Friday, September 28, 2012

It is a delight to watch the children's joy at play and discovery.  
"It's a sukkah!"
"When did that get built?!"
yoga on the playground
 "sponge blocks?!"
what is hidden in the rice?  SHAPES!!
Sometimes it's nice just to sit and take it all in.

As a way to continue and expand upon our conversation about the sweet, helpful things we can do for others, we have brought "puppets" into our classroom to help us explore some very important social skills.
Puppets give the children the opportunity to be "objective observers" which allow the children to take in the whole picture (both sides of the story), and more honestly assess right from wrong.
Aaron and Dena act out Scenario 1:  
Caterpilla knocked over Foxina's tower of blocks.
Dena/Foxina: Why did you knock down my blocks?
Aaron/Wolfred: I tripped.
(Morah Katie: What can happen next? What can Foxina say to Wolfred? What Can Wolfred say to Foxina?
Voices from audience: Say sorry/Help/ Don't trip
Morah Katie: These are good suggestions, I wonder what will happen?)
Aaron/Wolfred: I'm sorry.
Dena/Foxina: Will you help me build it?
Aaron/Wolfred: Yes I can help you.
 Josiah and Noam act out Scenario 2:
Foxina tries to play with Wolfred, but instead of asking to play she knocks down the blocks.
Josiah/Wolfred: Foxina please dont' knock down my blocks.
Noam/Foxina: I want to play.
Josiah/Wolfred: I don't want to play with you if you knock down my blocks. Will you ask me and not knock them over?
Noam/Foxina:  I play with you?
Josiah/Wolfred: Yes let's build.
We played out these scenarios over the week, varying the situation, and asking for all the possible outcomes. 
Thursday during outside play I had the good fortune of witnessing the following:
After playing tag...
Josiah: I don't want to be IT any more.
Noah: I don't want to be IT.
Kian: I will be IT.
(running and tagging and running and tagging......  the boys become tired and have some frustrations....)
Kian: I am done being IT, you be IT.
Josiah: Well I don't want to be IT. You be IT.
Noah: No I don't want to be IT.
Kian: Ok I'll be IT but Noah is on my team.
Josiah: Wait, who will be on my team?
Noah: I'll be on your team.
Kian: But you are on my team.
Josiah: I won't have a team unless I find someone else to play and no one wants to play tag.
Noah; Well I don't want to be IT.
Kian: I don't either and we don't have enough for teams, I am going to do something else.
Josiah: Can I play something else with you? We won't need teams.
Kian: You can do this with me (filling a bottle with pebbles)
Josiah: Ok, let's do that.
Noah: I want to play, can I play?
Josiah: Yes.
Kian:  Yeah, we need pipes.
The boys expressed what they did not want, talked to each other and came to a solution they were all happy with.  

Another fun thing that helped the children begin thinking of the kind things they can do for others was to find the "missing half a heart" and complete the heart.
Morah Katie: What does it mean when we draw a heart?
Dena: Love
Morah Katie: What does it feel like when someones shows you they care about you by doing something kind and helpful for you?
Noah: I feel good.
We hid one set of half hearts around the room, when the children found the missing pair we discovered what message of kindness the heart stated, for example: 
give tzedaka

Help a teacher
saying I'm sorry when I make a mistake

It has been a wonderful month, we accomplished so much and it is simply the end of September!

Happy Birthday Sroli!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dear Parents,
I would like to take a moment to reflect on my own appreciation for The Gan.
At The Gan we have many goals and hopes for the children.
A primary goal is a growing knowledge and understanding of Jewish values, and helping the children apply those values as they become confident, capable, young people.

As a non Jewish teacher at a Jewish preschool, I greatly appreciate the new school year coinciding with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
In the midst of new transitions and routines, new friends and new toys to learn and play with,
we begin the year with these values and ideas which frame the way we as teachers interact with the children, and how we encourage the children to speak and interact with each other.

