Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet

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Giving Thanks


The children worked on the most beautiful salt dough ornaments for Thanksgiving last week.  We made two batches of salt dough, added powdered paint, and then mixed the yellow and orange paint into the dough.

The results were bright, vibrant ornaments!  Some children chose one color, and some children chose to mix the two different colors.  Then we cut out the ornaments and pressed a variety of seeds and beans into them.  Lastly, I baked them in the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours.  I hope they looked lovely at Thanksgiving!



Process Art:

Squiggly and Bumpy Art!

We tried a new painting technique last week as well!  It was extremely simple and cheap supplies, that anyone could do at home.  We drenched pieces of yarn into a cup of glue, then we laid the yarn in a design on a piece of cardboard.IMG_9744.JPG




Once the yarn had dried overnight, we painted the board with these beautiful fall metallic paints.




The last process art activity we did was making “bleeding tissue paper” turkeys for Thanksgiving.  The children were calling our turkey feathers a giant feather factory;)




Each child was given five our six feathers, and a bowl of different colored tissue paper.  They simply painted over their tissue paper with water and we let it sit overnight.  The next day we peeled off the tissue paper to reveal the most beautiful colors underneath.


Each child drew on their turkey’s face, and we added the feathers to the back of the turkey body for the finished turkey!

Preschool Literacy:

The children came into the classroom last week to find a new activity set up on the light panels.  I drew each of their names in a large dark marker on white paper.  They could trace over their names using different colored crayons for fine motor practice, letter development, and repetition practice.  I have begun to introduce everyone to their names with a capital letter first, followed by the lower case letters.  Many of them say, “that isn’t my name.”  It is important to see their name written in a variety of contexts, and begin to understand the lower case-capital letter connection.





On the other light panel I put a large jar of gems for them to cover their name with the gems.  Using the light panel with this literacy work is a wonderful way to engage  their senses while children work on a more traditional “paper/pencil” task.  They are able to sit at the light panels for longer periods of time, and the light holds their interest longer than just desk or seat work.


Look at the concentration…



Sensory Play:

We had a new fall play dough table set up the past few weeks.  I made a batch of orange play dough  and added cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to give it a nice fall scent.  Then I made a play dough tray packed to the brim with leaf gems, pumpkin gems, wooden acorns, and leaves attached to popsicle sticks.



Pumpkin Soup:

We read this great fall book a few mornings, and we decided our room needed a batch of pumpkin soup!


We made a large tub of orange colored water; added gems, scoops, bowls, and egg beaters.  They went right to town mixing, stirring, and chatting about their “soups.”



Preschool Math:


We have been counting so many things this fall!  Leaves, pumpkins, ghosts, and much more!  It was time to put our counting knowledge and transfer it to number recognition.  I set up this math table before the holiday, to work on our numbers!  The table had Handwriting without Tears Number Cards.  These cards are made it the tiniest piece of sandpaper, so children can trace the numbers with their fingers.  There were wax “wiki stix” that they could use to shape into the numbers, cork boards, beans, gems, and wooden numbers.  Children could freely explore the table throughout the week.  Some children made the numbers on the cork boards, and then counted the corresponding amount of gems.IMG_9903.JPGIMG_9902.JPGIMG_9904.JPGIMG_9623.JPG

Then Ms. Melissa and I worked with each child to create a number page in their learning journals.  We traced the sandpaper numbers, drew the numbers on the chalkboards, counted the numbers, and lastly dotted the numbers in our journals.  They worked hard to write the numbers on their own, or using small dots as a guide.  Most everyone in the class has 10 pages filled with the numbers 1 – 10!  I hope they are noticing numbers all around them!

We also had a great time setting up some very simple marble runs during free time in the classroom!


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The Great Pumpkin Investigation

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We have soaked up the last few moments of Halloween, and the children enjoyed coming to school in their costumes to share or their favorite dress up from home.  I loved watching the children move about the classroom with their costumes!

Learning Trays:

Our learning trays are changed once a month, or sometimes a bit more frequently.  There are 12 trays for the children to choose from in the classroom.  I try to have the trays focus on math, literacy, fine motor, pouring/scooping, or sensory play.

This month the children have really enjoyed exploring the new “sorting circles.”  The circles are opened up, and then they sort the pumpkins into “Big, Medium, and Small.”


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


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


Fairies and Princesses also did a great job with the new sorting circles!

Below is a picture of a fine motor tray.  There is a thick sensory material called “floam” lining the bottom of the tray, and then pumpkin toothpicks.  The children have to use their pincher grip to get the toothpicks into and out of the floam.


