Thursday, October 30, 2014

Skills in Sports

As children age and develop, it is a pleasure to watch their abilities grow. On the playground I enjoyed watching the children making a big step forward in their understanding of recreational activities.
 The jump-ropes on the playground are used for a litany of items, from pulling items to roping off areas. But until today I never saw them used as an actual jump rope. In pairs, the girls swung the rope around. No one attempted to jump, but the coordination, teamwork, and effort involved in this step was remarkable.
 A basketball net and balls are new to our playground. Unprompted, the boys each found a ball, worked on their dribbling and shooting. You might think 'Obviously, what else would one do with a net and basketball?' But if you compare Naftali dribbling to the toddler sitting on the ball in this picture, you can see the transition in play. They will, naturally and with some guidance develop into real sportsman. 
When Seattle gets an NBA team, we might have some players for it. 

A Visit to the Eye Doctor

This week our 'home corner' was turned into the eye doctor's office.
 We made pipe cleaner glasses. But trying them on was a lot more fun than making them.
 We tested our eyes and I used it as an opportunity to test letter and number recognition.
And for some it was an opportunity to play teacher.

Eyes on science

The students learned the vocabulary of eye parts and then we tested our pupils reaction to light. Over and over.

Fascinating and fun. If you find your child in front of the bathroom mirror, flicking on and off the light, know they doing scientific research.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Experiencing Lech Lecha

Just as last week's classroom activities were connected to parashat Noach, this week we are connecting to Lech Lecha (this won't happen every week, as I will definitely not be doing korbanot). 

In parashat Lech Lecha, Hashem makes a number of beautiful promises. Two that we are looking at are: 

13:16And I will make your seed like the sand of the earth, so that if a man will be able to count the sand of the earth, so will your seed be counted.
15:5And He took him outside, and He said, "Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So will be your seed."

Rabbinic commentary states these two options aren't only given to innumerate Avraham's progeny. It is also to show the potential of each Jew's fate. We can stay on the ground and be the sand, or we can work to elevate ourselves to the greatest heights and truly shine. My goal is to help each of your children recognize their potential and help them work to be a star. 

To understand the stars and sand at school this week, we are touching, playing with, and writing in sand.

Stars are harder to get in the classroom in the middle of the day. For now, we are looking at other glowing and wonderful items.
Lite Brite! You had a lite-brite as a child, right? And you loved it? So did Pre-K!

More sand and stars coming soon...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rain for us and Noach

Hashem assisted with our lesson on Noach by making an extra rainy week. We know that only Hashem can make the rain, but we made a rainmaker. 

With one of the big cardboard tubes (the same tubes we used here and here), a hammer, and a box of nails, we set to work. 
Each student took a turn hammering nails into the tube. Sometimes I held the nail, sometimes they held it, but the best was when they worked together on it. 
Elazar has a real talent for hammering, maybe a 'real fix-it man' when he grows up. 

Using a hammer is fun and makes the children feel mature and capable, in addition to being a wonderful physical activity. Hammer use is great for working on muscular development, fine motor skills, and eye-hand coordination. 

Although my fingers took a beating, I was touched by the compassion of students when they apologized. Ori was most empathetic as he blew kisses on my fingers after each blow. 

When the tube had enough nails, we closed off one side of it. The children took turns dropping in raw rice and listening to the rain sound. Then we taped the other side closed. We are still adding more nails (the more nails, the more rain-like it sounds as they rice ricochets off each nail) during free time. Soon we will decorate the outside. 

Everyone enjoys 'making it rain'. 

Mashiv ha'ruach u'moreed ha'gashem!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Noach Experience

The week we read parashat Noach. I put up some pictures of Noach, the Teva, and some animals. I stressed that these pictures were drawn by someone and although the Torah contains the story of Noach, there are no pictures and we don't know exactly what anything looked like. The children were intrigued that if they drew a picture it would be no less accurate than the ones on the wall. 

I intentionally tell the story over a few days, so the children have time to reflect upon and experience the different parts.

Here is what we are experience thus far:
Building the Teva.

Testing buoyancy and building in the water.

Locating the animals in their natural habitat.

Loading the animals onto the ark.
The children turned this into a show and enjoyed watching each other on the Teva.

We also experienced the science here.

Tomorrow we will start with the rain falling...

Float or Sink

In connection with this week's unit on Noach, we did a scientific experiment on buoyancy. 
"Does wood float?" I asked.
"No, it is too heavy," Naftali replied.
"What was Noach's teva made from?" I continued.
"Wood!" Yehuda replied.
"Saba Larry's boat isn't wood but it floats," Adina added.
"Some items and some shapes float, while others don't. If they don't float on the top of the water, where do they go?" I asked.
"They sink to the bottom! They go down down down," Elazar explained beautifully.

The students were presented with a tray of random items. In turn, each child selected an item and guessed whether or not it would float. I explained the word 'hypothesis' and that we were scientists doing research. 

Once everyone had an item we tested our hypotheses. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Simchat Torah

 Making a Torah is no easy undertaking, but Pre-Kers can do anything!
Armed with markers, burlap, and print outs, the junior sofers set to work. 
 The abilities were varied, but the enthusiasm was universal.   

With glitter pens, they decorated the covers.

When the Torahs were finished we practiced for Simchat Torah by doing hakafot, singing and dancing around the classroom.
Chag Sameach!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

From a Fish's Mouth

This post is not my usual format for this blog. It is what I posted about today's project on my blog, I hope your children enjoy the fish as much as I did. More importantly, I hope they can tell you the story of Yonah. 

Two years ago I posted Yom Kippur Crafts X 3, which is one of my most popular posts. It is about to get SOOO much better!

This year I had my class make the big fish for Jonah [Yonah] to hide in, just like I described in the aforementioned blog. 

In short: 
Cut a big fish twice for each student.
Let them finger-paint on one side. 
Place the other fish on top and let them pat t down. 
Peel off and marvel at mirror images.
Leave the fish to dry.

I had very thick paper towel tubes cut to fit between the fish pictures to hold a 3-D Yonah. 
Then I had a brilliant idea and found some balloons.
I stretched the balloons over one side of the tubes.
When the fish dried, I stapled them around the tube. 
Meanwhile the students fashioned Jonah out of pipe cleaners and added eyes to the fish. 
Do you understand the brilliance of this project yet?
As The Book of Jonah [Sefer Yonah] recounts, after three days in the fish's stomach, Yonah was spat out onto dry land. 
Place pipe cleaner Yonah inside the fish. 
Turn the tube mostly vertical. Count to three for the three days (optional). 
Pinch a small piece of the balloon, pull it back, and release. 
Yonah goes flying through the air (and onto dry land)!

This is incredibly entertaining for ALL ages. (It was hard for me to put my fish down so I could type this. My toddlers claps with glee every time Yonah goes whirling through the air).

Shana Tova! Techatevu V'Techatemu.