Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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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.”

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

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

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Preschool Sensory Play:

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

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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!

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

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

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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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Creating Community

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We have spent the past month focusing on our classroom community!  Using the Responsive Classroom approach to building community, I use morning meeting, guided discoveries, and a number of steps to create our classroom rules.  I don’t just tell the students what the rules of our school are, we work together to come up with rules and procedures to help our classroom time run smoothly.  It is a long process, but it ensures that the children are invested in the classroom rules.  They also are very aware what each rule is, and how it applies to our day to day classroom activities.

(The picture above is A and L working on cutting straws in our cutting tray).

 

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First we read a few books about children that don’t like to follow rules: 61P6MBGGK0L._AC_US160_.jpg

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These are some of my favorite books for talking about Cleaning, Caring about our school, Rules, and Getting in Trouble.

 

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After we have read a number of books like this, I ask the children to generate a list of rules:

No Throwing ~ D

No Pushing ~M

We don’t throw books ~ W

Don’t throw blocks ~ H

Don’t touch friends ~M

No hitting ~ B

No touching friends ~A

Walk inside the school ~ B

Play kindly ~ A

Play gently with dolls ~M

Clean up toys ~J

Don’t play rough ~B

Don’t throw food ~ H

No throwing the rice ~M

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The children generated this list over the course of a few days.  We decided that this list was just TOO long and had TOO many things to remember.  Ms Melissa and Ms Clare didn’t want to spend all day telling everyone “No!” just like the books.  Over a few sessions we narrowed our list down to:

Be Kind

Use Gentle Hands

Take Care of Our School

These rules are clear, concise, easy to remember, and most of all they are what we SHOULD be doing, not what we SHOULDN’T be doing.  It is much better to ask friends to “be kind” then “don’t be mean, that’s not nice.”

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We also read a series of books that encourage friendship, kindness, and how we should treat each other at school:

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While we have been working on community each day, we have also continued to explore the different sections of the classroom through “guided discovery.”  Children are beginning to get the flow of the classroom, feel at ease, and understand the materials at hand.  They are also learning how to tidy up when we are done!

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I have begun to look more closely at children’s interest and play.  I hope to see some topics and ideas emerge in the next few weeks to delve into for our first project.

 

 


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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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Light and Letters

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Our beautiful classroom got a much needed face lift and I took some time to rearrange a ton of furniture in the room.  Many of the children have been building lots of building, ramps, moving the tubes around, and I felt they just plain needed more building space.  I moved around my train table area and brought out both of the wooden platforms that I have for building.  I also moved the projector out the light area to add another element to the building environment.

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It didn’t take them long to start exploring our new area!  B got busy moving around the color paddles to see how they looked projected around the room.

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It didn’t take long before B had an audience to see how they colors looked when they were manipulated on the overhead projector.

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The light also provided a very soft glow that made it the perfect spot for building.  I love seeing the whole group working on a building together.  Above they made a large building with the unit blocks, LED candles, and the large animals.  They spent a great deal of time here during the morning.

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After the next few days I added translucent letters to the overhead projector, and it was interesting to see how the letters added a new level of play to the projector.

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Immediately they loved to see all of the letters on the ceiling.  Each child wanted to see “their letter” on the ceiling.  As soon as their letter was projected they would climb up to the loft to touch their letter on the ceiling.

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After we explored the letters on the overhead for a few days, we also explored the letters in  our names using paper and pencil.  These little crayons the kids are using are called “flip crayons.”  They are purposely made very short and encourage the correct pencil grip when children are using them.  We made these name puzzles by cutting strips of paper and using one piece per each letter in their name.  Each child they wrote their letters down the strip of paper as many times as they could to practice their letters.  Once they were finished we mixed up the pieces and they put their names back together again.

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It was neat to see children’s names start to appear all around the room in different places.

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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.