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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Clay Work

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As soon as we returned from our wonderful holiday break I brought out clay as a new material in the classroom.  The materials provided with clay were cardboard pieces, clay tools, beads and gems.  Clay is a great fine motor manipulative for preschool children to work with!  It takes more dexterity than play dough, holds its shapes, and dries to make a permanent piece of art.  They were very interested in this material, and the table was quickly crowded with little clay workers.

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The first time this invitation was set up I didn’t give the children any direction on what to make with the clay.  I allowed them to work with the clay as they wished, creating anything they pleased.  I helped students if they wanted to roll the dough, but otherwise I let them create whatever they wished.

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Once each child finished their work, we took time to transcribe a story about their work of art.  They each had stories to tell about their clay.  It was fascinating to hear all of the stories, ideas, and tales about their clay pieces.

Some children loved squishing beads into the clay and using the clay tools to make marks in the clay.  Other children were intent on making “something” with the clay: people, gingerbread men, cupcakes, and lots of other fun ideas.

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J above is making different marks in the clay using a variety of tools.

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C in the picture above is in the beginning stages of his gingerbread man.

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H in the picture at the table made a wonderful piece that was his sister with the clay.

 

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This is a picture of one of D’s siblings!  It was so neat to see them making clay creations for and about other people.

The following video shows a display I made of their clay work, and how unique all of their pieces were!

 

 

 

 


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That’s a Wrap

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

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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:

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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

 

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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Play Dough:

 

 

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

 

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Art:

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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

 

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And snowmen ornaments using their handprints. 

 

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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.

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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! 

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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!


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A Very Merry Classroom

Table Invitations:

 

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We have kept things festive this month with lots of fun activities that children enjoy around the holidays.  Of course I am always trying to find ways to sneak in some fine motor practice, or numbers and counting without them even realizing it!  I set up a mini tree for the class (above).  I think it has been decorated and taken down over 10 times so far this month.  It was a Table Invitation the first week of December and now I have moved it to the book shelf so children can visit it whenever they want!  Sometimes ornaments with hooks came be tricky for little fingers, so I have half of the ornaments attached to circle pipe cleaners.  They are easier to take on and off the tree because they hold their shape.

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Another fun table invitation was called “Decorate the Tree.”  Children simply rolled the dice, counted the dots and added gems or counters to their tree until it was filled up.  Simple math and number practice with a twist!  This activity was out on the tables for one week and then I added it to the learning trays for further exploration.

 

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Another fun idea I got from a great website, Buggy and Buddy, was this felt cone Christmas tree.  I simply hot glued felt to a Styrofoam cone shape and then cut out small felt pieces as ornaments for the tree.  They also have visited this tree again and again.  I placed it on the book shelf too for easy access to be decorated any time during the morning. Team work!

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This table invitation was more sensory inspired!  I brought out my playmobil Santa set and a few extras (red gems, artic animals, and people) and added some white navy beans for some great imaginative play.  This invitation was visited by both groups and very popular.  Playmobil is so easy to manipulate and the children like all of the little parts and pieces to add to the story lines during imaginative play.

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Santa’s Workshop was just a little brainstorm idea I had last week for the tables.  I cut out smaller rectangles and squares of paper, added rolls of tape, mini boxes, and small pom poms and bendable people for gifts.  They spent the morning, cutting, using the tape, and wrapping “presents” for their classmates.  It was so much fun to see them working like little elves.  They always want to help with Christmas wrapping, but if you are like me I often time do it myself. 

 

Their wrapping paper was all rumpled, twisted, and covered with tape, but they were proud of their wrapping jobs!  This station will be coming out again this week while we wrap presents for our parents!

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Play Dough:

 

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This month I made the children a Christmas themed play dough tray.  I had little bulb gems, craft rhinestones, red and green gems, red bead cut into smaller strips, and Santa and Elf cupcake toppers.  The possibilities were endless!

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Sensory Play:

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This snow themed Christmas tub was one of my favorite sensory tables I have made this year.  We often times tell our kids at Christmas, “watch out, don’t touch, that’s fragile!” to all of the special holiday decorations around the house.  What better way to make the holidays more accessible to them than creating a sensory tub with all special Christmas items that they CAN touch! 

 

I searched the stores high and low and found, little mini nutcrackers, bristle trees, holiday finger puppets, mini reindeer ornaments, soft gnome ornaments, and snowmen ornaments.  I filled up an entire table with fake snow that I found at Target and cut up a few strings of read beading to lay in the snow.  This table was so inviting!  The children used the little boxes to make presents for each other, the snowman and Santa’s came to life!  It just went on and on.  I also think it is easier to ask them not to touch things when they have their own place to play with the holiday décor without getting in trouble!

 

Before I put the playmobil Santa set on the tables, I had it in the Sensory room first!  I put the lid on one of our large sensory tables and put a large white tray on top.  Then I put glittery white “cloud dough” on the tray and added the Santa set.  Playmobil is great too because most of the pieces can get a little dirty and wet, but will wash up just fine. 

