Crozet Play School

Kids at Play in Crozet


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The Mitten & Animal Adventures

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Before I jump right into The Mitten and all of our new animal adventures, I wanted to share some of our last few Valentine’s activities we did throughout February.  Unfortunately this past month was really interrupted with National Holidays, teacher workdays, and lots and lots of snow!  We would just get started with something and then get interrupted for a snow break.  But, we managed to squeeze in some Valentine’s Day fun on two different days.

The blog has been quite quiet the past few weeks while I have busily working on assessments and portfolios.  I was able to write a portfolio for each child in the class, and meet individually with all of my parents.  It was so nice to sit down with everyone and discuss all of the growth and progress each child has made this year.

 

The pictures above and below are of D, C, and H playing in our huge sensory tub of pink salt.  I died many large boxes of salt pink, and then added scoops, glass containers, long pink spoons, heart gems, and a giant restaurant style salt shaker.  The kids quickly figured out how to unscrew the lid and fill it up with salt.  Then the boys would hold out their scoops and wait to have them quickly filled by the giant salt shaker.

This activity builds fine motor skills, cooperation, verbal skills, problem solving, and scientific processes of pouring and filling.  They were busy with this tub for quite some time.

Sensory Play:

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Process Art:

J brought in the most beautiful sunflowers for Mrs. Brittany and I for Valentine’s Day.  As much as we were enjoying them, we decided to put them in the art studio as an invitation to create.  I put the flowers in a large vase next to the easel with yellow, brown, and green paints.

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Fine Motor:

For some fun fine motor work I covered a table with long strips of crepe paper.  The children each got to stand at the end of the paper and cut all the way down to the tape.  This provided a fun way to cut using scissors in a new and different way.

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We turned it  into a cutting race to see who could make their way to the tape first!

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Classroom News:

Our new sweet friend A started coming to school in the past few weeks.  She had a great time making new friends, and getting adjusted to life at Crozet PlaySchool.  A quickly discovered the Valentine’s themed learning trays.  She made some bracelets for mommy and daddy.

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A and A spent a long time moving our winter erasers from the container to the muffin tray using the tongs.IMG_2930 2.JPG

She also explored the jump ropes with her buddy A outside.

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And they got out our new set of sidewalk chalk for spring.  It was so great to see both girls bond right away!  It was great to see her warm up to our school on the first day:)

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Preschool Literacy:

We kicked off our study of animals by reading one of my favorite winter stories, “The Mitten” by Jan Brett.

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After reading the book a number of times in the morning, we acted out the story using large puppets from the Jan Brett website.  If your child is still interested in the book and would like to learn more, Brett has a fabulous website with lots of resources.

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I brought a large sheet down into the classroom and we clipped it onto the chairs to make a large mitten fort.  Then each child got to act like their animal as they crawled, dug, or hopped their way into the mitten.  Lastly our mouse got in the mitten and caused the bear to sneeze!  This was a wonderful way to incorporate early literacy skills such as story parts, characters, and problem solving.

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To give the students another way to “act out” the story I opened a snow sensory tub.  We made a batch of “blizzard in a box,” and then I added the figurines from Safari Ltd that matched the story.  They had a great time hiding the animals in the snow and making snowy forest scenes just like the book.

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Little hands in the tub…

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Also to go along with our kick off to studying animals Mrs. Brittany came up with this simple and very popular sensory tub!!  She added our large safari animals, soap, water, scrub brushes, and sponges.  The children got busy washing, scrubbing, and bubbling up the animals!

I love to see all of their little hands reaching into the tub to get wet and soapy!

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D scrubbing the lion very carefully.

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Preschool Math:

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We also played some great animal inspired games last week!  The game pictured above is called “Hiss.”  A bunch of students were playing with us, but of course they walked away when I took the picture.  Each child draws a card and they add it to a snake on the table by matching up the colors.  Once the snake gets a head and a tail it is complete and the player says “Hissss” to keep their snake!  It was a great game for color recognition, problem solving, turn taking, and practicing patience.

Celebrations:

Although we had to postpone our Valentine’s Day celebrations, we still squeezed in some time to have fun.  We got to bounce in the bounce house one morning!  These were the best pictures I could get!

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Each child got to roll out their very own pretzel, and shape it into a heart.  Here is B and D rolling out their pretzels.  They went straight into the oven and into our bellies before I could get a picture.

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Once our pretzels were finished cooking we enjoyed them and M’s special heart shaped cookies for her birthday!  We even got to decorate the cookies with pink and white icing! Yummy!

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Happy Birthday M!

Yoga News:

Mrs. Kay also brought some new mats and a new format for our yoga time recently.  Instead of reading us a book and working on poses throughout the story, she told us a story out loud.  We had to listen to the story and then we posed as different story parts.  The picture below shows everyone trying to reach behind their legs to be a spider.  It was hard!