Then they all sat together and worked on pushing the pumpkin toothpicks into the thick container of green foam.  This is great fine motor and pinching work.

Preschool Math:


A new table invitation this week was a squirrel counting game.  I used the acorns we collected a few weeks ago as the manipulatives.  The children had to roll the dice and then feed an acorn to each squirrel until all of the squirrels got some food.  They played this again and again throughout the week this week!





Below is another whole group counting lesson we did that went along with the Halloween fun!  I made a large poster with pumpkins, and numbers inside of the pumpkins.  They used mini Halloween manipulatives to put the correct number of manipulatives inside of each pumpkin shape.




This is a picture of our pumpkin investigation that we worked on together as a class over the course of a few weeks.  This investigation incorporated Math and Science goals throughout the lessons.

The class looked closely at our “classroom” pumpkin and gave me describing words to tell what the pumpkin looks like, how it feels, and information they may have already known about pumpkins in general.

Then we “guessed” how many lines were on our classroom pumpkin.  This was the first time we had discussed estimation and guessing as a math skill.  Many children weren’t sure how to even give a best guess…for example many people chose numbers that were very small even though we could see lots of lines on the pumpkin.  This is an advanced thinking skill, and you can practice it at home with your child.

“How many steps do you think it will take to get to the car?” Give some guesses and then test out your answer.

“How many pretzels are left in the bucket?”

“How many pairs of socks do we have in this pile?”

Try to pick examples with smaller numbers when you are just starting.  If your answer is in the 100s or even over 50 it is going to frustrate them.  Then as they gain confidence you can increase the estimation amount.

We used this same strategy to figure out “How Tall is our pumpkin?” and then we measured it with uni-fix cubes. As well as “How wide is our pumpkin” and we cut pieces of yarn to wrap around the pumpkins circumference.

Often times I will cover concepts well above their comfort zone, or talk about things that are brand new to them.  But, hopefully over time and repeating the lesson in new ways these concepts will solidify.

Lastly, we took our pumpkin outside and hammered it with golf tees!


Preschool Sensory Play:

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





I also dyed a batch of spaghetti noodles in lots of different shades to play with on the light table….gooey, spooky, and oh so fun!











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


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


That might be one of my favorite pictures from the week!  Thank you to A’s mom for visiting us on Monday!

Happy Halloween!


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It’s Getting Spoooooky in Here

Halloween is right around the corner and we have been enjoying lots of silly and fun Halloween themed books and activities.  I have tried to weave in a number of activities using acorns, leaves, and pumpkins while also having fun with all of the Halloween excitement!

Preschool Science:

Pumpkin and Acorn Investigations

Before heading to our field trip last week we discussed pumpkins, their life cycle, and studied in detail our own ‘classroom pumpkin.’


After reading many books about pumpkins we discussed the life cycle of the pumpkin, and the children put in order life cycle cards as a group.

We Modge Podged pumpkins with pieces of tissue paper.  They chose a pumpkin, put glue on the pumpkin, and then carefully glued a small piece of tissue paper on top of the glued area.  It was a delicate art task, and they did a beautiful job!  Each of the pumpkins turned out very unique!







We are still in the process of completed a class Pumpkin Investigation!  More details on that coming soon!

Preschool Literacy:

Last week we read this silly story, “Where’s My Mummy?”  The children thought it was so funny that the Mummy was scared of a teeny, tiny mouse after seeing all of the other Halloween creatures creeping around at night.


After this story we made these toilet paper mummies:

The children have also loved this Halloween Parody of “Goodnight Moon”


Another Halloween favorite is “Room on the Broom”


“Big Pumpkin” is another holiday favorite!  Each of the Halloween characters tries to pull the pumpkin, but can’t do it.  Of course the tiny bat has a great idea to work together, and they pull the pumpkin off of the vine!


You can usually find one or two students at any point in the morning reading some of the many books found around the classroom:


I pulled out the architecture blocks on our platform.  For a special Halloween addition, I added small Halloween creepy, crawlers.  Children worked together to build detailed “haunted houses.”



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Sensory Play:

We have had a lot of opportunities to get our hands dirty with Halloween sensory play!  They came into the classroom last week to find our sensory tub filled to the brim with black beans, and lots of fun Halloween items to explore!


Today the children got to make Oobleck with me for the first time!  This sensory recipe is always tricky for me to perfect!  It is a simple combination of cornstarch and water.  But, the combination has to be just right to get the solid/liquid/sticky/drippy substance just right.  If you want to make this at home, here is a link to Fun at Home with Kids.  She has a great recipe for it!

