Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Rainbows and Shamrocks

 

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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!

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A is working on laying out her green pieces into the frame.

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Even our youngest friends enjoyed this art project!

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The picture below showed how beautiful the rainbows looked with the sun shining through our doors.

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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.

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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.

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These are pictures of our rainbow lids drying on the windowsill.  Aren’t they amazing?

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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:

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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

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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!

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The best part was watching each friend getting a chance to try the magic milk experiment!

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More Process Art:

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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.

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Such a fun a messy project!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Preschool Happenings

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Process Art:

The colder months tend to keep us inside a bit more, but we also get a chance to explore new materials and techniques in the classroom!  We have worked on a few projects using liquid watercolors this month in a variety of ways.  Liquid watercolors are similar to water color paints, but with a lot of versatility.  You can paint with them of course, but also add them to play dough, gak, and lots of sensory recipes for a pop of color.

For these paintings the children were given large bowls filled with the watercolors and paint brushes.  They went to town painting different designs with the liquids.  After their paintings dried, I thought it would be great to introduce our crayon melter to the class.  We discussed the safety rules for the crayon melter, because it can get quite HOT!  They did a wonderful job being very careful with the melted wax.  Using the Q-tips they simply dripped or painted with the different wax colors.

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H and M wanted to try the crayon melter on plain white paper instead.  They were busy working with this new medium for a long time.  Painting with the melted crayons provides wonderful hand-eye coordination and development.  It also allows them to assess risks and take risks in a safe way, by being careful around the heater.  Lastly, it was always important to put the Q-tip back in the correct color or the crayons would get really muddy.  We learned this the hard way, and everyone worked diligently to make sure their Q-tips were put back correctly (color matching!!).

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Another way we used the watercolors was with the pipettes and paper towels.  The children simply squeezed the colors out of the pipettes to create beautiful designs and images on their paper towel.  They had to make sure not to get the paper towel too wet or the colors would run together.

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The pipettes can sometimes be a bit tricky to use, and they really have to concentrate while using their pincher skills to squeeze the paint onto the towels.

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C and D working side by side above!  I loved seeing Cs two-handed pipette painting!

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After our paper towels dried we cut them into snowflakes and hung them on our classroom doors.

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I think my group this year has used up almost every last piece of chalk that I have!  They simply love side walk chalk.  As a group they are really starting to come together, play as a group, and do group projects that they plan together.  One of their favorite things to do outside has been to “paint” with the chalk in the rain puddles on the road.  They will gather up all of the chalk and get to work!

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You can see B above offering different colors to friends in the roadway.  The results are very cheerful on a rainy day too!

Light and Shadows:

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Another fun invitation to create has been these tracing papers on the light table.  I got the great idea from the Teach Preschool blog.  She has a fantastic blog and so many wonderful ideas.  I drew simple lines, curves, and points for the children to trace on the light panel.  They had to lay a piece of tracing paper on top of my original and trace the lines with a marker.  You may have seen some of these tracing papers coming home.  Many students did this again and again!

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Sensory Play:

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In the sensory tubs we have had two new materials!  The multicolored rice “Ice Cream” tub is pictured above.  The students have really enjoyed this tub, and have opened up a few ice cream shops during the day.  They will make different flavors and offer them to friends that happen to pass by!

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We also had this really colorful “Valentine’s Day tub.”  I filled the tub with white beans, cupcake liners, and lots of fun Valentine’s Day goodies.  They love the heart boxes, and filling them up with beans.

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Our play dough this month has been this beautiful rose scented pink play dough.  I added a lot of soap scent to this dough, and it really fills up the room when the children start manipulating it!

The play dough tray has pink gems, heart roller, heart shaped cookie cutters, and lots of heart cupcake liners.

T made the most beautiful creation with all of the heart shaped cookie cutters.  I had to capture it in a picture!  Stunning!

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Now that the snow has finally melted, it left my yard a beautiful muddy mess!  That has made the mud kitchen a hot commodity!  H is stirring up a large batch of mud soup, and M is making cupcakes below!  She even requested a special pouring cup to measure each muddy cupcake correctly.

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Preschool Math:

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Lastly, we have been getting out our preschool learning trays almost everyday!  They have really enjoyed all of the math games that use old candy.  In the pictures above M is completing a color pattern.  The first patterns are given to her, and then she fills in the blank hearts with the corresponding candies.

You could even play this at home, and it would be a fun way to use your extra candy!

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T and B getting to work on their pattern papers.

