Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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More Winter Fun

We have been spending a lot of time exploring some of the new play areas in the classroom!  I wanted to share some of the other winter fun we have had besides just melting ice!

Sensory Play:

They have enjoyed the winter tub filled with rocky, white snow, arctic animals, and lot of fun scoops!

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I also made a batch of play dough using Hair Conditioner and cornstarch!  It is a really soft dough, with a mint scent, perfect for a penguin playground!

 

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We also had a new tub, called the “Tinker Tub”. It was filled with styrofoam, rubber bands, golf tees, and pipe cleaners.  They enjoyed pushing the golf tees into the foam, making “candles” attaching rubber bands, making “medicine droppers” and all sorts of other creative things!

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I saved some white Gak from December and we used it with letter tiles to find letters and make our names.

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Once we found all of the letters in our name, we squished up the Gak and tried to find the letters inside the giant ball of Gak.  The last challenge was to put our names back in order after finding the letters!

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Process Art:

We got to explore print making with a large plastic sheet and a brayer!  We spread out paint on top of the plexiglass and then the children used different materials to make marks in the paint.  Lastly, we pressed a piece of paper onto the paint to see what image showed up on the paper!IMG_1649.jpg

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While other children drew letters in the paint…

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And some children drew images of themselves or their family…

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Each child’s piece turned out very different and so unique!

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We also got out the watercolor paints and painted some beautiful paper!  The paper had the outlines of Matrushka dolls.

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Preschool Literacy:

All throughout the week we did different lessons with our Handwriting Without Tears ABCs!  It was a great way to jump back into school after our break!  In the picture below three children are working together to put a small portion of the alphabet in order.  The HWT cards have a puzzle on the front to connect the letters in order, and then when the child flips the card there is a sandpaper letter to touch and feel.

I loved seeing three children, all different ages, and all working together to put the alphabet in the correct order.  Older children were helping the younger children, and so much learning was taking place from all of the groups.

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We worked on this project over a series of different days so the children got mixed into many different learning groups by the end of the week.  You can tell by the multiple photos of children working with different partners!

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Lastly, I don’t have any great photos of our Vet Clinic, but here are some videos of the children playing “vet” last week:

More winter fun will be coming soon!

 

 


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Signs of Fall

We have interwoven signs of fall throughout our past few weeks in the classroom.  The weather has been a bit warmer than a normal fall, but we are beginning to see all of the beautiful changes all around us!

Below are some pictures from our first batch of Gak in the classroom!  A few of the students helped me make the first batch of the year, and it was a huge hit!  Gak is a mixture of water, glue, liquid watercolors, and borax.  It is stretchy, slimy, part liquid and part solid.  It is a great sensory tool in the classroom, and a fun medium other than play dough.

Sensory Play:

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Below is W breaking apart the Gak and putting it into cupcake liners.

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M was showing other students if you held up the Gak it would stretch longer and longer.

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I added some leaf gems to push, squish, and hide inside of the Gak.

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Process Art:

We used real apples to make a rolled art project.  I added a few dabs of paint to a large box, and the children rolled the apple around and around to “paint” the apple.  They thought it was really silly to paint an apple with an “apple paintbrush”!

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Preschool Math:

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Of course after all of our apple cooking, we had to taste test three different types of apples.  We tried Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.  After everyone had a chance to taste and vote for their favorite apple, and then we analyzed our results.  Which apple was our favorite?  Which apples had the most votes?  Which apple had the least votes?

Preschool Science:

Signs of Fall

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We have been going on quite a few walks in this beautiful weather!  On one of our walks we decided to travel down to the creek and check out the “rapids.”

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On the way to the creek we discovered a ‘wooly bear’ caterpillar.  He curled up into a ball once we walked past. The boys were trying to decide why he was curled up?

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There was a big investigation of the caterpillar and a lot of discussion of where he was going!

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We collected two large baskets of acorns, and used them to fill up our sensory tub.  To add another dimension to the tub, I put the top with different sized holes that my Dad made for me last year.  It is so fun to watch the children dig in through the holes, and fill the buckets up with lots of acorns.