We made one tray of purple and one tray of black oobleck.  We were able to get the combo just right, and it was super, slimy fun!


Preschool Math:

We have been working on our counting, one to one correspondence, and using objects in our to count with every day!


We used the acorns we collected to practice our counting outside on the blacktop!  Some children worked by themselves, and other children worked as a team!IMG_9066.JPGIMG_9068.JPG


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I’m proud of their progress!


We have also counted pumpkin gems on the light panels.  We used the dry erase markers, and they have worked on writing their numbers next to each circle.


Field Trip:

Last Thursday our class all went together to a local farm for a field trip!  To prepare for our field trip, I pulled out my giant barn, barn animals, and a tray of oatmeal for the pumpkin patch.


There was a lot of pretend play around the barn, and this led to discussions about what we were going to see and do at the pumpkin patch!

We had a fabulous trip the pumpkin patch, despite the heat!  We learned about pumpkins…





Slide down the slides into a giant corn pit…


Played in the corn pit…


Went on a hay ride to visit the cows…


And we even attempted a super long corn maze…


All in all it was successful first field trip!  What a busy month, with more fun things right around the corner!







Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Goop


I’m not even sure what to even call this fun mixture, but pumpkin goop or pumpkin mud seems fitting.  We mixed this interesting sensory recipe together as a whole group.  It called for sand, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, and water.  It turned into a combination of pumpkin smelling mud that just made you want to dig your hands in and get dirty!  The pictures tell the story of how much fun we had with this stuff!


We mixed the pumpkin mud together and then I had ice cream containers (from the dollar store), spoons, and small cups.  They went to town!

Below is a picture of P inspecting the pumpkin mud as it dropped from one container to the other.  It was very messy, but very fun!



I took a whole series of pictures while L was working with the pumpkin mud.  She stayed at this sensory table for a long period of time.  You can see how involved she was with playing, touching, pouring, and learning about this fun sensory experience!






Another pumpkin themed sensory table was our Pumpkin Soup.  I used orange tinted water, bowls, scoops, turkey basters, colanders, and pumpkin gems to create this sensory table.  First I read the book Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper as our read aloud.   Then I invited the children to come over and pretend to be one of the main characters from the book, the duck, the squirrel, or the cat, and make their own pumpkin soup for each other!







Pumpkin Investigation (Science)


We have been working hard to learn about pumpkins.  Over the past two months we have discussed and read about the life cycle of the pumpkin, and taken quite a bit of time to inspect our classroom pumpkin.  The final step was to of course cut open and scoop out our classroom pumpkin.  We took turns scooping out pumpkin seeds from our classroom pumpkin.  A few children helped me with digging for seeds, but I found myself working on this alone! 





Then I cleaned the seeds and dried them.  We used the seeds for counting practice.  I brought children over one at a time to work with me on number sequence, one to one correspondence, and greater than and less than concepts.  I would change the numbers and make the investigation more or less challenging based on the needs of my students.  Even Snow White sat down to do some counting with me…



More Table Invitations:

Sorting colored pasta.  I left this large bowl of dyed pasta out on the tables over a series of a few days.  I invited children to sort the pasta based on their color and distinct shape.  Then we got to try sewing for the first time, and both classes made their own pasta necklaces!




Felt turkey patterns:  The children chose one card and then used the felt feathers to create the pattern around the turkey.  Wonderful math and problem solving skills being used! 



Fall Themed Color Sorting:  sort the leaves based on color and sort the pumpkin gems based on color.



Pattern Blocks:  I originally laid out this invitation to get the children sorting the pattern blocks based on color.  But, once they quickly mastered the color sorting, they started creating designs with the pattern blocks on the felt pieces.  Very open ended play with lots of math concepts involved!


C is working hard on one of our thanksgiving themed learning trays.  She was picking up the pumpkin candies using the large tongs and putting them in the ice cube tray.  The smaller tongs were left as a challenge once the large tongs were mastered.



This picture makes my heart happy as my class is all gathered around one mat and two learning trays.  They are talking, taking turns, practicing their beading and cutting skills in a social setting.  One tray they are using is our beading learning tray.  There is a bowl of wooden beads and pipe cleaners for stringing.  The second tray is filled with lots of things to spark cutting practice.  The tray has strips of paper, straws, and bits of yarn.  The straws are very fun, and they love watching the straw pop apart while they are cutting.


While E is waiting for her friends to arrive she often pulls out the trays and explores them when I am getting the classroom organized for the morning.




Process Art:


As we finished up our pumpkin investigation we made pumpkin sun catchers for the classroom windows. 




