Thursday, December 18, 2014

Archaeology of Hannukah

Today we looked at the idea of archaeology.  The idea of death is something discussed with some frequency in our room, from reminiscing about relatives who are no longer with us to clarifying that Torah personalities are 'dead now'. Today we had a frank discussion about how even though our neshama [soul] goes up to Hashem when we die (no one asked where bodies go, so that was not discussed) our "stuff" stays right where it is.
Then we explored how over time our things could get covered and hidden and archaeologists dig for them.
The students tried an excavating in the sand.

 And making rubbings of their findings.
And did more archaeology during recess.
We read  which is about excavating in Modiin and finding ruins from the Maccabees. If we had more time, further exploration of the Hannukah history uncovered in archaeology of Israel.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eating Up Hannukah

Each day of Hannukah we will be focusing on different aspect of Hannukah. (Since we lose two school days of festivities, yesterday we did this super fun activity.)

Today we looked at the food of Hannukah. When I asked the students to name 'Hannukah foods', their answers were great.
They practiced making some of the Hannukah foods out of play dough.

 We went to the multi-purpose room and joined K-2nd in decorating (and eating) Hannukah cookies.

Then we decided to make latkes. 
"Where do we get potatoes?" I asked.
"The ground!" Elchanan accurately announced. 
"Yes! But we don't have any in the ground around TDS. So where else can we get them?" I asked.
"The kitchen?" Elazar suggested. I told him there weren't any.
"MacPhersons!" Naftali cheered! Because of last week, we are experts in MacPherson's.

We marveled over the many types of potatoes and purchased an assortment.
Back at school, we began a 'grate' task.

While half the group cooked, the other half worked on a frying pan craft project. Those of you who have one, the game is meant to work on coordination and numeracy. Mostly it is just fun.

 When our great work was done, Morah Racheli set off to the kitchen to make latkes. We had a discussion about how when we made pasta, we needed water+heat to cook them. For popcorn we only needed heat. For latkes we need the special Hannukah ingredient: oil!
 The students took turns supervising.
 And then we ate! We had the latkes, jelly donuts, and bumelos

You might not believe me, but many of the kids were more enthusiastic about fruit, veggies, and grains, than they were about these treats. Many described the latkes as slimy (the correct terms would be oily and delicious), didn't like jelly, and wouldn't try bumelos. 

Tomorrow we will just have carrot sticks, apple slices, and whole grain crackers ;). Just kidding. But tomorrow we will be talking about Hannukah, history and archaeology.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Festival of Lights

In a physical, historical, and spiritual way, Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights.

It is hard to appreciate light without darkness, so today we celebrated light (ohr) and darkness (chosech).
I blacked out our windows before the students arrived, and set up our 'brightest' activities.
 The light box with stacking tubes.
 The Lite Brite.
 Bubbles with glow-sticks solution inside.
 The students LOVED it.
 Here they took the flashlight (for shadow puppets) and were exploring their magna-tile creations.
 Loving the Lite Brite.
 Combined stacking tubes with magna-tiles on the light table
 Everyone got a glow-stick. Although this picture looks like a rave, they are actually a Channukiyah, with the shamash lighting each student/light and them holding their stick up high.
 Morah Racheli prepared snack in the dark, with the cutting board on the light box.
And we ate in the dark.

Did I mention I loved it? From a sensory point of view, the experience was phenomenal. The change in sensory input was marked and caused for more relaxed environment.

We had a lovely discussion about what we value in light and in darkness.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Ideally, when learning about fruits and veggies, children should harvest and pick produce. 
For various reasons, that wasn't a possibility right now. 
So we did the next best thing; enjoying the incredible produce selection on a field trip to MacPhersons. 

 The students were wonderfully well-behaved.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Great Rabbi Chait

As you see, we do many excited things in the classroom. But one area where we lacked was a genuine, guided, interactive musical experience.  And I knew I do not have the skills to provide it. 

I interviewed a few candidates.
But no one in our class had the repertoire, musical capability, or professionalism really necessary. 

Down the hall, I found someone who was! The Great Rabbi Chait!

Once a week Rabbi Chait and I swap spots. I teach 3rd grade and he brings his guitar to the preschool. The Great Rabbi Chait leads an incredible sing-along. I could tell you how much the children love it, but ask any of them, as their reports are glowing!

Spirituality on the Playground

 Here is a glimpse of something I had the pleasure of overhearing on the playground.

"The black is there so we can't be seen," Naomi Bina explained. [She was referring to the blackout on the playground fence which was added a few months ago.]
"I can still be seen," Audrey remarked.
"No, it is so bad people can't see us," Ava explained.
"No one can see us!" Naomi Bina insisted.
"Hashem can see us! He sees us EVERYWHERE. He can see us through the black," Ava expressed.
"Because Hashem is good. But bad people can't see us," Audrey concluded.

Meanwhile spiritual reflection was also occurring with sidewalk chalk.  
 "I made a ladder," Naftali announced. 
"A fix-it man ladder!" Yaakov announced. 
"No," Yehuda objected. "It is your ladder. It is Yaakov's. There are angels going up and down on it."
"And it goes all the way up to shamayim [heaven]," Naftali added, drawing a sun at the top. 

Veggie Party!

Today was our celebration of vegetables!
We looked at them, marveled at their many colors, and discussed their health value.

"Eating vegetables help us grow so much! They help keep us healthy. So we are going to make ourselves out of vegetables!"

The students selected vegetables from your wonderful contributions.

"I don't usually like carrots, but I will try them," Jacob announced. 
"I also didn't like them, but then I tried them with dip and they are yummy!" encouraged Moshe Leib.
 Then they churned out some masterpieces. Above is an uncanny self-portrait of Audrey.

 "Me and my legs!" Naftali later added arms and a few more features. 

"I made a circle instead of myself," Elchanan explained as he enjoyed tasting his creation.  

Then we enjoyed eating our healthy selves. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Grain/Melachot/Sixth Grade Teaches

We are learning about grain as part of our lesson on nutrition and brachot. The sixth grade boys are learning about the 39 melachot. Because of their studies of "the order of bread", they are experts in the process of wheat to flour.

The boys were kind enough to share their expertise with us with an incredible demonstration.



 Everyone took a turn grinding

 Then the boys gave each student a wheat stalk.
It was amazing for the pre-Kers to learn from the "big boys". Everyone is a teacher.
When Tiny Tots came outside for recess, Ava gave students from the younger class a demonstration of turning wheat into flour.