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The sensory tub inside the classroom was filled with birdseed, tree blocks, and forest animals.  This tub has been a busy place the past week!

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Preschool Literacy:

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We have been doing a number of finger plays and fall songs!  Many are very simple, but the children love to do them again and again.  I will do my best to post a video of our songs this week!

Pumpkin ABC Hunt

After morning meeting this past week we have done an ABC pumpkin hunt!  The children each got an ABC hunting sheet and a clipboard.  Then we pulled the ABCs out of the jack o’ lantern and tried to find the Capital or Lowercase Matching letter on their paper.  Once they found the match they covered it up with the Dot Art marker.

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We have also begun to do small lessons from the Handwriting Without Tears Program.  The children have learned a few of the songs, and I have slowly started to introduce the materials in a small group and whole class setting.  Children were able to use the wooden pieces to create their “special letter” for the whole group.  Then as a small group I worked with children on their entire first name and their last name (for those that are ready).  We built their names using wooden pieces, and then we drew the letters on the Handwriting Without Tears chalkboard.

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Light Exploration:

I put gems, apples, and sticks on the light panel.  Two little buddies worked for a long while creating apple trees and apple houses on the light panel.

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Process Art:

Children have also been busy creating all around the classroom during choice time. They have been busy painting…

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This group loves working with paper, scissors, stickers, washi tape, and oil pastels.  I have been leaving one table open for creating with the art supplies, because it is usually busy each and every day!

Thank you to one of our moms who donated all of the fun paper for coloring!  The children have really enjoyed it!

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Lastly, children were given a variety of materials to decorate pinecones.  They used the glue to add pom poms, yarn, and sequence to make beautiful pine cone creations.

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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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What’s the Weather?

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Within the first few weeks of school, one of our students began talking about some of the big summer thunder storms that had rolled through recently.  He drew a picture of a large cloud on our chalkboard and called it the “thunder factory.”  That got me thinking about what the children  already knew about storms and rain clouds.  We had a large group discussion about the weather and each child had thoughts about the rain and big thunder storms.  Everyone in the class has previous experience or specific stories to go with this topic.  I thought it would be great to explore it further!

 

 

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I found a series of science experiments and art projects online that correlated with learning about rain, rain clouds, and different types of weather.  We started our discussions with rain, since that is where the idea began.  First we made a large scale rain cloud.  I filled a large mixing bowl with water and then topped it with shaving cream.  We put drops of blue liquid watercolors into the shaving cream and watched it “rain” before our eyes!

 

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We painted our own rain clouds using cloud cut outs and a mixture of shaving cream and glue for the puffy paint.

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Then they each got a chance to make their own mini rain clouds!

 

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For the first time we did the Ivory Soap Experiment in the microwave upstairs.  The children went upstairs with Ms. Lori two at a time.  First they drew a picture of a normal bar of Ivory soap.  Then they heated the soap up in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes and watched it expand.  Afterwards they drew a picture of the changed soap in their journals.  Lastly, we had to feel it and explore it once it had cooled!

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Another science experiment we tried was to make it “rain” in a bowl.  Ms. Lori filled a glass bowl with steaming water.  Then we covered the top of the bowl with a plate and lots of ice.  The effect was condensation inside and outside of the bowl.  This was a little more of an abstract experiment, but some of the group was really interested in watching the changes take place in the bowl.

 

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A wonderful rain sensory activity we did was with an old aquarium.  I found this idea from the Teach Preschool website.  She has so many wonderful and easy ideas to implement.  I place a large tub filled with cotton balls and tweezers.  The aquarium was filled with plain water that I tinted blue.  Children could use their hands to move the cotton balls or the tweezers.  They enjoyed bringing up large collections of the cotton balls and watching it rain over and over again.  The series of photos below are some of my favorite pictures from this whole weather study.  Such hands on learning, and focused play!

