Friday, October 26, 2018

Lochlan: Stars twinkle.
Evan: They shine.
Emily: They light up.
Moshe: They are fiery balls of gas.  The gravity pulls the fire to back to them.
Eli: It looks like hot lava all over stars.
Lochlan: Red (stars) are the coolest and burn slow, blue are the hottest and burn fast. Yellow are medium and burn medium.
Morah Katie: Tell me Jupiter's story.
Moshe: It's a gas planet.
Lochlan: It wanted to be a star but it was too small.

It was ideal timing in our classroom for us to discover Jupiter.
There were a few times this week when moments we hoped would be "stars" did not turn out as hoped.
We were able to use Jupiter's story as an example of an amazing opportunity for when things did not go the way we wanted.

As you can see from the start of the blog the week started strong, but like a blue star our week burned bright and fast.
We could have looked at it through the lens of disappointment, unable to complete all the star activities we had planned.  Instead it opened up a different opportunity.
We turned our Star week turned into a Jupiter week.

Emotions were high.
Things were becoming challenging causing tears and sour faces.
Hurtful, braggy words were said causing feelings to be hurt.
I had a choice to make: stay fixed on my star lesson plan OR see where our community of friends could grow.
I chose the second.
We left the stars and come straight back to The Gan.
For my friends to grow,  we needed to "water some roots" and take a step backward.
Why were emotions high?
Why were things becoming challenging?
I am not sure I can answer these questions.  I could offer my young friends some suggestions to help them when they are feeling challenged, or sour like lemons.
We spoke of Jupiter: Jupiter was ALMOST a star, but he didn't become one. We don't always get what we want. When we are feeling frustrated because things don't go our way we can choose to do something that we know will help us be happy.  
Emily: Play with a friend.
Lochlan: Help someone.
Morah Katie: Right, you could also find your favorite activity to do.

Why were braggy, hurtful things being said?
When friends began to bragging about the astronaut art, we took a moment to remember Mt. Sinai.
Morah Jillian: Friends, it sounds like the braggy mountains all around Mt. Sinai right now.  How do you think thoughtful, humble Mt. Sinai would be talking right now?
Why did our friends begin to claim to "the best" astronaut?
The children are proud of their astronauts. They should be proud.
Speaking of Mt. Sinai, we were able to remind our young friends of how humble and thoughtful we can be towards others and still be proud of ourselves.

We began exploring stars,  and we discovered more about Jupiter.
We watered the roots of values that will help our friends truly shine bright.
We focused on the qualities we hope to see from our friends-helping hands, kind words, sharing.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Exploring the Planets

Morah Jillian: What do we know about planets?
Lochlan: There are 8 planets.
Ozzie: Asteroids float to Jupiter.
Moshe: There is no sound in space.
Lochlan: The sun is a star.
Moshe: Mars is next to the asteroid belt.
Morah Jillian: What are the planets names?
Emily: Mars
Lochlan: Saturn
Ozzie: Uranus
Eliana: Jupiter
Ozzie: Neptune. Earth.
Morah Katie: What is Mercury?
Lochlan: A planet.
Clive: It is a ball of rock.
Evan: There is not air on it.
Lochlan: It is closest to the sun and is 6 times hotter than the hottest day on earth.
Morah Katie: What is Venus?
Clive: It is a planet.
Makayah: It is stinky.
Eliana: It has thick clouds.
Lochlan: It is the third shiniest thing in the sky.

Morah Katie: Why is Mars called the red planet?
Clive: Mars is red.
Morah Katie:  What else do we know about Mars?
Lochlan: People haven't landed on it but the Mars Rover has landed.
Evan: That's the robots that go on it.
Morah Katie: Tell me about Jupiter.
 Clive: It's a gas planet.
Lochlan: It's bright like Venus.
Evan: There is no place to land on it.
Lochlan: It has a great red spot.
Clive: It is the biggest planet in our solar system.
Lochlan: We can fit all our planets in Jupiter.

Morah Katie:  What about Saturn?
Eli: It has big ice in its rings.
Lochlan: We thought the rings were just blurs.
Evan: It has rings.
Lochlan: We can see it, its not as bright but we can see it from Earth. AND you have to wear warm clothes if you were to go there.
Clive: Yeah, it gets cold.
Eli: BUT still a space suit too.
Evan: AND helmet.
Emily: AND gravity boots.
Morah Katie: What can you tell me about Uranus?
Lochlan: No one would have had a birthday yet if we lived there.
Morah Katie: Right, 84 years for a full trip on its orbit. 
Lochlan: It has maybe 9 rings.
Makayah: It is sideways.
Eliana: It's green.
Morah Katie: What do you know Neptune.
Lochlan: It's the last now.
Makayah: You have to wear really warm clothes with your spacesuit.
Lochlan: It is the coldest. It is the farthest. 
Morah Katie: Finally, let's talk about not the last planet, but our planet-Earth.  It is very special.  Our planet has life on it.  We do not need to wear special spacesuits when we walk outside.  What do you find most amazing about our planet? 
Emily: It has water and air we can breathe.
Moshe: We can see Jupiter.
Makayah: Our oceans.
Eliana: Trees.
Clive: It's our home.
Lochlan: That the sun can shine right to the Earth.
Ozzie: That the moon goes around it.

