Friday, October 26, 2012

At The Gan, the environment is set up to embrace and nourish the child, and to help the child develop life skills such as care of self and care of others.

At The Gan we follow the interest of the child.

If a child is intensely interested in cutting, we provide opportunities for that child to cut, increasing in difficulty as the child's skill develops. Allowing the child to engage in what intrigues him, demonstrates to the child that his interests and his point of view have value.  When he feels of value his confidence grows.  A confident child is a happy child. 

Social relationships are becoming a larger part of a child's life. These new relationships develop the manners and choices which can establish how the child interacts with other people. 
We have been learning how to greet someone graciously.  How do we express "welcome", what does that "Hello" sound like? Does it bring a smile to the visitors face?
We say things like:
Tori: Good Morning.
Gracie: Hello.
Dena: Hi
Morah Katie: If a visitor comes to our class what can we do or say?
Noah: We can offer them snacks. We have snacks so we can offer them some to eat.
We have the opportunity to practice this aspect of grace and courtesy when we are visited by the Rabbi.
Every child in the room: HI RABBI!!

Everyday moments of kindness and courtesy are vital to developing positive social interactions.
The Gan provides the child with a place to learn and experience how to ask for help, and how to offer it. 
The children learn how to politely join an activity, and how to graciously decline an invitation.

Gracie: I'll pull you Scout.
Morah Katie: Scout, I hear you don't want Gracie to pull you, how can you tell her what you are wanting so she understands.
Scout: Gracie I do not want to be pulled. Please do not pull me.
Gracie, though clearly upset herself, stopped pulling.

Learning in preschool is achieved primarily through play.  Play provides opportunities to help the child create and sustain positive social interactions.
 A particular sequence of play can be observed as the child grows and begins to demonstrate a deeper interest in the world beyond herself.
  • Unoccupied Play, during which the child watches but stays in his/her spot.
  • Onlooker play, during which the child will move around to watch the other children and ask questions, but refrains from joining in the play.
Scout watches as Gracie explores the rice.
  • Solitary Independent Play occurs when the child engages and is active, but plays on his own.
Abigail is quite content to create on her own.

  • Parallel Play, during which the child plays independently but is next to other children, often using the same materials or toys.
Anton is playing with the animals side by side with Dena.
  • Associative play, during which the child will play with other children using the same materials and toys and talking with them, however, still acting on his own.
Josiah, Ari and Anton explore with collage material .
  • Cooperative Play, the child plays in a group with the specific goal of doing a particular thing.
Two pirates who are creating rain forest  treasures.
Guiding the child while respecting his choices fosters the development of appropriate social interactions.

Scout: Noah would you like to be a kitten doctor?
Noah: Well not right now because as you can see I am counting but when I am done with my counting I will be a kitten doctor that would be fun.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

We all have a special place in the world.

We have a place in the universe,
Morah Katie: Anton, what did you draw?
Anton: The Universe.

Morah Katie: Our place in space, our planet is called what?
Scout: It is Earth.

  Invite your child to sing for you:
North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Af ri ca!
Don't forget Australia, Don't forget Antarctica
North America South America, Europe, Asia and Af ri ca!
Morah Katie; Our planet in space is Earth, our piece of land on Earth is...
Dena: North America.

Morah Katie: North America is made up of different countries. What is the name of our country? Our place on North America?
Kian: The .... UnitedStatesOfAmerica. That is a long name.
Morah Katie: Our special place in the United States of America is called?
Kian/Josiah/Noah/Dena/Tori: WASHINGTON
Morah Katie: Who can tell me the name of our very special city?
Josiah: Vancouver Washington

Just as the children have discovered that they live in a special place, they see that all of  Earth is made up of many different types of special places.

