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!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How interesting can the building of the Mishkan be?

If We Build It . . .

Working in our group, we're ready to build!
     Last week, we finished Sefer Shmot.  This, the second book of the Torah, begins with B'nai Yisrael  enslaved in Egypt and the birth of Moshe.  It continues with the plagues, the exodus from Egypt and the splitting of the Reed Sea. The Giving of the Torah is a major highlight.  The book ends with the building of the Mishkan, the portable "synagogue" of the desert.

     Truthfully, all the high drama is in the first part of the story.  How interesting can building a Mishkan be? 

Creating a curtain for the Aron Kodesh, Holy Ark

     We discovered something we already knew--building is fun, creative and meaningful.  We know this from our free-play activities.  Many of us gravitate towards Legos and blocks.  Others of us head for the art table.  In reenacting some of the parsha details about the Mishkan, we included everything that we know and love about construction.

(P.S.  Did we mention that some math slipped in here as well?  In the photo below, we each contributed a "half-shekel" coin.  Then we counted the coins to see how many children were in class--it was just like the census-taking in the Parsha!)
Counting our donations of the half-shekel coins
(Photos below:  making an inventory of the items in our room and in the ECD kitchen--we used tally-marks and counted in clusters of 5's.  Did you know that an inventory was made of all the items in the Mishkan?  Weaving with ribbon--and did you know that every item in the Mishkan was hand-made with specific divine instructions?)

Counting our books . . .our questions--can we include our Birkat HaMazon booklet in the "book" category?  The Sefer Torah?  Of course!   
      Finally, we spoke about the places we like to do Tefillah, our prayers.  We don't have a Mishkan or the Beit HaMikdash, but we do have our homes, school and synagogues.  Some of our responses:

I like davening in Shul, I just like it! 
I like to be with my dad . . .  If I behave well, I get bubblegum.
 at school--everybody's there!            

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Long Memory and a Short Story in the Ktantanim Class

We had read the book "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" a few weeks ago and acted it out in class. Last week, Neta was bringing the class back from a specialty and decided to act it out again with the children as a way to make the walk more interesting. I saw them coming and before they saw me, I ducked into the supply closet and when they reached it I jumped out and roared like a bear. As the saying goes, "hilarity ensued".

Yesterday Sari was drawing a picture on a dry erase board. When I asked her what she was doing, she replied, "I'm writing a story and you're in it. You're a flower".

An experience + imagination = inspiration.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Worms and Math--Another Perfect Combination

Worms and Math, So Good Together . . .

      If you've been following our ECD blog, you know that Gan Alef and Gan Bet have been learning about worms.  Why worms, you may ask?  It all goes back to Tu B'Shvat and our learning about the earth, the trees, plants, flowers, seeds, and of course, worms.

     Today we had an oral "quiz" about these creatures.  Do you know that worms breathe through their skin?  That they are sold all over the world?  That farmers buy gallons of worms?  That worm poop, castings, is great fertilizer?  We do!


     We used cross-hatching tally marks to keep score of our correct answers.  We had true-false questions, multiple choice and fill-ins.   We added our tally marks, counting by ones and by fives.  Each class earned exactly 15 points.  How many total points did we have?  This was difficult, but we figured it out!  Again, we counted by 5's, and then checked our work by counting by 1's.  Wow!


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Loft

The big loft in the Kikar can seem very big and a challenge to the K'Far B children. With a teacher standing at either end of the loft, it becomes a fun place to play and to strengthen their gross motor skills. They can practice climbing up and down the stairs all on their own while holding on to the rails for support.

Not to mention that it's so much fun to walk around, jump, and play peek-a-boo while up on the loft.

 And, when they get tired, they can lay down and take a rest!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wet Pizza Boxes and Eggshells--Yum! (if you're a worm!)

 Digging in the Dirt

     In Israel, the end of the winter is the perfect time to notice new plant growth.  The trees have begun to bloom and spring is around the corner. 

    Here in Atlanta, we had cold weather for quite a bit, with no respite in sight.

     So, a few weeks ago when we wanted to spend some quality time outdoors, it was simply too cold.  We decided that the next best option was to create observational drawings of our classroom plants.

Photo below:  sketching our drawings . . .

Below:  the final product--stunning illustrations of our plants . . .

     While discussing plants and trees, we hit upon the topic of worms.  What do worms do?  What do they eat?  Where do they live?  And why are they important for the soil?  (Don't ask:  some of us had some embarrassing answers--all of which proved to be true!)

     So we headed outdoors to search for worms . . .but we were not very successful, it was so cold!

     We tried again, digging holes in our garden outside and on the playground.  At first, we found nothing!  And, we had to be careful to fill in the hole when we were finished--we had learned this while studying Parshat Mishpatim a few weeks ago.

     One boy noticed that if we carefully move a big rock or a log,  there are worms underneath.
     Below are some of our comments: 

    "Can we put the worms in our grass tank?"
     "Quick, turn over the rock!"
     "The soil is loose over here!"
     "A worm must be close!"
     "Careful! We don't want to scare them!"
      "Is that a worm, or a slug?"
     We want to learn more.  We have non-fiction books about worms in the classrooms. Our morot went to the internet to look for more info.  This is one of our favorite websites:  We now know that worms like to eat organic garbage:  potato peelings, eggshells, green peppers and even wet pizza boxes!

     We're learning new info all the time.  Did you know that there's a worm in Africa that can grow to 8 feet long?  How long is that exactly?  We found out!  (see below)

      We enjoy fiction as well as non-fiction books.  We shared a PJ Library fiction story about a Jewish family preparing for Shabbat--although the family does like to get dirty and collect worms during the week.

     After collecting our worms, we placed them in our "worm bin."  We hope they're happy!  They have grass and dirt (yes, we learned that worms will eat dirt!)  We will use the bin as a mini-compost heap, ready to take some of lunch scraps.  Will the trash need to be taken out less often?  We just have to wait and see . . .

 p.s.  While searching for worms, we came across this colorful lizard.  We let her (?) stay in her natural environment and we didn't bring her to class.  We had a disagreement--should we name her Emma or Tie-Dye?  We have great Kindergarten negotiation skills.  We decided to name her Emma Tie-Dye the Lizard!