Jan 24

Partner Pictures

This week in Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten), we continued our explorations involving listening and partnership, two skills/ capacities a person might need when working to make the world better.

One category of listening/partnership exploration is called partner pictures. We tried a few different kinds of partner pictures, but the one that stood out the most involved children working together on a single picture. One child started out by drawing with the other observing. When I asked what the child who was observing was doing while here partner was drawing, she said, ” I’m thinking of the detail I want to add.”

Then the children decided to draw at the same time, this required slightly more coordination and dialogue.

One of the children described the whole process like this:

“You tell each other a detail and you make a whole new idea.”

While we have been spending time figuring out that there are many ways to listen and many ways to work in partnership, the children have independently brought forward something else that we value, children sharing and hearing ideas, to help them come to a new understanding.

Jan 23

Making Our Own Comics

The children in Nitzanim (“Buds,” for first and second grade children) got their first taste of our new text this week! They listened to a section about Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the prophet) and created comic strips to retell what they heard.

Each child received a template containing six boxes. They had to figure out which parts of the story go into which boxes so they will have enough room for the entire scene without leaving empty boxes. This required a lot of planning!

The children started with pencils, then went over their lines with markers, including filling in lots of colorful details.

The end results were quite stunning! Stop by Beit Nitzanim and check them out. Even better, let your Nitzanimer tell you all about the comic strip they created!

Jan 17

Building Something Together

This week in Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten), we started our new theme, Eliyahu HaNavi. Our focus has been on people/ leaders working to make the world a better place. Many of our explorations involve listening and partnership, two skills/ capacities a person might need when working to make the world better.

I want to highlight the exploration we are offering in our building area: building with partners. When these children started building, they each had their own blocks and were only communicating needs about having more space or more blocks.

When I introduced the idea of building together, one of the children said, “What if we connect our buildings in the end”. Somewhere along the way the children discovered that if they pooled all of their materials, they could build a really tall structure, so their natural conclusion was to work together.

The words that children were using were shifting from what they each thought they needed, to things like, “look it shaking, let’s put this one next so it won’t fall over”.

As more children became interested, they would say, “can I build with you?” each time the response was, “sure”, and they figured out how to incorporate new ideas and manage the space.

One of the most fascinating things was that each time their structure fell over (it happend a lot). The children didn’t give up, or blame anyone. They simply started over, and most of the children involved, sustained play for an extended period of time.

Not only was this collaborative building experience a bonding moment for these children, but they were demonstrating that when you work together and listen to each you can do so much! I am looking forward to seeing what other ways we develop as leaders and build together.

Jan 16

4th and 5th Grade in Partnership

For the next few weeks and into our new theme Eliyahu Ha’Navi, we’ll be paying special attention to listening and partnership. This week children worked in partnership with one another. Working with a partner takes different kinds of listening. What does listening look like? Sound like? Feel like?

One of the ways we explored was through navigating the Humash (Torah in book form). Each pair had a notecard with a book of the Torah, a chapter and a line. Their job was to work together to find what was on the notecard. Now, this was no small task. Children aren’t just looking for numbers but letters! They are working with Gematria which is a code that gives each letter in the Hebrew alphabet a numerical value.

As children were finished I noticed they were being asked to help other pairs. It was awesome. They used one another as a resource (without any prompting from me!). Children were eager to help their peers find the answer.

Later in the session children got in new pairs. This time they were given a category and needed to come up with 10 things in that category. As I walked around the room I heard children brainstorming together. With one pair each time one of them got an answer they yelled in unison “huzzah!”

It has been such a blast doing exercises and explorations around listening and partnership. I am excited to continue next week and debrief with the children.

Jan 10

Ivrit (Hebrew) Joy

For the week following Winter Break, we shift our focus to Ivrit (Hebrew), while the educators prepare for our winter theme.

I want to bring forward the joy that the children of Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten) were expressing while working on some of our Ivrit (Hebrew) skills and vocabulary.

The joy of writing the entire Aleph-Bet independently:

The joy of creating a new way of practicing the names of colors in Hebrew, with a friend:

The joy of finding out that, “actually, I do know the names all of the Hebrew letters”.

The joy of help each other figure out what comes next in the Alpeh-Bet:

The joy that comes with integrating the interests of the children into the Ivrit (Hebrew) explorations we offer:

This child made a color wheel and is writing the names of the colors she included.

Here’s to finding more joy in our learning opportunities.

Jan 10

Exploring New Vocabulary in 2nd and 3rd Grade

Happy New Year! How wonderful it is to be back together after break. 

Every few weeks we begin a new focus in our Ivrit (Hebrew) curriculum. Holiday vocabulary (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Chanukah, etc..), numbers, classroom materials, and now the focus is on colors.

Children engage with the vocabulary in all kinds of ways. Special board games, matching, various card games, and more. One of our favorite ways it through Ivrit b’Tenuah (Hebrew through movement). A number of games where children use their whole bodies to explore new vocabulary. Running around to find a specific color or trying to collect and say as many colors as possible in 30 seconds!