Morah Katie: What is a habitat?
Dena: It is a special place where animals live.
Morah Katie: What does a habitat have to have so the animals and plant life that live there can survive and be successful?
Aaron: Food.
Dena:  Water.
Tori: A place to care for their young.
Efraim: Air
Morah Katie: The last one is a big word, we all have it. Think about what keeps you safe from the hot hot sun, the chilly wet rain, the icy cold snow. 
Dena: House.
Morah Katie: A house would keep us safe from the weather. Where would an animal go to keep safe from the weather or other animals?
Josiah: A Cave.
Morah Katie: A cave could keep an animal safe, we call these places shelter.

We will learning about 4 specific habitats over the next few weeks.

We will begin with the tropical rain forest.
We know that it is very green, and wet, and full of animal and plant life.

We are creating a mini rain forest model in our classroom.
Morah Katie: How many layers will we need to create?
Kids: 4!
Morah Katie: The tallest layer is called the 
Josiah: Emergence layer
Morah Katie: What is the next layer?
Kian: The Can? Canopy!!
Morah Katie: What is under the canopy?
Tori: The mossy forest floor.
Dena: The Understory
 We currently have a mossy forest floor and the beginning of our emergent layer.  We will add to our classroom rain forest in the coming days creating a model dense green habitat.

Friday, October 12, 2012

 Circle Time and Morning Message

Children benefit from Circle Time by gathering with all of the children to enjoy sharing stories, singing and talking with their friends and teacher.
 It is an opportunity to develop early literacy skills, math concepts, scientific processes, and very important social skills such as sharing and taking turns.
It is Scout's turn to jump for her Samach, Noam, Natan, Noah and Josiah are waiting to hear the sound their name begins with (the 3 nun's in a row was a coincidence).
The following is an example of a typical circle time at The Gan.
Once we have gathered at the aleph bet mat, we begin with a song. 
The song helps us to get our wiggles out and our ears ready to listen.
I introduce or review the themes and ideas we are discussing.
 In the coming weeks we will be learning about different habitats on earth. 
First, we need to remember how special Earth is.  
To remind us, we sing our solar system song from last year.We stop at each planet and talk about its attributes.  
We remember Earth is the only planet that:
Dena: It has lots of trees.
Josiah: It grows fruits and vegetables.
Noah: It has living things.
Kian: It’s blue because of the water.
Dena: It has lots of oceans.
Often our circle time discussion continues all day, the children's interest and excitement sustain the conversation. 
While outside Thursday, we were able to again be grateful for how special Earth is when we saw:
Morah Amanda: Look at that!
Everyone: WOW!!!! 
Morah Katie: Where do you think they are going?
Noah: I don't know.
Morha Katie: They are pretty cool, do you think you would find birds on Mars?
Kian: NO!
Morah Katie: Saturn?
Josiah: NO!
Morah Katie: Why not? 
Kian: Cause birds can't live on those places.
Josiah: Bad air.
We move from our theme discussion to revealing the Helper/Leader of the Day.  
It is quite an exciting thing to be the helper/leader; this child helps pass out the Torah’s, collects tzedakah, sets up the snack tables and leads the line.  
The helper also leads us through the calendar.
Updating the calendar is an important part of circle time. 
We are developing early literacy skills such as recognizing that words are made of letters representing sounds.  
When the Helper of the Day points to each day as we sing that word, we are reinforcing recognizing sight words. 

As we discover what yesterday, today and tomorrow are, we learn about the passage of time.  
Each day we add a new number to our calendar, we are building on the linear progression of numbers. 

Daily updating of the calendar provides a good opportunity to recognize connections and patterns, we never seem to be at school on Saturday and Sunday, Tuesday always follows Monday, the numbers keep getting bigger as we fill in the month.
Once we have completed the calendar update, we write a morning message. 
We document who the leader is, this helps the children recognize their friend’s names. 
“Gracie is the helper.”  This sentence provides many learning opportunities.  
One such learning moment  is the wild and crazy rule breakers T-H-E.  I ask the children to help me with the sounds for (t) (h) (e), then we re-read the sentence.
Morah Katie: Wait… the says the, not (t) (h) (e) [I say it phonetically- children always laugh]
what is going on?
Kids: The is a rule breaker!!!
We discover that when certain letters get together they get wild and crazy and don’t say their sounds – 
they make new sounds together.  
These words can be called rule breakers or sight words, we begin to see them as a picture and know when we see the, is, of, you, are….  we don’t say the sounds, we say the wild and crazy word.
We do also have a letter of the day to help  reinforce the phonetic connection between sound and letter symbol.  It is always thrilling when the children can guess my drawing.
Children: b - butterfly !
The letter of the day helps isolate the auditory sound of a single letter,and can a beneficial tool for the child who is detailed orientated.  We then look for that letter in the morning message and the calendar. We see that for words to be created, the letters need to come together.

