Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Eggstra Fun!

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We had a great time incorporating some Easter themes into our days in April.  Above is a picture of an activity we had out on the light panel.  The children could crack open an egg, find the letter on the Handwriting Without Tears ABC chart.  We have used this chart for various activities throughout the year, so the children are familiar with the organization of the letters.  They enjoyed the cracking of the eggs as much as the letter hunt!

Table Invitations:

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One of the art invitation was an egg wrapping station with yarn and poster board egg shapes.  I cut small slits on the edges of the eggs to allow the yarn to hook and wrap.  Then I offered them a variety of colors and scissors for each child to switch colors during their wrapping.  This project encouraged the development of hand-eye coordination.

 

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I made a little “Chick Village” play tray for the children.  They could use the paint brushes to sweep the rice for the chickens, or move the rice to different areas of the tray.  The little wooden frame provided a house area for the Mama and baby chicks to live.  This was a simple set up that provided lots of open ended play.

Easter Themed Play Dough:

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We also had a beautiful batch of yellow dough that we added many Easter themed materials to go with it!  The children had cookie cutters, spring gems with flowers, carrot eggs and much more.  They were very creative with their play dough creations!

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Process Art:

Egg decorating is one of my favorite activities!  I love to try different techniques each year, and the children are always up for a creative way to sue the art supplies.  The first technique we tried was shaving cream and watercolors.  I will admit this technique was a bit of a bust.  The best eggs were in the first batch.  They truly had a very marbled look to them, but as the children continued to mix the eggs in the cream they lost their marbled look.  This would be a good technique if you just had one or two kids that were dying, but it didn’t lend itself to many kids in the classroom.

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Although the puffy shaving cream is always a hit!

The second day we tried a new technique of dripping watercolors onto the eggs.  They turned out beautiful!

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These turned out so bright vibrant!  I loved the colors and how they popped on the egg shells!  Squeezing and squirting the liquid watercolors is always a satisfying process for the children too.

Marbled Eggs:

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The children had so much fun with the shaving cream, I wanted to do another project with it!  We used the shaving cream to create a marbled technique on card stock!  First I made a layer of shaving cream on tin foil.  Then the children picked the colors they wanted to use to drip acrylic paint onto the shaving cream.  After they swirled the paint in the cream, we pressed the card stock onto the cream.  After it sat on the card stock for a few minutes we scraped it off!  The results were just wonderful!  Unfortunately, I completely forgot to get a picture of the final product:( I know the kids and parents loved them!

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IMG_4871.JPGEgg Wrapping:

On a whim I purchased a bunch of paper mache type eggs at Walmart.  Then we added sharpies, washi tape, and scissors to wrap, cut and decorate the eggs.  This was one of the most popular activities, and the children created many eggs throughout the week.  I am sometimes surprised how the simple things are the most fun for the group.

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Egg Hunts:

We ended all of our Eggstra Fun with a giant Egg Hunt outside!  Thank you to all of the parents for supplying eggs that were filled with fun treats and surprises!

 

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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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Hearts and Art

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This week we have had a lot of fun discussing Valentine’s Day and Friendship.  We made beautiful hearts using our spin art machine.  Our old machine used batteries, and after it broke, this new machine needs to be pumped by hand.  It takes a lot of arm strength and fine motor control to pump the machine and drip the paint at the same time!

Process Art:

We also made some salt art paintings using glue, salt, and liquid watercolors.  The children drew designs in glue or guided me with the glue to draw the images they desired.  Then they used a small dish to drip salt on top of the glue.  After the excess salt was moved away they carefully dripped liquid watercolors onto their images.  This project has a bigger focus on the “process” than the product.  Although this was our first time making them on cardboard and they held up much better than paper once they dried.IMG_2369.JPGIMG_2370.JPGIMG_2365.JPGIMG_2367.JPGIMG_2402.JPGIMG_2399.JPGIMG_2403.JPGIMG_2405.JPGIMG_2406.JPG

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This week on our table a large Valentine Station was set up for the class!  They had access to hearts, doilies, glue, stickers, and Valentine’s stamps.  They created Valentine’s for their family and then started making them for their friends in the classroom.