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D working diligently to find the correct colors to match the patterns.  I was so so proud of their hard work and math skills!


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Clay Work

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As soon as we returned from our wonderful holiday break I brought out clay as a new material in the classroom.  The materials provided with clay were cardboard pieces, clay tools, beads and gems.  Clay is a great fine motor manipulative for preschool children to work with!  It takes more dexterity than play dough, holds its shapes, and dries to make a permanent piece of art.  They were very interested in this material, and the table was quickly crowded with little clay workers.

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The first time this invitation was set up I didn’t give the children any direction on what to make with the clay.  I allowed them to work with the clay as they wished, creating anything they pleased.  I helped students if they wanted to roll the dough, but otherwise I let them create whatever they wished.

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Once each child finished their work, we took time to transcribe a story about their work of art.  They each had stories to tell about their clay.  It was fascinating to hear all of the stories, ideas, and tales about their clay pieces.

Some children loved squishing beads into the clay and using the clay tools to make marks in the clay.  Other children were intent on making “something” with the clay: people, gingerbread men, cupcakes, and lots of other fun ideas.

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J above is making different marks in the clay using a variety of tools.

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C in the picture above is in the beginning stages of his gingerbread man.

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H in the picture at the table made a wonderful piece that was his sister with the clay.

 

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This is a picture of one of D’s siblings!  It was so neat to see them making clay creations for and about other people.

The following video shows a display I made of their clay work, and how unique all of their pieces were!

 

 

 

 


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Christmas Countdown

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This December packed a big punch at Crozet PlaySchool.  We had something up our sleeves in every corner of the room, and it was so fun to watch the play unfold this month.  Above is one of our many sensory tubs this month.  It was filled with Peppermint Cloud Dough!  I made a huge batch of green cloud dough, added peppermint extract, and lots of fun Christmas people, baking cups, and spatulas for pretend play.  This was by far the favorite tub of the month, and I actually didn’t change it because there were children playing with the dough every day!

Below is another tub that was filled with pretend snow (plastic type from the craft store) and lots and lots of festive finds tucked inside the snow.  The children loved to take the mini boxes and fill them with items and give gifts to each other.

Sensory Play:

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The last week before Christmas we made “Christmas Fluff.”  I found the recipe from Sow Sprout Play, and it was fantastic!

I am definitely going to make this again using different colors and bits and bobs, because the kids loved it!  You can see from the collage below how many hands were digging into this sensory bin.

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Table Invitations:

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This table might look like a wrapping station gone wrong, but it was actually one of the most popular table invitations this month.  I left out mini boxes, jingle bells, squares of paper, table, and ribbons.  The results were lots of wrapping, cutting, taping, measuring, and creating pretend presents for our friends.

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You can see in these step by step photos how much work went into each child trying to wrap their own gift.  B fills his box with jingle bells…

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Then he uses the tape to wrap up his box…

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Below are a few of the wrapped presents I found on the table later that morning.  B’s present is in the middle, wrapped with lots and lots of ribbon and tape!  There is so much fine motor work at this station, but the children saw it as a fun seasonal activity.  I know as a mommy, that often we get in a hurry this season and our children want to “help” us wrap, but we don’t have time to allow them to help (or maybe that is just me waiting until the last minute!).  This was a great way to allow them to help and do all of the fun wrapping activities they love!

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D hard a work cutting her wrapping paper.

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Another table invitation was playmobil Santa and his friends in the snow.  I created this table invitation using fake snow (white pebbles) and two different playmobil sets.  The children loved the little parts to the tray and acting out different holiday stories.

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Another wonderful table invitation was the light panel, jingle bells, and a magnetic wand.  A few of the boys above H and D spent a great deal of time taking turns picking up jingle bells with the magnetic wand.  They tried to see how large of a jingle bell shaker they could create if they collected them all!

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Below is an activity I have done in the past, and I pulled it out again this year.  It is a Light Brite cube!  I made my own paper drawings on each side of the Light Brite.  The children could stick in the pegs and make ornaments on the tree or details for the gingerbread men.  Some of the children loved to just see the light come through the holes once they had been created.  They spent a great deal of time just punching row after row of holes into the paper.  This is such a great sensory (light) and fine motor activity!IMG_1728

The last table invitation was left out on the train table the week before our break.  I put a large pile of Christmas colored pom poms, tree blocks, snowy trees, and ornaments for the children to play with.  They created different scenes including the one below by setting the wood blocks up in different ways and using the pom poms and trees as a way to “decorate” their creations.  I love seeing loose parts played with in the classroom!IMG_1811

This invitation to play wasn’t on a table, but it was located near our dramatic play area.  I set up a little tree for decorating, books for reading, and different hats/headbands for acting out Christmas stories!

