Sep 28

Building Community Though Building a Sukkah

The beginning of a new school year is a time of transition. In Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ kindergarten), we are setting routines for our day, welcoming new children, and trying to figure out what it means to be part of our classroom community. This is a perfect time for us to be taking on a big project together and it’s סוכות (Sukkot) so we built a סוכה (Sukkah)! We worked on figuring out what strategies we might use to be kind and help each other and safely play together in our small סוכה (Sukkah).

 

 We started out by reading a story about a group of children who work together to make their “just right” סוכה (Sukkah). We also shared ways we could be kind or help each other when playing סוכות (Sukkot).

During kibbud (snack) we looked at photos to help us notice that a סוכה (Sukkah) can look lots of different ways:

“My סוכה (Sukkah) is small and made of straw”
My סוכה (Sukkah) has some much green (plants) covering it.”

 

The children noticed that a סוכה (Sukkah) tends to have at least 3 walls, have a top made of  natural materials סכך  (schach-leafy branches). 
The we shared idea for what we could do in our סוכה (Sukkah):
“Eat and Rest”
“Play hide and seek or tag”

 

The actual construction of the סוכה (Sukkah) took place in two stages. On Thursday we built the frame.
Some children decided to approach building our סוכה (Sukkah) like an architecture project and drew blueprints for the סוכה (Sukkah)
On Sunday when we were eating kibbud (snack) children looked over at the סוכה (Sukkah) and started to notice that we were missing a few things that they thought we should include:
“Where is the סכך  (schach-leafy branches)? Can we put it on top?”
 
“Hey! I don’t see any decorations!”
 
“We can’t eat inside without our table and chairs”

 

Then we got to work!
Making decorations with a partner.
Putting up our decorations with a partner.
Asking, “can I have a turn to put up סכך (schach-leafy branches)?”
“I’ll bring the table!”
“We should bring food inside, so we can eat together.”

 

At the end of the day I asked children to share if they saw other children being kind or friendly while we were playing.
Some of their answers were:

 

“They helped my holding up the wall.”
“They decorated with me, its better when we can play together!”
“They brought the table so we could eat in the סוכה (Sukkah).”

 

What a strong way to start building our kind and helpful community, Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ kindergarten)!

Sep 27

Something’s in the Air in Beit Anafim

In Beit Anafim (“Branches” for 2nd and 3rd graders), excitement is contagious. This crew loves to learn, play, and laugh together. When we put our minds on something, we feel driven to express our ideas, share them with peers, and see our projects through to the end.

We’re learning that often, we do our best work in a group, like when we’re brainstorming expectations for our learning together as a community.

“Do you think ‘clean up the materials’ goes in ‘Respect for Others’ or a different category?”

We’re seeing that we all bring our own unique strengths and interests to the community.

“I’ll be the reader.”

And that there are many ways to help ourselves and each other learn.

In our new Ya’akov v’Esav theme, we’ve also seen how much we can do when we work on our own independent projects. Through building and drawing, we have practiced shaping our unique understandings of our Genesis 25 text.

After this intense focus, we came together to ask some big questions.

Why is Ya’akov holding onto Esav’s heel?

Did Esav bully Ya’akov?

Where did they live?

How did you pick this text?

I can’t wait to explore these questions and more with Anafim this fall!

 

 

Sep 21

Anafim v’Alonim Exploring Our New Theme!

It’s already our third week as Anafim v’ Alonim! We’ve begun to dig into our text for this theme, Ya’akov v’Esav! This week when reading through the text the children searched for expressive words that stood out to them. Crushing, serve, stronger, greater…. WOW so many important words!

 

I’m amazed by the different ways Anafim v’ Alonim has shown the sequencing of events through our text. Some Anafim v’Alonimers made comics to show the different events through our text and we had a very lively which many questions came out of!

 

Why couldn’t Rivka have children?
How did Adonai “make” Rivka have children?
Why is Ya’akov “grabbing” Esav’s heel?

 

I’m so excited to continue grappling with Anafim v’Alonim on these important questions that have been raised!

Sep 19

Magical Moments

Sometimes, I look around Beit Nitzanim (“Buds” for first grade), sigh, and think that something magical has happened.