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And our favorite part of yoga, savasana.  Ahhhh relax and breathe.

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We had a few extra minutes at the end of yoga, so Mrs. Kay joined our mats together into a long line and we made a “Dragon’s Rainbow.”  Everyone got into downward dog, and then the first person crawled under the tunnel and went into downward dog at the end.  This repeated again and again!  It was really fun and hard work to stay up in down dog for so long!

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Now that we are mostly caught up, I can’t wait to share more of our animal study with you soon!

 


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Snowy Fun

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In between all of our letter fun, we have been playing with lots of snowy items or making wintry art in the classroom.  I started a little penguin exploration on the light table.  We talked a lot about penguins last year, their habits, and types of penguins.  They are always such a fun animal for children to use in imaginative play.  I place the penguins on the light table with shades of blue ice cubes.  They made little houses and igloos and homes for the penguins.

 

Sensory Play:

 

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The following week I made a batch of snow dough using cornstarch and hair conditioner.  It is soft flaky dough, and the children really seemed to enjoy it.  It doesn’t bode well for cookie cutters, but it is perfect for shaping and squishing little penguin down inside of it.  I placed the dough and some wax paper on the light table to extend their interest in the penguins.  These are just a few of the photos of the different penguin set ups the children made.

 

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I thought it would be fun to juxtapose our snowy activities with some sand in the sensory tables.  It has been a long time since our sand box was opened up too!  I pulled both of the tables together to make a sand slide to connect them.  I also added a funnel holder by cutting apart a box to make a ledge and shoving the funnels down inside.  They enjoyed the funnels the most, and loved to watch the sand fill up under the funnels.

 

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Next to the sand tables I laid out something new on the art tables….Kinetic sand!  It is a very thick sand that is moldable, squishy, and just plain fun to get your hands on!  I also discovered these tiny castle molds at the craft store that were perfect for the kinetic sand.

 

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This is how many of the children have spent their mornings in January.  They have been collecting all of the paper supplies they can find and punching, coloring, cutting, taping, and making lots and lots of things for each other and their homes.  I love giving them a variety of materials and seeing what they come up with!  Their play sure is evolving right before our eyes!

 

Process Art:

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The children uncovered some patterned mittens with our watercolors.

 

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Then the watercolors were used for creating our own photos.

 

 

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We dripped acrylic paints inside of a box filled with marbles.  Then we got busy rolling them around to create some beautiful snowflakes.

 

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I put some different snowflake materials on the table one morning, and they got busy making lots and lots of snowflakes.  The biggest hit was the squeezable glitter glue! 

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I finally purchased a giant container of white paint.  I added white paint to different shades of blue and purple, to create this lovely paint invitation.  They painted the remainder of Brittany’s snowflakes and poured some glitter on top for good measure.

 

 

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Block Play:

 

 

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Block play continues to be a vital part of our morning play time.  These three buddies were proud of this enormous tower they put together using all sorts of blocks and chairs for standing on their tippy toes.

 

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We have continued to explore our marble run and make new marble paths to explore.

 

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D built this unique block house with a mixture of our unit blocks and smaller block pieces.

 

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The Magnatiles continue to be used again and again.  L lined up the magnatiles on the floor to create “Pizza Planet.”

 

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Our new dollhouse was untouched the first week back to school, but then I added some Lalaloopsys to the table and it was soon a popular spot in the room.

 

 

Even in the coldest of weather we continue to go outside everyday.  We usually stick to a brisk walk if the weather is really cold and windy.  But, one morning we had a break from the cold and made our way to the play ground.  What a treat!!

 

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Birds that Don’t Fly

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We have had a fabulous time discussing Penguins at school.  I haven’t had a chance to share all of the wonderful things we did during our Penguin unit.  The first few days we looked closely at pictures I had printed from Antarctica images I found online.  We talked about how different this environment looked compared to where we live.  The pictures were hung up on our Penguin chart for children to look at further during choice time.  We read some fabulous Penguin fiction and non-fiction books. 

 

The children especially liked the book, The Emperor’s Egg pictured below.  After reading the book we waddled, huddled, dove, and acted like the penguins we had been reading about.  I also found a very large plastic Easter egg.  Each child tried holding the plastic egg between their feet just like the Daddy Emperor Penguins.  Above is a picture of D standing in front of our drawing of the Emperor Penguin.  We measured each child and of course me too to see who was taller than the male Emperor Penguin.  Only I was taller!  Very interesting!

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We did two different penguin art projects.  One was stamping the penguin with sponges.  At the end of the stamping the children glued on the penguins eyes, beak and feet. 

