Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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Letters, Letters Everywhere

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We have tried to incorporate letters into many of the learning activities this late winter.  We have done a number of letter activities that the kids have loved!

These pictures are from some beautiful letter names the children made with sequence pieces, and glue.  They had to work very diligently to get the many pieces of sequences on their name. Each name turned into a work of art, and the kids were very proud of them!

 

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Here is a video of some children working on their names:

Light Play:

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On the light panel I used small pink glasses to write upper and lower case letters on two sets of glasses.  The children had to find the lowercase match from around the edge of the light panel to match to the uppercase letter in the center of the light panel.

Below are some pictures of D and J matching up the letters on the light panel.

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Some of our glasses cracked so we added in new colors and alphabet letters:

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Large Group Lessons:

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In our large group circle time, we have done a series of lessons from the Handwriting without Tear Program.  I also added some sorting letters activities at the end of our circle time.  I pulled out the large sorting circles, and we studied the letters together as a whole group.  The first sort we did was: Letters with Straight Lines & Letters with Curved Lines.  These lessons allow children to take a closer look at each letter, what components make up the letter and how it is formed.  After I sorted a few of the letters first, I had each child come to the front of the room to be the ‘teacher.’  They sorted a letter or two for their friends, and the children watching got to check their answer!

Below B is examining his letter before sorting:

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A short clip from our sorting lesson:

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After we finished the activity I cleaned up the letters, but left the sorting circles out for choice time.  Below is a picture of J and she sorted the entire alphabet by herself!  I love when they extend our group learning into their class time choices!

Here is a video of J sorting her letters:

J posing with her circles:

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Lastly we used our mini chalkboards to practice our letter writing!  The Handwriting without Tears chalkboards use mini pieces of chalk to encourage the correct pencil grip, and give students just the perfect amount of space to practice their uppercase or lowercase letters:

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Everyone holding up their different letters:

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In our play time area I set up a very large parking lot with the matchbox cars and the garage.  Each car had a letter written on the top of it with tape, and then they had to park the cars in the corresponding parking lot!

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Sensory Play:

I set up a large kinetic sand tray with our ABC stamps for the children to explore.  They could dig in the sand and press the stamps into the kinetic sand to see the impressions of the letters.

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Dinosaurs and Letters:

A few of my students just love dinosaurs!  I thought I would incorporate both of these ideas into a sensory table.  I added sand, plastic dinosaurs, and then some salt dough letter cakes I made with my students a few years ago.  The letters are pressed into the cakes, and are fun to uncover in the sand!

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More of our past February activities will be shared soon!  I will slowly be catching up with our posts over spring break since my computer is back:)

 

 


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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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Loose Parts Play

 

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This week I got a large tray, added black paper to the background, and then added a large helping of Epsom Salt.  the children then used a paintbrush to draw their names or favorite letters in the salt.  Epsom Salt is great for this activity because it is nice and thick, and stays put after they moved it around on the tray.

Each child had a visual example of their name either in all Uppercase letters if they are just learning their letters, or Uppercase and Lowercase letters if they are ready to incorporate upper and lowercase.  I also included some examples of our favorite words “Mom” and “Dad” which is great for every child to learn after they have mastered their name!

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We also worked with Bristle Blocks on our other table this week…IMG_2215.JPG

Some of our friends got a chance to do some glue and salt painting.  We didn’t to everyone, but next week everyone will have a chance at this fun painting process art.

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I got caught up in Yoga this week, but finally captured some pictures of the children relaxing in their Savasanah…

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At the end of yoga this week Mrs. Kay lead us through a fruit meditation.  Each child got one clementine and we thanked the Earth, rain, and sun for growing the fruit and bringing it to us.  It was a wonderful way to be mindful of our food and how it gets all the way to the grocery store.

This week I placed a large assortment of loose parts to add to our play and block areas.  The children got right to work playing, building, and pretending with:

mini led candles

fabric squares

beaded necklaces

wooden place mats

long ribbons

“Loose Part Play” is a unique way to incorporate Reggio Inspired play into your school or home.  Loose parts are simply everyday materials that can be collected and used for alternative purposes through play.  I love loose part play, because there isn’t an intended goal with the pieces.  They can be used in any which way that the child sees fit to become part of their play scene.  They are usually cheap or even throw away materials that get a second life through the classroom!  It really falls under the saying “they liked the box more than the present.”  Children truly see a multitude of possibilities when they play with materials.  They love to imagine one items as something entirely different.  It lets the play continue and grow without limiting it to the parameters of a boxed toy.

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Lastly, H and D spent a long time working together create an very in depth Arctic world with the light panel, animal figurines, and colored boxes.

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First H had a big plan for the penguins and they were all living on the iceberg.  Then the polar bears joined in the play, but they had to live on the outside edges.  Then D got involved and the scene grew and grew.  I was proud of their collaboration, ideas, ability to share and work together, and continued focus on the project.

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Glow in the Dark Discovery

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Last week I had the pleasure of teaching my first inservice for a nearby preschool.  It was such a humbling experience to be up in front of a group of peers, and showing them different things I do in my classroom.  They were most interested in learning about sensory play, so I spent a couple of hours pulling out a bunch of my favorite materials.  Down in the bottom of the bin I uncovered my “glow in the dark” rice.  I had done a number of glow in the dark activities in the past.  It is funny how you forget all of the things you do from year to year!  My black light lamp had broken last year and I just forgot about it.  I decided after my inservice that I would get some new black lights and pull out all of my fun materials.

The first thing I grabbed was my set of fluorescent paints.  My assistant Melissa and I offered the children a few of the color options for each paint set.  It was interesting to see if they noticed that some of the paints had a brighter glow than the other paint sets.

 

These paints are actually a set of finger paints, and it is a good thing!  Many of the children couldn’t resist the temptation to paint themselves (sometimes all the way up their arms) with the paint.  They would do this to see their own body glow in the dark!  They also would paint their hands, and then press them to the paper.  They loved seeing their handprint light up on the paper.

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The children have continued to go in and out of the art room to paint additional pieces with the glow in the dark paint.  I am planning to leave them out for a few more days for the class to enjoy.

I also set up the rice table with the glow in the dark rice.  A few years ago I dyed a batch of rice with the different fluorescent paint colors, and it is still glowing very bright under the black light.

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It is more difficult to see who is playing with the rice, because it is dark around the sensory tub.  But, at one point Melissa and I noticed ALL of the children surrounding the tub.  That rarely happens!  They just loved it!IMG_1989.JPG

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Outside of our dark room we also played with lentils and a doggie set!  It is from constructive play things and the children were really drawn to it.  I thought it would be a great addition to the vet clinic that was set up in the dramatic play area.

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We had Yoga this Wednesday and yoga remains to be one of my favorite days of the week:

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We also learned about Mat Man this week from the Handwriting Without Tears Program.  Mat Man uses the wooden pieces from the HWT program to help the children learn how to draw their body in more detail.  It also gives them more awareness of their physical body. We will begin to transfer this concept to paper through paint, drawing, and art.

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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

Some of us simply made marks in the paint…IMG_1712.JPGIMG_1675.JPGIMG_1676.JPG

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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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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Giving Thanks

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

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

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Process Art:

Squiggly and Bumpy Art!

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

 

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

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

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

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

Preschool Literacy:

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

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

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Look at the concentration…

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Sensory Play:

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

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Pumpkin Soup:

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

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

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Preschool Math:

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

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

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

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