Friday, March 26, 2010

Preparing for Passover

Both last week and this week we spent some time on Friday doing a little "Passover cleaning." Last week we went on a search for chametz (bread products), which was really pieces of brown paper. The children took paper bags around and used a candle (unlit), a spoon and a feather to find the chametz. They put the pieces they found into the paper bag and then we got rid of the chametz!
This week we took it one step further and cleaned the room with feather dusters and spray bottles. The children really enjoyed the opportunity to get the classroom ready for Passover.

I am sorry that I am unable to really add any more information from this past week at The Gan. I spent most of the week taking care of my sick children. However, I was thrilled to be able to be back, even if it was for just one day before our break starts. The children came in and were very excited to tell me about things they did earlier in the week. It really sounds like they had a wonderful time doing activities with Morah Tzivie and learning more about Passover!

I hope all of our families have a great Passover. I look forward to seeing everyone back at The Gan on Wednesday, April 7th.
Searching for chametz.
Cleaning the classroom for Passover

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is round, flat and crunchy?

A look at this week:

That's right...matzah!
This week we focused our learning on matzah and numbers. We continued to work on our number books. Many children have almost finished their books that talk about the numbers involved with Pesach. And some still have a ways to go. Hopefully they will finish these next week! While working so hard on these and combining math and writing together we also had lots of other exciting activities going on this week! In the home living area the children became bakers by sticking their hands into a bucket of flour and using different measuring cups and spoons to work on the concept of 1, 1/2, and 1/4. They also were able to put paper matzahs into our own cardboard box turned brick oven! Then the children could also take their paper matzahs over to the block area where they were building ovens. In the mean time, they also made matzah rubbings in art and played with playdough, transforming the playdough into matzah. As a group we made afikomen covers while we also talked about taking a whole piece of paper and folding it in 1/2. We also talked about 1/4 when we did this but we did not fold our paper again. After folding the paper in half, we hole punched it and the children used yarn to lace up the covers. On another day we traced paper plates and then cut them out, covered them in brown crayon and with things that are brown to make our own matzahs. We made three matzahs each as that is what we use during the Passover Sedar. On Wednesday we took a little walk over to the Chabad and tried to make our own matzahs. We focused on just adding flour and water together to make matzah instead of adding other ingredients, such as eggs and yeast. The children enjoyed rolling the matzah out and poking it with plastic forks.
Listening In:
It is always interesting to see or listen to what events in the children's lives enter their play. The children decided this week to play that they were riding (or swinging) to the hospital and going on bike rides to get medicine. This was influenced by a conversation by a child.
Of course it is always fun for me to see such great excitement come out of a learning activity that takes place in the classroom. I just loved listening to Miriam exclaim that she "did it!" every time she was able to write a number in her number book correctly!
Looking at next week:
We will be finishing up our unit on Pesach next week. We are going to focus on the sedar (the ritual meal that we have during Passover). We will be trying some of the special foods that we have at the sedar and talking about the sedar plate (and even making one out of a paper plate and writing the words on it). We are also going to be adding to our number books.
Special Reminder:
We are having our dedication ceremony on Sunday at 11:00. The children will be singing a couple of songs during this event. We hope to see you there!

Excited to make an afikomen cover!

Trying to lace up the cover!

Playing with flour

Making paper matzah

Decorating the paper matzah
Making matzah

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Going from Slavery to Freedom

A Look At This Week:

With Pesach (or Passover) only three weeks away, we started our three week theme about the holiday when the Jews were slaves in Egypt and were able to make an exodus to freedom. We started the week by talking about what the Jews were expected to do during their slavery lives. Our main focus was on pyramids. We felt how heavy a single small brick was and then talked about how they used much bigger bricks to make pyramids. The children really enjoyed all the pyramid activities. Int he block area they used our large Lego like blocks and tried to build a pyramid. The children made paper pyramids and then counted the "bricks" they used and wrote the number next to each line of bricks. We used the light table this week to let the children explore with the magnetic shapes. Some children used the triangles to make pyramids and others used the squares to make the walls of the pyramids. In art the children were able to make a brick rubbings so they could see the rough texture in the bricks.

We also talked about how it felt to be slaves. We discussed how sore and tired their feet probably were and the children were then able to trace their feet and cut the tracing out. They then used their paper feet to measure things around the room. We also enjoyed a very special snack to represent how the slaves may have eaten! The children received a couple of crackers and one cup of water. Then we pretended to be royalty and moved over to pillows and more comfortable chairs so they could eat their fruit (the rest of their snack for the day) reclining. We had a great conversation about how "yucky" the crackers were and how "yummy" the pears tasted! The children all chose to be royalty by the end of this snack!!