Process Art Turkeys:

I found so many wonderful turkey crafts online.  I really wanted to make turkeys with the kids that were more open ended.  We started with a large piece of finger painting paper and a variety of paint brushes and paints.  I let the kids paint in any way they wanted.  I encouraged them to cover as much of the paper as possible.


Their large papers looked like this:



Then I cut apart their paintings into long feather pieces for their turkeys.  Then they glued their feathers and turkey body onto a large piece of construction paper for a large process art turkey!  I think the finished product turned out lovely!




For more process art both classes made Thanksgiving luminaries for their family dinner table.  First we found small leaves outside and I laid them down under a book to flatten them out. 




Once they were glued on and dried we added white tissue paper to the exterior of the glass luminary.  The results were so special!  I even lit the candles for the group because they were unsure of how the glass would look once it was covered in tissue paper. 



Play Dough:

I created a turkey play dough tray for the past week as a table invitation to play.  The turkey tray had brown play dough, googly eyes, foam beaks and at first candy corn.  Do not put candy corn in your play dough!!  I found out the hard way that it starts to melt inside the dough, and it ruined a bunch of the batch.   I’m not sure what happened, but lots of play dough and candy corn got tossed in the trash!






I have a few more turkey and Thanksgiving projects up my sleeve!  Until I get everything posted have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

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Five Little Pumpkins Rolled out of Sight



The classroom has been filled to the brim with Halloween and fall inspired learning this month!  This post is packed full of pictures from our classroom, and all of the activities we have been working on.  Each week I try to lay out different “Invitations to Play” on our classroom tables.  The activities may be a type of game, art, craft, or sensory experience that is tied into our classroom discussions.


Table Invitations:


This months we had felt pumpkins with matching cards.  Children pulled a card and then tried to find the matching pieces of felt to build their pumpkin correctly!







We have also been doing a lot of activities to build up our fine motor strength.  One of the table invitations was grabbing and squeezing pumpkin erasers with tongs and placing them in the “witches cauldrons.”  This has been a classroom favorite!




This “invitation to play” was on our tables a few weeks ago: coffee beans, trucks and differs, playmobil construction men.  We love trucks and cars, and I am trying to find ways to incorporate car play into the classroom.





Mr. Potato head is always fun and great fine motor practice too!


We also have had a lot of Halloween inspired learning on the tables this month:


Making fun jack o’ lantern faces on the magnet boards:





Squeezing spiders on the spider web and fall themed toothpicks pushed into Styrofoam. 



I also had jack o’ lantern faces on the large magnetic board this month too!




Weaving practice with Halloween themed ribbons…



Counting practice was on the tables last week.  I simply drew a few pumpkins with numbers inside.  Children counted out the correct number of ghosts and placed them in their pumpkin.



We have also had a few more discussions on sorting objects.  This month we sorted our pumpkins into Big, Medium, and Small.



Play Dough:

Play dough continues to be a common core of our classroom.  The children visit it daily.  We are learning through our play every day.  Just take a look…




We have had our pumpkin and fall themed play dough tray out for a few weeks now on and off.  I will add and change the materials in the tray as the weeks go on.  Here is some of our most recent “play dough play.”







L realized that if she pushed her play dough into the jack o lantern, it would imprint on to the dough!



C spent a great deal of time creating a little fall scene with her play dough.


E was inspired by the craft sticks.  First she was making Xs and then she began to make more letters with the sticks in the dough.



M and P spent most of the time making “pumpkin popcorn.”  They would roll the dough into a long snake and then cut it apart with the craft sticks.


Below are more pictures of different play dough work I have found around the classroom….






Exploring Art and Colors:

Another art exploration we did this month was color mixing.  I provided the children with ice cube trays and droppers.  Then I put blue, red, and yellow colored water in their trays.  I showed them how to draw up the water and move it to another section of the tray.  Then they could change colors by mixing the colors in different ways.  This exploration was visited over and over again by all of the age groups.  (This is also such great practice for fine motor coordination for the children to squeeze up the water and release it into another part of the tray.)


I am going to expand this learning next month by introducing color mixing with paint trays.  We are going to make our own class set of paints by having the children mix them on their own!





Look at all of the different shades C was able to make with her colored water:





Our art activities have been really fun this month!  I have tried to balance as much process art and project art as possible.  I posted about the importance of process art previously, but I still love to do some “themed” projects especially around the holidays!



We mixed our own shaving cream paint with fall colors and glitter.  Then we pressed paper onto our paint tray.  I am on the look out for a REALLY large branch (hint, hint parents if you come across a cool branch I can hang from the ceiling).  I am going to cut our paper pieces into leaf shapes to hang from the ceiling.