Using watercolor children created their own color charts. When the charts are dry, children will label and keep it in their Ivrit (Hebrew) binder for anytime they need to reference it.

Making materials is not only a support for children but investment in their own learning. This was such a hit and I know something we’ll continue to do together!

Jan 09

Nitzanim Musical Yetzirah

This week in Nitzanim (“Buds,” for first and second grade children) we are learning the shemot (names) for the different colors in Ivrit! 

Children racing against the music to finish their designs.

We negotiated together as a group how we would like Musical Yetzirah (art/creativity) to run. We decided when the music stopped to exchange materials, seats, and/or drawings of the different words.

The music helped fluctuate the room’s energy. We all got to work on every color title and material, resulting in collaborative wall art.

After deciding as a group if a title was finished, we triumphantly placed it on the wall so everyone could use it as a reminder for names of colors in Ivrit. 

Dec 13

Retelling The Story of Chanukah through Shrinky Dinks

There are a number of super awesome ways we’ve been remind ourselves about the holiday and story of Chanukah. We’ve played variations of sevivon (dreidel), fun vocabulary games in ivrit (hebrew), and working with Shrinky Dinks. Yes- Shrinky Dinks. Who doesn’t like making itty bitty tiny things?!

Children have used shrinky dinks to create different items that are mentioned in three different endings to the story of Chanukah. I reminded the children that the first part of the Chanukah story is actually true because of archaeological evidence such as coins, writings, pottery, etc. Since there is not evidence to show the ending of the story, different endings have been written about in various Jewish books. We explore 3 of them together. 

The 2nd and 3rd grade children in Anafim (“Branches” for 2nd-3rd grades) had the choice to work alone, with a partner, or as a group. Without any discussion children just up and moved their bodies to create their group. I was struck by how quickly, quietly, and independently they made that choice. 

The 4th and 5th grade children in Anafim v’Alonim (“Branches” for 4th grades and “Oak trees” for 5th grade) rotated between 3 different tables. At each table was one of the endings and a piece of paper to write all of the items they thought were important to include a building they would make including the Shrinky Dink items. 

We only have a few sessions together before winter break. We’ve already done so much exploration of Chanukah, I can only imagine what next session will bring!

Dec 13

Chanukah Play is Underway

Chanukah play is underway in Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten)!

Our preparations for Chanukah , the children get to hear some favorite chanukah folktales and play chanukah in our house area, playing סְבִיבוֹן (sevivon- dreidel), making latkes to eat, lighting the נֵרוֹת (neyrot -candles) in our חֲנֻכִּיָה (chanukiya- a menorah that is specifically for chanukah). We are also making chanukah cards for family members and community members.

Practicing סְבִיבוֹן (sevivon- dreidel) spinning!
Playing סְבִיבוֹן (sevivon- dreidel) with friends!
Building a חֲנֻכִּיָה (chanukiyah)
Lighting the חֲנֻכִּיָה (chanukiyah).
Lighting the חֲנֻכִּיָה (chanukiyah).

We have also heard the story associated with chanukah. I want to share just one small snippet of conversation that happened after we heard the story and children shared some ways that Jewish people might celebrate chanukah, today. On our list was “I get presents from my mom and dad and grandma and grandpa”, one of the kindergartners said, “Why do some people get presents if that’s not part of the chanukah story?”

One child responded by saying, “its nice to give a gift if you are visiting someone.”

The first child responded with, “its nice to give presents, but it’s not in the chanukah story, so why?”

The children did not yet reach any new conclusions about giving and getting presents but I wanted share what kinds of questions children are asking and what kinds of ideas they are sharing with each other.

Dec 12

“Play”-ing the Chanukah Story

This week the children in Nitzanim (“Buds,” for first and second grade children) are hearing the Chanukah story with three different endings! The endings come from First Maccabees, Second Maccabees and the Talmud (Shabbat 21b).

Nitzanim children listened to the story during kibud (snacktime), with each ending on a different day. Together with Morah Shterna they brainstormed a list of what they would need to act out the story: characters, backdrops, props, costumes, etc. We gave them a short time frame in which to gather or create these items, sometimes as little as 15 minutes!

They divided up into two groups — one with Morah Shterna, the other with Morah Elisheva — and scurried around the yetzirah studio and the building. They covered trays with aluminum foil to make Maccabee shields. They created a menorah out of yellow cardstock and blue painter’s tape. Two large plastic vases and a wooden shelf became an elephant. A table covered in black fabric transformed into a hidden cave in the mountains of Judea.

When time was up we gathered in the Ringel Room to perform! Some children opted to be in the audience. A morah or madrich read the story with the specific ending for that day while the children acted it out.

Ask your Nitzanimer, “What was your role in the Chanukah play? What did you create for the play? What are the different endings all about?” Please email me (Morah Elisheva) at elisa@jewishenrichment.org. I want to know what they tell you. Thank you and Happy Chanukah!

Older posts «

Facebook Like Button for Dummies