Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Come light the menorah...

With the Gan children.

A Look at This Week:
While Chanukah is in full swing, so is our learning at school. This week we focused on the menorah. Most of our activities had something to do with the menorah. On Monday we started the week by making a class menorah out of toilet paper and paper towel rolls (there may have been a wrapping paper roll added in as well) and tissue paper for the flames. Each day we "lit" the menorah just like we lit menorahs at our homes the night before! Then we started our activities. Many of the children enjoyed making pop-up Chanukah cards. The cards either had dreidels or menorahs in the middle (the children chose which one they wanted) and they were required to copy some words into their cards and add their names. These were taken home on a daily basis. We built menorahs in the block area, pretended to light the menorah in the home living area and made playdough menorahs in the art area. All week long, while children were answering the morning question (and signing in) and doing their journals, they also had the opportunity to color on our large menorah that we will be adding to our wall display at the end of the week. We had a large number of math activities to go along with our study of the menorah as candles are a fun thing to count! We sorted candles by color, put menorahs in order by the number of candles that were lit and we also picked numbers and added that many candles to the paper menorahs! It was definitely a fun week full of activities to help us enjoy the celebration of Chanukah. One more activity that was enjoyed (though it had nothing to do with menorahs) was sound song bingo. Some of the children have been learning a song that helps them with their letter sounds. We even used this song to make a word wall in the classroom. We have taken copies of the pictures of the words from the song and have made bingo boards and then played bingo with these boards. It is a favorite game in the classroom right now!
Listening in to the discussions going on in the class:
It was really interesting to listen to one child go to another this morning and ask the other child if they were "going to be a good boy today." The other child answered "yes." The first child then responded saying, "so you aren't going to hit anyone? You aren't going to kick anyone? And you are going to listen? Because I don't like it when you hit or kick me. That is not being a good boy."
Just thought that I should share this conversation since it goes to show that at least the rules are understood if not always followed!
And looking into the future:
Although I normally mention what we will be working on next week, I am unable to do that as The Gan will be closed for the next two weeks for winter break. When we do resume, on Monday, January 4th, we will be spending the week talking about Israel and doing many fun activities that will take us on a pretend trip to another part of our world. And speaking of our world. The children have brought in about 88 mitzvah notes so far this year. They are definitely working on making the world a better place one mitzvah at a time. We hope to continue to see mitzvah notes coming in as everyone is always excited to share their notes and add them to our wall. And one big mitzvah that seems to be the leader of mitzvahs on our wall is many of the children are willing to share their tzedakah with others when the others do not have tzedakah, which is another thing we collect on a daily basis.

Playing sound song bingo

Candle number match

Playdough menorahs

Candle order

Menorah building

Candle number match

"Lighting" the class menorah

Candle color match

The musical performance by the Gan Children at the Clark County Chanukah Celebration!

The announcement of the performing group!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dreidels, dreidels, dreidels

A look at this week:
We have been spinning around in the classroom, moving from one dreidel activity to another. We have really focused on them. We did start the week by talking about dreidels, getting to spin them and also discussing our dreidel costumes for this coming Sunday's celebration. Then we had the chance to use dreidels in our learning areas. We wrote pages about dreidels in writing. In math we sorted dreidels by color, matched dreidels to numbers to work on one-to-one correspondence and also graphed which letter we landed on when we spun our dreidels. In art we made 3-d dreidels, sparkly contact paper dreidels and bead dreidels. We also had the chance to build a dreidel in the block area (even though cars became part of the building too). We even added in to our busy days the chance to paint our dreidel costumes for Sunday and using a dreidel cookie cutter (along with other Chanukah shapes) to make special snack sandwiches!

Conversations from this week:
I did not document any specific conversations this week, however, it was a pleasure to hear all of the children really wanting to be involved with what their friends were doing. Many times throughout the week I heard "can I do that with you?" or "can I help you?" It was just really nice to hear this!

A look at next week:
With Chanukah being in full swing, next week we are going to focus on the menorah. We will be making a menorah and even "lighting" it each day. We will be doing some menorah number math (focusing on numbers 1-8) as well as building a menorah in the block area. Overall, we hope to really "light up" the week with all of our menorah work!
Building a dreidel
Dreidel color sort
Graphing dreidel spins
Dreidel number math
Sparkly dreidels
Chanukah shape snacks!
Making bead dreidels
Spinning dreidels
Spinning dreidels before graphing

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Where's the oil?

