Thursday, February 25, 2010

All dressed up and celebrating we will do!

A Look at this week:

With Purim around the corner (Sunday) we have been finishing up our final week on learning about Purim. We talked a little about giving Shalach Manot (gifts of food) during Purim and hamantaschen (the three cornered cookie). We also heard more about the Purim story and even had our own Purim celebration! With the two main concepts of Shalach Manot and Hamantaschen, we were able to fill our days with fun, learning activities. This week we matched the shapes of hamantaschen filling with paper shapes and the words to describe them. We also filled a basket with hamantaschen to match the number we chose to work with. In blocks the children became creative as they tried to build baskets to put our shalach manot in. In home living they pretended to make baskets of shalach manot and give them to their fellow friends who were in home living with them. In art we played with very special clay; we made foods and then let them dry. While talking about foods, we also replanted our classroom garden and checked out how well our raisins are doing. The grapes have definitely started shriveling down and losing some of their juiciness.

For writing this week, some of the children attempted to write a recipe for hamantaschen. We also created special hamantaschen hats that some of the children were thrilled to show off before reading our story at the end of the day on Monday!

On Wednesday we had our big Purim celebration! All of the children from The Gan arrived, many in costume, and shared some experiences with their parent(s). We started out with our good morning train and paraded into the play area while we shook our groggers (noise makers) and sang songs. Then we returned to the classroom for mask making and hamantaschen making activities. Then we said good bye to our parents and our costumes and continued on with our day!

Listening In:

While the children were dressed as Queen Ester (3 of them), King Ahashverous (2 of them, though one didn't want to wear his costume), a dragon, a banana, Mordecia and Batman, Morah Tzivie also dressed as Queen Ester and I was dressed as a reporter. I took the opportunity to listen in to some of the conversations that the children were having with their parents while doing activities. Here is what I heard:

Mom: You can hang out with Batman today.

Josh: I can?

Mom: Yes!

Josh: And Batman will play with me?

Mom: Of course, cause you and Noah are friends.

Lizzy: Can I have some chips?

Morah Tzivie: Sure.

Mom: Do you want some help Lizzy?

Lizzy: No; Mussie's mom

Morah Tzivie: Mussies's mom can help.

Mom: The bow is coming to life.

Tyrus: It is? It's coming to life?

(They were coloring green dots on the bow of the mask at the time)

Mom: Noah, do you want more stickers?

Noah: No.

Mom: Look. Here are feathers. Do you want some feathers? What color do you want?

Noah picks a feather

Mom: You picked a green one.

It was a lot of fun to watch the children interact with their parents and to listen to the conversations that took place. And it was great to see so many of the parents at the celebration, sharing the experience with their children!

Looking ahead at next week:

Next week we are going to talk about the mezuzah, homes and also writing. The three of these go well together since mezuzahs are the little prayer boxes that are found on the door frames of Jewish homes (and other Jewish establishments). We will be talking about what makes our homes so important to us. We will be discussing where you find mezuzahs in a home and how the prayers in mezuzahs are written. We will be attempting to make our own ink and then trying to use it with feathers to do some writing. And of course, while we are working on writing we are going to do some letter, letter sound and word work!

Our Purim Parade!

The King has arrived!

Listening to directions for the activities and showing off our costumes!

Making masks at our Purim Party

Making Hamantaschen at our Purim Party

Showing off our Hamantaschen hats

Making clay foods

Weaving a basket

Playing the Hamantaschen Shape Match game

Building a basket for Shalach Manot

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Listen to the music

A look at this week:
We continued learning about Purim this week by focusing on music and happy celebration! The children were amazed with the musical items brought into the classroom. They were able to go over to the little mini grand piano and play some music, make shakers and more! We started out by talking about the seven basic letters used in music, focusing our week on the letters A,B,C,D,E,F and G. We made sure we could recognize these letters and even did a music letter train by putting the letters in a repetitious order. While playing the piano, the children were able to put letter blocks into the order they wanted to play and then they found the corresponding letter on the keys of the piano. In home living this week we pretended that we were part of a band, making music at a celebration by playing the maracas and the tambourine! In art this week we made our own music by using staff paper and adding notes to it. As a science project, we used plastic eggs of different sizes and filled them with items, such as rice, corn, pasta and bells and then listened to hear which eggs sounded louder and which sounded softer. We also learned that the pasta could fit into all the eggs (big or small). We had felt notes that could be put onto the felt box and then they could read the notes the way we have learned to read them in our music class on Fridays. We also had a musical instrument memory game and had the chance to write about what different musical instruments sound like.
The children also enjoyed making their own instruments and noise makers. We made tambourines with pie pans and bells and we made groggers (noise makers for Purim) out of cups and corn kernels or rice and also out of paper plates and beans.
Listening in to the conversation:
The best conversation of the week took place on Wednesday when Jayden saw the piano.
Jayden: Does this really work?
Morah Tzivie: I am sure you will find out when you come back in here.
Jayden walked over to the piano and hit a few keys.
Jayden: Look! It really works!
Later in the day, Jayden was still amazed by the piano really working!
Looking forward to next week:
We will be spending one more week on Purim. This week we will be continuing our conversation about patterns and we weave baskets and talk about Shalach Manot (the gifts of food that are given on Purim). We will also be making different foods out of playdough, revisiting our raisin experiment to see what has happened to our grapes and having our own Purim celebration in the classroom on Wednesday!