On Monday, when I looked around during זמן עברית (zeman Ivrit–Hebrew time), all eight children were paired, spread around the space, working on different Hebrew challenges. And as magical as it may have felt, it really isn’t magical at all. All year, and particularly at the very beginning of the year, we make intentional choices to support children in growing the skills for working without a grown-up nearby, solving disagreements respectfully, and choosing to work with someone who really helps them do their best work.

For example, yesterday’s magical moments were supported by intentional choices about how our space looks and feels. At the beginning of the year, I worked with another מורה (morah–educator) to design a space that would allow children to spread out around the room so that children can have the space and quiet they need to do their best work. Our space also features different kinds of seating, soft spaces, and corners to hide in so that children can be comfortable as they work.

I also intentionally chose different kinds of Hebrew challenges so that all children could find a choice that interested them. Because children knew how to play each of the challenges and were excited about them, they could make a choice independently, get started right away, and share their play with a partner.

A big intentional decision I made Monday was to support children in finding a partner to work with. Sometimes that looks like offering children the words to ask, “Can I play with you?” and other times it might include making suggestions to children about who they could play with.  As one child grabbed a board game from the shelf, I asked aloud, “Child 1 is looking for a partner. Who would like to play the board game with him?” Another child stood apart from the group unsure what choice to make, and I said to him, “Why don’t you join Child 2?” In both cases, children partnered with those they wouldn’t normally work with, a beautiful first step in forming new friendships. As the year progresses, children will become more confident practicing asking someone to play with them and working with every other child in the group.

As we form community and children solidify these skills for זמן עברית (zeman Ivrit–Hebrew time), we’ll start working on new skills. Our community is always learning and growing together, making intentional decisions so that children can be independent, make choices, and grow their relationships with each other.

Sep 14

Diving deep in our second week

It all starts with a question, and then we’re off!

At the Jewish Enrichment Center, children grow the confidence to articulate their own ideas about God and about Torah.

Yesterday, at kibud (snack), children wanted to talk about the God character in the Torah (Click here for Genesis 25, the first text in our new theme!). Children carried this inquiry with them throughout the day.

  • Child 1: Is this a real story?
  • Educator: This is a story in the Torah. What do you think? 
  • Child 2: I haven’t heard all of them [the stories in the Torah], so I think the same [some of the stories are true and some are fiction]. And, I also don’t think you can talk to God. 
  • Child 1: Some people think if you believe…
  • Child 3: I do it all the time! 
  • Child 1: Some people believe and some people don’t believe. 
  • Child 4: He [God] is real because he controls us.
  • Educator: What makes you say that?
  • Child 4: He’s everything and he’s everyone so if he’s let’s say… if you’re God and you control us… 
  • Child 3: Actually there’s just a little bit of God in everything, and God does not control us. 
  • Child 1: We control ourself!

As the text began to settle inside the children, their ideas about God emerged in their buildings and drawings.

One pair of children built a staircase for the characters to ascend in order to speak to God.

Another pair of children used a clear glass gem to represent something that God gave to Yitzchak (Isaac) to represent fulfilling God’s promise.

And a third child drew swirly brown lines to represent that “most people say he is everywhere and you can’t really see him.”

Pretty deep for our second week, Nitzanim. I can’t wait to see where your questions will take us this year!

Sep 14

Genesis 25: 19-26

Genesis 25:19-26 for 4th-5th grade children

19 This is [about] the descendents of Yitzchak, the son of Avraham.
Avraham had Yitzchak, 20 and when Yitzchak was 40 years old, he took Rivkah (who was the daughter of B’tuel, an Aramean from Padan-Aram, and the sister of Lavan the Aramean) to be his wife.
21 And Yitzchak begged Adonai about his wife, because she could not have children. And Adonai gave him what he begged for. And Rivkah, his wife, became pregnant.
22 The babies were crushing each other inside of her. She said, “Why must I suffer this?” And she went to ask Adonai.
23 Adonai said to her,
Two nations are in your belly! There are two peoples inside of you, who will spread apart.
One will be stronger than the other, but the greater one will serve the smaller one.
24 The day came for her to give birth, and hineh!  There were twins in her belly.  25 The first one came out reddish, and all hairy, like he was wearing a fur cape. And they called his shem Esav.  26 And after that,  his brother came out, and his hand was grabbing onto Esav’s akev (his heel), so he called his shem, Ya’akov.
Yitzchak was 60 years old when they were born.
יט  וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם

אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִצְחָק כ  וַיְהִי יִצְחָק בֶּן-אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה בְּקַחְתּוֹ אֶת-רִבְקָה בַּת-בְּתוּאֵל הָאֲרַמִּי מִפַּדַּן אֲרָם אֲחוֹת לָבָן הָאֲרַמִּי לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה
כא  וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַיהוָה לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ, כִּי עֲקָרָה הִוא; וַיֵּעָתֶר לוֹ יְהוָה, וַתַּהַר רִבְקָה אִשְׁתּוֹ
כב  וַיִּתְרֹצְצוּ הַבָּנִים, בְּקִרְבָּהּ, וַתֹּאמֶר אִם-כֵּן, לָמָּה זֶּה אָנֹכִי; וַתֵּלֶךְ, לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת-יְהוָה
כג  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה לָהּ
שְׁנֵי גֹיִים בְּבִטְנֵךְ

וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ
וּלְאֹם מִלְאֹם יֶאֱמָץ

וְרַב יַעֲבֹד צָעִיר

כד  וַיִּמְלְאוּ יָמֶיהָ לָלֶדֶת וְהִנֵּה תוֹמִם בְּבִטְנָהּ כה  וַיֵּצֵא הָרִאשׁוֹן אַדְמוֹנִי כֻּלּוֹ כְּאַדֶּרֶת שֵׂעָר וַיִּקְרְאוּ שְׁמוֹ עֵשָׂו כו  וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן יָצָא אָחִיו וְיָדוֹ אֹחֶזֶת בַּעֲקֵב עֵשָׂו וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ יַעֲקֹב

וְיִצְחָק בֶּן-שִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה בְּלֶדֶת אֹתָם

 

Genesis 25:19-26 for 1st-3rd grade children

Genesis 25 בְּרֵאשִׁית כ”ה
19 This is [about] the children of Yitzchak, the son of Avraham.
Avraham had Yitzchak, 20 and when Yitzchak was 40 years old, he married Rivkah…
21 Yitzchak begged Adonai about his wife, because she couldn’t have a baby. And Adonai gave him what he begged for. Rivkah, his wife, became pregnant.
22 Then, the babies were crushing each other inside of her. She said, “Why is this happening to me?” And she went to ask Adonai.
23 Adonai said to her,
Two nations are in your belly! There are two peoples inside of you, who will spread apart.
One will be stronger than the other, but the greater one will serve the smaller one.
24 The day came for her to give birth, and hineh!  There were twins in her belly.  25 The first one came out reddish, and all hairy, like he was wearing a fur cape. And they called his shem Esav.  26 And after that, his brother came out, and his hand was grabbing onto Esav’s akev (his heel), so they called his shem, Ya’akov.
יט  וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם
אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִצְחָק כ  וַיְהִי יִצְחָק בֶּן-אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה בְּקַחְתּוֹ אֶת-רִבְקָה…
כא  וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַיהוָה לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ כִּי עֲקָרָה הִוא וַיֵּעָתֶר לוֹ יְהוָה וַתַּהַר רִבְקָה אִשְׁתּוֹכב  וַיִּתְרֹצְצוּ הַבָּנִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ וַתֹּאמֶר אִם-כֵּן לָמָּה זֶּה אָנֹכִי וַתֵּלֶךְ לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת-יְהוָה

כג  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה לָהּ
שְׁנֵי גֹיִים בְּבִטְנֵךְ

וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ
וּלְאֹם מִלְאֹם יֶאֱמָץ

וְרַב יַעֲבֹד צָעִיר

כד  וַיִּמְלְאוּ יָמֶיהָ לָלֶדֶת וְהִנֵּה תוֹמִם בְּבִטְנָהּ כה  וַיֵּצֵא הָרִאשׁוֹן אַדְמוֹנִי כֻּלּוֹ כְּאַדֶּרֶת שֵׂעָר וַיִּקְרְאוּ שְׁמוֹ עֵשָׂו כו  וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן יָצָא אָחִיו וְיָדוֹ אֹחֶזֶת בַּעֲקֵב עֵשָׂו וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ יַעֲקֹב

 

Sep 13

Listening for Yom Kippur

Listen: the children are telling us what we need to know.