Friday, October 12, 2018

"Space oh space
What a really big place...
...You can go if you just pretend"
Children have a natural sense of wonder. 
Science in the classroom provides an opportunity for children to extend this curiosity and create theories as to why/what will happen.
Eliana: We need a rocketship to go to space.
Moshe: You need gravity boots. 
Lochlan: You wouldn't want to go to close to the sun without some really good safety gear.
We have been exploring Space with our imaginations and through art.
We play with "space dough" and "moon dough."
We extend our learning as we pretend.
Morah Katie: If we have a picnic on Earth, what happens to our food?
Emily: Nothing.
Morah Katie: If we have a picnic on the moon, what would happen to our food?
Makayah: It would float away.
Morah Katie: Why?
Clive: There is less gravity on the moon.
Morah Katie: Would we have to bring anything other than a blanket and our picnic basket to our moon picnic?
Moshe: Gravity boots!
Morah Katie: Why?
Evan: We would float away! And we need space suits.
Makayah: To have air.
Morah Katie: Why do we need to bring air?
Clive:  Because there is no oxygen on the moon.
Emily: AND we need to breathe!
We sing songs and pretend to explore Space.
"Climb aboard the space shuttle we're going to the moon!
Hurry, Hurry, we  blast off soon!
Put on your space suit and buckle up tight!
Here comes the count down count with all your might!"
This allowed us to "land" on the moon.
"The Earth spins around,
the Earth spins around,
once a day,
the Earth spins around.
The moon goes round the Earth,
the moon goes round the Earth,
once a month,
every month,
the moon goes round the Earth."
We pretended to be the moon and the Earth to understand why we see the moon at night and the sun during the day.
There is no sound in space.
We had a silent space walk from our "space shuttle" classroom to our the "lunar base" playground.
Lochlan: The cucumber seeds look like craters in the moon and the apple slice looks like the moon when it is the banana moon.

Art develops creativity, imagination and self-esteem.
It allows a child to show us their thoughts, beliefs, and understandings of the world.
Through art the child show us the connections they are making.
Children have better retention of a concept when they interact with an activity which reinforces what they are studying.
The most effective learning occurs when the child is doing something they can relate to, participate in, or have a hand’s on experience with.
Art provides the child a way to explore space and express the knowledge s/he is learning.
Evan: The rocks hit it and then bounce off and keep going in space. 
Clive: The moon is a big rock.
Eliana: It has craters on it.
Lochlan: The rocks hitting the moon are called asteroids.
Ozzie: It goes around the Earth every month.
Evan: On it's orbit.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Leading to growth

When The beginning of our academic year coincides directly with the High Holy Days, we begin in the midst of exciting celebrations.
This can be a wonderful, fun way to begin our year.
There is no better way to begin the school year than beginning with Rosh Hashanah. We explore many topics and subjects throughout the year, but our every day message is rooted in what the children hear during Rosh Hashanah, to be sweet like honey in the choices they make.
We immediately begin to emphasize that leaders are people who choose to act with kindness.
The kids move from thinking in terms of "when will I be leader of the day" to we are all leaders when we do mitzvahs and help other.
Our youngest friend Zoey is learning to sit with her best circle manners because all her friends are showing her how with their choices at group time. 

We sing a song about treating others the way we would want to be treated. 
Eli: I'll put them away.
Evan:  I'll help you put them away.
It did not surprise us that Evan chose to do this kind act-his friends are kind to him.
Evan was attempting the ocean puzzle by himself. Kindness was shown as children gathered around to help him complete it.  
In another instance, Ozzie made art for Evan and invited him to play.
Moments like this are why, it did not surprise us that Evan saw Eli putting planks away and offered him help.
Kindness is given to friends, and they give it back. 

During Yom Kippur we learn that when we make mistakes, we know what to do-we fix them.  
We design the physical and emotional environment of the classroom in order for the children to feel comfortable exploring and stretching their boundaries, even if that stretch is just a centimeter. 
They hear the refrains, "accidents happen/ I made a mistake, that's ok/mistakes are for learning/I can fix it/what can I do different next time?"
Soon the kids begin to say it themselves.

Ozzie had tripped on the playground. Eli said, "Accidents happen, sometimes that happens."
He stayed with Ozzie until he felt better.
The "Day sky/Night sky" collage example was knocked off the table.
Moshe: Oh... I can get it. I'll put it here.
Spills happen all the time, we know with effort they are easy to clean up.
Emily had begun a sukkah collage. She realized she had drawn something upside down and was not happy about her mistake.  Morah Jillian sat with her and offered some suggestions.  This happened to be the day the Efraim was a guest in the class. He offered the wise advice: You can try again.
Emily listened, but was so upset at the time she did not try again.  She took a break from the craft. She went back to it later, and gave it a second a try. 
Emily: I  am going to try it again. I think I know what I need to do to make it how I want it. So I want to do it again.

During Sukkot we learn to value each friend. Everyone has something to teach us.
Clive was climbing the train engine. He was finding it tricky.
While Clive was taking a break from climbing up the train, Eli had climbed up. 
I asked Eli if he would show Clive what he had done.
Clive followed Eli's example and climbed to the top.  
This exchange was awesome.  Eli (a 3 year old) was able to share his knowledge and skill with his older (4 1/2) friend. Clive was able to see that he is surrounded by friends of all ages with knowledge to share.  Clive tried something new, and discovered he could do it.  

We hope to build upon this foundation to help our friends develop a love for learning and a love for learning from mistakes.
The children will be encouraged as they grow and become "a little bit better every day."
We will support them and stand by them as they stretch their comfort zones taking risks to discover what they are capable of achieving.