May 15

Chaverim Through the Year

The families of שָׁלוֹם חֲבֵרִים (Shalom, Chaverim! – Welcome, Friends! for ages 0 – 3 and their grown-ups) are wrapping up the school year by revisiting the חַגִים (chaggim, holidays) we explored.

Children could color holiday images while examining holiday objects, or hunt for items in the sensory bin.

Our explorations included a “feely box.” Children put their hands inside to feel and identify holiday objects.

We also introduced the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which the ancient early rabbis connected to Moses receiving the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. We examined a demonstration Torah with magnifying glasses. The Torah was opened to the Ten Commandments!

May 12

Hefkerville

שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten, are really taken with our שְׁמִיטָה (Sh’mitah- agricultural sabbatical year). This week we introduced a new set of principals that apply to שְׁמִיטָה (Sh’mitah- agricultural sabbatical year). הֶפְקֵר (Hefker), for our purposes, this means that anything growing in the fields in the שְׁמִיטָה (Sh’mitah- agricultural sabbatical year) year belong to anyone who needs it. We started out by hearing a story about a family in a town called Hefkerville, it was the שְׁמִיטָה (Sh’mitah- agricultural sabbatical year) year and they needed some food. They went to the farm, saw that the gates were open. They went to get just the food they needed, this way there would be food for other families and food wouldn’t get wasted.

We heard that anyone who needs food should come and get just what they need, but how do we know how much we should take?

These children decided how many people were in their families and how much food it would be okay to take. It was really cool to see how kind everyone was being while making sure that there would be food for every family.

This is enough for this week!

One of the features of our building this week, was showing ways that people would know that food is accessible to them.

This child spent a long time thinking about how to access the food if the farm has automated features. How might it be possible to show that the gate is open if it might not look like it is? They finally decided that the farm has a sign with instructions for how to get into the field.

Here, the gates have been removed so people going by know that they can get food from the field:

In the second half of the week we started thinking about how the principles of הֶפְקֵר (Hefker) might work for a town. We talked about what kinds of people might be in the town and what kinds of places a town needs, then we started building. The town ended up with 3 farms and a forest, this way people could get food from the fields and also forage for things like mushrooms in the forest. There were signs letting people know that food was available on the farms and one of the farms needed reservations, so that when someone showed up, they would know there was food available.

Looking forward to seeing how we continue to kindly collaborate!

May 09

Trades

I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with the children in Nitzanim (“Buds” for 1st-2nd) over the last week. Children have been building scenes to explore ideas about sh’mitah (“release,” the agricultural sabbatical year). Each pair of children has a building tray with different sets of loose materials such as corks, glass gems, and metal washers.

One of the things that has stood out to me this week is that the children in Nitzanim do a lot of trading of materials. All throughout our exploration time, children walk themselves to another pair and negotiate a trade. It may seem simple, but these trades, conducted in calm voices, with calm bodies, and with each child feeling satisfied, are HUGE! Check out just some of the social-emotional skills that children have grown this year in order to be able to trade:

  • Speaking with kindness
  • Working with everyone in the group
  • Finding solutions that work for both parties
  • Sharing materials equitably
  • And so much more!
Terrible photo! But here we are, mid-trade.

Nitzanim, what a beautiful community you’ve grown this year!

May 01

Shalom Alef-Bet!

The families of שָׁלוֹם חֲבֵרִים (Shalom, Chaverim! – Welcome, Friends! for ages 0 – 3 and their grown-ups) are exploring the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Explorations included decorating their Hebrew names, finding Hebrew-letter cards in the sensory bin, tracing Hebrew letters, building with blocks with Hebrew letters on them, Hebrew-letter floor puzzles, and making Hebrew-letter cookies!

Children hunted for Hebrew letters around the atrium of the synagogue. They danced and played percussion instruments while listening to Alef-Bet songs. And of course, Alef-Bet yoga!

Apr 28

Starting שְׁמִיטָה (Sh’mitah)

Our Spring theme has begun, שְׁמִיטָה (Sh’mitah), with a focus on the agricultural sabbatical year, a concept that come up in the torah a number of times like in the book of Exodus, chapter 23 verses 10-13. In שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten, this meant that we started with playing on a “farm”. We played planting and growing for 6 years, while letting the land rest for the 7th.

Preparing the soil for the seeds.

Planting.
Getting ready to harvest.

We also spend time being planted and taken care of by farmers.

We started making שְׁמִיטָה (Sh’mitah) books to document what we’ve played about:

Looking forward to continuing to explore שְׁמִיטָה (Sh’mitah) together!

