Thursday, January 29, 2015

Beshalach: It is all 'D'ivine

Parashat Beshalach during 'D' week is fortuitous like B week for Vaera.  In Beshalach, the Red Sea splits and Bnei Yisrael walk through to freedom.  When Yam Suf closes and the Jewish people know they are free, they grab drums and dance. (I am sure you noticed the 'd' words there.)
I was unsure what to make our drums from and was about to email requests for recycling bin items, when Ava's mother offered us metal baskets. (I was even more excited about this than the hula-hoops.) Obviously they were perfect for drums.
First everyone practiced scissor skills by cutting out diamonds. (D!) (Scissor skills are crucial for muscle development in hands and bilateral coordination)

 Then we decoupaged (D!) the diamonds onto the drums. (More than a D word, decoupaging is a great sensory experience.)

Today I dressed up as Miriam and retold the story of the sea splitting. We made it through the split sea (see the blue fabric in the door way).

Then, with drums in hand, we sang and danced. (Thank you, Sasha, for getting pictures).

 It was hard to dance and drum at the same time (I guess maybe 'tof' does translate to tambourine and not drum in this context) so we lined them up and continued dancing.

Then we started our walk to Israel (or the local park).

 Very soon after, the Isralites complained of hunger. (How did they already know what will be in future parshiot?!?) We had snack and then went to play. 

On the return trip, the students pointed out that the grass was like Yam Suf and the path was the dry land. Love how they are always reapplying information in new ways.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mini Maccabeats

Children learn from acting out experiences they observe, like 'playing house'. It is a valuable part of education and development. It is also wonderful for us to observe them, acing out their observations.

After the Maccabeats concert, the boys practiced beat boxing regularly, and would sing Maccabeat songs while building. I didn't realize they were rehearsing for the performance of a lifetime.

Maccabeats: Thank you for coming to perform for our school and community. You are clearly an inspiration.  If you are looking for new members of the group, I have some very young and talented candidates here.

 During recess, the boys decided to put on a Maccabeats concert. They spread the word to the Tiny Tots, got a buzz going, and soon a real audience appeared,
They wasted no time, showing off their incredible talent.

T shirts and CDs will be available soon.

Honestly, the resemblance is uncanny, right?

D-lightful Week

D week is filled with exciting educational opportunities.
 Attempted to make train track into the letter 'D'
Digging in the dirt

Tomorrow I hope to capture our exciting D parasha experience. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

C is for Cloud

Today the students chose to read The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola. This led to a discussion about the clouds we have observed. 
At recess the skies were amazingly clear and blue, but when we returned from outside play, we delved further into clouds and the process of rainfall.

The science of a cloud:

The students selected lab partners and were given a cup 3/4 full of water.
Then a representational cloud, in the form of a large dollop of shaving cream, was put on top of the water.
"Can I eat it?" asked Yehuda.
"It looks good, but taste like soap. Trust me," I replied.
"But it looks like a yummy dessert," Elazar objected.
"It does look like whipped cream. But it isn't," I reiterated. 
Thankfully they all heeded my caution.
Then each pair was given blue colored water and one micro-pipette. ("Those are for giving my sister Tylenol!" Ava exclaimed, excited to recognize the item)

Taking turns, they dropped colored water onto the "cloud". 
The water stayed clear. 
Over and over they dropped water in. Eventually the cloud became supersaturated, and the water slowly became blue.
This transformation was exciting to watch, as the water slowly turned blue. 
Most impressive about the cloud experiment was the way the lab partners took turns, happily watching when it wasn't their turn to drop.

When the experiment was done, we "recycled" the shaving cream.

Ava and Aviva stayed with their science project during this, dedicated to the experiment.

Science, sensory, literacy, and fun!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hula Hoops!

Thank you to Ava's family for donating hula hoops to our class. We love them!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Big Boils and Bouncy Ball 'Barad'--Parashat Vaera

In Parashat Vaera we learn about seven of the ten plagues. I like to teach them as thoroughly as possible now, so when we learn about Pesach in a few months (I don't want to think about how soon that is going to be!) this part of the lesson is review.

Everyone makes frogs, and there are countless cute methods, by my plan was to try something else. We went for boils and hail!

In general studies we learning about the letter 'B'. Here are the two parasha projects we did combining these elements with a lot of fun.

Big Boils!
We mixed up a batch of red puff paint glue.

elmers glue
shaving cream
tempera paint

Pour a tablespoon of glue into a medium sized bowl. Add an equal amount of paint. Then add about half a cup of shaving cream. Stir really well. It looks like a dessert item and paints like a dream.

Using Q-tips, we applied boils to a picture of Pharoh.
The children loved doing the project and kept saying, "Sorry Paroh! Does that hurt? Maybe you should let bnei Yisrael go free! Sorry Paroh!"

Project # 2 -Bouncy Ball 'Barad'
This project was equally cool, and the students loves it but I don't have pictorial evidence of their huge smiles. 

You can make your own bouncy balls. They do not work as well as store bought ones, but they are equally cool. 'Barad' is hail. Big balls of ice (or in this case, rubbery material) which fall from the sky. During the plagues the ice had fire within it as well, so we made red and white bouncy balls.
Each child had a cup with warm water and a tablespoon of borax (the safety concerns of Borax were addressed) and they stirred it with a popsicle stick.  While they stirred, I mixed one part corn starch to two parts elmers glue. They I added about a tablespoon of my mixture to each kids cup. They stirred and counted to ten and pulled out a stringy glob and rolled it into a ball. Meanwhile I added red food coloring to the remaining glue compound (for the fire part of the hail). This was added to everyone's remaining borax water. Then the two globs were to be joined in one ball.                                                                             Truthfully, they ended up mostly pink. I am not sure how to prevent that from happening. But none of the students noticed. They were too busy bouncing the balls around the room and throwing them onto the Pharoh doll.

The balls do go a bit flat if left out. They can easily be reshaped. Keeping them in the fridge minimizes this problem.

We'll B there!

Building on our week of 'A', we are moving onto 'B'. Generally I do not actively teach literacy to this age group, but my class really wants it. "Now school is really hard because I am learning real letters," one student boasted, so proud. Of course we are play-based learning. Countless fun words begin with the letter 'B' so there were many possibilities for exploration and play.
We blew bubbles, marveling at their surface tension. 

We embraced mathematical reasoning with Balancing Bears.

 But this quickly turned into another activity.  Connecting home and school, real and imagination, students began designating bear families. Each bear represented a different family member of each student, based on color and size.

Architectural fun with a Basket of Blocks.

Beading, which each child embraced according to their interest. This was very interesting and will hopefully be its own blog post.

Then there was Beautiful art.

 We painted a Big B.
 Painting is a fun, artistic activity for crucial motor development.
Then we folded the painting in half to make a Beautiful Butterfly!

We colored different "b"s.
 This is fun and a good precursor to traditional schooling.
 Almost everyone enjoys coloring.

"C" you next week!