Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


Leave a comment

Creating Community

IMG_7646.jpg

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).

 

IMG_7641.jpg

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

519NKBB2FXL._AC_US160_.jpg

51XYO1vfQyL-1._SX371_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

51nE8NN7-+L._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

51TP8iQo46L._SX378_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

51IdttgIn5L._AC_US160_.jpg

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

 

IMG_7963.jpg

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

IMG_7961.jpg

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.”

IMG_7600.jpg

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

51Zt6LPGyzL._AC_US160_.jpg

51XZmxCQzeL._AC_US160_.jpg

61QNt+cLQRL._AC_US160_.jpg

51aw8YhQeNL._AC_US160_.jpg

41EWdxohogL._AC_US160_.jpg

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!

IMG_7608.jpg

IMG_7602.jpgIMG_7644.jpgIMG_7761.jpgIMG_7769.jpgIMG_7752.jpgIMG_7754.jpgIMG_7782.jpgIMG_7994.jpgIMG_7403.jpgIMG_7717.jpg

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.

 

 


2 Comments

Christmas Countdown

IMG_1686

This December packed a big punch at Crozet PlaySchool.  We had something up our sleeves in every corner of the room, and it was so fun to watch the play unfold this month.  Above is one of our many sensory tubs this month.  It was filled with Peppermint Cloud Dough!  I made a huge batch of green cloud dough, added peppermint extract, and lots of fun Christmas people, baking cups, and spatulas for pretend play.  This was by far the favorite tub of the month, and I actually didn’t change it because there were children playing with the dough every day!

Below is another tub that was filled with pretend snow (plastic type from the craft store) and lots and lots of festive finds tucked inside the snow.  The children loved to take the mini boxes and fill them with items and give gifts to each other.

Sensory Play:

IMG_1508

The last week before Christmas we made “Christmas Fluff.”  I found the recipe from Sow Sprout Play, and it was fantastic!

I am definitely going to make this again using different colors and bits and bobs, because the kids loved it!  You can see from the collage below how many hands were digging into this sensory bin.

IMG_1800

 

Table Invitations:

IMG_1639

This table might look like a wrapping station gone wrong, but it was actually one of the most popular table invitations this month.  I left out mini boxes, jingle bells, squares of paper, table, and ribbons.  The results were lots of wrapping, cutting, taping, measuring, and creating pretend presents for our friends.

IMG_1628

You can see in these step by step photos how much work went into each child trying to wrap their own gift.  B fills his box with jingle bells…

IMG_1624

Then he uses the tape to wrap up his box…

IMG_1627IMG_1626

Below are a few of the wrapped presents I found on the table later that morning.  B’s present is in the middle, wrapped with lots and lots of ribbon and tape!  There is so much fine motor work at this station, but the children saw it as a fun seasonal activity.  I know as a mommy, that often we get in a hurry this season and our children want to “help” us wrap, but we don’t have time to allow them to help (or maybe that is just me waiting until the last minute!).  This was a great way to allow them to help and do all of the fun wrapping activities they love!

IMG_1676

IMG_1640

D hard a work cutting her wrapping paper.

IMG_1669

Another table invitation was playmobil Santa and his friends in the snow.  I created this table invitation using fake snow (white pebbles) and two different playmobil sets.  The children loved the little parts to the tray and acting out different holiday stories.

IMG_1531IMG_1530IMG_1529

 

IMG_1543

Another wonderful table invitation was the light panel, jingle bells, and a magnetic wand.  A few of the boys above H and D spent a great deal of time taking turns picking up jingle bells with the magnetic wand.  They tried to see how large of a jingle bell shaker they could create if they collected them all!

IMG_1527

Below is an activity I have done in the past, and I pulled it out again this year.  It is a Light Brite cube!  I made my own paper drawings on each side of the Light Brite.  The children could stick in the pegs and make ornaments on the tree or details for the gingerbread men.  Some of the children loved to just see the light come through the holes once they had been created.  They spent a great deal of time just punching row after row of holes into the paper.  This is such a great sensory (light) and fine motor activity!IMG_1728

The last table invitation was left out on the train table the week before our break.  I put a large pile of Christmas colored pom poms, tree blocks, snowy trees, and ornaments for the children to play with.  They created different scenes including the one below by setting the wood blocks up in different ways and using the pom poms and trees as a way to “decorate” their creations.  I love seeing loose parts played with in the classroom!IMG_1811

This invitation to play wasn’t on a table, but it was located near our dramatic play area.  I set up a little tree for decorating, books for reading, and different hats/headbands for acting out Christmas stories!

