Thursday, February 10, 2011


What is Play? The dictionary has over 35 entries for "play".
I am choosing: play- exercise or activity for amusement or recreation.

When asked what your child did at school, do they often answer "I played"?
That is the answer I still receive from my own children, to which I ask the follow up question,
"Was it fun? Do you think you'll play ______ tomorrow?"

Joy is important. Joy opens us to experiences. Play is a great source of joy.

Play is a vital part of a child's development. Through play young children develop many skills. When children play, they try new experiences and have an opportunity to discover their capabilities. Play allows a child to express their interests and demonstrate some independence through the choices they make.

Cooperative play requires children to communicate to insure a fun time. As children play and make rules for a game, or plan a "party", they learn to positively express their ideas, and listen to the ideas of others. Through play, they learn to solve conflicts and find solutions everyone can agree too. When playing an organized game, they develop the patience to share and take turns.

Play supports cognitive development. When the children are in the home living area and they have "cooked" a meal for 3, and 2 more friends join them, they need to figure out how many more dishes will be needed. Will there be enough corn for everyone or will someone need to eat tomato?

The physical development play provides is essential. It helps a child discover their limitations and strengths.
One day a child may want to climb the ladder to the slide, discover half way it's a bit more challenging than she expected and decide she wants to come down. That day, the child may not feel secure enough to climb back down the ladder and will require help.
Next week, the child may climb back down the ladder and not even notice she has done it.
She simply did it.

Likewise, play helps develop a child's fine motor control and dexterity.

The fun and joy experienced during play contributes to a happy and productive classroom.
It is no surprise to me that the children at The Gan typically say hello to their friends with big smiles and a eagerness to begin playing, as well as a good bye to their friends with an "I love you".

We are creating a bounty of fruits and vegetables this week.

Morah Katie: What are some fruits that grow on trees?
Daniel: Apple
Kian: Avocado
Levi: Pears
Morah Katie: What are some fruits that do not grow on trees?
Daniel: Strawberries
Levi: Watermelon
Morah Katie: What makes these foods fruits?
Levi: They have seeds.

Morah Katie: How are vegetables different from fruit?
Levi: Fruit have seeds.
Morah Katie: Vegetables are parts of the plant that we eat. We can eat the stems of celery, does it have seeds?
Dena: No
Morah Katie: Is it a fruit of vegetable?
Levi: Vegatable
Morah Katie: Spinach is a leaf, does it have seeds?
Noah: No
Morah Katie: Is it a fruit or vegetable?
Levi: Vegatable
Morah Katie: Why is it not a fruit?
Kian: It doesn't have seeds.
Morah Katie: A carrot is the root of the plant, is it a fruit or vegetable?
Tori: Vegetable
Morah Katie: How do you know?
Levi: It doesn't have seeds.

Ask your child to choose 3 things that can be harvested from the ground, and to share the farmer song with you.

We felt we may have neglected the letter "G", to be sure it does not get overlooked we had a taste test of grapes vs. grapefruit.

Morah Katie: We will be having a special "G" day today. We will begin with a taste test, grapes vs. grapefruit. First lets taste the grapefruit.
(lots of sour faces)
Noah: I don't like sour.
Kian: I do.
Morah Katie: Let's taste the grapes.
Levi: The grape is better.
Daniel: I like both, may I have more grapefruit.
We finished off the bunch of grapes, but surprisingly only ate about 3/4 of the grapefruit.

In honor of our "G" day, the classroom was filled with music created from guitars.

We did begin to talk about the letter "J", and will continue discussing it into next week.

The mitzvah pear tree has an abundance of fruits. As the pear tree "blooms"with mitzvahs, more kind acts occur in the classroom.
Children are sharing tzedakah with friends so everyone has something to contribute.
Multiple children are setting the tables for snack.
Children are offering to help friends if they see them struggling:
Daniel: Kian I can open your straw.
Kian: Thank you.

This is just a sampling of the kindness occurring in the classroom. These simple things all go into creating a positive environment where each child feels respected and has a sense of belonging. Once these helpful, kind deeds begin to take place, and are supported and encouraged, a snowball effect of respect, kindness and cooperation begins.

As any of my friends can tell you, the weather helper rarely gets to report on snow, Wednesday was different, it was a SNOW DAY!

It began to melt before dismissal, but it definitely created a lot of joy!