Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dip the Apple in the Honey . . .

Rosh Hashanah was approaching.  And in our Mystery Box was . . .one yellow apple and one red.
It was time to talk about Rosh Hashanah, the Birthday of the World.

We heard the Shofar every morning during the month of Elul.
And we began working on our own Machzor, the special prayer book for Rosh Hashanah.
We played games with the symbols of the holiday.  Can you say the Hebrew name for bee?  Head of the fish?  Pomegranate?  We can!
 We went to our ECD garden, and found real rimonim, pomegranates, growing on the trees.


 We made our own honey pots.
We "played" with all kind of manipulatives, each with a Rosh Hashanah theme.
 We used our Rosh Hashanah apples to graph and to make artwork.
And we made our own Israeli mailbox.  We're ready to mail our Shana Tova cards!
Shana Tova U'Metukah!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014



Sand is such a great sensory toy and provides hours of play as children explore the
feel and texture of sand!

        Sand is unstructured, open-ended; it is the purest sense of exploratory learning.

The wonderful thing about sensory play at this age is that it opens the door to so many amazing learning opportunities such as creative and imaginative play, language exploration, fine motor development, co-ordination and social interactions.

Rosh Hashanah and Bees

We are preparing for Rosh Hashanah in so many ways in Gan Alef!  Students are learning many aspects about the holiday from Morah Yael, and to complement this learning we've been learning all about bees during General Studies.

First, we created a circle map about what we already knew about bees.  Then we brainstormed a list of questions we had about bees.  Now we are researching and answering our questions.

We've listened to Ms. Rechtman read non-fiction and fiction books about bees.  We've watched videos about bees on the Smartboard.  We've sung songs about bees.  We've even read books ourselves about bees and observed bees on the playground and up close in our classroom.  We've learned about the different types of bees (queens, drones, and workers) and their roles.  We've also learned about bees' different body parts, and we've started learning about the bees life cycle.

Other questions we've answered so far: "How do bees die after they've stung someone?" and "How do bees' wings make them fly?"

Learning to be a responsible part of the community

Learning to be a responsible part of the community

This year in the Ktantanim class we have extended the daily Toranoot (classroom jobs) to include:
·         Rosh Shura - line leader
·         Chazan/Chazanit - Tefilah leader
·         Librarian - in charge of making sure all books are put        away
·         Zoo keeper - responsible for feeding the class pets, which are currently tadpoles  
·         Weather reporter - reports about the weather outside
·         Snack helper - sets up plates and utensils for snack
·         Lunch helper - sets up lunch boxes on the tables before lunch
·         Gardner - waters the plants in the class
·         Caboose - last person in the line

Every day we rotate the Toranoot so that every child gets to help in different ways. Because our class has eleven children and there are only nine jobs, two children get to have a free day.

We have found that the children look forward every morning to see which job they will get that day. And they are actually disappointed if they have a free day.

Here are some of the lessons learned through the daily toranot:

·         The children are engaged in what is going on in the class, and learn that as valued members of the community, they need to contribute to the classroom by doing their "jobs". Everybody helps, and everybody benefits.
·         Sometimes we get disappointed if we don't get a job, or don't get the job we want, and that is ok. We can always ask the Toran if they need any help J
·         Because we always rotate the jobs in a fixed manner, some of the children already began to predict on which day they will get to do a certain job - e.g. "I am going to be the line leader tomorrow". Such skill is based on observation and the ability to follow a pattern - both important skills that are acquired at early age.
·         The children learn the value of responsibility: if we don't feed the tadpoles, they will die; if we don't water the plant, it will die; etc.
·         The Toranoot is based on taking turns, and models how this can be done. The children learn to use this type of model in their play.

What a beautiful community the Ktantanim are creating!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Foundations of Fun, Foundations of Writing in Ganon

Our ability to read and write starts with a love of books. It is so valuable for children to be read to, even in the earliest stages of life. It is a wonderful way for parents and children, as well as children and their friends, to bond. This interest in books sets them up for success when the time comes to start reading and writing.
Ganon's Literacy program has a single mission, and infinite routes to get there!

Our goal is to prepare our children for the world of reading and writing that lies before them. There are just as many ways of teaching as there are of learning. As teachers, we find that the best strategy for relaying alphabet knowledge is to engage as many senses as possible, and allow the learner space to explore a variety of different modes and methods that tap into their literary interests.

The following pictures illustrate just how many ways in which Ganon students connect with writing every day!

The children's interest in books often inspires them to create their own books- both from scratch or filling up a special notebook.

A favorite activity among our children is making their own books in the Art Center.
Reading alphabet big books of rhymes and riddles helps extend our letter familiarity and phonemic awareness skills.

Practicing letter formation on chalk boards or with play dough exercises fine motor skills.

Each child works in their journal frequently throughout the year, creating imaginative drawings, and writing letters and words to accompany them.

Add caption

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On the Playground

 We love our playground.  Sometimes we explore the natural aspect of the many items that we find.

 At other times, we hang out with a friend or two and play on the equipment.

     Often, we work as a team.  We figure out ways we can move the equipment to suit our needs.  What are our needs?  We think about this for a while.  Then we negotiate and experiment.  We make a plan.

 Sometimes we have a quiet chat with a buddy.

And sometimes we chat with a Morah.

Our playground provides us with so many opportunities to explore, learn, relax and have a fun time!

Beautiful Environments Encourage Learning

Our teachers have worked their magic again this year by creating inviting and beautiful classrooms.  The children have been welcomed with a lovely serenity which has encouraged them to familiarize themselves comfortably with their new environments.

This week has been dedicated to giving the children time to explore and to become accustomed to new routines. They are enjoying finding their way, and as the year progresses, our environments will continue to offer many wonderful opportunities and provocations, enabling deeper and extended learning. The environment as the third teacher is the beginning of a great new school year!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"We need some back-up here!"

Getting Ready for Pesach . . .
      How do we learn about Pesach?  Sometimes we learn new material during Circle Time.  Here we are making a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the way we celebrate Shabbat and Pesach.
     Sometimes we handle a variety of items related to the holiday.  We took turns chopping and smelling the horseradish.  Spicy!
     We are very fortunate--the Matzah Factory came to visit.  We mixed, shaped, rolled and pricked the dough.  We used only flour and water.  The process took only 18 minutes, not one minute more.

     We made our own Mesubim pillows to use at the Seder.  We know that we recline to the left, because we are a free people.  (A big Todah Rabah to the Joel Family for donating the cloth, the stuffing and the sewing expertise!)

       And of course, we prepared our very own Hagadot.  To do this, we created matza rubbings (with real matza!), observational drawings of parsley for karpas, and expressed our own ideas of the Yom Tov.  (And a big Thank You to Ms. Rechtman and Mrs. Pullman for guiding us with the narrative  writing and the original acrostic poems.  Did you know that we are Passover poets?  This was my first time working this way, and I just love reading all the different thoughts the children want to share!)

     With Morah Devi, we created our own Matzah plates.  They are made with real glass, so we'll be careful with them. They look so stunning, ready for our Seder table this year and for years to come!

     Finally, on the next-to-the-last day of school before our Passover Break, we prepared for our in-class Seder.
     Using the traditional feather, candle and wooden spoon, we searched the class for Chametz.  We thoroughly cleaned our room.  One child felt swamped with all the work.  We know that feeling!  He quickly called for some back-up to help  with the cleaning.
     Then it was time to sit down, sing, ask questions, answer questions--and enjoy our Gan Seder!  We have learned a lot, and we're ready to share with our families at our Seder.

Chag Samayach, Everyone!