IMG_1652

 

Preschool Math:

IMG_1661

This month we continued talking about numbers using snowmen!  As a group I would call out a different number, and they had to make their snowman that many snowballs tall!  Then they each tried to write the corresponding number next to their snowman.  (And yes, that is a random sock on the floor next to M’s work!)

IMG_1660

Some more of their hard work in their journals!  They added details to their snowmen including  arms, faces, and hats!IMG_1662

Preschool Literacy:

IMG_1681

We also wrote our names on circles and created our own snowman using our name!

Process Art:

IMG_1555IMG_1553

The children created this beautiful Christmas Tree on our window at the entrance of the classroom.  Ms. Brittany and I unrolled the contact paper so the sticky side would face the kids.  Then we offered them a variety of pipe cleaners, gems, and popsicle sticks to create a Christmas tree.  The results hung on our door for most of December!

IMG_1556

 

IMG_1803

Christmas Crafts:

 

This month we also did a lot of “crafts.”   Most of the activities were pre-planned for the children to participate in during the month of December.  I always prefer process based art for little children, but I do feel that it is nice to do crafts that can have a specific outcome.  These Christmas tree ornaments are a good example!  Each child completed the project in their own way, but they still could be hung on the tree at home!  Lovely indeed!

 

Merry Christmas!

IMG_1810

 


Leave a comment

Giving Thanks in Our Little School

IMG_5747

We kicked off November with lots of new learning trays.  One favorite learning trays was moving mini pumpkin candies from the large tray to a pumpkin muffin tray.  There is something about manipulating candy that is exciting!

IMG_5749

 

We also matched our letters on pumpkins using stickers.

 

IMG_6137

 

Sensory Play:

 

IMG_5766

One of the fall sensory tables I set up was full of pinto beans, pumpkins, and silk leaves.  To add some excitement to the sensory bin I put the gutter on the side of the table for the children to explore.  They got right to it!  It became a “pumpkin factory” among other things. 

IMG_5756IMG_5757IMG_5761IMG_5762IMG_5765

 

IMG_6149

Inside of the classroom I filled up the other sensory tub with dried corn on the cob.  To the corn I added scoops, buckets, jars, cupcake liners, and tweezers.  The children spent a lot of the morning picking these corn cobs apart. 

IMG_6115

IMG_6114

IMG_6117

IMG_6112

 

IMG_6119

 

Play Dough:

IMG_6123

We also spent a lot of time making turkeys from our wonderful smelling fall play dough.  They knew just what to do!

IMG_6127

 

 

Process Art:

 

IMG_6029

We made some beautiful Thanksgiving themed salt dough ornaments. 

IMG_6032IMG_6038IMG_6107

 

 

IMG_6122

We worked on this canvas over a series of days in the classroom.  The first day I sectioned off the canvas into squares, and offered a number of paint choices.  After giving the kids a few days to pain the canvas, then I offered them the crayon melting machine next to the canvas.  They dripped and dropped melted crayon all over the canvas.  The final product was lovely and it is hanging in our art room now!

IMG_6140IMG_6160

We used the paint blotters to make some really wild turkeys!

IMG_6163IMG_6166IMG_6168IMG_6170

They also made some beautiful Thanksgiving tea lights with handles this year for their Thanksgiving dinner!IMG_6175

 

 

IMG_6177

After reading  a number of books about the Pilgrims and the Indians and the First Thanksgiving we also made some gorgeous Indian headbands for our mini Thanksgiving Feast!

IMG_6303

The children chose to wear their Thanksgiving headbands or their Pilgrim hats to our feast.  We ate pretend popcorn turkeys,  made our own pumpkin fluff (which only D ate), and decorated some Thanksgiving cookies.

 

IMG_6288IMG_6290IMG_6291IMG_6292

Love this little group to pieces! 


Leave a comment

Ocean Adventures ~ Exploring the Sea

DSC_0064

 

My children and I spent two weeks at the beach this summer, and I really wanted to kick off the school year with all things “beachy.”  Most of the children in the classroom have some relationship to the beach, memories from the beach, or have played in the sand.  All children seem to be fascinated with ocean animals as well!  They are so vastly different from us, I can see why! 

 

This post is packed full of some of the activities we did about the ocean the first two weeks of school. 

 

Sensory Play:

 

One of the sensory tubs, that is actually still open this week because it was so popular is the mermaid lagoon.  The addition of Ariel and lots and lots of seashells has made this a popular place.