Rosh Hashanah calls us to think of the sweet blessings in our lives.
For the children those blessings may be the toys they have, the snacks in their lunch, moms and dads.
We begin our year together thinking about all we have, and all we can be grateful for.
This conversation continues and deepens as the year progresses.
As we learn about Yom Kippur we look at all the sweet things WE can do for others.
How can we be sweet, helpful classmates and friends?
Morah Katie: If you see a friend who is looking sad, what can YOU do?
Kian: Share my toys.
Tori: Ask them what I can do.
Morah Katie: If you see a friend who is looking angry, what can YOU do?
Noah: Try to share with them, or give back what someone took from them.
Josiah: Ask them to play with me..
Morah Katie: Those are very kind things to do, we can ask them what made them angry and help them find a solution.
In addition to friends comforting friends, other acts of kindness and helping occur in the classroom daily.  
We can help sweep up crumbs.
We can share and play together.
We can help put toys away.
We begin this conversation at the beginning of new school year, yet we discuss it daily looking for opportunities to help others.

As we look forward to preparing for Sukkot, we will discover it is a celebration of unity. The 4 plants, (Lulav, Etrog, Hadas and Arava, which you will be hearing more about when they are introduced in the classroom), are all different, but when gathered together are used for a blessing.
It is when all the different children at the Gan come together that the wonder and truly amazing moments occur. For example when one child sees a friend struggling over a puzzle becoming frustrated, she offers to help because she is a "puzzle master".
Working together they share the joy of overcoming the challenge.
These moments of caring and concern enhance the overall experience for all the children.

One of the reasons the new academic year begins so smoothly is because the older children are guides for the younger children. Our returning friends gladly help the new and younger children learn the routines and expectations of the classroom community.
When we walk to the playground, our older friends hold the hands of their younger friends.
Everyone can contribute to prepare for a shared meal.
We have different abilities and  ideas, but we can all come together to create a map, a plan, a reality.
We sing and pray together, play and learn together.
Together we create the amazing place called the Gan.

The holidays help to establish the foundation of our classroom.
We have talked about all the wonderful things Hashem has given us; we have seen how we can be our best self by helping others and treating others with kindness; we know that Hashem is always with us, protecting and guiding us as we reach the goal of becoming a better Me.
Because of this foundation, the children can express themselves knowing they will be valued and respected; that each of them have an important role, and without them the Gan would not be the place it is.
Because of what The Gan is, these children can flourish and soar as they reach their goals and help to make the world around them a better place.

Morah Katie

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rosh Hashanah is the new year!
Rosh Hashanah is finally here!
Morah Tzivie: A special holiday is coming soon.
Tori: Rosh Hashanah
Morah Tzivie: Yes. Does anyone know what Rosh Hashanah means?
Joshiah: New Year
Tzivie: Yes! We eat something special at the new year.
We eat apples. What do apples taste like? Salty? Sour? Bitter? Sweet?
Kids: Sweet!
Morah Tzivie: We eat sweet apples and we dip them in honey to ask Hashem to bless us with a sweet new year.
Morah Tzivie shared a book about a shofar that had lost its voice.
They can come in many sizes, some are smooth and some are rough.
A shofar is a ram's horn. It gets cleaned and polished so we can blow it to make a loud, strong sound.
In the story, The Shofar That Lost Its Voice, we learn that the shiny black shofar is so sad it lost its voice. Without its voice it can't create the sound that causes people to stop, listen and think about their new year and and the blessing Hashem gives them.
It was fun to blow a shofar and to hold them in our hands.
We created some special Rosh Hashanah crafts
Morah Katie: Why are bees important?
Josiah: They spread pollen.
Dena: They make honey.
Morah Katie: What do we use honey for?
Tori: For Rosh Hashanah.
Aaron: To dip apples in.
Morah Katie: Why do we dip apples in honey?
Kian: For a sweet new year!
Apples come in many colors, each with a sweet taste.
We had a very special Shabbat party this week.
Morah Tzivie: What holiday is Sunday?
Scout: Rosh Hashanah.
Morah Tzivie: We are going to set our Shabbat table just like we always do, but we are going to add some extra special things. What shape do you think our challah will be?
Kian: Square
Tori: Triangle
Dena: Circle
Morah Tzivie: It is a round challah, round like the year. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the new year. For extra sweetness, we have raisins in our challah, for more sweet blessings.
Morah Tzivie: We eat something else during Rosh Hashanah, it is a fruit with so many seeds.
We eat pomegranates to help us think of all the sweet things we have, and of all the sweet things we can do in the new year.
Morah Tzivie: And! for more sweetness in the new year we dip...
Kids: Apples and honey!
Morah Tzivie: We can say this blessing: Please Hashem give us a sweet new year.