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Sensory Play:

The children arrived on Monday to find two brand new sensory tubs in the classroom!  One was inspired by The Imagination Tree, and it was a birthday cake themed cloud dough tray.  I made a large batch of cloud dough with flour, oil, and sprinkles.  Then I added cupcake molds, number candles, and regular candles.  This was one of the most popular areas this week!

I got a few videos of the children playing in the birthday cake sensory tub…

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The second sensory tub was filled with Valentine’s colored water beads, and lots of other Valentine cups and saucers.

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I also got some videos of the children playing in the water beads:

Learning Trays:

Everyone seemed to love all of the new learning trays that were brought out this month.  The learning trays are usually tasks based on fine motor skills, math development, letter awareness or phonetic development, or sensory play.  Each month I change the learning trays to offer a variety of independent goal tasks that the children can work on, at their own pace.

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IMG_2437.JPGM and D are using the conversation heart candies to complete color patterns.  Below A is using beads and paper hearts to string a Valentine’s necklace.IMG_2431.JPG

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Video of the children working on a learning tray:

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We also worked on writing our letters and shapes in a squishy bag on the light panel.  This was SO much fun that both bags popped by the end of the week:)

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We also dined on H’s delicious King Cake that he made with his Mommy last weekend.  They brought it in for our snack.  It was so big that we ate it on Monday and Tuesday!

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Glow in the Dark Discovery

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Last week I had the pleasure of teaching my first inservice for a nearby preschool.  It was such a humbling experience to be up in front of a group of peers, and showing them different things I do in my classroom.  They were most interested in learning about sensory play, so I spent a couple of hours pulling out a bunch of my favorite materials.  Down in the bottom of the bin I uncovered my “glow in the dark” rice.  I had done a number of glow in the dark activities in the past.  It is funny how you forget all of the things you do from year to year!  My black light lamp had broken last year and I just forgot about it.  I decided after my inservice that I would get some new black lights and pull out all of my fun materials.

The first thing I grabbed was my set of fluorescent paints.  My assistant Melissa and I offered the children a few of the color options for each paint set.  It was interesting to see if they noticed that some of the paints had a brighter glow than the other paint sets.

 

These paints are actually a set of finger paints, and it is a good thing!  Many of the children couldn’t resist the temptation to paint themselves (sometimes all the way up their arms) with the paint.  They would do this to see their own body glow in the dark!  They also would paint their hands, and then press them to the paper.  They loved seeing their handprint light up on the paper.

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The children have continued to go in and out of the art room to paint additional pieces with the glow in the dark paint.  I am planning to leave them out for a few more days for the class to enjoy.

I also set up the rice table with the glow in the dark rice.  A few years ago I dyed a batch of rice with the different fluorescent paint colors, and it is still glowing very bright under the black light.

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It is more difficult to see who is playing with the rice, because it is dark around the sensory tub.  But, at one point Melissa and I noticed ALL of the children surrounding the tub.  That rarely happens!  They just loved it!IMG_1989.JPG

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Outside of our dark room we also played with lentils and a doggie set!  It is from constructive play things and the children were really drawn to it.  I thought it would be a great addition to the vet clinic that was set up in the dramatic play area.

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We had Yoga this Wednesday and yoga remains to be one of my favorite days of the week:

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We also learned about Mat Man this week from the Handwriting Without Tears Program.  Mat Man uses the wooden pieces from the HWT program to help the children learn how to draw their body in more detail.  It also gives them more awareness of their physical body. We will begin to transfer this concept to paper through paint, drawing, and art.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

Preschool Literacy:

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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

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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.

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More holiday fun coming soon!