 

 

DSC_0067

DSC_0141

 

Some of the children gathered around the mermaid lagoon:

 

IMG_4939IMG_4941

 

 

 

IMG_4783

Ocean Cloud Dough:

 

Cloud dough is a wonderful silky smooth sensory material.  It is a combination of flour and oil that makes a substance that will hold its shape, but can be manipulated easily.  I added blue powdered paint to our cloud dough to make it more ocean-like!  I added large sea shells and larger ocean animals to the cloud dough.  Bringing the sensory tubs outside has really allowed the children to enjoy them in the beautiful weather.

 

IMG_4786

 

IMG_4788

 

DSC_0040

 

“Frozen Ice Castle” Sensory Tub

The first week of school Ms. Lori and I had a lot of fun watching the children interact with this Frozen themed sensory tub.  I froze different sized blocks of ice in the deep freezer each night.  Once choice time started Ms. Lori would pop all of the ice blocks out and let the children play with the Frozen movie characters in the sensory tub.  I added silver beads, charms, and snowflake beads to the water to add to their imaginative play.  M probably spent two full mornings at this tub, and it was so sweet to see her playing pretend on her own for such long periods of time!  That is the exact purpose of these tubs!

 

DSC_0044

 

DSC_0042

 

 

 

 

Small Group Activities:

 

IMG_4828

 

 

 

Last week I called over children one at a time to work on their number sense.  This is the first time they had a chance to use the “links” which was a learning process in itself to get them linked up.  Here is a picture of L with his linked up number lines.  I had number cards with a hole punched in them.  They have to create the correct length chain and attach it to the number card.  Each child had a chance to work on this activity with me last week.

 

 

IMG_4820

 

 

 

Exploring our Materials:

 

IMG_4793

 

I have enjoyed watched the children really interact with the materials so far this year.  They have gotten out more of the blocks and manipulatives in the block area then ever before.  It may be their growth and development from last year, but the easy access to the materials is helping aid this interest.

 

M spent a lot of time last week working with the rainbow blocks.  Here is one of his master creations.  I love seeing the younger students watching in awe at his building skills!

 

IMG_4795

 

We added some new materials to the light and shadow area this summer as well.  I also added a book shelf to store the array of materials I had accrued last year for this part of the classroom.  The shelf holds Widgets, Blockus blocks, ABC see through pieces, flashlights, magnitiles, X-rays, and these new insect blocks.  They are quite creepy, but the kids have enjoyed examining them!

 

IMG_4825IMG_4827

 

IMG_4822

The fairies and their friends have also been an exciting new discovery the past two weeks.  M had lined up all of the peg people on the fairy house, and was arranging the blocks underneath.

IMG_4947

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the process that went into creating this fairy world.  M and E spent a good part of the morning creating this land.  Everything had a purpose.  The line of trees to the bottom were the “dark forest.” And the bark painted yellow was the bridge to the rainbow to get through the dark forest.  It all had a part in their play.  After they were finished creating, MH had another story line going with snails and them disrupting the fairies.  Not long after C and MR were intrigued by their set up and came to play.  They joined right in, and I loved seeing their work.  We actually left it out to be played with again this week.

IMG_4949IMG_4950IMG_4951

 

 

Open Ended Art:

 

Last week we did one ocean themed art project, but for the most part I provided open ended art activities in the classroom.  One of the MOST popular ones was this bottle cap canvas.  I had three large bowls of bottle caps, a blank canvas, and two glue bottles.  They really enjoyed squeezing the glue and flipping over the caps to find a perfect space on the canvas.  They used up all of my bottle cap stash, so if you have bottle caps send them in!  I know the children would enjoy doing this activity again!

 

IMG_4817

 

The art room was back in a big way last week too! Both easels were opened again, and the painting, painting, and more painting has begun!

 

IMG_4829IMG_4830

For a new art process that we didn’t explore last year I covered cardboard boxes with aluminum foil.  Then I purchases Sharpie paint pens.  They offer a really neat drawing experience because of the texture and sheen, as well as the crunchy noises when you draw on the foil.

 

IMG_4831

 

We Love GAK!

 

IMG_4880

One child discovered the joy of cutting gak and it spread around the classroom.  Everyone stopped by the gak table last week to try their hand at cutting gak.

IMG_4881IMG_4882IMG_4885IMG_4886

 

DSC_0047

LP also figured out how to shred gak using the hammers to shred the gak up.  We really spent a lot of time exploring our ocean gak!

DSC_0045

 

Last but not least, here are the pictures of our sand casting in the sand box.  What a neat process and the results were stunning.  I can’t wait to do this again!

 

 

DSC_0030DSC_0032DSC_0034DSC_0035DSC_0036DSC_0038

After the children added their stones to their hole in the sand, Ms. Lori and poured plaster of paris into the holes and allowed them to dry.  Then we lifted the plaster out of the sand to reveal their art.  I love how different and unique each sandcast turned out!