A look at this week:

Where is the oil? Ask the children at The Gan! This week we talked about oil and even went on an oil hunt to find a very small bottle of oil. We started out the week by talking a little about why oil is so important. Then we started learning about oil. We went on an oil walk (where we walked on the letters that spell out OIL), we wrote out a recipe for latkes and even played latke letter memory. For math we had a bean bag toss and depending on which number the beanbag landed in we had to add that many latkes to the frying pan. We used forks to paint on latkes in art this week as well as we made oil/water bottles as a science experiment. We saw that the oil and water separated. Then we added food coloring and watched how it all mixed together and then the oil slowly separated and eventually lost the color that was added by the food coloring. And to make sure we got into the Chanukah mood while talking about oil, we made latkes and watched them fry in the oil before we got the chance to eat them for snack!

Conversations from the week:

We took water bottles and filled them about half way with water. Each child had their own. Then we took out the oil and talked about what would happen when we add oil to the water.

Morah Amanda: When I put the oil in the water, what do you think is going to happen?

Mussie: It will turn yellow.

Morah Amanda: Mussie thinks it will turn yellow. Does anyone else have an idea?

Avery: I do!

Morah Amanda: What do you think will happen Avery?

Avery: It will turn orange.

Morah Amanda: You think it will turn orange?

Avery: Yeah.

Morah Amanda: Any other ideas?

Lizzy: Um…red.

Morah Amanda: You think it is going to turn red Lizzy. Any other ideas?

Miriam: Me!

Morah Amanda: Yes?

Miriam: Pink!

Morah Amanda: Miriam thinks it is going to turn pink. Any other ideas?

Jayden: Red.

Morah Amanda: You think it will turn red, Jayden.

Josh: I think it is going to turn in your tummy.

Morah Amanda: It’s going to turn in your tummy? Are we going to drink this?

Class: No.

Morah Amanda: No. Once we are all finished we are going to make sure to keep the lids on all the time! We don’t drink oil. We cook with oil but we don’t drink it. Something special happens when you mix oil and water. Are you ready to see what happens?

Class: Yeah.

Pour oil into the first water bottle.

Mussie: It turns white a little.

Morah Amanda: What happened? What’s this and what is this? What’s at the top?

Mussie: Yellow.

Morah Amanda: Yellow, and what’s at the bottom?

Mussie: White

Morah Amanda: Just like this (taking a bottle of just water). What’s the difference between the two bottles?

Mussie: This just has white and this has yellow and white.

Morah Amanda: This one is just white because it has water and this one has yellow and white cause it has oil and water. And what happened to the oil? Where is the oil? Watch. (Shakes bottle) Is it all mixed up?

Class: Yeah.

Morah Amanda: Now just watch the bottle. Do you see what is happening at the bottle? Do you see that it is turning more white at the bottom? The oil is going to the top. Oil and water don’t mix; they separate. So, if I shake Avery’s bottle it is all the same color cause it is just water. But if I shake Lizzy’s bottle do you see where at the top it is turning yellow again?
Lizzy: There’s oil in there.

Many of the children start shaking their bottles.

Mussie: There’s no yellow in mine.

Morah Amanda: When you shake it they start to mix and then they separate back out.

Noah: Oil!

Mussie: Look. Mine is coming back. My yellow is coming back.

A look at next week:
Next week we will really “spin” into Chanukah as we talk about dreidels. We will be using dreidels in many of our activities, which include making our own dreidels, graphing the spins of dreidels, sorting dreidels and making a dreidel class book.
Oil find
Latke math
Walking on oil
Oil bottles
Watching the potatoes getting grated
Adding eggs to the potatoes
Mixing the latke mixture
Eating the class-made latkes!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Thankful Week

A look at this week:

Two days in the week and what did we do? We talked about what we are thankful for! Although this is always a discussion during our davening time, this week we made Thankful Me’s and tried to write one of the things we are each thankful for! It ranged from dolls and balls to parents! Our Thankful Me’s are displayed on a bulletin board on the way into the classroom! We also worked on a special project and our letter knowledge!

And to make our week even more sepcial, we filled our tzedakah box this week. On Monday, Morah Tzivie brought in a plastic bag and we emptied our tzedakah box into the bag. Then when Rabbi came into the building, the children gave it to him so he could give it to someone who needs it!

Conversations from the week:

Although I have no specific quotes this week, I really enjoyed listening to the children during snack time on Monday. They were eating pretzels and they all decided to find letters in the parts of the pretzels they had left after they took a bite! It was so exciting to hear the numerous letters that they made!

