Jan 10

Shorashim V’Shteelim Made It Out of Clay


This week in שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten) we celebrated (Tu B’Shevat) by getting our hands dirty making sculptures for etz’im (trees).

First, we saw what it was like to manipulate the clay however we wanted. A lot of us felt like making flat discs. Some of us used our yadaim (hands) to flatten the clay and some of us used our whole beten (belly)!

Then, we practiced coiling, a new technique for shaping clay. We explored the shapes we could make with the coiled clay.

We are excited for more chances to work with clay!


Jan 10

Celebrating Rosh Chodesh in Anafim v’Alonim

Yesterday was the first day of the Hebrew month of Shevat.  Rosh Chodesh (head of the month) is celebrated on the first day of each new month.  In Anafim v’Alonim (“Branches” for 4th and “Oak Trees” for 5th grade), we bring in the new month by celebrating our accomplishments and recognizing the tefillot (prayers), that the children have learned from month to month.

We chose three tefillot (prayers), that many of the children have worked on since the beginning of the year and did challenges and games in between reciting each tefillah (prayer), as a kvutzah (group).

The first challenge was to build a bridge only with the supplies provided.  Then, to test the strength of the bridge by stacking a boot on top (originally the idea was cups but a boot was more exciting).

Then came the challenge with balloons.  The goal was to count to 50 in Hebrew without letting the balloon touch the floor. At first it was “super easy” so we started adding more rules like: you can’t double tap the balloon, only hit it with your head or elbows.    

The day was awesome to say the least.  There was so much laughing, great teamwork, and a ton of fun.  It’s great to be back from break and this was a great start to the new year!

Dec 21

Concluding Chanukah with Creativity

This week in Anafim v’Alonim (“Branches” for 4th and “Oak Trees” for 5th grade), children have been putting the finishing touches on their Chanukah projects. These exemplify the range of ideas and learning styles that make our kevutzah (learning community) so wonderfully complex! Some children created a diorama, some made their own memes; others composed music, produced a stop motion film, wrote a skit, painted, sketched, and MORE!

The joy has been palpable as children have worked together on these short projects. They are just as excited to use technology as they are to dive in with a pile of cardboard boxes. In Anafim v’Alonim, creativity is a point of pride. So, as children finished their projects, they took the opportunity to present to their peers and share ideas.

Three endings to the Chanukah story + three children + an iPad = hilarity!


Now, for a relaxing Winter Break. When we come back, we’ll hit the ground running with new ivrit (“Hebrew”) learning, new yetzirah (“art/creativity”), and perhaps most exciting… a new theme! Stay tuned!

Dec 19


There’s a LOT to celebrate in Anafim (“Branches” for 2nd and 3rd grade) as we head into winter break. This week, we’ve been spending some time talking about and noticing how much we’ve grown this fall.
In Ivrit (“Hebrew”), we’re celebrating the new letters and vowels we’ve learned, the reading packets we’ve completed, and the progress we’ve made in our writing. We’re also noticing the skills that we’ve built to help ourselves and each other learn — like checking that we have the right letter with an alef-bet chart and rereading a line of Ivrit until it sounds great.


Some Anafimers are especially proud of their final projects. We’re recognizing the amazing feeling that we get when we’ve worked hard on something for a long time and finally share it with the world.


And last but not least, we’ve celebrating all the amazing things that these Anafimers have accomplished together as a team! Every single day, Anafimers share their ideas, consider each other’s perspectives, and work together to express their interpretations in some pretty amazing ways. 


I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings for Anafim!

Dec 18

Chanukah: As Told by Shorashim and Shteelim

This week in שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten) we have been playing our version of the narrative associated with Chanukah. We did a lot of building, but the children are planning on making a short movie as well and spent time making props, so the viewers will know who are the Maccabees and who are the Syrian-Greeks.

The children told me about the People:

Judah (he is their (the Maccabees) leader). 

Maccabees ( small Jewish army).

King Antiochus (the bad guy).

Syrian-Greeks (the bad guys, they are big and tough, and they have elephants to fight).

Then the children told me what happened:

The King (Antiochus) said they couldn’t do Jewish things.

The King’s army messed up the temple!

The good guys didn’t want to be bossed around.

They (the Jews) wanted to be free. 

So they fighted. 

The Jewish army won, but they were smaller. They could do Jewish things again!

They had to fix the temple, and they celebrated.

They (the Jews) celebrated because they won the fighting.

I think they (the Jews) celebrated because they could do Jewish things again.




Dec 18


How to make a Chanukah puppet show by Nitzanim (“Buds” for first grade).

Step 1:Make a list of all the characters in the Chanukah* story. Then, make puppets, props, and backdrops. It helps to work with a buddy.

