Thursday, January 28, 2010

We are "growing" at the Gan

A Look at this Week:
We started the week with a nature walk outside. With the beautiful weather we had this week, how could we not? We went outside with our magnifying glasses to see what we could look at. And the children were all excited to come back in and share with Morah Tzivie that we found moss, worms (or as some of the said, "snakes!"), and plants. This was a perfect start since we really focused on the agricultural part of Tu B'shvat. Our activities really lead us to talk about how things grow. We took a few chances to look at our grass heads we made last week to see that a couple of them have started growing! Then we set up our next experiment. We talked about how raisins are dried up grapes. So we took some grapes and put them in cups on the window sill to see if we can make our own raisins. We will see how these turn out as we are watching them each day! We also made flowers out of coffee filters and then planted them and real flower seeds into flower pots that were made last week. In home living, we pretended to plant a garden (in a bucket of sand) and then harvest our bucket and make food out of the vegetables. We then used the idea of these vegetables to lead us to our discussion about soup, where we wrote what we would want to add into our soup in our writing area. And we even made our own Stone Soup after reading the book (please see the conversation below). We also made leaf people, painted with different vegetables and played with popcorn kernels. We had different size measuring devices to work with the idea of volume. And of course, the long awaited worms were on display this week as we watched them hide in the dirt and then occasionally come out to show themselves! Oh!...and we also planted our own little garden in the classroom. Right now our seeds are in egg cartons in the dirt with water. We will have to see if these plants start to grow as we watch them in the classroom!
Conversations from this week:
We read the book "Stone Soup" this week. Right after finishing it, we made stone soup. One of the things I liked about the adapted version of this book was that in the end of this book they actually talk about the "magical ingredient" that they used to make the soup was sharing. Such an important concept for children to understand. And we even discussed how nice it was that we were able to work together to make a wonderful soup for the classroom too!

Morah Amanda: How is this pot and the pot in the book different? So far there is one thing you already mentioned.
Avery: It's little.
Morah Amanda: It's little. Now, do you think I can build a fire under it?
Class: No.
Morah Amanda: No. That would be a little hard, especially since we are inside. So, in here, Mussie and Levi have already shared with us some potatoes, some carrots, some celery and some oil.
Miriam: Matzah balls?
Morah Amanda: No, there are no matzah balls. We are not going to make matzah ball soup. So we already have our magical ingredient, which is "sharing," right?
Class: right.
Morah Amanda: So what we are going to do is I am going to stir the vegetables and let them cook for just a minute or so over the heat.
Miriam: It is the best ever day.
Morah Amanda: And what is this?
Levi: A stone.
Morah Amanda: A stone. Should I put it in the pot?
Class: No.
Morah Amanda: Do you think that in the story they really needed the stone in the pot to make the soup?
Class: No
Morah Amanda: No. Do you know what they did? They said, "We're going to make stone soup. We're going to put a stone into our water to make soup." And then they asked for everyone to bring all the ingredients to make their soup. And we have all our ingredients in here already, right? Do you think we need to put the stone in?
Miriam: No.
Avery: No, it's for pretend.
Levi: Yes pretend.
Mussie: We will pretend!
Morah Amanda: What we are going to do is take turns and go fill up the cup with water and put it in the pot.
I felt I couldn't pass up sharing this conversation as I was laughing at the end of it. This took place during lunch.
Mussie: We have chocolate milk at home.
Miriam: So do I!
Mussie: I think our chocolate milk came from Eretz Yisrael. But I don't know how we get it. We must order it or something.
Miriam: We get our chocolate milk from cows.
A Look At Next Week:
Tzedakah, tzedakah, tzedakah, that is what we give. And next week we will be talking a lot about this. We will be discussing coins and what they are worth. We will be listening to different tzedkah boxes filled with coins to "hear" which one has more. We will be having a tzedakah race and we will be trying to build tzedkah boxes out of our blocks. Of course there are many more activities we will be doing as well. And please don't forget that on a daily basis we collect tzedakah in our class room during our davening time.
Our nature walk
Leaf people
Veggie painting
Our sand garden in home living
Popcorn play
Coffee filter flowers
Making and eating stone soup
Our class garden

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What grows from the ground?

A look at this week:
The week started on Tuesday with a question about what Jewish holiday was coming up next. And when we got the answer of Tu B'shvat, I then asked what this holiday was all about and I was informed that it was the birthday of the trees! And this is how our conversation started as we talked about things that grow from the ground. Throughout the week we found out that items, such as the grass heads we made, start as seeds. They are planted in dirt and then need water and light to grow. Hopefully, over the next week or so our grass heads will grow their hair so we can give them a quick haircut and then they can be enjoyed at home!

