Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Murals and Spring Fun

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We worked hard throughout April to create our last few animal murals.  We spent a week discussing the ocean and all of the amazing animals that live in the ocean!

Process Art:

The picture below shows A coloring a tin foil fish with sharpies.  After they colored their fish, we squeezed out glitter glue on top of the foil to give the fish their scales.  A and C are using our watercolors to paint their jelly fish.  Once their jelly fished dried, they got to cut the long tentacles on the bags.

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We also worked on our Desert Mural too!

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We made cacti by painting large green strokes with the paint rollers, and then adding lots of prickly spikes!

Below is a close-up of our shape lizards.  The children glued shapes onto their lizards and then dropped silver paint on top to give them shiny skin.

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The last part of our animal project was creating our special animal with clay.  Each child got to pick an animal to represent with clay.  I printed out a real-life photo of the animal for each child to look at while they were making their project.

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Once the clay dried many children decided to paint their clay pieces too.

 

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While we were discussing the ocean I set up a large ocean sensory tub.  I filled the tub with water and lots of different colored water beads.  Then I added large ocean animals, and they went to town!

Sensory Play:

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The children have also still been very busy building animal homes and habitats around the classroom!  They love to use the Magnatiles to make divided homes for the animals.  The home area below using Magnatiles, connecting blocks, birds, elephants, and a stuffed animal brought from home!

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More animal houses!

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Sensory Play:

Another sensory tub I created for the end of April was a giant construction site.  The children love to play with the trucks, and play mobile people.  I combined both of these with a huge tub of pinto beans!

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In celebration of spring we put out a large tray with kinetic sand, spring cookie cutters, and lots of colorful gems.

 

Preschool Literacy:

We have continued to follow along with two to three Handwriting Without Tears lessons a week.  We have now covered all of the letters that only have straight lines and diagonal lines.  We only have curved letters left, and we will have worked through the entire alphabet!

In addition to the handwriting lessons, we have started discussing the phonetic sounds that each letter makes.  I pulled out my phonetic buckets to accompany our lessons.  Each bucket has small charms or tiny toys that represent each letter sound.  Then I laminated these Constant-Vowel-Constant grids.  Children got to come over to work in small groups to sound out these simple C-V-C words.  They had a great time with this new task!

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Light Table:

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I drew different lines and designs on large pieces of paper.  Then I collected different stones to place along the lines or around the spiral.  Each of the children got a chance to work at the light table, and they all had different versions on how to line up the pieces.IMG_4002.jpg

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Then I put stirring sticks and gem ice cubes on the light table.  They really came up with some creative designs.

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I can’t wait to see what adventures await the last month of school!

 


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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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Animal Adventures Part Two

We have had so much fun exploring animals of all different shapes and sizes!  This animal unit of study came about from the children playing with these large sized animals from Learning Resources, as shown below.  They are great toys to have around the house, because you can get them muddy, dirty, and even covered with paint and they wash right up!  They also provide the type of open ended play that can go on and on without a intended goal in mind.  They might made a great gift to fill up an Easter Basket?

Here is a link to some of the animals we love so much:

 

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Jumbo Jungle Animals

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Ocean Animals

 

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Endangered Animals

 

We made animal footprints with our large animals by dipping them in a plate of paint.  The girls thought this was really fun!  I was hoping that the “prints” of the animals would show up a bit better, but they enjoyed the process so much I decided that wasn’t important.

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I love how C decided to make his animals have a little dance party, and it made his paint smear all over the paper.  It is amazing what happens when we let go of our “ideas about what they should do” and just let the children explore freely.

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Fine Motor Activities:

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I set up this really fun cutting activity last week for the children at the table using crepe paper.  My good friend is a pediatric OT, and she shared this simple idea with me.  It was a fun and unique way to practice our scissor skills while standing, moving, and cutting something unique.

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After we had a few days to work on our cutting I gathered up a new fine motor activity that we hadn’t seen this year:

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A bath mat flipped upside down, marbles, and tongs.

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The children all worked diligently to fill up the bathmat.  After they had used every last marble in the room H asked if there was anything else they could use for the project.  I got them some gems to fill up any of the last holes on the mat.  The marbles required more fine motor skill to keep them from rolling away, but the finished product of the whole mat filled with objects was really neat to see.  I love when they will stick with a project for the entire duration!

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Animal Adventures:

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We had a whole group discussion about what we already know about animals (which was a WHOLE LOT) and what we wonder about animals.  The overall theme that kept being discussed is where animals live.  They knew the names of many of the habitats, but we unsure of some of the animals that lived in each biome.  I have decided to move along those lines with our animal study, and we got our hands dirty playing in a sandy safari habitat above.  I used my sand cloud dough, added my large safari animals, scoops, rocks, and fake large leaves.  The weather was so beautiful we were able to have the sensory tub outside with the doors open to the school.

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I found M and D building this awesome animal habitat with the blocks.  I loved how the used the hollow blocks turned sideways and each little animal had a resting place inside the block.