Nitzanim children decided that we needed puppets to represent Jewish people, Syrian Greeks, King Antiochus, and Judah the Hasmonean. Children also created backdrops for a clean, usable Temple, and for the dirty, messed-up Temple.

Step 2: Write the script, and choose narrators. Practice reading the script out loud.

Children took turns saying one sentence at a time until they told the entire Chanukah story and all three possible endings.

Step 3: Set-up the puppet theater.

We had MANY formats for the puppet theater, but children decided that the most successful theater was underneath the table so that their puppets could pop up behind the table.

Step 4: Showtime!

Way to go, Nitzanim! You created a puppet show from beginning to end all by yourselves!

*Starting in first grade, we begin complicating children’s knowledge of the Chanukah story. We start by letting children know that part of the Chanukah story is historically accurate. We have archeological evidence that the Maccabean Revolt really did happen, although we don’t have the finer details. We introduced children to three possible explanations for why we celebrate Chanukah today, one from I Maccabees, a second from II Maccabees, and the oil ending is from the Talmud. Click here for the version of the Chanukah story that we explored together.


Dec 17

Saying “Shalom” to Hanukkah in Shalom Chaverim

This week in Shalom Chaverim, the children spent one last session together exploring the sights, sounds, tastes, and symbols of Hanukkah.

Even though Hanukkah is over, it is exciting to observe the children connecting to ideas about the holiday in ways that have deepened over the past few weeks together.

When we first began exploring dreidels together this year, some children were still learning to identify a dreidel. Now, many of the children are noticing the Hebrew letters on the spinning top, even asking “What letter is that?” each time the dreidel drops.

Our exploration of Hanukkah has been rich with numeracy, as we have counted the candles in hanukkiyot over and over, in English and in Hebrew, in stories, in song, and through artistic expression. As this exploration nears its end, many of the children are chiming in numbers independently as they count.

And, of course, no Hanukkah celebration is complete without a special Hanukkah treat.

There was more counting and measurement taking place as the children mixed up their own batch of baked suffganiyot.


Don’t forget the icing!


Dec 13

Chanukah Continues In Anafim v’Alonim!

This week in Anafim v’Alonim (“Branches” for 4th grade and “Oak Trees” for 5th) are powering through their Chanukah projects.  There are three possible endings to the Chanukah story that children have been exploring for the past couple of weeks.  Some children are comparing the different endings while others are digging deep into one or two.


Some children are recreating the story through a skit!



…others a movie reel!


“We are making water colors of the most important scenes in all three endings,”  Wow!! The detail!!


Today two children took on the challenge of building the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem.  During the process WOW such interesting ideas were flowing!!

“People then were sad because all of their important stuff that was destroyed. It was their important things like the alter for sacrifices, pillars that support the building.”

“I think they [the Jews] can do whatever they wan’t [in reference to assimilation to Greek culture] but back then I think it would be a tighter cut like if you did certain stuff you wouldn’t be a Jew anymore.  Like eat non-kosher food or make sacrifices to other gods.  Now I don’t have to keep kosher but I can still consider myself a Jew.  [It is determined by] how others perceive you.


We are so excited to see how it all comes together!!!


Dec 13

Celebrating Hanukkah in Shalom Chaverim

Over the past two weeks, the zero to three years olds (and their grown-ups!) in Shalom Chaverim have been celebrating and exploring Hanukkah together.

There were ritual objects to explore in many ways. The children discovered hanukkiyot buried in the sensor table, in stories, in singing, and even through artistic expression.

As the children developed a deeper understanding of what a hanukkiyah is, and how we use it, they set to work (with the support of a grown up!) to create their own.

It was exciting to observe the children painting with careful focus and attention. “I am making mine so beautiful,” remarked one child as he worked.


We continue exploring symbols of Hanukkah in our play. The children used tiny tea lights to build their own hanukkiyot, carefully counting out 8 candles and one shamash.

In play dough, the children used cookie cutters to form dreidels and hanukkiyah.

And, of course, we learned together that Hanukkah is a happy holiday for special time together, and of course special treats! The children made their own Hanukkah cookies and enjoyed them at kibud.

Dec 12

Anafim Dives Deeper into Chanukah

What a month we’ve had in Anafim (“Branches” for 2nd and 3rd grade)! Not only did we finish up and celebrate the amazing work we did for our Ya’akov v’Esav final projects, but we’ve also started mini-projects to explore the different possible endings to the Chanukah story!

While the Ya’akov v’Esav collages allowed the children to feel the power of seeing their own individual project through to completion, this is also a group that loves to collaborate. Children have been sharing their ideas about what they imagine the story to look like, dividing up responsibilities for how to build and draw their ideas, and collaborating on how to present their work to their peers!

And wow, we’ve had some amazing recreations of the Chanukah story!

I can’t wait to keep learning more about Chanukah with Anafim!

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