Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet

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Lines and Curves


Spielgaben Study


Last week I set up this simple invitation to study lines, curves, and shapes in a variety of ways using our Spielgaben wooden pieces.  Four years ago my families from Crozet PlaySchool all got together and bought this beautiful math set.  I look forward to using it each year!  The pieces provide open ended math exploration.

On one side of the table I put four cork circles, and on the other side of the table was the large wooden grid that is part of the math set.

I let the children use the pieces to create their own designs, and their imaginations were their only limit.












Swirls and Lines

Then I moved the Spielgaben to the block area in the classroom and set up the chalkboard table top.  On the table I drew a series of lines and swirls, along with offering a large supply of gems.  They children loved this activity, and we changed the drawings on the table throughout the week.








We will see where this exploration takes us in the weeks to come!



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Digging Deeper into Spielgaben Math


Last year my parents gave me the most wonderful math materials set by Spielgaben.


The materials are open ended, engaging, and of high quality.  The colors are so inviting, and we spent a lot of time last year exploring them in an open ended way. 



This year I have been setting aside class time to introduce the materials in a more formal way.  At first I was daunted by the loads and loads of teacher’s guides that the set provides.  But, I found out that I could upload all of the guides onto and then access them from my ipad in the preschool space.  This allowed me to flip through the lessons quickly, use much less paper, and I can show the children the steps as we are working together with the ipad lessons guiding us.  I haven’t gone through each and every lesson in the order they are provided.  I have picked and chosen the different lessons based on the children in my class. 


One of the first lessons we worked on was creating shapes with the yarn and ball manipulatives.  We made squares, triangles, houses, hexagons and octagons. 




In addition to the lessons, I have provided the materials to make one of the nature inspired picture cards.  As you can see from the seal picture, these are very hard!  Children must manipulate the blocks by turning them on their sides, or pointing them at new angles.  It is interesting to watch them go about the task of representing the animals with the blocks.


This is the not the greatest picture, but here is M creating a Hippo!






Another lesson focused on geometric shapes.  The cube, cylinder, and the sphere where the highlight of the lesson.  They had to find the corresponding shapes from the box and “skewer” them on the sticks provided. 




Once they mastered the three different shapes, then I laid the blocks out in a pattern.  They had to replicate the pattern using the geometric shapes on a longer stick.  Tricky!



A few more of the animals we have made!  I love M’s face here, such focus!





Some of the animal picture cards I printed out for the children to look at more closely.  Here is D with his milk cow!




Of course the math materials are always open to just be played with an explored freely.  I think having the more formal lessons has made the children more interested in the pieces again.  G in the picture above loved lining up the sticks by size.  One morning was spent with everyone tracing each other with the stick pieces.  This was sparked after we had pulled the sticks out to make the zebra.  I love being open to learning and letting the children guide their opportunities.  You never know where they will take you! 


You can see the different outlines on the floor.  M even wanted to add some details to the inside of his outline.


L was really giving D a long arm there!


As you can see the children have been exposed to a lot of new math concepts this fall already!  From manipulating the blocks, geometric shapes, and much more!  I can’t wait to see what new learning unfolds from these materials this year!

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More Spielgaben Exploration


This past month we pulled out our Spielgaben math manipulatives and I took the long dress up mirror off of the wall and placed it on the floor for some open ended exploration.  Instead of offering the entire tray of shapes, I sorted the shapes ahead of time into three bowls: squares, triangles and diamonds, and circles.  These loose parts lend themselves to exploration and creativity so easily!



D spent such a long time working with the materials on the mirror.  First he organized all of the circles at one end of the mirror.  The circles come in three sizes and they can fit inside of each other.  Once he figured this out he then looked for smaller circles to fit inside of the larger circles.



At the other end of the mirror I made a simple flower using the diamonds and a stick from the other boxes.  D was inspired by my flower and started to make new creations apart from the circles.  You can see from the photo his lines extending similar to a flower but then off of the edges.  The children were fascinated with the whole idea of the mirror on the floor.  They spent a great deal of time studying their reflections and the looking at the lights on the ceiling that appeared in the mirror.  I spent most of my time observing and guiding the students with the materials.



In another area I put a piece of Styrofoam out with dowel rods pushed into it.  I saw this idea from the blog Twodaloo.  The kids found this a little tricky, because if they loaded up one of the dowel rods it would immediately tip over.  It was a lesson in balance, weight, and fine motor skills. 



Then I changed the activity slightly and put the bowls on our tables, along with smaller mirrors that gave each child a defined area to work with.  I started by only offering them the three bowls with the pre-sorted shapes.  It didn’t take long before they were requesting the other parts of the Spielgaben set!  I found myself digging the other two trays out of the closet.  There is something very appealing about the sticks that are all different lengths that the children love.



Recently I posted about L and the amazing road scene he created with the Spielgaben set.  In his most recent encounter with the materials he combined the smaller shapes with the larger unit blocks that I have in the classroom.  The picture below shows a train that he made from the combination of the two materials!!



I must constantly remind myself that we shouldn’t limit them with their ideas or expectations for play.  I catch myself saying or thinking “We are using this right now, not that” or “These pieces are for this area only.”  Sometimes we can limit their learning and play by not allowing them control of their interactions.  L is a perfect example of this! 


I can’t wait to get these materials out again!  Each time we use them surprising things happen!