Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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More Winter Fun

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

Sensory Play:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Process Art:

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

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While other children drew letters in the paint…

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And some children drew images of themselves or their family…

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

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

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Preschool Literacy:

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

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

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

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

More winter fun will be coming soon!

 

 


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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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Murals and Spring Fun

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We worked hard throughout April to create our last few animal murals.  We spent a week discussing the ocean and all of the amazing animals that live in the ocean!

Process Art:

The picture below shows A coloring a tin foil fish with sharpies.  After they colored their fish, we squeezed out glitter glue on top of the foil to give the fish their scales.  A and C are using our watercolors to paint their jelly fish.  Once their jelly fished dried, they got to cut the long tentacles on the bags.

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We also worked on our Desert Mural too!

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We made cacti by painting large green strokes with the paint rollers, and then adding lots of prickly spikes!

Below is a close-up of our shape lizards.  The children glued shapes onto their lizards and then dropped silver paint on top to give them shiny skin.

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The last part of our animal project was creating our special animal with clay.  Each child got to pick an animal to represent with clay.  I printed out a real-life photo of the animal for each child to look at while they were making their project.

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Once the clay dried many children decided to paint their clay pieces too.

 

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While we were discussing the ocean I set up a large ocean sensory tub.  I filled the tub with water and lots of different colored water beads.  Then I added large ocean animals, and they went to town!

Sensory Play:

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The children have also still been very busy building animal homes and habitats around the classroom!  They love to use the Magnatiles to make divided homes for the animals.  The home area below using Magnatiles, connecting blocks, birds, elephants, and a stuffed animal brought from home!

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More animal houses!

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Sensory Play:

Another sensory tub I created for the end of April was a giant construction site.  The children love to play with the trucks, and play mobile people.  I combined both of these with a huge tub of pinto beans!

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In celebration of spring we put out a large tray with kinetic sand, spring cookie cutters, and lots of colorful gems.

 

Preschool Literacy:

We have continued to follow along with two to three Handwriting Without Tears lessons a week.  We have now covered all of the letters that only have straight lines and diagonal lines.  We only have curved letters left, and we will have worked through the entire alphabet!

In addition to the handwriting lessons, we have started discussing the phonetic sounds that each letter makes.  I pulled out my phonetic buckets to accompany our lessons.  Each bucket has small charms or tiny toys that represent each letter sound.  Then I laminated these Constant-Vowel-Constant grids.  Children got to come over to work in small groups to sound out these simple C-V-C words.  They had a great time with this new task!

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Light Table:

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I drew different lines and designs on large pieces of paper.  Then I collected different stones to place along the lines or around the spiral.  Each of the children got a chance to work at the light table, and they all had different versions on how to line up the pieces.IMG_4002.jpg

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Then I put stirring sticks and gem ice cubes on the light table.  They really came up with some creative designs.

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I can’t wait to see what adventures await the last month of school!

 


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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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Christmas Countdown

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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:

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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.

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Table Invitations:

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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.

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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…

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Then he uses the tape to wrap up his box…

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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!

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D hard a work cutting her wrapping paper.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Preschool Math:

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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!)

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

Preschool Literacy:

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

Process Art:

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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!

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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!

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Gak, Clean Mud, and Much More!

We have been introduced to so many new play experiences this first month of school! I apologize, but this will be a long post full of photos. I have been trying to focus on one exploration at a time in my past blog posts, but I wanted to use one post to quickly catch you up on all of our happenings!

We have been adding new materials to our classroom each week. Every time we add a new material we have a guided discovery about that material. My goal for the guided discoveries are to show everyone what the new materials are, how to care for them, how to clean them up, and where they are stored in the classroom.

As a disclaimer, I do my best to take lots and lots of photos around the classroom in the mornings. Please don’t get discouraged if you don’t see your child in lots of the photos. I promise there will be posts with lots of pictures of everyone as the year goes on. Some days just get busy and I don’t have as many chances to take photos.

Process Art:

I opened the easels this week! We discussed painting in the classroom, cleaning up, where to find smocks, how to put on smoack, and where to find paint brushes. I only put yellow, red, and blue paints at the easels. We these three colors the children have been seeing lots and lots of color mixing happening while they paint on the easels.

J and A are working on a collaborative painting!

Loose Parts Play:

This was an activity the children had access to outside last week. I painted an old train table with chalkboard paint and then I added chalk and lots of loose parts. I drew different lines and swirls onto the chalk board. Then they were offered a bunch of different loose parts to put ontop of the lines. They could lay them out in a pattern or add them in a unique way to the lines. This activity develops counting, math skills, fine motor skills, reasoning, spacial awareness, and creativity.

Many of the children took the lead and made their own lines or areas to create unique designs with the chalk and the loose parts!

Light and Shadows Project:

I gathered up all of my color blocks and window blocks into one location for a color provocation on the light table! I also added some color chain links!