 

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The second week of December I opened up the tray and we made “Snow Dough.”  This was my first time making this type of dough with the class and it was really fun.  You combine equal parts cornstarch and shaving cream to create a fluffy dough.  It will form into balls, but once it begins to dry it will start to flake apart.  I added some bowls, buttons, and some foam shapes cut up to look like carrot noses, hats, and scarves.  I thought they would like to make snowmen, but they mostly enjoyed moving the dough all around and scooping it.  It was very light and fluffy, who can blame them?

 

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Art:

 

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In art we have been very busy!  I think the children have taken home a new ornament for the tree almost every time they visit school.  We have been busy making some surprises for the parents too!  Shhhh!  The first week in December we made Salt Dough Ornaments!  This might be something fun to do over the Winter Break next week!

Recipe:

2 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 1 cup warm water.

Knead into a dough, roll out and cut out shapes. Color your dough with food coloring or paint after it has baked in the oven. Just be sure to poke a hole into the dough with a straw if you want to hang it on the tree!

Bake @250 for two hours. Flip over half way through!

I like to paint a coat of Modge Podge on top of my ornaments for a more shiny look!

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We have been slowly adding items to our group effort Christmas Tree sun catcher.

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We also made this simple toilet paper roll Christmas tree.  They dipped the roll into green paint to stamp out the shape of a tree.  Then they covered the tree with gems and glitter!

 

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We tried out hand at another puffy paint project!  It was a great success!  This was brown puffy paint (glue and shaving cream and powdered paint mixed together).  It dries fluffy and it is a lot of fun to paint with!  They added buttons and smiles to their gingerbread men too!

 

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I need to get more pictures of our Learning trays this month, but here are a few that have been really popular with the kids. 

 

Learning Trays:

Squeezing Christmas erasers:

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Make your own candy cane ornament:

 

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Some new items out in the classroom are:

 

My cousins’ vintage Fisher Price Dollhouse.  The people are precious, there is even a little art easel for the kids room inside.  It has been visited every day by just about every child!

 

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Magnatiles on the light table!  These have been extremely popular in the classroom.  A lot of toys and manipulatives only come out for short periods of time and then are switched for another item after a few weeks.  There are a few items that have a permanent home in the classroom: blocks, cars, books, kitchen, and now magnatiles! I even gave the tiles a permanent home one on our shelves!

 

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Exploring Colors

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Over a series of days this month we have been talking about colors, color mixing, and different shades of colors.  Colors, painting, and art are an underlying theme of our school days.  The children often label objects first by color, then by shape or size.  I wanted to draw on this common interest and explore colors even further with the classes. 

 

One of the first activities we did was a color experiment from the book Freight Train.  We read the book and talked about all of the different freight cars and their distinct colors.  Then I showed the children the basic color wheel.  We talked about when two colors mix they will sometimes change colors.  I made different cups filled with food coloring and then made little “rainbows” with the paper towels to connect the cups.  The results were so exciting to see!  The kids went back to check on their rainbows over and over again throughout the morning.

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The two most obvious color changes were the red and yellow, to make orange, and the rainbow on the back of the tray blue and yellow made green.  One rainbow did turn purple, but it was so dark it was difficult for the children to see the purple.  It was a great experiment and I am sure we will do some more color mixing science exploration sometime soon!

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Another fun sensory activity we did was a color mixing car wash.  There were a lot of steps in our car washing process. 

First we sprinkled baking soda on our cars for our “soap.”

Then we sprayed vinegar on our cars and watched them fizz and bubble up!

Our next step was shaving cream to get our cars nice and soapy.

Lastly was some drops of blue and yellow food coloring.

The drove their cars all around the car wash and turned the shaving cream green right before their eyes!

 

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I repeated this activity with my other group and we mixed red and yellow food coloring to make an orange car wash!  We will definitely play car wash again!

 

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Over two different days I called students in to the art room to create their own paint colors.  I had a variety of paints available, along with white and black.  Children chose their colors and then mixed them in small paint pots.  The results were recorded on our class color mixing sheet that is still hanging in the art studio.  Each child got to name their paint too!  Some of the names were:

purple grape

pink cherry

green apple

orange blossom

zebra

 

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Of course we had to paint with all of our new paint choices!  And boy did we PAINT….

 

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Another part of our color unit has been our brightly colored sensory rice bin.  The first week of our color exploration I filled the bin with colored rice, ice cream boxes and lids, ice cream cones and lots of bright pom poms.

 

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This sensory bin was visited by both classes again and again.  There is nothing quite like running your hands through a large bin of rice, scooping, pouring, talking, making ice cream, and learning through play. 

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You can tell by the series of pictures just how busy their hands were scooping and pouring!

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This past week I removed the ice cream buckets and added some colorful ABCs to the rice bin.  They have been busy making abc ice cream this week! 

 

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We also made some very colorful spider webs using white crayons and watercolor paints.  We talked about the lines and circles on a spider web.  Then the children drew their interpretation of a spider web using a white crayon.  Just like magic the lines of the crayon began to appear once they painted over the paper using water colors.  I love the mixtures of their spider webs.  We will be repeating this activity again soon.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!  


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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!