Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Gan is the place where children come to grow, to discover what they are capable of and develop skills- only to set new goals to accomplish.
This is the place where smiles and exclamations of pride can be seen and heard.
Though at times a child's new ability appears to sprout instantaneously, that burst of skill and capability was nurtured and supported each time the child engaged in the activity.
The following are two areas which describe this process.

The ladders.
Watching children climb is a fascinating thing. Once they have mastered the coordination of their body and developed a certain amount of "fearlessness" the ladders are no longer obstacles to the joy of the slide.

The slanted step ladder to the train slide is a good first start; it is slanted like stairs and a manageable goal.

The vertical ladder on the play structure is straight up. A child needs alternate their feet and arms to push and pull themselves up.
Not an easy feat, yet once practiced it becomes as easy as the slanted ladder.

The rope ladder can appear daunting to the young eye.
Despite the intimidation the wobbly ladder creates, a child will begin to climb it.
This ladder is slanted, but it MOVES.
It moves when the child is climbing up, and it moves when a friend is climbing up along side them.
There are holes from one step to the next, and the child has to coordinate their feet and arms to push and pull themselves to the top.
This process and development in gross motor control may not take place in one playtime. It can happen over a few days, perhaps weeks. It is the product of the interest, eagerness and determination of the child.
What may appear to be a small accomplishment -Wow you climbed the ladder!-
is in fact a huge development for the child's confidence and self esteem.
They slide down KNOWING they can do it again until their heart's content.

A similar process can be seen with cutting.
This is a huge point of interest.
The children get to use those special tools called scissors.
First we learn how to walk safely with them.
Then how we hold them in order to safely cut.
It can be awkward and feel uncomfortable. Eventually, with repetition it becomes more natural and requires less "set up" (let's put our thumb facing the ceiling, slide 2/3 fingers in the big hole, keep the scissors pointing away from our belly, open... and close... open... and close).
Generally, the first items cut look like confetti.
It is the process of cutting, of using the tool that the child is interested in.
Every opportunity to cut helps the child perfect the skill, increasing their accuracy for cutting on a line, and increased independence.
No longer does a child need to wait patiently for a teacher to help cut the beginning of the craft, or the top off the Go-gurt or juice straw.
The child has the ability, and belief, that she can help herself.

Each day at The Gan we strive to create an environment where each child feels empowered to explore ideas, skills and themselves.

We follow the interests of the children and create an environment
in which they smile, laugh, test limits, and discover the world.
This week we discovered that each apple has a star in it.

We pretended we were floating in space and playing "Toss the Moon Rock".
Morah Katie: Why are the rocks so light and easy to toss?
Dena: We are in space.
Morah Katie: We are, what is it about space that allows these "rocks" to be so easy to throw, like crumpled paper balls?
Levi: No gravity.
Morah Katie: Is there anything else gravity does?
Tori: Gravity makes us stay on the ground.
Kian: We don't float.
We are discovering how easy and fun it is to help others.
As the children do all these things, they are becoming happy, capable young people.

At our "Mock Shabbat" today we did things very different from our usual way.
Since tonight is Yom Kippur and we won't have Kiddush and challah, we didn't have grape juice and challah with our friends.
Instead, we had delicious honey cake, and instead of lighting the candles before our meal, we lit the Shabbat and Yom Kippur candles after our meal.
We hope our new year is as sweet as the honey cake we tasted.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Despite it being a short week, a lot was accomplished.

There were moments of independent play,
as well as constructive cooperative play.

Morah Tzivie brought a special snack for Rosh Hashanah.
We had to reach into a box -without looking- and guess what the mystery inside was.
Many of us thought it was an apple. It was really a.......

We talked about how, like apples, pomegranates are sweet fruit with seeds.
Unlike apples, pomegranates have many sweet seeds we can eat!
We eat the many many sweet seeds hoping that the coming year will bring us many many good things.

We climbed aboard our space shuttle and traveled out into our solar system and learned about the red, dry, cold planet Mars.

We are curious to find out if we grow over the holiday weekend, and can't wait to measure ourselves again on Monday!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We pretended to be astronauts and traveled out into our solar system on a journey to learn about each unique planet.

Morah Katie: I am planning a picnic trip to a planet. I think I'll go to Mercury. What should I pack?
Levi: NO! DON"T GO
Morah Katie: Why not?
Dena: It's just a big rock!
Morah Katie: I like rocks, I could go rock climbing when I leave my space shuttle.
Kian: Climb on earth!
Morah Katie: I can rock climb on Earth and Mercury.
Levi: No, you can't breathe on Mercury, there is no air there.
Morah Katie: Are you sure? how do you know?
Levi: There is no atmosphere there.
Morah Katie: What is atmosphere?
Dena: Air!
Morah Katie: OK, I won't go to Mercury, I'll go to Venus!
Noah: NO it's gasey and smelly and hot!
Morah Katie: I can't go to Venus either? Where will I have my picnic?
Dena: Here!
Morah Katie: Here where?
Tori: Earth.
Morah Katie: What makes Earth so special?
Levi: The air, and it's the only planet where things grow.

We are also learning about our up coming holiday.
Rosh Hashanah is the new year.
We eat sweet foods, like apple dipped in honey, honey cake, raisin-filled challah. The sensory experience awakens within us this idea of sweet new beginnings.

Morah Katie: How do the apples taste?
Tori: Sweet.
Morah Katie; How do the apples taste with the honey?
Ben: Very sweet
Morah Katie: What does dipping the apples remind us of?
Dena: Having a sweet new year.
Morah Katie: What are some ways we can make our new year sweet?
Dena: Be nice.
Tori: Help.

We hear the Shofar. The Shofar is the horn of a ram. Its sound pierces the status quo, urging us to take charge of our lives, like an alarm clock reminding us that the new year is here.

Apples apples everywhere!
We are counting them and adding seeds.
We are using apples to make apple prints.
We are using them to measure our height!
M was the letter of the week. We created mail boxes and wrote mail to friends, wishing them a happy new year, Shana Tova!