After discussing the slavery of the Jews, we moved on to other parts of the Passover story. Some children chose to play with the frogs and water bucket (frogs being just one of the ten plagues). Some children chose to go to home living where they put our doll (temporarily named Moshe) into a basket and pretended to send it down the river. And we also painted a paper blue, drew our family on another paper and then attached the two (with the blue paper cut in half). This represented when the water was parted so the Jews could cross over to safety. Please check out our bulletin board display as the children really took pride in making their families, talking about how many people were in their families and then sharing with their classmates!

One additional project that we started this week and will continue through the next week or two was our Pesach Number Books. In this book we are using the numbers that are important to Pesach and writing them and then using the numbers to represent an aspect of Pesach. We are also adding other items to our books to represent the meaning on the number for the holiday!
Listening in to conversations:
I am always happily amazed when the children get excited about things in the classroom! It was so nice to hear the children exclaim that they want to go to specific learning centers when I explained what activities we were doing. A number of time I heard, "I want to go to the ...." as soon as I explained what to do at that center. And if too many children were already there, when we chose our second activity they would ask me again if they can go to the center they wanted originally. It was very nice! And the children also really took to the conversations about the frogs as I frequently found at least one child hoping around the classroom like a frog!
One child hurt his tongue this week. All the other children kept coming up to him and asking if he was alright. Although at times the children may argue with each other, they all really care about their fellow classmates as well!
Looking at next week:
As we continue to talk about Pesach, we are going to spend this week focusing on matzah. Now that we know that we had to leave Egypt quickly, we are going to learn more about that special unleavened bread that was made. The children will be pretending to search The Gan for chametz (leavened breads). They are going to pretend to make matzah as well as talk about numbers 1/4, 1/2 and 1 as we work on making our own afikomen (the dessert matzah) case.

Finding out how heavy a small brick feels!

Working on a Lego pyramid

Building pyramid walls at the light table

Tracing her foot to use to measure things around the room

Frogs, Frogs and more frogs (at least we can play with these!)

Making a paper number pyramid

Drawing their families

Working on her Passover Number Book

Eating crackers and drinking water for snack

Sitting like Royalty with a pear for snack!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

They are on our doorposts...

A look at this week:
We spent the week talking about the mezuzah and also houses. These two go hand in hand since we have mezuzot on our doorposts of our homes. The children enjoyed pretending to be the prayer inside the mezuzah by rolling their way to the rainforest/reading room for story!
We started the week out by making looking at a few mezuzot and talking about the differences. Then we used some home made clay to make our own. Later in the week we enjoyed decorating them. We also had the chance to take the words "mezuzah on the door" and make many other words out of the letters. In writing we took the letter of our first names and came up with three more words that also started with that letter. We also played memory with alphabet cards and had the chance to use the letter stamps in art to stamp and recognize letters and words!
The children really enjoyed coloring a class mezuzah, which can be found on one of the bulletin boards. I really enjoyed just writing down what I heard going on while they colored. It was interesting to see who was concentrating so hard on their coloring and did less talking, who was helping others, who was sharing and who was just joining into the conversations that were taking place!
In home living the children discussed that they could pretend to kiss the mezuzah (something we heard about in our main story this week as well as we say when we daven (pray) in the morning) as well as just play in home living as if they were in a house. In blocks the children tried to build houses and even figure out a way to demonstrate a mezuzah on the door!
For math this week we spent time rolling a die. The children then added windows and doors to match the number they rolled. We also put together some mezuzah puzzles.

Listening in to the conversation:
As mentioned, I really enjoyed listening to the children talk while they colored the class mezuzah. That conversation is on the bulletin board with the mezuzah they colored. However, my favorite comment that I heard this week was when Josh was coloring on his writing page. He called to me and said, "Morah Amanda. Look! I got my name!" He was pointing to his picture where there was an "o" drawn on his page. He was very proud of himself as he showed this to me!
Looking ahead at next week:
The next three weeks we are going to be studying different parts of the next holiday, Pesach or Passover.
Next week we are going to focus on the story of Pesach as well as numbers. We are going to be making a number book, building pyramids, talking about the ten plagues. Measuring with our feet and writing about the amount of people in our families!
Building a house with a mezuzah "at" the door
Playing letter memory

Spelling out words
Coloring a mezuzah
Rolling like the prayer inside the mezuzah case
Doing some writing!
Letter stamping
Making our own mezuzah cases
Putting together a mezuzah puzzle
Dropping a die and adding the right number of windows and doors