On Tuesday the children enjoyed making special flower pots where they wrapped yarn onto the pots to help decorate them. Over the next week we will be making some flowers (and maybe planting some) to put into these pots! On Wednesday we introduced the seed activities. The children looked at five different seeds. We talked about their similarities and differences and then put them all together for the children to sort, which is an activity that continued throughout the week. We also had the chance to do a writing exercise about items that grow from the ground. In home living the children pretended to plant a garden and then used their grown vegetables in the kitchen to make food. And in blocks the children tried to build trees and gardens. In art we used tree stamps to make a tree mural for our world wall. Overall, we had a nice introduction to how things grow from the ground.
We also spent some time working on word/picture recognition. The children, as a group, took words and tried to match the words to the pictures. They had a lot of fun working on this.
What the children have been saying:
Once again, it is just so nice to hear when the children ask for others to sit next to them or when someone is hurt the children ask if they are ok. The nice thing is the answer is normally that the person is fine. Although there are times when the children do argue, they are really learning how to get along with each other and be nice to each other!
A look at next week:
We will be continuing to discuss ideas about Tu B'shvat. We will be doing more with dirt, the worms and plants. Next week we will also be reading the book, "Stone Soup." Then we will be writing our own class book about what to put into our pot to make our own stone soup. We also will be attempting to make stone soup as a class!

Decorating the cups to make grass heads
Grass heads are ready to grow
Flower pot decorating
Word work
More word work
Seed sorting
More seed sorting

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Getting Ready for Shabbat

A Look at this Week:

We have had a lot of fun getting ready for Shabbat. This week's focus was Shabbat and the items that we use on our Sabbath tables. We did a little writing where we had to fill in the blank to the song, "Put some _____ in the pot. Stir it up, nice and hot...." We made a book about this! We also made our very own song and blessing books and wrote on the inside covers of these as well. For math this week we had to count the seeds on the challot and then match each seeded challah to the challah with the same number on it. For science the children investigated ideas behind volume. They did water play and used different containers to fill and empty. In the home living area the children pretended it was Shabbat. They either got ready for Shabbat dinner or pretended to be enjoying the dinner. In the block area the children became very creative as they tried to build kiddush cups, Shabbat candlesticks and even challah. Everyday this week we had a new art project as well. We started with making Kiddush cups; then we made our song books; the next day we made a candlestick; then we made challah covers and on Friday we decorated the Shabbat boxes to keep our items in!
The kids will all finish their Shabbat boxes at some point next week. YOU ARE ALL (including those who do not regularly attend on Fridays) INVITED to join our class on Friday morning from 10:15-11:15 AM. We will have a "mock Shabbat" and the kids will get to use (and show off) their Shabbat items. Tia (our Kindermusic instructor) will be here as well during that hour.

The conversations that take place in our class:

This week was a very special week for the children of The Gan. We were able to welcome a new friend to the class, Tyrus! It was very nice to hear the children welcome him. Many times I overheard, "Tyrus, come sit next to me." Or other times I head the children say, "Here Tyrus, I will show you!" "Come play with me Tyrus." It was very nice.

And just to show how caring our children really are they were all very concerned about and kept asking where our friend Noah was. They all hope he is feeling much better!

Looking Ahead:

Next week is a short week. We will be closed on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Day. When we come back we are going to get our hands into a lot of planting, seed exploration (and even some soil and worms:). Tu B'shvat (celebrated on the Jewish calendar as "The New Year for Trees" when plants and trees start blooming in Israel, is coming up soon, and our class will be ready and full of tree and plant knowledge. We will be doing a number of activities from seed sorting to stamping with fruit and vegetables!

Song book cover decorating

Challah seed counting
Coloring Challah Covers

Candle stick making

Mussie's Shabbat candles and kiddush cup

Fingerprinting our pretend tablecloth

Ready for Shabbat!

Using playdough to make challot

Making Kiddush cups

As a special addition, I have included a short video from our Music class that we have been having during our Shabbat party.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter Break is over and we are back!

A look at this week:
We jumped right into learning when we returned from winter break! This week we started by pretending to get on an airplane and taking a trip to Israel. In home living we dressed up and got ready for our trip. Then once we arrived in Israel we visited many places. First we exchanged our money (by doing coin rubbings for math). Then, with the book about Sammy Spider going to Israel as our guide, we followed his trip and "visited" different places in Israel. Please read our discussion below to see exactly how the activities fit into our trip as we discussed this after having a few days of doing the different activities. In art we sponge painted bricks onto paper in the block area we built the Western Wall. For writing this week we wrote letters to Hashem and then added them to our wall. We also filled in the blank to "I am going on a trip to Israel. And in my suitcase I packed ________." The children rolled a letter die to get a letter and had to come up with an item to pack that started with that letter. In science we did a special experiement with water and salt. And we even had a chance to make and try humus!
Oh...we also took the chance with the new year starting to measure everyone again so we can see how many apples tall and inches tall each child measures at as well as how many apples and inches each child grew so far this school year!

