschool Literacy:


This past week we did some fun activities to learn the letters in our name.  I am starting to transition to using upper and lowercase letters when writing their names.  We used glue to write their names and covered the glue in salt.  After dumping off the excess salt the children dipped paint brushes into watercolors and dabbed them onto the salt.  It is so fun to watch the colors spread through the salt.  Their names turned out beautiful!  Such fun process art!IMG_0242.jpg


Then we played “hidden names” with watercolors.  I drew each child’s name on a piece of paper using white pastels, and then they water colored on top of the paper to find their names!  It was sweet to watch them squeal with delight as they uncovered their letters.



More holiday fun coming soon!





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Going on a Leaf Hunt


We had a great morning “hunting” for leaves around Crozet PlaySchool.  We went for a long walk, and along the way collected leaves from all around the neighborhood!

Once we got back to the classroom we sorted our leaves by color and made a large graph by gluing down our leaves into color categories.  This simple graphing activity includes color recognition, math, and preschool science skills all at once.


Of course we had to stop and enjoy the view while we were searching for our leaves!



We have also been able to enjoy our outdoor space so much in the past few weeks.  Some mornings have been a bit chilly, but once the sun warms up we have played outside for a long time each day.  I took some time to set up different activities outdoors for the children to enjoy.

Sensory Play:

We spent a long time picking all of the dried corn off the cobs in our large sensory tub outdoors.  I think they have almost all of the corn cleaned off!  Now we have been pouring, scooping, and piling up the corn in different containers in the sensory tub!


The children have also enjoyed washing the mini pumpkins and gourds outdoors in a large basin.  Children love to do “chores” or activities that they see their parents do each day.  Often times we are busy cleaning the dishes and don’t have time to let our children participate.  Setting up little wash tubs like this with cars, plastic people, rocks, etc. will give children the chance to practice life skills in an open setting.  They also enjoy the bubbles, water, and the sensory feel of washing.


I think they might be the cleanest pumpkins around!



Fine Motor Skills & Provocation:

Preschool Science

I printed out some Fall Foliage pictures for the children, and set up this simple provocation on our tables.  They had access to the photos, paper, glue sticks, small squares, and fall colored markers.  I didn’t give them any direction, but they knew just what to do!


Everyone took some time to visit the table and create with the paper and markers.  Some children chose to glue a lot of paper down, while others drew detailed pictures of leaves and trees.  They would study the pictures, and then transfer that knowledge to their own work.


Our Fall Tree:

Process Art:


Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a great deal of photos of our fall tree coming together!  I did manage to capture M and M as they were painting the acorns with glitter glue.  The acorns tops and nuts were painted, dried, and then we attached a ribbon to each of them.  While some children were painting acorns, other children were painting large pictures on our easels with a metallic paint set.  These large paintings were cut into leaves to create our fall classroom tree.IMG_9545.JPG

The pictures don’t really do the tree justice!  Each of the leaves is so pretty and unique, and the added element of the hanging acorns is so special. I hope the children will treasure looking at it all winter when we are cold and stuck inside!  We can remember our fall days, long walks, and look forward to spring!


I ended up taking a video of our tree to give you the full effect of its beauty!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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The Great Pumpkin Investigation

IMG_9296 2.jpg

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.”


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


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


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.


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:


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!





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.




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!


Preschool Sensory Play:

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





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!











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


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


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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Our Trip to the Post Office!


We had a wonderful walking field trip to the post office last Tuesday!  The snow had finally melted, and the temperatures were warm enough to walk all the way into town with this adorable crew!

In the picture above they are yelling “Post Office” at the corner!


Before we went behind the scenes, the children got to view the drop box for the mail.  A few children brought letters, and dropped them in the mail.  Some of the letters were written to family and even some letters were written to school!  We can’t wait to read them in school when they arrive!


Then we got to go inside the post office, and see all of the action.  The picture below is all of the PO boxes.  D and his Mom searched all around and found their PO Box!


Next we learned about the sorting stations.  Each of our mailmen or women sorts our mail every morning, and then they deliver our mail in the afternoon.  The post office estimates that they deliver to 5,000 houses or units a day!


Our favorite part of the trip was going out back and getting to see where the big packages are delivered!  We even got to ride the lift up and down.


The last part of our tour was learning about the scales and how they weight the packages to be mailed.  I was hoping they liked this part after all of our work with weights and scales this fall!

Then we viewed the different types of stamps you could purchase, and the post office gave us a wonderful book as a souvenir.  All in all it was a fantastic trip!  Thank you for all of the parents that helped out with the children while we were at the post office!


A happy crew walking home:)  I can’t wait for our next adventure!