 

DSC_0052DSC_0053DSC_0054DSC_0055

 

I know that was quite a post, but we have been so busy the past few weeks!  Soon we will be sharing all of our weather activities!


Leave a comment

“Egg”stravagant Spring Time

Our bird study blended right into a big discussion all about “eggs”.  We talked about eggs, we painted eggs, we played with eggs, and of course there was some discussion of the Easter bunny too!

 

IMG_3852

R joined our class for the last few months of school, and she has blended right in with the group perfectly!  She is full of excitement, and art projects seem to be her passion right now.  She enjoyed this contact paper project I presented on the easel.  I cut out shapes and provided the outline along with cellophane paper to fill in the shape.  The result was just beautiful in the art room.

IMG_3874

This art project is great for fine motor development, and using an easel for preschool art actually has many benefits.  Another wonderful blog that I read frequently, Small Potatoes, describes 5 wonderful benefits of easel art in this blog post.  This blog is a wonderful resource for play tips, sensory activities, and art inspiration at home.

Table Invitations:

IMG_3832

One week children found this on the classroom tables.  These are actually little drink glasses from the dollar store.  I turned them upside down and wrote upper case and lower case letters on the glasses.  Children matched the lower case letter to the uppercase letter on the light table. 

IMG_3770

I love providing unique materials that engage the kids in new ways.  This is a long bath mat turned upside down.  Children had to use the tongs to move the marbles from the bowl to balance on the suction cups of the bath mat!

 

IMG_3804

Exploring Sense of “Self”:  I presented this table invitation to encourage students to learn to draw themselves.  I have been doing small mini lessons with the Handwriting Without Tears program to encourage self portraits and develop their ability to draw their bodies and faces.  They have come a long way since the beginning of the year!  I love seeing their self portraits, and the details they choose to include…

 

IMG_3818

 

Play Dough:

IMG_3844

We explored some lovely spring colors with our play dough last month!  I made a large batch and then split it into purple, pink and blue.  On the play dough tray I provided spring gems in bright colors, flower gems, and then an assortment of cookie cutters including sheep, bunnies, and eggs.

 

Learning Trays: 

IMG_3775

Our learning trays this month have been filled with all sorts of different interests.  The picture above shows a counting tray I created.  Using small play dough cakes, I would place a number in the play dough and the child would match the correct number of matchsticks to the number.

IMG_3829

This was a fun egg and sound guessing game.  I filled plastic eggs with different loose parts from around the house.  The child would shake the egg and try to guess what was inside based on the sound of the egg.  Some of the items were easy to distinguish like the pennies and paper clips, and some were more difficult like the plastic tags and links.

IMG_3897

R is exploring a learning tray of fettuccini pasta and a small colander.  This would be a quick and easy exploration to set up while you are trying to cook dinner!

 

 

IMG_3908

I printed out each child’s name and they placed an assortment of stickers overtop of their letters.  It was great fine motor and letter practice!

IMG_3842

We played with this learning tray a few times as a whole class, and then I put in on the shelf for individual exploration.  Each child would crack open an egg to find a letter inside.  Then they matched their letter to the ABC sheet provided.  Just adding the opening of the egg created so much excitement to a simple letter puzzle!

 

Sensory Play:

 

 

IMG_3866

Our Easter Sensory Bin:  green Easter grass, eggs large and small, bunnies, and carrots.

 

 

IMG_3788

This water sensory tub was a huge hit for most of the week!  I created it using the liquid watercolors, gutters cut in half, a second tub to catch water, funnels and cups.  They loved watching the water splash, move, and fill up again and again.  In the picture above M and L are pouring the water while L is entranced by it sliding down the gutters!

 

IMG_3811

IMG_3824

Both age groups were super involved with this water activity.  It will be repeated again I am sure!

Dramatic Play:

 

 

IMG_3819

For some wonderful spring themed dramatic play I created a “Flower Shop” for the kids.  I provided a shelf filled with cups, pots, and loose flowers, a store front, cash register, money, paper and pens for note taking.  This was a busy flower shop, and the children enjoyed making flower arrangements for each other.

IMG_3823

 

Process Art:

 

 

IMG_3809

This past month the children created a wonderful group art project using a very large sheet of contact paper.  I laid the paper out on the table and provided lots of spring colors to stick anyplace they wanted.  The results were so pretty, and I love seeing it hanging on our doorway everyday.

 

 

IMG_3835

I drew a bunch of blank eggs on the chalk board wall and waited to see if they would fill in the eggs with different designs!