 

Below is a picture of our invitation to paint a penguin.  I had black, white, and orange paint set out for each child.  Then I collected some of our non-fiction penguin books for them to look at more closely while they were painting.  Once many of the children got started with their painting they kept talking about the Macaroni Penguin.  I didn’t have a real photograph of one, but I did have Eric Carle’s book with the Macaroni Penguin inside it.  I quickly grabbed the book, and a few of the children painted a macaroni penguin instead.  I need to take a picture of their paintings, because they are quite impressive! 

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A few weeks ago I made a large “Artic” Sensory bin.  The children were mostly interested in the penguins and the Polar Bears.  Here is L looking in the water and finding different animals to look at more closely.

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I also had Polar Bears out with the acrylic ice cubes as a table invitation.  I decided they might look really neat on the light table, so I shifted the bears to the light table for a few days as well!

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After our artic bin had been explored, I changed it to just a penguin sensory bin.  I still had water, penguins, Styrofoam to be ice burgs, but I added gems to be fish for the penguins and a sorting try to sort the gems or penguins into. 

 

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Another table invitation to play was the Emperor Penguins from Safari Ltd, Epsom salt, gems, acrylic ice cubes, and paint brushes.  The children did a lot of exploring with this tray!  They made it snow on the penguins, painted or made trails in the salt with the paint brushes, and also used the gems to enhance their play stories.

 

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Here is P exploring another table invitation that was set up during our Penguin unit.  I have the Play Mobil Penguin Zoo exhibit.  This was a hit!  Every child took a lot of time to play with this tray!  There is a dish that slips into the Penguin tray and can be filled with water.  They fed the penguins, slide them down the slides, and even visited the zoo as the little boy. 

 

We also sorted types of Penguins using a penguin matching game I made.  They loved learning the different types of penguins and where they lived in the world!


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The Snowy Day or should I say Snowy Days….

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We have missed a lot of school this year due to ice, snow, or a combination of the two!  I decided to embrace all of this winter weather by doing a few more snowy and icy activities mixed in our Valentine’s Day fun.  The first science experiment we did was an Ice Experiment.  We started by talking about ice and what happens to it when it starts to warm up.  We also discussed all of the plow and snow trucks and why they sprinkle salt on our roads. 

 

After our discussion I told the children that we were going to see what happens when we add lots of salt and water colors to large blocks of ice.  Here is a picture of the hypothesis the children had when we added salt to our ice blocks:

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Some of their thoughts were the salt:

was not going to stick

it was going to melt the ice

turn the ice into water

dissolve it

 

Some of the new words we discussed as a class were:

DISSOLVE

HYPOTHESIS

MELT

 

The M/W/F group also put their learning down on paper.  In the picture above of our hypothesis there are all of the learning journals from the students.  I drew the shapes of the ice for them, and they drew the colors and spots of the cracks in the ice.  I recorded their thoughts in their journal too.

 

After that great discussion we got to work! I set up our station with three different ice blocks, cups of salt, water colors and pipettes. 

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Both groups thoroughly enjoyed this activity.  I am always pleasantly surprised when you present children with engaging “invitations” the amount of time they will spend exploring, talking, and playing in them.  The T/TH group below actually made their ice crack open quickly because they spent a lot of time pouring salt on their ice.  They asked me for salt refills a number of times. 

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After they salted and painted their ice over and over again we carried the ice blocks outside in the snow.  We looked through the ice and studied the grooves and cracks the salt created.  Once the ice was dumped outside the last step was stomping on the ice to break it down into small bits.

 

 

 

children at work!

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One morning after snow I created a snow ice cream station for the kids.  I pulled out the scoops and ice cream dishes I found at the dollar store, and scooped some snow onto a large tray.  They spent a ton of time making snow ice cream for each other.

 

I am somewhat of a Pinterest fanatic.  I use it for almost all of my planning and a way to organize my ideas for school.  You can follow me on Pinterest here if you are looking for fun things to do with your kids.  Even if you aren’t on Pinterest you can still flip through my boards to see lots and lots of goodies. 

 

I found this art idea on Pinterest for The Snowy Day under my Winter Wonder boardThe Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a famous children’s book and a Caldecott Winner.  If you click on the title it will direct to amazon.com to purchase the book.  In the book Peter sets off to explore the new fallen snow.  When he returns home he wants to save some of the snow, so he packs it into a snowball and puts it in his pocket for later.  He is sad when he later looks inside his jacket to find the snowball is gone. 

 

As you can see this was the perfect book to read to go along with our “snowy” theme!

After we read the book children got to use a variety of paint brushes and sponges to make snow on their art work.  Then they glued an outline of Peter onto their paper.  This was a great follow up activity to The Snowy Day.

 

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I hope we are at the end of all of our snow and ice adventures!  I am ready to move on to all things spring!