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We also set up a rain station outside in the sensory tub.  Thank you parents for all of the clear lids.  I used one of Chris’ tools to hammer in lots and lots of small holes in the plastic lids.  The children loved experimenting with the tubs, making lots and lots of rain. 

 

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L and L had a lot of discussions about large rain clouds, and if you had one cloud on top of another cloud how much rain will fall.  Love their thinking!

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I didn’t capture a lot of pictures, but I had the class sort picture cards into different weather categories: stormy, foggy, windy, cloudy, and sunny.

 

 

We also made a beautiful rainy weather art project.  First the children painted with watercolors onto a outline of an umbrella.  After the picture’s dried I made a mixture of water, glue, and blue coloring to create a rain effect over the umbrella.  Each child dropped the blue glue on the top of their umbrella and then held the paper upright to cause the glue to drip down the front of their picture.

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We also did wind paintings with straws and watered down paint.

 

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One of our last provocations was a clay prompt.  I gave each child a small amount of clay, wire, beads, gems, and pictures of clouds and storms.  The results were fabulous.  I had each child describe what they created after they were finished with the clay.

 

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The Snowy Day or should I say Snowy Days….

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We have missed a lot of school this year due to ice, snow, or a combination of the two!  I decided to embrace all of this winter weather by doing a few more snowy and icy activities mixed in our Valentine’s Day fun.  The first science experiment we did was an Ice Experiment.  We started by talking about ice and what happens to it when it starts to warm up.  We also discussed all of the plow and snow trucks and why they sprinkle salt on our roads. 

 

After our discussion I told the children that we were going to see what happens when we add lots of salt and water colors to large blocks of ice.  Here is a picture of the hypothesis the children had when we added salt to our ice blocks:

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Some of their thoughts were the salt:

was not going to stick

it was going to melt the ice

turn the ice into water

dissolve it

 

Some of the new words we discussed as a class were:

DISSOLVE

HYPOTHESIS

MELT

 

The M/W/F group also put their learning down on paper.  In the picture above of our hypothesis there are all of the learning journals from the students.  I drew the shapes of the ice for them, and they drew the colors and spots of the cracks in the ice.  I recorded their thoughts in their journal too.

 

After that great discussion we got to work! I set up our station with three different ice blocks, cups of salt, water colors and pipettes. 

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Both groups thoroughly enjoyed this activity.  I am always pleasantly surprised when you present children with engaging “invitations” the amount of time they will spend exploring, talking, and playing in them.  The T/TH group below actually made their ice crack open quickly because they spent a lot of time pouring salt on their ice.  They asked me for salt refills a number of times. 

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After they salted and painted their ice over and over again we carried the ice blocks outside in the snow.  We looked through the ice and studied the grooves and cracks the salt created.  Once the ice was dumped outside the last step was stomping on the ice to break it down into small bits.

 

 

 

children at work!

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One morning after snow I created a snow ice cream station for the kids.  I pulled out the scoops and ice cream dishes I found at the dollar store, and scooped some snow onto a large tray.  They spent a ton of time making snow ice cream for each other.

 

I am somewhat of a Pinterest fanatic.  I use it for almost all of my planning and a way to organize my ideas for school.  You can follow me on Pinterest here if you are looking for fun things to do with your kids.  Even if you aren’t on Pinterest you can still flip through my boards to see lots and lots of goodies. 

 

I found this art idea on Pinterest for The Snowy Day under my Winter Wonder boardThe Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a famous children’s book and a Caldecott Winner.  If you click on the title it will direct to amazon.com to purchase the book.  In the book Peter sets off to explore the new fallen snow.  When he returns home he wants to save some of the snow, so he packs it into a snowball and puts it in his pocket for later.  He is sad when he later looks inside his jacket to find the snowball is gone. 

 

As you can see this was the perfect book to read to go along with our “snowy” theme!

After we read the book children got to use a variety of paint brushes and sponges to make snow on their art work.  Then they glued an outline of Peter onto their paper.  This was a great follow up activity to The Snowy Day.

 

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I hope we are at the end of all of our snow and ice adventures!  I am ready to move on to all things spring!