Talking about the week (in review):
Morah Amanda: Let's talk about our wall again. Tell me what Sammy Spider felt when he went to visit the Western Wall.
Lizzy: The paper.
Morah Amanda: He didn't feel the paper. What did he feel first?
Lizzy: The bricks.

Morah Amanda: He felt the bricks first. And the bricks were...?

Lizzy: Hard
Morah Amanda: They were hard and...?

Mussie: Rough!

Morah Amanda: And then he was crawling around inbetween the bricks and he felt what?

Mussie: Paper?

Morah Amanda: Yes, there was paper but he doesn't talk about the paper. He found some?
Lizzy: Leaves!

Morah Amanda: He found some leaves and some?
Mussie: Grass.
Noah: Trees.

Morah Amanda: Not trees, they don't grow out of a wall. How about some weeds? This wall is so old that plants are growing through it? How do these all feel?

Mussie: Soft!

Morah Amanda: Now, in the story Sammy Spider and Josh and his family went to a kibbutz. Does anyone remember what a kibbutz is?

Levi: (looking at page in book) A big giant watermelon!

Morah Amanda: There is a big giant watermelon. Does anyone remember what a kibbutz is? A kibbutz is a place where many families live together and work on the land. And Josh's family decided to eat together. What did Sammy Spider get to taste?
Mussie: pickles.
Morah Amanda: And how did the pickles taste to him?

Class: sour
Morah Amanda: Sour. That is one of our other sense, taste. What else did he have?
Mussie: Challah

Morah Amanda: Not Challah but Halvah. It is a dessert, how do you think it would taste?

Avery: Good!

Mussie: Yummy. Sweet!

Morah Amanda: What else did he have?

Mussie: Olives.

Morah Amanda: He had olives. How did they taste?

Noah: Sour

Morah Amanda: Not sour

Mussie: Sweet.

Morah Amanda: Not sweet

Miriam: Good!

Mussie: Salty!

Morah Amanda: Salty! Good job Mussie. And he ate two other things and talked about how they tasted. He ate falafel and hummus. And how did they taste?

Avery: I don't know how hummus tastes.

Mussie: Spicy.

Morah Amanda: Right Mussie, they tasted spicy. You know what Avery? You are going to be able to taste hummus because we are going to make our very own hummus.
Noah: Hummus?

Morah Amanda: So in just a few more minutes we are going to have Morah Tzivie help us make some hummus. Why do you think we are going to make hummus?

Lizzy: Because we like hummus.

Avery: I don't like hummus.

Morah Amanda: How do you know if you like it if you haven't had it?

Lizzy: We like it because it is yummy, sweet and sour.

Morah Amanda: That is an intersting mixture of tastes.

Mussie: Cause Sammy spider ate it in Israel.

Morah Amanda: Ok. What have we been doing this week?

Mussie: We took a trip to Israel.

Morah Amanda: We took a trip to Israel. And did we visit the Dead Sea?

Class: Yes.

Morah Amanda: And how did we visit the Dead Sea?

Noah: Salt!

Morah Amanda: And what did we do with the salt?

Class: We put it in the water.

Morah Amanda: We put the salt in the water and what did we try to see? If things would what?

Mussie: Float!

Morah Amanda: If things would float on the salty water! And did we visit the Kotel?

Mussie: Yes!

Morah Amanda: How? What did we do?

Class: With paint. And sponges.
Morah Amanda: So we visited the Kotel, by making our own wall. We visited a kibbutz by working together to make hummus and we visisted the Dead Sea by adding salt to water and seeing if we could make items float!
Looking at next week:
Next week we are going to spend the week talking about Shabbat. We will be making special Shabbat items and doing some math sorting! If you have any shoe boxes at home that we could use to put our special art projects in, we would love to decorate them and use them as special Shabbat Boxes. Please send them in Monday if you have any! Thank you!
We always enjoy having family participation in activities. If you would like to take a moment to write something on a piece of paper and add it to our own special wall I am sure the children would love to share this special display with all of you! Please feel free to participate in our new classroom display!
All dressed and ready for our trip!
Making coin rubbings
Building (or painting) our wall
Adding grass and weeds
Writing our own words to Hashem
Adding our letters to the wall
Our wall
The first ingredient in Humus: Garbonzo Beans
Adding the final ingredient before blending it all together