IMG_3848

One of my favorite projects this past month was a super sized egg!  I got the idea from Fun at Home With Kids’ blog about a big Easter Egg.  I changed our eggs slightly and provided the textured rolling pins for the students to make large scale designs for their eggs.  Here is L in the middle of making her Very Large Egg!

IMG_3845

 

IMG_3855

The children painted wooden eggs with our liquid watercolors, we added them to the Easter Sensory bin and played hide and seek with the eggs outside.  The hide and seek game was such a great way to reinforce colors, counting, and more and less than. While we were playing I would hear,

“We need one more blue”

“There aren’t any pink eggs in the carton, help me find them”

“Only one more egg left!”

IMG_3911

 

 

IMG_3884

We paper mached paper eggs with tissue paper and modge podge!

IMG_3901

I had so much extra tissue paper we used some to do some bleeding tissue paper art work!

IMG_3906

And just for fun we made Easter bunnies using Easter colored marshmallows.  They got to eat a few marshmallows when they finished their bunny too!

 

That just about covers all of our “Egg”stravagant Spring exploring!


Leave a comment

Tweet, Tweet

 

IMG_3700

Over the cold winter months the class and I would take walks around the neighborhood to get some fresh air.  While we were on our walks the students started noticing the bird nests in the empty trees around the neighborhood.  These nests brought a lot of discussions about birds, where they went during winter, and what happened in those nests we noticed in the trees.  After a few days we headed back out with some sticks and plastic bags and we took down some of the old nests for inspection.  They were fascinated by how the nests were built and the materials the birds used for building.

 

IMG_3702

After all of this excitement about birds I set up a bird sensory bin for the students.  I filled it with bird seed, nests, felt birds, and little wooden bird houses.  I also found some fake bird eggs at the craft store.  The sensory tub provided a new level of interest around birds, their life cycle, and their habitat.

 

Table Invitations:

 

IMG_3826

I noticed that many of the children were taking the birds out of the sensory bin and lining them up along the edges and making up stories about the birds.  After two weeks I removed the birds from the sensory bin and put them out on the table for further pretend play.

 

 

IMG_3869

Through books we studied the life cycle of the bird.  I offered another table invitation for baby chicks.  I provided rice, little chicks, gems, and plastic eggs for exploring.

IMG_3777

 

I created a bird puzzle from felt and then made labels for the bird puzzle.  We worked on this puzzle as a whole group, and then I offered the puzzle as a table invitation for them to work on independently.

IMG_3793

I also created this bird matching game.  It was out on the tables for a few days, and then I put it in one of the learning trays for students to match up the types of birds.

Pretend Play:

 

IMG_3802

The children were pretending to be birds during choice time, so I created this large bird nest.  I used a kiddie pool, covered it with brown paper and filled it with shredded paper and large plastic eggs.  I put this large nest up in the loft, just like a bird makes her nest up high and out of sight.

Process Art:

IMG_3762

We created little paper bag birdies in their nests using brown paper bags and pom poms.

IMG_3839

The children also made bird window art using tissue paper and contact paper.

 

 

IMG_3806

During this bird study we re-read “Five Little Ducks” a number of times.  I also have the felt board pieces to match this story, and the children have heard it before.  To give them a chance to practice the story at home I offered this painting invitation.  They painted their rocks different colors for the mommy and the five baby ducks.  Then I added little eyes and a beak. 

IMG_3808

Each child got to take home their ducks to sing and practice the story at home.

 

 

IMG_3790

We also painted wooden bird houses with acrylic paints to take home too!

 

Extending their Interest:

 

IMG_3684

We created homemade bird feeders!  These are the easy, old fashioned feeders: toilet paper rolls, peanut butter, birdseed, and yarn.  We hung some of them on the trees by school and some children also took their bird feeders home.

IMG_3882

It was almost as if the birds knew we were interested in them, because a robin made her nest right under the deck on top of the columns of the preschool.  I was brave enough to take some pictures of her eggs for the kids.  After the eggs hatched the children figured out if they stood on the chairs on the preschool patio they could see the chicks waiting for their mom to return with food.  Just this week my T/TH group got to see the baby robins on the swing set, having just left their nest.  They flew off and it was a hot topic for the group!

 

Displaying our Learning:

 

IMG_3780

At the end of our discussion on birds the children put the life cycle of the bird in the correct order in their learning journals.  Then they drew lines to connect each part of the life cycle.  I dictated their understanding of the bird’s life cycle on the page for each child.


Leave a comment

Lucky Leprechauns and Rainbows

IMG_3557

This post is full of March madness!  I am little behind on my blogging so you will have to stick with me while I show you all of the great fun we had last month exploring green and rainbows!