This week at our end-of-session singing time, we asked children to tell their grown-ups what they love to do as a family and want to do more frequently.

We asked children to tell their grown-ups what they wish their grown-ups would do less of. We asked children to listen as their grown-ups told them what they wished the children would work on.

One card for something you want to do MORE of in our new Jewish year.

One card for something you want to ask for help on, so you can do it LESS in our new Jewish year.

Now listen to the children: they are telling us what we need to know.

 

 

Sep 07

We’re back!

We’re back!

After a summer apart, we are thrilled to be back for our first week at the Jewish Enrichment Center.

And what a joyful week of kindness, community building, and trying new thing’s it’s been!

We’ve kindly offered each other strategies for finding out the names of Hebrew letters.

We’ve tried a new way to use oil pastel–mark making to the sound of the shofar! 

We’ve shared and learned more about each other by drawing pictures of ourselves and our families and playing games together. 

And we’ve tried out a new way to learn through observation, using “I notice…” statements to notice details in our peers’ artwork.

What a gorgeous start to the year!

Sep 05

Making Connections At Camp

 

During camp this summer, at the Jewish Enrichment Center, nursery-1st grade children made connections to each other and the world around us!
During our first week we explored social stories though dramatic play, building, art and cooking. For our purposes, social stories are, “stories about take care of each other at the Jewish Enrichment Center”.
Each day from Monday though Thursday, we heard a new story where different characters figure out a strategy for taking care of themselves or their peers (sometimes both at the same time). For example, Tova the Turtle, takes 3 deep breaths and tucks inside her shell when she feels sad or mad. Children tried out a few different calming strategies and decided what would work best for them. 
Each day, we created a sign representing our new story, we put them up in our space as a big visual cue. As one of the children said, “they help us remember to do one of the things, like use kind words…”
The rest of our time was spent making our own stories about taking care of each other. Children made stories about, deciding what to play with a partner/ group, asking “do you want to be tagged?”, When I get mad I…
During week two of camp, we made recipes that Jewish people from around the world might eat on Rosh Hashanah. This helped expand our thinking about where Jews are and where come from, as well as what Jewish people might eat to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, beyond sweet foods.
  
Something that the children took very seriously was making Rosh Hashanah cards for the folks who take care of us and our building. In order to help us make our cards we walked around to meet them.

First, the children decided what questions they should ask when meeting these folks:

1) “What is your name?”
2) “What do you like to do?”
3) “What is your job here?”
4) “What is something you like to do that you don’t get to do very often?”
The children discovered who is responsible for cleaning after we use our spaces and who is responsible for security in the building. Then they made personalized cards and used light tables to help them make their designs.
Stay tuned for more regularly scheduled blogging throughout the school year!

May 31

Celebrations Are Around the Corner!

 

We are so excited to see you all this Sunday for the last Family Exploration and Celebration of the year.  It begins at 9am followed by a picnic at Harold Washington Park at 10:30am and Pack-Up at 11:30am!  Our children have been wrapping up the different projects they have been working on this theme and cannot wait to share them with all of you.

 

In Shteelim we’ve been learning about “apology of action.” An apology of action is giving someone a hug or drawing them a picture to show that you are sorry.  With all of our hard work this theme we’ve earned badges that we created and will be presented at a special ceremony on Sunday!

 

 

In Nitzanim we painted pots that represent each one of ur themes from this year!

 

 

In Anafim we started on our scrapbook pages for the end of the year!

 

 

In Alonim V’Middle school we finished up the pages we been working on for our zine!

 

See you all on Sunday morning for Family Exploration and Celebration!

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