Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Hearts and Art

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

Process Art:

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

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

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Sensory Play:

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

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

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

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

Learning Trays:

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

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

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Video of the children working on a learning tray:

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

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

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Getting in the Spirit

We have just started to break away from all things turkey related, and begun to talk about the many holidays around the world!  It is fun to discuss each family’s traditions, and what we all do the same and do differently this holiday season.  One thing everyone can agree on at morning meeting is December is a month of fun, festivities, and special time with family.

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We opened a big batch of “hot cocoa” rice outside in the sensory tub.  I made a batch of rice by dying it brown and adding chocolate extract.  Then we added cups and cotton balls for the marshmallows.  It has been fun watching the children play pretend with tub while the weather has been warmer.

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Sensory Play:

The children and I made a batch of “snowy” gak in the art room on Friday.  We mixed a giant tub of glue, water, glitter, and borax.  This batch turned out great (sometimes we aren’t so lucky).  The children got busy squishing in gems, snowman, reindeer, and lots of mini holiday treasures.

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Process Art:

We made a beautiful set of votive candles for everyone to take home to their family.  The children used modge podge to cover the votives with tissue paper and gems.  This was such a fun project, and each individual candle turned out very unique. I’m so proud of all of their hard work, and willingness to work hard to complete projects.

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Yoga with Ms. Kay:

We always enjoy when Ms. Kay comes for yoga, but last week we played some games at the end of yoga.  The children pretended to be water, rain, and storm clouds.  They danced to the music with their “water” scarves.  I got some great action shots!

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

Preschool Literacy:

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This past week we did some fun activities to learn the letters in our name.  I am starting to transition to using upper and lowercase letters when writing their names.  We used glue to write their names and covered the glue in salt.  After dumping off the excess salt the children dipped paint brushes into watercolors and dabbed them onto the salt.  It is so fun to watch the colors spread through the salt.  Their names turned out beautiful!  Such fun process art!IMG_0242.jpg

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Then we played “hidden names” with watercolors.  I drew each child’s name on a piece of paper using white pastels, and then they water colored on top of the paper to find their names!  It was sweet to watch them squeal with delight as they uncovered their letters.

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More holiday fun coming soon!

 

 

 

 


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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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Preschool Happenings

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Process Art:

The colder months tend to keep us inside a bit more, but we also get a chance to explore new materials and techniques in the classroom!  We have worked on a few projects using liquid watercolors this month in a variety of ways.  Liquid watercolors are similar to water color paints, but with a lot of versatility.  You can paint with them of course, but also add them to play dough, gak, and lots of sensory recipes for a pop of color.

For these paintings the children were given large bowls filled with the watercolors and paint brushes.  They went to town painting different designs with the liquids.  After their paintings dried, I thought it would be great to introduce our crayon melter to the class.  We discussed the safety rules for the crayon melter, because it can get quite HOT!  They did a wonderful job being very careful with the melted wax.  Using the Q-tips they simply dripped or painted with the different wax colors.

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H and M wanted to try the crayon melter on plain white paper instead.  They were busy working with this new medium for a long time.  Painting with the melted crayons provides wonderful hand-eye coordination and development.  It also allows them to assess risks and take risks in a safe way, by being careful around the heater.  Lastly, it was always important to put the Q-tip back in the correct color or the crayons would get really muddy.  We learned this the hard way, and everyone worked diligently to make sure their Q-tips were put back correctly (color matching!!).

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Another way we used the watercolors was with the pipettes and paper towels.  The children simply squeezed the colors out of the pipettes to create beautiful designs and images on their paper towel.  They had to make sure not to get the paper towel too wet or the colors would run together.

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The pipettes can sometimes be a bit tricky to use, and they really have to concentrate while using their pincher skills to squeeze the paint onto the towels.

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C and D working side by side above!  I loved seeing Cs two-handed pipette painting!

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After our paper towels dried we cut them into snowflakes and hung them on our classroom doors.

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I think my group this year has used up almost every last piece of chalk that I have!  They simply love side walk chalk.  As a group they are really starting to come together, play as a group, and do group projects that they plan together.  One of their favorite things to do outside has been to “paint” with the chalk in the rain puddles on the road.  They will gather up all of the chalk and get to work!

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You can see B above offering different colors to friends in the roadway.  The results are very cheerful on a rainy day too!

Light and Shadows:

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Another fun invitation to create has been these tracing papers on the light table.  I got the great idea from the Teach Preschool blog.  She has a fantastic blog and so many wonderful ideas.  I drew simple lines, curves, and points for the children to trace on the light panel.  They had to lay a piece of tracing paper on top of my original and trace the lines with a marker.  You may have seen some of these tracing papers coming home.  Many students did this again and again!

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Sensory Play:

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In the sensory tubs we have had two new materials!  The multicolored rice “Ice Cream” tub is pictured above.  The students have really enjoyed this tub, and have opened up a few ice cream shops during the day.  They will make different flavors and offer them to friends that happen to pass by!

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We also had this really colorful “Valentine’s Day tub.”  I filled the tub with white beans, cupcake liners, and lots of fun Valentine’s Day goodies.  They love the heart boxes, and filling them up with beans.

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Our play dough this month has been this beautiful rose scented pink play dough.  I added a lot of soap scent to this dough, and it really fills up the room when the children start manipulating it!

The play dough tray has pink gems, heart roller, heart shaped cookie cutters, and lots of heart cupcake liners.

T made the most beautiful creation with all of the heart shaped cookie cutters.  I had to capture it in a picture!  Stunning!

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Now that the snow has finally melted, it left my yard a beautiful muddy mess!  That has made the mud kitchen a hot commodity!  H is stirring up a large batch of mud soup, and M is making cupcakes below!  She even requested a special pouring cup to measure each muddy cupcake correctly.

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Preschool Math:

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Lastly, we have been getting out our preschool learning trays almost everyday!  They have really enjoyed all of the math games that use old candy.  In the pictures above M is completing a color pattern.  The first patterns are given to her, and then she fills in the blank hearts with the corresponding candies.

You could even play this at home, and it would be a fun way to use your extra candy!

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T and B getting to work on their pattern papers.

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D working diligently to find the correct colors to match the patterns.  I was so so proud of their hard work and math skills!


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Tweet, Tweet

 

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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.

 

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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:

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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:

 

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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:

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

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

 

 

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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. 

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

 

 

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

 

Extending their Interest:

 

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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.

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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:

 

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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.


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Lucky Leprechauns and Rainbows

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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!

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

 

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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!  

 

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Process Art:

 

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

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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.

 

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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!

 

 

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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)!

 

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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! 

 

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

 

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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!

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

 

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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!

 

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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!


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Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Goop

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Pumpkin Investigation (Science)

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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Process Art:

 

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

 

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Process Art Turkeys:

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

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Their large papers looked like this:

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

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

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

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Play Dough:

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

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