 

 

 

 


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Shapes All Around

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The children worked so hard to sew the most beautiful embroidery for their Moms this Mother’s Day.  I know they were each so proud of their hard work!  I have done this activity in the past and each child colored a rainbow and we sewed the rainbow image.  This year I have a lot of different aged children from ages 3 to 5.  I decided to allow each child to choose their drawing, colors, and sewing.  I think the results are stunning and special for each child.  Above you can see pictures of someone’s mom, a flower, lots of colors/circles, a rainbow, and lastly a cake.  All for Mommy!

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It took Mrs. Brittany and I almost a week to get everyone’s pictures drawn and sewing finished.  I was proud of their work ethic and ability to keep their focus on such a long task.

Preschool Math

We have been working on our Shapes these past two weeks!  They have enjoyed many of these shape activities.  Below D and A are stamping shapes that are made out of cardboard tubes.

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We hunted for shapes around the classroom, and took pictures of our shapes!

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Oval!

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Triangle

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Rectangle

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Circle

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Triangle!

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Rectangle!

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Triangle!

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Triangle!

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A Line!

The children also really enjoyed these Tangram puzzles from my old first grade classroom! They are some smart cookies!

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Even on our walk to the library today children were finding squares and rectangles and triangles all over the place on our walk!

It has been a fun few weeks!


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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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Our “Mixed Up Animals”

 

535D59FB-EB66-4E21-ADE9-6ABC1C91D5CD.jpgAs we began our journey to learning more about animals, I went through my classroom library searching for any books that would work well to kick off our study!  Next thing I knew I had a huge pile of Eric Carle books.  His books are beautiful, easy to read, and classics that all children love.

We started reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” every day for a week before we went outside.  The children loved the repetitive nature of the story and singing it along with me.    We added “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you see?” and “Polar Bear, Polar Bear What do you see?” to our favorite song book list.

During all of these read-alouds we worked on three key literacy terms:

Author

Illustrator

Title Page

When you are reading books with your children at night, take some time to talk to them about the author/illustrator of the story, where their names are located, and where they can find the title page inside the book.  These are great early literacy skills!

I just happened to pick up “What’s Your Favorite Animal?” by Eric Carle at the library.  The children were very intrigued by the picture on the cover.  The discussions kept going back to the funny animal on the front page and what were all of the different types of animal parts that made the cover picture.

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After some discussion about this silly animal the children wanted to make up their own animals too.  We studied the covers and illustrations of Eric Carle’s books and looked closely at the paints, lines, and textures he created in his pictures.  Then each child got a turn to paint two large pieces of thick watercolor paper with paint.  They put the paint on very thick and then used forks, cups, popsicle sticks and rollers to make different impressions on the papers.  I got the idea for this from Merri Cherry’s blog and Eric Carle.

Below is a picture of A making marks on her beautiful blue painting.  The right side shows an up close picture of orange paint that was scraped with a fork.

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M is below painting her large paper, and then getting ready to scrape it!

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T and H working together painting and scraping their papers.

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For some reason I always love the aftermath.  Here is our table after everyone was done painting.  There is something really satisfying about a messy workspace and children that got busy painting the morning away.

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Once the papers dried, Mrs. Brittany and I cut apart different animals parts to make “creation station” of sorts.  We cut out silly animal heads, some with long necks, bear heads, bird heads, etc.  We cut out wings of different shapes and sizes, and legs that were webbed, flat, curved, and had hooves.  The children came over the cut up pieces and picked what they liked best to create their own unique, one of a kind animal.  Once their animal was completed, we dictated a story about their mixed up animal.  IMG_3205.jpg

“My baby bird likes to fly.  He likes to eat worms.  The mama gives the baby the worms.  He knows how to fly.  He likes to fly in the trees.”

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T’s amazing animal

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C’s Flying Bear

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M’s Flying Cat Bat

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M’s Flying Cat

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D’s Flying Cat

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What an amazing project!  This will definitely be done again in the future!  I think I had as much fun seeing their mixed up animals, as they had creating them.

 


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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!