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After morning meeting we also sorted our mini animal figures into two categories: wild animals and tame animals.  We read Dr. Suess’ new book “What Pet Should I Get” and discussed which types of animals live in people’s homes.  They were especially interested in animals such as birds or turtles that can be found in the wild AND in people’s homes.  Such detailed discussions happening everyday!

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Of course these little animals just begged to be played with, which M got right to work making them come to life one morning last week:

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Collaborative Art:

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Lastly, the children came in last week to find this blank rainforest mural hanging up in the classroom.  I got the foundation of the mural started, and then each day we added a new animal to the mural to make it complete!

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Although many of the animals are bit more on the “crafty” side as far as projects I choose to do with the children, I wanted to make a finished product that would allow them to visualize the rainforest.  I tried to choose child made animals as much as possible!  The toucans were cut out using paper that they had painted for their Eric Carle project.  They added feathers and eyes to their birds.  The snakes were stamped using painted bubble wrap.  Above is a picture of J painting the bubble wrap green, and then we pressed the plate onto the bubble wrap.  Lastly, we painted anteaters using forks and dipping them in brown paint to make the fir.  The mural turned out beautifully, and after we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this week, we will begin our mural of the savannah.

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Thank you for coming along on our animal adventures!


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The Mitten & Animal Adventures

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Before I jump right into The Mitten and all of our new animal adventures, I wanted to share some of our last few Valentine’s activities we did throughout February.  Unfortunately this past month was really interrupted with National Holidays, teacher workdays, and lots and lots of snow!  We would just get started with something and then get interrupted for a snow break.  But, we managed to squeeze in some Valentine’s Day fun on two different days.

The blog has been quite quiet the past few weeks while I have busily working on assessments and portfolios.  I was able to write a portfolio for each child in the class, and meet individually with all of my parents.  It was so nice to sit down with everyone and discuss all of the growth and progress each child has made this year.

 

The pictures above and below are of D, C, and H playing in our huge sensory tub of pink salt.  I died many large boxes of salt pink, and then added scoops, glass containers, long pink spoons, heart gems, and a giant restaurant style salt shaker.  The kids quickly figured out how to unscrew the lid and fill it up with salt.  Then the boys would hold out their scoops and wait to have them quickly filled by the giant salt shaker.

This activity builds fine motor skills, cooperation, verbal skills, problem solving, and scientific processes of pouring and filling.  They were busy with this tub for quite some time.

Sensory Play:

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Process Art:

J brought in the most beautiful sunflowers for Mrs. Brittany and I for Valentine’s Day.  As much as we were enjoying them, we decided to put them in the art studio as an invitation to create.  I put the flowers in a large vase next to the easel with yellow, brown, and green paints.

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Fine Motor:

For some fun fine motor work I covered a table with long strips of crepe paper.  The children each got to stand at the end of the paper and cut all the way down to the tape.  This provided a fun way to cut using scissors in a new and different way.

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We turned it  into a cutting race to see who could make their way to the tape first!

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Classroom News:

Our new sweet friend A started coming to school in the past few weeks.  She had a great time making new friends, and getting adjusted to life at Crozet PlaySchool.  A quickly discovered the Valentine’s themed learning trays.  She made some bracelets for mommy and daddy.

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A and A spent a long time moving our winter erasers from the container to the muffin tray using the tongs.IMG_2930 2.JPG

She also explored the jump ropes with her buddy A outside.

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And they got out our new set of sidewalk chalk for spring.  It was so great to see both girls bond right away!  It was great to see her warm up to our school on the first day:)

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Preschool Literacy:

We kicked off our study of animals by reading one of my favorite winter stories, “The Mitten” by Jan Brett.

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After reading the book a number of times in the morning, we acted out the story using large puppets from the Jan Brett website.  If your child is still interested in the book and would like to learn more, Brett has a fabulous website with lots of resources.

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I brought a large sheet down into the classroom and we clipped it onto the chairs to make a large mitten fort.  Then each child got to act like their animal as they crawled, dug, or hopped their way into the mitten.  Lastly our mouse got in the mitten and caused the bear to sneeze!  This was a wonderful way to incorporate early literacy skills such as story parts, characters, and problem solving.

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To give the students another way to “act out” the story I opened a snow sensory tub.  We made a batch of “blizzard in a box,” and then I added the figurines from Safari Ltd that matched the story.  They had a great time hiding the animals in the snow and making snowy forest scenes just like the book.

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Little hands in the tub…

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Also to go along with our kick off to studying animals Mrs. Brittany came up with this simple and very popular sensory tub!!  She added our large safari animals, soap, water, scrub brushes, and sponges.  The children got busy washing, scrubbing, and bubbling up the animals!

I love to see all of their little hands reaching into the tub to get wet and soapy!

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D scrubbing the lion very carefully.

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Preschool Math:

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We also played some great animal inspired games last week!  The game pictured above is called “Hiss.”  A bunch of students were playing with us, but of course they walked away when I took the picture.  Each child draws a card and they add it to a snake on the table by matching up the colors.  Once the snake gets a head and a tail it is complete and the player says “Hissss” to keep their snake!  It was a great game for color recognition, problem solving, turn taking, and practicing patience.