 

Play Dough:

 

For play dough this month I made a batch of green dough with gold sparkles.  On the play dough tray I included shamrocks, gold coins, green straws and pipe cleaners and a collection of green dyed pasta.  The rainbow pipe cleaners were very popular with the kids.  They would form two balls and then create their very own rainbows!

IMG_3553

IMG_3554

 

You can see from the pictures all of the variety of ways the children used the loose parts with the play dough.

 

IMG_3582

 

Math Concepts:

 

To incorporate counting, numbers, and gold coins I found the idea for a “Lucky Hunt” from the No Time for Flashcards blog.  I know I have linked back to her blog before, but she really has some fantastic and simple ideas for playing and learning!  I simply used a piece of green construction paper and put seven circles on the paper to represent seven gold coins.  To add on to her idea, on my lucky hunt paper I wrote down the numbers one through seven and sent the children out to hunt for gold coins around the classroom.  Once they found their coins we pointed and counted the coins slowly together as a group.  We repeated this game a few times throughout the week!  

 

IMG_3649

 

Process Art:

 

We did some wonderful process art over the month of March! 

IMG_3597

For this rainbow painting, the children helped me squirt the colors of the rainbow on the paper and then they used a large comb scrapper and scrapped the colors across the paper.  I also cut out a shamrock from a sponge from the dollar store and they stamped shamrocks along the bottom of their rainbow.

 

IMG_3606

Above is a picture of a few of the Leprechauns the children made too!  I gave them strips of orange paper and they had to use their fine motor skills to rip the paper into strips.  This is actually quite hard work for little hands!  They we discussed the parts of the face, and they added eyes, drew the nose mouth and freckles.  I love how different each of the leprechauns looked in the end!

 

 

IMG_3670

One of my favorite projects this month was our clay rainbows.  Above C is beading each of the pony beads onto the pipe cleaners of her rainbow.  Once they were happy with the amount of beads they added to the pipe cleaners, we rolled a second ball out of clay for the other side of the rainbow.

 

Isn’t the finished project amazing?!  Again, I love how all of the rainbows are a little bit different (including Ls rainbow in the middle that just has one cloud)!

 

IMG_3669

 

 

IMG_3587

We also made shamrocks by rolling around marbles!  L is working on his shamrock above and you can see the amount of concentration he has on his project.  It takes a great deal of hand-eye coordination to get the marbles to roll the way they wanted them to in the box!

 

Rainbow Snack:

 

I asked each child to contribute one part of our rainbow snack activity (thank you Moms!!)  Everyone participated in helping to make our snack!  After washing their hands each child got to peel, cut or place their fruit in the correct order of the rainbow.  This was such a simple snack of all fruit, and was gobbled up by the children! 

 

IMG_3662

Below is my attempt at a group shot!  They really were excited about the rainbow snack, I promise!

 

IMG_3663

 

IMG_3666

 

Sensory Tables:

 

In my last blog post about Dr. Suess, I forgot to include my “Green Eggs and Ham” sensory table that we had up last month.  For this sensory table I lined the bottom of the tub with green colored sand, added the pots and pans from our kitchen, along with some of my youngest daughter’s egg toy.  There was quite a bit of baking and imaginative play that took play in this tub!

IMG_3561

Our St. Patrick’s Day tub was filled to the brim with split peas, gold coins, pots of gold, and shamrock treasures.  It was used again and again for pouring, scooping, hiding, counting, and talking about all things green!

 

IMG_3581

For the first time we explored Jell-O in school.  I made a very large batch of green Jell-O.  I cut the Jell-O into small squares and laid it on one of our large white trays.  They children spent time exploring it, squishing it, and using their hands to investigate the different texture of Jell-O.

IMG_3653

After they had explored the Jell-O, I added a bowl of green shaving cream and some paint brushes.  I didn’t give them any directions for this portion of the exploration.  They enjoyed scooping the green cream onto the Jell-O tray and mixing it up.

IMG_3656

 

Process Art:

 

I made a batch of homemade paint last month too!  I mixed clear hair gel (from the dollar store), liquid watercolors, and confetti.  The gel give the paint a shiny texture and is sticky enough to pick up the confetti as you paint with it!  This paint tends to bleed while it dries, so I simply rolled out large pieces of butcher paper to let them paint on.

IMG_3569

 

 

IMG_3570

Math and Shapes:

 

Another theme that I wove into March was a discussion on shapes!  We read a few shape books, and we will be re-visiting shapes again in May.  Both of these great art ideas below came from two websites I highly recommend.  I actually get both of them sent directly to my email account when they post a new blog post. 