Play Dough:

We have loved our new play dough, which I dyed yellow and added a lemon scent to it! We played with it outside on the tables and also for a few days inside the classroom. Other items on the play dough tray were cut up straws, yellow gems, yellow play dough liners, and little cups and a little pitcher.

The cut up straws were used a lot and a great source of interest to their play dough creations.

I love the above photo of D pretending to pour some play dough lemonade!

H was very interested in the textured rollers, and creating different impressions on the play dough.

M worked for a good part of the morning on a giant lizard made out of dough!

I love Ts use of the straws in the above picture!

Our First Batch of Gak:

We worked together to make our first batch of Gak. Gak is a mixture of glue, water, and a few tablespoons of borax. It turns into an interesting slime that is a great texture for sensory. It stretches and moves, but it doens’t leave any residue on hands, which makes it perfect for little children that don’t like to get really messy. We will be making lots of Gak this year, so I was happy to see they liked their very first experience with it!

Stir, stir, stir! They thought it was turning into “purple brains!!”

Once it was mixed completed, I separated the Gak into different piles for each child and gave them a few gems to squish into their Gak.

C is working intently on a huge pile of Gak and gems.

J spent a lot of time outside exploring the Gak and watching it stretch when we held it up really high.

Sensory Play:

J and A helped me make our first batch of “Clean Mud.” First we shredded two bars of white soap. Interestingly enough, J and A LOVED the white soap pieces. They spent a long time scooping them and pouring them. They offered such a fabulous smell too!

The second step was to unroll an entire roll of toilet paper. Lastly, we added a large pitcher of warm water to make the clean mud nice and foamy and squishy. As soon as it turned into mud J and A walked away from the activity. This clean mud is very squishy and will leave their hands feeling wet and foamy. They were not interested in messy hands! They sure did love making the mud with me though!

Our finaly product of clean mud!

My father came over a few weeks ago and made this fabulous top to our sensory tub. It is a wooden board with many different sized holes cut into the top of the board. I added black beans and many different types of scoops underneath the board. This new sensory top added an inviting level of interest to an average tub of beans. They got busy pouring, scooping, reaching, and trying to figure out this new table!

 

Sensory tables offer so much in the area of open ended play, but they give the children lots of chances to practice pouring, scooping, measuring and judging capacity. They also get the children talking to each other, comparing notes, and sharing their equipment. You can see from the photos how busy the sensory tubs are each morning!

Block Play:

We have had a lot of new block play going on these past few weeks. I put the mirror on the floor for some added interest, and D got right to work stacking animals ontop of the mirror. We discussed their reflections in the mirror.

I also made these block people for the class. These blocks were a wonderful springboard into imaginative play and also allowing the children to get to know each other better.

They worked a few mornings on different houses and areas for the people in our class to play and stand.

M and H spent the better part of the morning creating an elaborate home with their block people. Then they acted out play dates with their block people. One child would be sleeping and the other child would ring the doorbell and wake them up for a play date! The picture below shows just how large their home area became with the blocks.

Of course the large tubes and ramps have continued to be a daily play material.

Many of the children started playing with the little stuffed animals that they found in the loft. Mrs. Brittany and I got out the hollow blocks and made a pet home. Then the children added many details to the home including beds, blankets, food, and a play area for their pets.

Then J and M spent a long time creating the huge doggy obstacle course. Once they finished the obstacle course their doggies had to jump, leap, and scramble over the top of the course to complete the mission. It is amazing to see something as simple as a stuffed animal lead to such imaginative play!


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Bubbbblessssss!

 

Above is the simple bubble table I set up for the children outside for the first week of school. There is something amazing about the sensory table. Sensory play brings children together, promotes community, evokes communication and language, and allows for open ended play. Open ended play means there isn’t a goal at the end of the activity. For example a toy with buttons or flashing lights may only serve one or two purposes in play. Once the child has explored those purposes they may move on to other items. The bubble table doesn’t have one specfic goal or outcome. It is meant to be explored. This allows for long, extended play as well as returning to the table over the course of many days to revisit the materials and ideas there. I usually keep my sensory tables the same over the course of two weeks and sometimes longer depending on the interest of the class. We will continue to explore the bubbles this week!

You can see D pouring just the bubbly part of the water onto his hand in the photo above. Pouring is a life skill that takes children lots and lots of time to practice and master (and it is fun too!)

B is using the turkey baster to fill up a measuring cup that is floating around in the table.

M is using the egg beaters to move the water and create more bubbles. The egg beaters also serve as a valuable fine motor tool. She has to hold it up with one hand, and spin it with the other hand working her fine motor skills and her hand/eye coordination.

B is now trying the egg beater, and J is working out how to use and squeeze the turkey baster. This was a new skill for her and we will keep on practicing it!

Just playing around the sensory table the children spent time exploring independently, discussing the water and bubbles, and negotiating the materials to share with each other!

We will probably continue to explore water in some way this upcoming week too! We may add some ice cubes or other new elements to the water to explore!