A look at next week:

Next week we are starting our study on Chanukah! This is going to last for three weeks. We will be starting with this theme with talking about oil. We will be going on an oil hunt, doing latke math and latke letter matches. There is lots of Chanukah fun to come!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

All Aboard!

A look at this week:

Hear the whistle blow; every come aboard! The train has departed from the Gan! This week we focused on trains and boats. We talked a little about direction (N, W, S, and E) as we made compass with arrows the children can move. And we spent time working on our passports as we took another trip around the classroom aboard trains and boats! In writing this week the children made their own train tracks and then copied words onto their tracks. In math the children took the cars from the number train and had to put them in order from 1-10. Then we parked our train on top of our word tracks on the wall! Some of the children enjoyed making a train out of boxes as well as making trains out of popsicle sticks, paper and stickers! And although the home living and block areas were open to play in with a train theme, no one chose to go in there. However, some children did decide to play with the gears to see how gears affect each other when putting them together to make things (such as trains) move! To finish off the enjoyment of our train trip, we not only got to put together a model train but we also made our own trains out of cucumbers, tea biscuits and carrots!

After debarking from the train, we then set sail on a boat! We started this part of our theme by making celery boats with peanut butter and paper sails and then we enjoyed eating them! We attempted to make boats out of soap, which we then learned that they would sink in a container of water! We also had the chance to graph items by finding out if the floated in water or if they sunk.

Conversations from the week:

Every morning I have been putting out different activities for the children to play with. This gives them a little bit of time first thing in the morning to enjoy some of the manipulatives found in the classroom. We have added to this a question of the day in which the children try to read the question and then sign in under what they think the answer is. This helps them work on writing their names, sound recognition, letter recognition, beginning reading skills and actual reading! After they sign in then they work on their journals for a little. Normally they are given a topic for their journals, but if they write off topic, that is fine too! And then, if there is still time before snack, they get to enjoy the other toys that have been put out.

One day this week (Wednesday) I put out the bristle blocks and pattern blocks. As each child finished their journal, they picked either activity to do. Here is a short conversation that took place over the bristle blocks!

Miriam: Let’s make a boat truck. Ok?

Avery: No. I want to make a train track.

Miriam: Well, I’m not making a train track.

Avery: I am.

When other children heard this conversation they quickly came over to help with the train track (which did turn into a boat of some sort at the end). It was just nice to hear the children actually taking what they are learning throughout the day and putting into their own play!

A look at next week:

Next week is a short week with the Thanksgiving break Wednesday through Friday. However, we still have some fun planned for the children! While we talk to the children about being thankful every day, we are going to spend these two days doing some Thankful activities. The children are going to help make a thankful page in writing; we are going to do a thankful count in math and we will also be working on a very special surprise that we started this week!

Train snack

Compass play and make

Box train

Sink or float?

Playing with gears

Working on the number train

Last week's Shabbat Abba

Last week's Shabbat Party!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In to the air we go!

A look at this week:

We traveled on land and now we move to the air. Planes and spaceships were the topic of conversation this week. We spent time talking about outer space as well. We started the week by seeing a special box with glow-in-the-dark stars in it for the children to enjoy! Then we made telescopes to see the stars. We also spent time counting stars in math by placing as many as we wanted on a piece of paper and then counting how many we put! We made our own airplane tickets by copying words that may be found on a real ticket. The children made airplanes and spaceships out of paper, popsicle sticks and other supplies in the classroom. They were able to build a spaceship in the blocks or pretend to go on an airplane ride in home living. We also worked in our passports and for each of the activities that the children completed, they got a stamp in their passport and then tried to write or draw about the activity as well! This week was a shorter week with Wednesday being a day off; however, the children really seemed to enjoy the activities. It was really nice to hear one or two of them comment that they wanted to get another stamp in their passports! Some of the children also got the chance to experience how astronauts may drink when they are in space by putting orange juice in plastic bags and using a straw to drink it!

Conversations from the week:

I explained to the children that I was going to need them to sit down on their letter in the circle time room, stay seated and just look. I also let them know I was closing the door and turning the light off for a moment so they could experience the mysterious box that arrived in the room. Everyone did such a nice job!

Morah Amanda: What are we learning about this week?

Mussie: Sky and…

Lizzy: Airplanes and rockets

Mussie: Space.

Morah Amanda: We are now going to turn the light out and everyone needs to stay sitting to see!

Mussie: Stars!

Everyone: Stars!

You could hear the excitement in the children’s voices as they were looking into the black painted box with the glow-in-the-dark stickers inside!