 

IMG_3576

In the picture above I drew on large pieces of finger painting paper with a sharpie different shapes.  I ordered these wonderful confetti finger paints from Discount School Supply and they are really great.  The colors are vibrant and each color has different little pieces of confetti in the paint.  They had to use the finger paint to fill in the shapes on the paper.  I saw this idea on Fun at Home With Kids!  It is a wonderful blog, packed full of ideas!

 

IMG_3584

 

Another great shape project we did last month came from the Imagination Tree blog.  She posts about all sorts of things from sensory bins, art projects, and homemade light tables.  This activity was so simple and cheap too!  I took old cardboard tubes and bent them into different shapes.  The kids used the tubes as stampers and put the tube in the paint and stamped it onto the paper.  Great for shape recognition and color re-enforcement! 

 

I will stop here, but I still have more to share from last month’s adventures!  Stay tuned!


Leave a comment

Birds that Don’t Fly

IMG_3486

We have had a fabulous time discussing Penguins at school.  I haven’t had a chance to share all of the wonderful things we did during our Penguin unit.  The first few days we looked closely at pictures I had printed from Antarctica images I found online.  We talked about how different this environment looked compared to where we live.  The pictures were hung up on our Penguin chart for children to look at further during choice time.  We read some fabulous Penguin fiction and non-fiction books. 

 

The children especially liked the book, The Emperor’s Egg pictured below.  After reading the book we waddled, huddled, dove, and acted like the penguins we had been reading about.  I also found a very large plastic Easter egg.  Each child tried holding the plastic egg between their feet just like the Daddy Emperor Penguins.  Above is a picture of D standing in front of our drawing of the Emperor Penguin.  We measured each child and of course me too to see who was taller than the male Emperor Penguin.  Only I was taller!  Very interesting!

IMG_3488

 

IMG_3440

We did two different penguin art projects.  One was stamping the penguin with sponges.  At the end of the stamping the children glued on the penguins eyes, beak and feet. 

 

Below is a picture of our invitation to paint a penguin.  I had black, white, and orange paint set out for each child.  Then I collected some of our non-fiction penguin books for them to look at more closely while they were painting.  Once many of the children got started with their painting they kept talking about the Macaroni Penguin.  I didn’t have a real photograph of one, but I did have Eric Carle’s book with the Macaroni Penguin inside it.  I quickly grabbed the book, and a few of the children painted a macaroni penguin instead.  I need to take a picture of their paintings, because they are quite impressive! 

IMG_3496

 

DSC_0145

A few weeks ago I made a large “Artic” Sensory bin.  The children were mostly interested in the penguins and the Polar Bears.  Here is L looking in the water and finding different animals to look at more closely.

DSC_0148

DSC_0156

I also had Polar Bears out with the acrylic ice cubes as a table invitation.  I decided they might look really neat on the light table, so I shifted the bears to the light table for a few days as well!

IMG_3159

 

IMG_3443

After our artic bin had been explored, I changed it to just a penguin sensory bin.  I still had water, penguins, Styrofoam to be ice burgs, but I added gems to be fish for the penguins and a sorting try to sort the gems or penguins into. 

 

IMG_3433

Another table invitation to play was the Emperor Penguins from Safari Ltd, Epsom salt, gems, acrylic ice cubes, and paint brushes.  The children did a lot of exploring with this tray!  They made it snow on the penguins, painted or made trails in the salt with the paint brushes, and also used the gems to enhance their play stories.

 

IMG_3438

 

Here is P exploring another table invitation that was set up during our Penguin unit.  I have the Play Mobil Penguin Zoo exhibit.  This was a hit!  Every child took a lot of time to play with this tray!  There is a dish that slips into the Penguin tray and can be filled with water.  They fed the penguins, slide them down the slides, and even visited the zoo as the little boy. 

 

We also sorted types of Penguins using a penguin matching game I made.  They loved learning the different types of penguins and where they lived in the world!


Leave a comment

The Snowy Day or should I say Snowy Days….

IMG_3407

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:

IMG_3410

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. 

IMG_3408

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. 

IMG_3415

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!

IMG_3380

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.

 

IMG_3418

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!


Leave a comment

That’s a Wrap

 

 

IMG_2922

Over the past two weeks of the holiday break, I really tried to breath, enjoy my children and take a little break from all things school related!  That worked until the Thursday before we returned when I hit the ground running each night planning and prepping for everyone to return and all sorts of winter themed fun!  Before I start telling you about all of the winter fun, I need to share our last few moments in 2013.  I truly can’t believe how quickly the first half of the year passed by!  It went by in a blink for me, trying to keep up with all of these wonderful kiddos!