Apr 19

Creating in community

It’s Pesach (Passover)! This week, we get to spend all week celebrating, playing, and creating as a whole Enrichment Center. It’s a lovely way to make the week feel special, and to continue to strengthen our community across age groups.

One of the projects children are working on this week is creating the pieces that will soon become our Omer calendar. Each year, we count the days between the second day of Pesach and the holiday of Shavuot, which amounts to 7 weeks. Also each year, we create a community Omer calendar to help us keep track of which day of the Omer it is and to notice how close we are getting to Shavuot. Something I love about the Omer calendar is the way it can visually carry us through spring.

This year, the Omer calendar will be made up of circles. During this week of Pesach, children of all ages at the Enrichment Center get to design these circles. As we count the Omer, we will remove a circle each day to reveal the number underneath.

Yesterday was the first day we tried out the new materials – brush tip art markers – that we’re using to design these circles, and I was completely blown away. Children were given a color scheme of markers, but otherwise could decide for themselves how they wanted to fill their whole circle. Some of them talked about symmetry (“I started from the middle and went out”), while others were inspired by the colors (“Mine looks like a sunset, the sun at different times in the day”).

Children treated the special markers with care and give each other tips on how to use them gently. They worked with such focus, some children working to fill up one circle for the entire 30 minutes, and were immensely proud of what they created. I can’t wait to see all of their hard work put together in our Omer calendar! It’s so special that these moments creating in community will continue to serve us as we count up to Shavuot! Stay tuned for photos of the finished calendar 🙂

Apr 14

Our Seder Plates

Things in שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten) have been ready busy as we have been getting ready for Pesach (Passover). Children practiced the Hebrew words for Seder plate foods, tasted Seder plate foods, sang songs, and hosted pretend play Seders.

Each child designed their own Seder plate that they can use at a Passover celebration. Some of the children started out with a plan, they wanted to make their plates look symmetrical and created patterns with the color pallet.

Many of the children carefully wrote out or traced the names of the Seder plate foods in Hebrew. The Kindergartners have been interested in writing and they were very excited to have a writing part for the project.

Chag Pesach Sameach! Happy Passover, שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten)!

Apr 13

Shalom, Pesach! Part 2

The families of שָׁלוֹם חֲבֵרִים (Shalom, Chaverim! – Welcome, Friends! for ages 0 – 3 and their grown-ups) wrapped up their exploration of the upcoming Jewish holiday of פֶּסַח (Pesach, Passover).

Children used their senses to experience the foods of פֶּסַח (Pesach, Passover). They cut apples and mixed charoset, kneaded and flattened dough into matzah, and used plastic knives to cut parsley for karpas. Then they got to taste everything! They had the option to smell a fresh horseradish root.

Then we left the room for an afikomen hunt! Children took turns hiding (a picture of) a matzah in a bag in the atrium. They got stickers for finding the afikomen.

We regrouped to practice Mah Nishtana / The Four Questions together (with puppets!) before wishing each other “Have a good Passover!”

Apr 08

פֶּסַח Pesach Passover in Anafim v’Alonim

Children in Anafim v’Alonim (“Branches” for 3rd-4th grades and “Oak Trees” for 5th grade) are treating each other with such kindness as we explore stories related to taking care of our community – especially those who have recently moved. We are writing, drawing, building, collaging, painting, working with natural dyes — and then sharing and asking questions about each other’s stories.

What is the experience of the people who need to leave their home for a reason outside of their control?

How does our community support each other – especially people who are new?

At the end of the day, we are so excited to head to Shirah/Tefillah! We love sharing our knowledge of פֶּסַח Pesach Passover songs and prayers!

And… we made up a little פֶּסַח Pesach Passover song! Check it out, and sing along:

“Matzah Pizza, Matzah Pizza // Matzah pizza is so good!” (Original lyrics by Morah Leah Channah :))

Apr 08

A colorful Pesach!

This week, the 1st through 5th graders at the Enrichment Center started their special Pesach project: a naturally dyed afikomen bag to take to their own Pesach Seders! The bag will serve as a gorgeous reminder of the deep thinking and questioning we have been doing together this Pesach.

In Nitzanim v’Anafim (“Buds” for 1st grade and “Branches” for 2nd-3rd grades), we loved getting to pick the bright and colorful foods that we wanted to dye our bags. There was red cabbage, turmeric, beets, clementine peels (from our snack earlier that day!), and blueberries!

We encouraged children to choose several different foods to ensure that their bags could soak up the most color. At the end of the day, we took a look at our jars and could already see the beautiful colors coming out!

We can’t wait for next week, when we’ll rinse out our bags and get to see what we made!

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