Celebrations:

Although we had to postpone our Valentine’s Day celebrations, we still squeezed in some time to have fun.  We got to bounce in the bounce house one morning!  These were the best pictures I could get!

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Each child got to roll out their very own pretzel, and shape it into a heart.  Here is B and D rolling out their pretzels.  They went straight into the oven and into our bellies before I could get a picture.

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Once our pretzels were finished cooking we enjoyed them and M’s special heart shaped cookies for her birthday!  We even got to decorate the cookies with pink and white icing! Yummy!

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Happy Birthday M!

Yoga News:

Mrs. Kay also brought some new mats and a new format for our yoga time recently.  Instead of reading us a book and working on poses throughout the story, she told us a story out loud.  We had to listen to the story and then we posed as different story parts.  The picture below shows everyone trying to reach behind their legs to be a spider.  It was hard!

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And our favorite part of yoga, savasana.  Ahhhh relax and breathe.

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We had a few extra minutes at the end of yoga, so Mrs. Kay joined our mats together into a long line and we made a “Dragon’s Rainbow.”  Everyone got into downward dog, and then the first person crawled under the tunnel and went into downward dog at the end.  This repeated again and again!  It was really fun and hard work to stay up in down dog for so long!

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Now that we are mostly caught up, I can’t wait to share more of our animal study with you soon!

 


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Painting on the Light Table

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We had so much fun with this project last week I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it today!  I purchased this amazing and large light panel from another preschool over Christmas break.  I was excited to try some new activities with it, since our light panel is rather small and not great for large art projects.  I laid a piece of plexiglass overtop of the light panel, and then protected the wooden edges with Saran Wrap (just in case!).  I gave each child a few large scoops of finger paint.  They chose the color combinations they preferred, and got straight to mixing their paints on the panel!

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Children love to finger paint, and usually can spend long periods of time doing just that!  But, when I added the light table to the finger painting experience they really went to town.  Each child seemed to take their time, have more deliberate mixing techniques, and use their fingers in different ways to create lines, circles, and curves in their painting.  These marks were made more apparent because of the light panel shining through!

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As each child started to paint they began to realize that they were changing the color.  Almost each child would exclaim in the middle of the activity, “I’m making PINK or I’m making PURPLE”  It is so fun to watch these experiences unfold, and to revisit some concepts we discussed in the beginning of the year like colors and color mixing.

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Once each child had painted for quite awhile on the light panel I then asked them if they could create lines, circles, squiggles, or a pattern of some kind in their paint.  Then I laid a white sheet of paper on top of their design and we created a print from the pattern they made.  We would repeat this same thing two or three times.

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Then I would clean up the plexiglass for the next child to start anew.  It was so neat to see a line begin to form and the oohs and aaahs while they watched their friends paint on the panel.  Such anticipation for their change at painting!

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I love the picture below I caught of M showing me her sticky, messy fingers!  “Look Ms. Clare!!”

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We will definitely be painting on the light table again very soon!  More updates coming later this week as well!

 

 


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Marble Madness

A few weeks ago I got out a large basket of “pop toobs” and a small container of marbles.  The children started making intricate connections of tubes and circles to put the marbles in and out and through.  It didn’t take long before the long connections of pop tubes were taken up to the tippy top of the loft.  They soon started sending marbles from the top of the loft down the carpet area.

 

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I got out a large roll of blue tape and the kids would tell me where to tape up the tubes and we had them winding all around the loft.  At the end of the morning there would be large piles of marbles underneath the tubes on the floor.

This past week some of the children started to add the ramps and tubes to make different endings for the marbles as they came out!  I observed them adding parts, testing them out, taking out tubes, and attempting to make the marble go farther and farther.

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To encourage this idea of different ramps and motion I pulled out our Hape Quadrilla marble run.  We learned about all of the pieces and set it up to watch the marbles in motion.  These marble runs are quite tricky and got knocked down easily, but this taught us a lot about patience and building it back up after it had fallen down!

 

This is a video of the ramp in motion!  So much going on in the video from sharing, taking turns, negotiating marbles, in addition to all of the math and science concepts from the marble run itselfIMG_1210

 

 

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Then their ramps got even more advanced.  They asked me to move the tubes so they could go down the ramp off of the book shelf.  Here is B, M and H each sending down marbles to inspect where they are landing.

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T wanted to make a barrier for the marbles, and created this little half of a square to keep the marbles in after the rolled down the ramps.

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I can’t wait to see what marble creations are next!

 

 


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Amphibians are Amazing!

We were so lucky to have a special guest or (guests) this week! David (Ts Daddy) brought in a wonderful group of salamanders, newts, a frog and a giant Toad! We are so lucky to have a recident Biologist in our school, and he found most of these creatures in their yard!

The salamanders were left in their wet dishes, but we were able to get out the newts and hold them! They were a few years old, bright orange, and so facinating to observe. We asked a lot of questions, overcame our fears, and got to giggle at these amazing creatures.

T was also an expert on all things Amphibian because of her Dad! She was able to answer almost every question her Dad asked the group. I guess we all need to do a bit of studying about Amphibians!

Thank you David for this fun experience for our children! He has promised to return with turtles next time, and I know the kids and I can’t wait!