We have a number of the day.  We look at the numeral, guess whether it is odd or even, and discover the answer by counting.
Morah Katie: Today's number is .....10. If you think 10 will be odd please raise your hands.
Let's find out.
Everyone: (We count as I make marks on the board) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10. 
Morah Katie: Is it odd or even?
Dena: It's even.
Morah Katie: Why, how can you tell?
Kian: They all have a partner.

As we move into the teen numerals, we begin to discuss the idea of tallying. Tallying helps us to begin to group quantities, which introduces us to the ideas of adding and mulitplication.

Circle time and morning message provides an opportunity to help the children develop observation and reasoning skills.
When we look at the daily pattern, the children can see the repetition of the images, they can safely make a guess as to what will be the next part of the pattern, and this in turn helps the children build confidence in their opinions and point of views, and begins to lay the foundation for critical thinking.

We can take the observation skills used to create a pattern and apply it to a scientific investigation.
It is an opportunity for creative thinking, risk taking in our guesses, discovery thorough hands on results.
As a group, we conducted a pumpkin investigation. 
We asked 4 questions, made guesses, and then used our observation skills to answer those questions.
As the year progresses, the morning message will grow to include facts we are learning about, and the helper of the day takes more of a role in writing the message.

Our morning circle time includes our Hebrew songs and lessons.
The children gather their tzedakah and share it.
 We sing to thank Hashem for all he has given us.  We sing Shema, and jump for our hebrew letter.

We conclude our morning circle as the helper of the day takes attendance by counting how many friends are at school.  He/she then invites one freind to help set up the snack tables.
Circle time encourages a feeling of community; we all love singing, we all love listening to books, we all love to contribute what we know and to learn new things.
As we sit quietly, speak at our turn, we show our friends respect, and we in turn know our voice is valued and will be heard.
Circle time provides an opportunity to reach all learning styles; we talk in big ideas and look at the details.

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's Sukkah Time! 
We read a Sukkot story and examined the big sukkah.
Morah Katie:  Look around and tell me what you see.
Kian: It has 4 walls.
Morah Katie: It does. Does it have a ceiling?
Josiah: No, it doesn't.
Morah Katie: What does it have?
Kian: A schach.
Morah Katie: Tell me what else you see?
Dena: It  doesn't have a floor, it's just the earth.

Morah Katie: What do you think we can build with these pipes.
Aaron: A sukkah.
Josiah: We can build a sukkah. 
Gracie: We will make a sukkah in our playground?
Morah Katie: Let's see if we can build one.
                      Why do we need 4 walls, what does it remind us of?
Josiah: That G-d is everywhere.

 Work began.

 The frame was built.

 We began to create decorations for our sukkah.
Despite the blustery wind, 
we hung our decorations and cloth walls.

We enjoyed our day at Little Gnome Farm. 
Josiah: Hey they have a sukkah!
Dena: Look at the stuff from the top.
Tori: They decorated it.

Noah: It's a lulav.
Josiah: And an etrog.
We enjoyed seeing the different plants, and picking our tomato snacks.  


Back to the sukkah to enjoy our snacks

And there were pumpkins too!

We ended our day with more snack, but not for us- for the chickens and ducks!

Morah Katie: Why do we shake the lulav and etrog, why do we say the blessing in all directions?
Josiah: To know the G-d's all around us.