 

The picture above is the kids playing “Hullaballoo” on a really cold winter morning.  It is a fun movement and learning game that is made by the same company as Cranium.  I have played it twice now with the group and they are getting better and better!  There is a little speaker that calls out directions, i.e. find the circles, stomp to an animal, put your foot on a red.  Learning and playing at the same time!

 

 

 

IMG_2884

I love seeing my younger group really coming together over these winter months.  They are interacting, talking, and playing together more and more each school day.  K and M are working on K’s gingerbread man ornament together.  I love to see the bonds they are forming.

 

Table Invitations:

 

IMG_2937

One of the table invitations I had out in December was the light panel and letter construction.  I recently bought this letter construction set from amazon.  They are great for building upper and lower case letters, and working with the light table is always a crowd pleaser at school!

 

IMG_2916

Here is another great picture of my younger group working together!  This fun math game was out on the tables for them last month too.  It was very simple to make.  A Christmas tree with circles drawn on it.  I had a little bowl with counters and one dice.  Roll the dice and add that number of counters to the Christmas tree.  L, K, and D are all playing together!  They played this game a bunch of times.

 

IMG_2928

This was another fun holiday themed fine motor activity.  Candy cane sewing!

 

 

IMG_2902

I also found this great idea to use our “Light Bright.”  It has been tucked away in our playroom closet for quite some time.  I have been wondering if we would ever use it again.  Then I saw this idea on Pinterest to create my own drawings for the light bright.  I made a simple outline of Christmas trees and Gingerbread Men.  They enjoyed filling up the trees with little ornaments of light.

 

IMG_2911

 

Special Events:

 

In December spent a whole week talking and reading about Gingerbread Men.  At the end of the week the children got to decorate gingerbread houses.  They loved every part of the process…the icing, the candy, and licking their fingers was their favorite part.

 

THANK YOU for all of the parents who donated food items, volunteered during the party, and a special thank you to Sarah and Allie for making the finicky graham cracker houses.  They were not easy to put together!

 

IMG_2890

 

 

IMG_2897

IMG_2899

 

Play Dough:

 

 

IMG_2905

To go along with our Gingerbread theme we played with “Gingerbread Play Dough.”  It smelled just like a bakery in the art room!

 

IMG_2904

 

Art:

 

IMG_2909

On the chalk board wall a few mornings I would draw the blank outline of a Christmas tree and the squares for the gifts underneath.  The kids had so much fun filling the tree in with ornaments and even adding twinkle lights to the stars.  P turned all of the boxes into gifts by adding lines for ribbon and a bow on top!  I repeated this again and again for both groups.

 

One of my favorite art projects from December was this gift to the parents.  I was a salt dough ornament.  It was filled with a handprint and then once I baked the ornament in the oven they painted the hand part with dots for a Christmas tree.  We wrapped them up along with a picture I took of them tangled up in lights.  Around the lights are all of their thumb prints.  Such a great homemade Christmas present!

 

IMG_2881IMG_2926

 

We made A LOT of ornaments in December!  I don’t think I took pictures of all of them, but below is a picture of Ellie making a snowflake ornament.  The children were allowed to use the cool glue gun.  It still melts the glue, but the gun and glue won’t burn you.  Perfect for little hands!  Many of the children had a hard time squeezing the glue gun, so I would squeeze it and they would place the gems onto their snowflake.

 

IMG_2894

We also made Christmas votive candles with tissue paper and modge podge.

 

IMG_2919

 

And snowmen ornaments using their handprints. 

 

IMG_2946

 

 

Sensory Play:

 

The last few weeks of December we had two very fun sensory bins.  One was “Clean Mud” and Christmas themed goodies. 

 

Clean Mud Recipe:

three rolls of toilet paper

one bar of Ivory soap grated

warm water

 

I had the kids unroll the toilet paper (which they thought was really fun!).  Then we slowly added warm water and squeezed the paper to help it break down.  The clean mud gave off such a nice scent from the Ivory soap.  This would last you a couple of days.  The paper would start to dry up each day, and I just added a bit of warm water to get the paper softened up again.

IMG_2917

 

Lastly we had Peppermint scented rice in the other sensory bin.  The rice was dyed red and then I added peppermint extract to it!  Before it was all mixed together I had the rice placed in red and white stripes in the sensory bin.  It looked like a huge candy cane! 

IMG_2925

 

All in all it was a busy and fun month of traditions, holidays, and Christmas Spirit!

 

I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for Crozet PlaySchool!