I think mixing paint colors might be the best part!




Process art Pumpkin painting:

We collected our pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, and I laid out a variety of acrylic paints for the children to choose from.  Once they had painted their pumpkin, they could add glitter or googlie eyes for some spooky Halloween fun!







Frankenstein and Mummy Art:

For more of a product art activity the children made Frankenstein for the front door.  I provided them with the cut out shapes for his face, and they filled him in with tissue paper before we sealed him up!  He looks very spooky on our front entrance!







After reading “Where is My Mummy” this month I invited students over to make their own mummies using gauze and a toilet paper roll.





One of the groups did some sponge painting with jack o’ lantern foam pieces.  We laid the foam onto the paper and then painted around the foam with different colors.  I loved watching their faces as they lifted the jack o’ lanterns off the paper to reveal their pumpkins.



Science and Math Investigations:




This month we have also been working on a pumpkin investigation.  We have been filling out our “investigation” chart little by little throughout the month.  First we thought of describing words for our pumpkin, then we guessed and counted how many lines were on our pumpkin.  Third we guessed and then measured how tall our pumpkin was using unifix cubes.  Finally today we wrapped our pumpkin in yarn to measure exactly how big around our pumpkin is. 


This project has lead to many great discussions about estimating, math, numbers, and exploring an object further than we usually get a chance to.  You can see from their numbers that estimating is a very new skill.  Hopefully we will get more and more practice with estimating throughout the year.




Halloween and Fall Sensory Play:

Sensory play continues to be a integral part of our classroom environment.  I know that I have posted some of our sensory bins this month, but here is a re-cap.


Pinto bean pumpkin patch, beans, scoops, fall leaves, and of course pumpkins!


Pumpkin washing:  pumpkins, drying rack, scoops, cups, sponges, and droppers.  Children spent A LOT of time at this sensory bin.  They love water!  Pouring water on the pumpkins and in and out of cups, and squeezing the sponges was a much loved activity.


Halloween creepy crawlers: black beans, Halloween items, bouncy eye balls, snakes, and cups and scoops.





There is still more Halloween and fall fun to share!  I hope your children are still enjoying their school year, it is so much fun for me each and every day!!

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A Chill is in the Air


We are entering that wonderful time of year, Fall!!!  It is one of my favorite seasons, pumpkins, Halloween, the colors, the warmer clothes, I pretty much can’t get enough of it!  Getting to incorporate fall into our classroom play invitations has been very fun too!


I set up this simple play dough invitation last week.  I flattened out play dough, added fall colored leaves with simple popsicle sticks, peg people, acorn sticks, and pumpkins to the mix too!  The kids loved exploring the play dough in a different way.  They weren’t manipulating the play dough as much as using it as a canvas to create a fall scene.  It got cleaned up and used again and again.




To wrap up some of our discussions of apples we did an apple taste test!  The kids got to try as little (or as much!!) of three different types of apples.  Then they told me which apple was their favorite and we graphed our answers on a chart.  I did this activity with both groups, so they could see which apples were the favorite overall at Crozet PlaySchool!











We also made yarn acorns this past week.  I thought that both groups would just Love to dip the yarn pieces into the glue and squeeze off the excess before adhering it to the acorn, but many of the children didn’t like this activity.  You can tell who enjoyed it based on the amount of yarn they stuck on their acorn.  That is the great thing about process art, they just did as much as they wanted and left the project when they had enough of gluing the yarn.



One of our fall sensory bins was “Bean and Pumpkin Themed.”  I filled the sensory tub up with pinto beans, glittery pumpkins and gourds, silk flowers, and lots of different measuring cups.  The kids loved scooping and pouring and transferring beans from one cup to another. 


The other fall sensory bin was a pumpkin patch.  I filled up the bin with rice, pumpkin gems, playmobil people and tractors, and I also found long orange and green spoons that are so inviting to scoop and sift rice with!  The kids jumped right in moving the rice around with the tractors and pretending with the pumpkin patch people. 









Our pumpkin pie play dough also made its fall debut.  I simply used my favorite play dough recipe, added orange food coloring and lots of pumpkin pie spice to the dough.  It smells just like a fresh pumpkin pie!  On the play dough tray I included, pumpkin toppers on toothpicks, pumpkin and leaf gems, two different silicone wrappers, and lots of craft sticks for cutting and poking in the play dough. 




And of course we did some pumpkin stamping with our little mini pumpkins cut in half!





We have had so much fun diving into all things fall!