I turned the light back on and was begged to show them again. So we had one more look and then we talked about the box. I explained that they would have the chance to look at it in the rainforest room if they wanted and we discussed how to treat the box.

Drinking like an Astronaut

Morah Amanda: If you were an astronaut in a space ship, you would not do things the same as we do on Earth. You would not be able to just keep your feet on the ground, instead you would be able to float in the air. Have you ever jumped on a trampoline?

Mussie: I jumped on my friends trampoline.

Morah Amanda: On your friend’s? When you were in the air did you feel like you were going to fall right back down or were you in the air for a little bit?

Mussie: Up in the air for a little bit.

Morah Amanda: So when you are an astronaut in a space ship they have to be careful since they can stay in the air. They even eat special foods and do special things to make it easier to eat or drink. Do you know what would happen if you opened the orange juice in space?

Levi: What?

Morah Amanda: It would go up into the air. It won’t stay in the container. They have to drink it a special way. So we are going to try something. Are you ready to drink like an astronaut. We are going to pour the orange juice into the bag.

Class: All of class was laughing

Levi: Into a Ziploc bag!

Morah Amanda: I am going to pour it into three Ziploc bags because how many kids do we have today?

Class: Three.

Morah Amanda: I am going to zip them up. Now look. Is this open? Can orange juice come out of this?

Class: Yeah.

Morah Amanda: But what about this could juice come out of this when it is zipped?

Class: No

Morah Amanda: Ok if we used the regular container, what would happen?

Mussie: It would spill.

Morah Amanda: It wouldn’t spill but it would come out.

Mussie: Why?

Morah Amanda: Because we have gravity on Earth that keeps us down, on the planet. If we didn’t have gravity then we would float on the air. So, what we are going to do is open the bag just a little bit and put the straw in. If they had the open containers they would have to catch the juice when it goes up into the air, and they would need to figure out a way to drink it!

The children all started laughing when they were drinking their juice. They really enjoyed this experience.

A look at next week:

Since we have already discussed automobiles and just finished with planes and spaceships we are going to start traveling by trains and boats. Next week we will be writing words that have to do with trains, putting train cars in numeric order, talking about triangles as we make sail boats, and seeing which items will sink or float.

Drinking like an astronaut.

Painting the large, class telescope

Making a paper airplane

Working on personal telescopes
Writing airplane tickets

Doing star math

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cars, Trucks and Busses...the first part of travel

A look at this week:
It has wheels, four to be exact. What could it be? This was a big discussion this week in class as we started talking about transportation. One of the favorite activities this week was working with me on wheel counting where the children took pictures of bikes, cars, busses and trucks, counted the wheels and then matched the number they came up with to the number cards that were on the floor. The other top choice of activities was the car making project where the children were able to create cars, busses and trucks out of art materials. These cars are being added to our newly made Alphabet Highway! The letters will be coming soon! In addition to these two activities we have started getting ready for our pretend travel by making passports where the children had the chance to get their passport picture taken, write their first names, last names, birthdates and home town. Over the next week or two the children will be putting stamps in their passports when they complete different activities. They also will be encouraged to write about the activity or dictate something to me. We also got to paint with cars, making car tracks on paper. The children built ramps out of the blocks and sent cars down the ramps to see which cars went further and faster and which ramps worked better. Some of the children enjoyed looking at maps and doing the map puzzles while others enjoyed playing with cars on the track lid of the sand table. It was also fun to listen to how the children played together during exploration time with I took out some different cars. The final activity for the week was the chance to make their very own license plate! I brought in a license plate from Florida. We looked out the window at the Oregon and Washington license plates that were in the parking lot and then the children were able to design their own license plate and even stamp letters onto it!

Conversations from the week:
While working with some children on their numbers this week, I had the chance to overhear a conversation that was going on when children were looking at the maps that were in the room. It was a short conversation, but it was enjoyable to hear that some of the children were understanding exactly what the map work was all about!

Miriam was holding a map in her hand.
Miriam: Mussie, we need to do to California.
Mussie (doing a different activity): No.
Miriam: Let’s just pretend.
Miriam continues to look at the map for another minute or so.
Miriam: Now, where should we go?

A look at next week:
We will be continuing our look at different transportation. Next week we are going to take it to the air as we discuss airports and space travel. The children will have the chance to help build a space ship, write about what they see on their trip to outer space and talk about the words behind, above, over and under.

Which car will go faster?

Pompoms, popsicle sticks, stickers, glue, paper, scissors. Now to put it all together to make a car!

Just finishing the car tracks.

Working with the maps.

Counting wheels

Working on a passport

Driving cars!