Making cup groggers
Creating her own music using musical notes and staff paper

Writing about sounds of musical instruments

Musical instrument memory

Playing the wooden (homemade) harp like instrument

Making tambourines

Making the musical letter train

Listening to the shakers

Playing on the piano

Getting ready to play in the band

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Welcome to our little town...

A look at this week:

With Purim right around the corner, we started our three week study about the holiday. This week we focused on the town, Shushan, and the characters: Ester, Vashti, Mordecia, Haman and King Achashveirosh.

And how did we do this? We started the week by talking about the story of Purim. This led us to a discussion about the town of Shushan. Then we talked about buildings that we may find in a town. We decided to take boxes and decorate them to make them look like different buildings in a town. The children chose to make the palace where King Achashveriosh lived. They also wanted to make an additional house where Queen Vashti may have lived. The other buildings in our town included a grocery store and a hospital (where, as Avery stated, "is where sick people are." And of course we wanted to make sure that the sick people were also taken care of!).

After we made our town we decided to also make some jewelry that Queen Ester would have liked. So we used painted pasta and made patterns. First as a class we played a game of letter memory and each time someone found a match they were able to add a piece to our pattern. Then they were able to make their own necklaces. How nice it was to see that the next day Lizzy chose to wear her necklace back to school since she was so proud of it!

On Wednesday we continued to study patterns by making Persian carpets. We wondered if these carpets may have been similar to items that could have been found in the palace in Shushan. We talked about how when we weave the paper, we develop an AB pattern (a two color pattern that repeats itself).

As for other activities that the children enjoyed participating in, there were many others. In writing, the children were able to fill in the blank to: Purim, Purim, What do you see? I see _______ looking at me. It was nice to hear the different ideas they came up with that had to do with Purim. Some answers included "a costume, Queen Ester, Queen Vashti, a grogger, King Achashveriosh and Haman." In the block area the children tried to build their own town. Some children chose to work with the felt board box and use the felt Purim characters to try to act out the story of Purim. Other children chose to go gem digging (a math and science exercise) where they used flashlights and popsicle sticks to dig in the corn kernels to find "gems" and then had to count to see if they found all 15 before returning them back to the kernel pit.

Listening in:

It is always interesting to listen in to the children during play times. Many times the children choose to play different role playing games. We have been talking, lately, about their choices and making sure they are not scaring each other by growling or chasing them too much. However, the day that I just stayed back and listened the children chose to play pirates. Here is a little bit of what they were saying.

Miriam: Do you want to play Jewish pirates with us?

Lizzy: We are playing pirates. I have a telescope.

Josh: We're pirates

Lizzy: Jayden, we're playing pirates. Right?

Jayden: Yes.

Lizzy: Then let's get on our pirate ship!

Looking at next week:

Next week is a short week since we do not have school on Monday due to the observance of President's Day. However, starting on Tuesday we are going to start making noise as we continue to discuss Purim. With the grogger as the premise for our discussion, we are going to be making music. The children will be making some musical instruments and exploring others.

Puppet play

Pattern making, paper weaving

Gem digging

Town building

Showing off his pattern necklace

lacing pasta patterns

Memory to make patterns

Painting boxes to make our town

And for an added treat, last week during our music class (which is part of our Shabbat party) the children made a thunderstorm in the rainforest.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tzedakah, Tzedakah, Tzedakah...

that is what we give; to the poor people, to help them live.

A look at this week:

We have been very busy with our money this week. Some children took time to make their own silver coins (out of aluminum foil) in our art center by tracing cups and cutting out the circles. Others really enjoyed going to home living to fill the tzedakah box and then pretend to give it to people in need. Of course when you think about money, math comes into mind. We did talk about how much the different coins were worth and we read stories about money. But we also sorted coins, filled metal tzedakah boxes and then listened to them shake to see if we could figure out which one had more money in it. The children also wrote a book page about money and made their own tzedakah boxes out of recycle materials. And at the end of many of the days we had the chance to do tzedakah races. I think jumping was one of the favorite ways to get from one end of the room to the other to put their plastic pennies into the tzedakah boxes before coming back to the line.

Listening in to the conversations:

This week it was fun to listen to the children talk about money. They all really enjoyed the opportunity to play with money and learn a little more about it. On Monday I showed the children that if they used a magnifying glass, they could look at the back of a penny and see the statue of Abraham Lincoln. Throughout the rest of the week they were excited to tell me that they were able to find "the man" on the back of the penny!

We have kept our grass heads here to watch them grow a little more. It has been fun to heard all the excitement when they get to go over and see their grass growing!

A look at next week:

The next holiday that we will be talking about is Purim (a celebration of the Jewish salvation from the Persian Empire). We will be spending three weeks talking about things that surround Purim. Next week while having a little discussion about the story of Purim we are actually going to focus more on the community. We will work with Purim characters on a felt board but we are also going to make a small town out of boxes and use our characters in the town as well!
A Planting Update:
We have a few items growing in our classroom...items we want growing! First our cat grass is doing very well. i do think there is one cup that hasn't shown as much growth as the others, but all the others have at least 2 stalks of cat grass growing.
Next, we took grapes and put them in to cups in the window sill to see if we can make raisins. As much as we are not sure if this experiment will really work, we noticed that many of the grapes are starting to wrinkle!
And the finally growing project included taking corn seeds, cantaloupe seeds, cucumber seeds and garden bean seeds and planting them into egg cartons. We have started growth on the corn seeds and the garden bean seeds! It was very exciting to make that discovery today!

Jumping during the tzedakah races

Writing the names of coins

Which tzedakah box has more coins?

Sorting coins

Walking tzedakah race

Filling a tzedakah box in Home Living