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Creepy Crawlers

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I know we are all sick of Halloween, but I have a few more pictures to share about our last few days of Halloween fun from this year! 

 

Both groups were really interested in spiders when we are playing with all of our Halloween themed items in the classroom.  I dug through my non fiction books and found a treasure trove of great books and pictures of spiders.  I decided to make a spider themed play dough tray with black play dough and glitter.  Behind the play dough tray I opened up one of my larger non-fiction books to information on spiders.  They dove right in making their own spider variations with the dough.

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Then K in my younger group walked over to the easels and started to draw a spider on the easel paper.  I had to get a picture of him transferring his ideas to paper.

I was impressed with his version of a spider, even including the eyes! 

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Table Invitations to Play:

 

 

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I also set up some spider themed learning/sensory trays for the kids to look at more closely and view more great spider pictures I found.  On the left is a spider sort, with different colored spiders, pom poms and tongs.  On the right is a spider sifting activity where they sifted the spiders from the rice using a spatula.  This proved to be difficult for many of the students.  We will have to work on our fine motor/sifting skills!

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I also added a bunch of spiders to our wonderful orange gak that continued to be a hit in the art room!

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For a wonderful fine motor activity the kids ripped construction paper to create their own candy corn collages.

 

Process Art:

 

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And for a wonderful process art activity we made puffy paint using a mixture of equal parts glue and shaving cream along with orange food coloring to create orange puffy paint.  Once they painted a pumpkin I gave them different shapes for the eyes, nose and mouth to turn their pumpkin into a jack o lantern!

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The final product was quite lovely, with a mixture of raised “puffy paint” and sunken in areas that just looked like orange paint. 

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I feel it is important to give the children as little direction as possible when they are in the middle of a process art project.  G spent a huge amount of time dipping his paint brush into the gooey paint and swirling it around and around on his paper.  It is more about the process than the final product looking like a perfect pumpkin.

 

Sensory Tables and Sensory Exploration:

 

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One of my mommies happens to be a special education teacher who is home with her young children.  She purchased this corn from the local farm store, and let us borrow it for two weeks!  Corn and scoops was one of our favorite and most visited sensory tubs.  The simpler the better!  Thank you Jessie!

 

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I changed the Halloween creepy crawler sensory bin just a bit.  I removed the black beans and added a huge collection of water beads.  If you haven’t played with water beads, they are from the floral section of the craft store.  They can shrink in size when out of water, and tend to expand when submerged in water.  Water beads are such a fun sensory tool, they pour, scoop, squish, escape, and the kids loved exploring with them.  They also look really interesting on the light table!

 

We also made Goop.  Goop is a wonderful, sticky, slimy sensory activity.  It is a combination of cornstarch and water.  I learned the hard way that you only need little bits of water (the first batch turned into soup).  I added some orange liquid watercolors and some of Halloween creepy crawlers to the goop to spark their interest. 

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This sensory tub definitely wasn’t a hit with all of the kids, the goop leaves your hands quite messy and many of them shied away from the feeling of the goop.  But, those that liked it spent A LOT of time picking it up and moving it around.  It is really sticky and stretchy…

 

Goop Recipe:

one container of cornstarch

water

 

pour the cornstarch into a bowl.  Slowly begin to add water a little at a time until you have stretchy, slimy mixture.  Too much water and your goop will be soupy, too little water and your goop will be too sticky to pick up.

 

Add glitter, food coloring, plastic animals or insects, gems, and get dirty!

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Some of us really had a ball with it though!

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Early Literacy:

 

 

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For some of our more traditional activities we sang, acted out, and used the Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on the Gate felt board during our song book story time.

 

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We also had parents bring in some fabulous Halloween themed snacks the last week of October.  I didn’t get a picture of all of them, but a special thank you to Jessie, Dina, Lynn, and Jill for making our Halloween week so special.  The kids truly enjoyed and got such a kick out of the snacks. 

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Thank you parents for all of your help and donations to make this a wonderful holiday for the kids!