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Preschool Math:

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This month we continued talking about numbers using snowmen!  As a group I would call out a different number, and they had to make their snowman that many snowballs tall!  Then they each tried to write the corresponding number next to their snowman.  (And yes, that is a random sock on the floor next to M’s work!)

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Some more of their hard work in their journals!  They added details to their snowmen including  arms, faces, and hats!IMG_1662

Preschool Literacy:

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We also wrote our names on circles and created our own snowman using our name!

Process Art:

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The children created this beautiful Christmas Tree on our window at the entrance of the classroom.  Ms. Brittany and I unrolled the contact paper so the sticky side would face the kids.  Then we offered them a variety of pipe cleaners, gems, and popsicle sticks to create a Christmas tree.  The results hung on our door for most of December!

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Christmas Crafts:

 

This month we also did a lot of “crafts.”   Most of the activities were pre-planned for the children to participate in during the month of December.  I always prefer process based art for little children, but I do feel that it is nice to do crafts that can have a specific outcome.  These Christmas tree ornaments are a good example!  Each child completed the project in their own way, but they still could be hung on the tree at home!  Lovely indeed!

 

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas at Crozet PlaySchool

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Even while we were focusing on our letters each morning, the classroom was filled to the brim with lots and lots of Christmas fun!  The first week in December the children walked into the art room to find Playmobil Santa had landed in our art room on a pile of white cloud dough!  The cloud dough was filled with silver glitter for some added sparkle.

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Table Invitations:

 

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The tables were filled with fun invitation to decorate Christmas trees in a few different ways.  We had a felt tree, a tree on the old Light Brite, and a mini Christmas tree with little ornaments.  They got a chance to decorate and re-decorate their trees throughout December. 

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Sensory Play:

 

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For some themed sensory play we had a large tub filled with fake snow.  Then I filled it to the brim with snowman cups, Christmas  goodies, and present boxes.

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We also had fun digging into the hot chocolate sensory tub.  I dyed rice brown last year and also added chocolate extract to made it smell like cocoa.  I was surprised to find that the rice still smelled great when I opened the bag from last winter!  I added some holiday spatulas, cotton balls for marshmallows, and cups and plates. 

 

Process Art:

 

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We also had a lot of fun working with a new art process.  Buggy and Buddy highlighted this technique on her website, and I thought it looked fun and the end product was beautiful.  First we filled a tray with Sta-Flo (liquid starch).  Then each child dropped acrylic paint onto the Sta-Flo starch.  After swirling the paint around on the pan each child laid their watercolor paper onto of the starch.  It was quite drippy and messy, but we embraced it!  After the papers dried I cut them into Christmas tree shapes, and we glued them down onto white paper.  I thought the end product was lovely and each tree was so different.

 

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We also made some Candy Cane puffy paint.  We mixed glue and shaving cream and red watercolors for some puffy paintings.

 

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We also found our names hidden inside of ornaments while we watercolored!

 

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Special Events:

 

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We also had fun celebrating L’s 5th birthday!  Thanks to his mom for these fabulous Olaf and snowflake cookies! 

 

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The kids worked on these beautiful Christmas tree ornaments for their parents.  I hope they were surprised when they opened their gifts!  Each child planned out their tree, and they are each so different.  I helped them with the sewing, but they quickly caught the hang of it.  Then we sewed the tree closed and added stuffing to the inside.  Of course they each wrapped up their tree for their parents to open.

 

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Learning Trays:

 

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I also saw this simple coloring idea on Buggy and Buddy.  I made a sheet for each child and they added all of the details.  E even added a string of lights behind her tree. They were really drawn to this activity.  Sometimes coloring books have so many details, and think the simplicity of the coloring paper made it fun for them.

 

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We also had some fun holiday themed learning trays, too.  They worked on moving the holiday erasers into a gingerbread men muffin tray.  They also got a chance to make icicle ornaments with these fun glittery pipe cleaners. 

 

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Sensory Play:

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After reading The Grinch Who Stole Christmas we made some fun glitter “grinchy” gak.  We loved exploring this glittery gak. 

 

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When they had so much fun filling the Christmas coloring pages, I left the invitation to fill in Christmas trees and gingerbread men on the chalk board.  E went to town filling it out one morning.

 

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All in all it was a very Happy Christmas in our classroom!


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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!