Nov 19

Change Your Place, Change Your Luck

How do you keep things fresh when Zoom-fatigue hits?

There’s a Hebrew saying: “Change your place, change your luck.”

The children in the School-Day Program at the Jewish Enrichment Center are breaking up the days of remote learning by trying out different places around our one-room schoolhouse.

They are also experimenting with various poses on furniture and creative uses of technology.

We look forward to seeing what these imaginative children come up with next!

Nov 19

It’s Final Project Time

It’s our favorite time of the theme! Final project time!

We’ve been exploring text from Genesis 6-9 for six weeks, and now children are using collage, watercolor, and drawing to wrestle with their biggest questions and ideas.

Children are so excited to see each other’s progress and share suggestions for how their peers might show their ideas.

Here’s just a taste of what’s we’ve been up to:

Here’s one second grader leaning all the way into the screen to see his peer’s watercolor.

Here’s the beginning of a collage about what it feels like to be stuck on the teyva (ark).

Here’s the beginning of a third grader’s “disapproval” face. She disapproves of Adonai not saying sorry for wiping away the humans and animals.

These watercolors represent feelings of boredom and tiredness being stuck on the teyva (ark) during the flood.

Awesome Anafim (“Branches” for 2nd-3rd grade)! I can’t wait to see how your ideas deepen as you continue to create and connect with each other.

Nov 19

נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) Puppets

In Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten), we have begun working out our final project for our theme,  תֵּבָה (teyva – “ark”). The first thing we did was make a puppet of the character, נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”). As children were adding clothes and facial expressions, I asked some questions about נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”). In response, children shared their ideas about how נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) feels at different points in the text and ideas about what kind of character נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) is.

Here are some highlights!

  • “I gave נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) blue clothes to show that he likes being nice to swimming creatures… I used brown because I think he liked planting. I used more blue because he was nice to the other animals. I used green because he was being nice to the land walking animals.” -Age 4
  • “He is a little disappointed [to be going on to the תֵּבָה (teyva – “ark”)] because he couldn’t have fresh air…” -Age 4
  •  “I think he (נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”)) and the animals are so tired of being in the תֵּבָה (teyva – “ark”)… I think he (נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”)) is happy that he is leaving the תֵּבָה (teyva – “ark“).” -Age 5
  • “He (נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) is happy because the animals are safe. They like taking care of the animals and were feeding them so good. I think they (נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) and his family) like taking care of them (the animals) because they saved them.” -Age 4

One thing that I was struck by, was the way that some children used colors to represent feelings or ideas about נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) as a character.

Kol Hakavod for sharing your ideas about (נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) and listening to the ideas of your peers!

Nov 13

Big Questions from Anafim v’Alonim

What a fabulous few weeks we’ve had exploring the text of נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) in Anafim v’Alonim (“Branches” and “Oak trees” for 4th-5th grade)! Such rich questions and ideas have bubbled to the surface. 

Children started our theme תֵּבָה (Teyva – “Ark”) theme by revisiting their חברותא (partner text study) skills. Children begin by reading the text aloud, saying back in their own words (focus on self). With their חברותא (partner), they work together on listening to each other’s ideas about the text. The third voice in the practice of חברותא (partner text study) is listening to and hearing the text.

This past week children focused on some of their big questions or ideas about the text. Here are some of those questions:

  • If you don’t tell someone that they made a big mistake then they won’t learn. [Why might we need to tell future generations about the flood?] 
  • How does it feel to be YOU, knowing you’ll be the one to rebuild the world?
  • How does it feel that you have this big weight that you have to do something with on someone’s shoulders?

During our session on Sunday, children will choose what materials to take home with them with them to begin their projects! I’m so excited to see where the process of these projects go! Such creative minds in Anafim v’Alonim (“Branches” and “Oak trees” for 4th-5th grade)! I can only imagine the beautiful pictures I’ll have to share in next week’s update! 

Nov 11

Trying out collage

Part of how we help children deepen their questions and ideas about the text is through different kinds of creative exploration. This week in Nitzanim (“Buds” for 1st grade), we experimented with a new modality that we will be using for our final projects: collage!

The children came up with all sorts of ways to use paper to create new shapes and textures. We crumpled the paper, which made it look “rocky” and feel “bumpy.” We tore the paper, which gave it a soft edge. The children noticed this soft edge could be like water or like animal fur! They also came up with ideas like making a bunch of tiny cuts along the edge to make it “frayed” and folding or rolling the paper to make an open tube.

The children then created something from the text using their new collage techniques. It’s so exciting to discover new ways of using our materials to show our ideas! What big ideas will Nitzanim show through collage for their final projects? Stay tuned!

Nov 06

Feelings of Safety

What helps you feel safe? In Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten), we spent some time exploring the objects, places and routines in our lives that make us feel safe. By the end of our time together, we were making connections to the תֵּבָה (teyva – “ark”) being a place of safety for נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) and his family, while there was a storm and the earth was filling up with water (Genesis chapter 7,

Each child had a chance to retrieve a card with a symbol connected to objects, places and routines that make them feel safe and we took turns sharing the things in our lives that make us feel safe:

“I read stories (before bed)”

“Like hugs from mom and dad” (hugged self while talking).

“My stuffie (makes me feel safe).”

Photos of children examining the cards with a symbol connected to objects, places and routines that make them feel safe:

Children also shared what makes them feel safe specifically during a storm:

“Watching a movie, like a sleepover, drinking hot chocolate during a storm. I like to be burrowed in stuff in my bed.”

“Being at home when there is a storm.” 

“Being in the kitchen.”

Children thought about נֹחַ (Noach – “Noah”) and his family on the תֵּבָה (teyva – “ark”) and what they might do to feel safe:

“They could get cozy in blankets, hats.” 

“They could hide under something. They could hold their arms and legs together (crouching). It’s like a hug.”

Kol Hakavod to these children for sharing something quite personal about themselves and applying what they know about, “things that make me feel safe” to the characters in our text.

Nov 05

Making connections

We’re on the cusp of something big in Anafim (“Branches” for 2nd-3rd grade children). Check out the connections that children are making between our text from Genesis 6-9 and the pandemic:

Child 1:… All day he’s (Noah) feeding the animals, and some need to get fed at night. He’s tired, and he wants to get out [of the ark], but once he gets out he knows that the animals can take care of themselves. 

Morah Sara: I hear you saying that Noah’s feeling tired doing the same thing everyday for so many days. Do you see any connections with the pandemic?

Child 2: Yes I do. Some people are stuck inside their houses, and they’re (Noah, his family, and the animals) stuck inside the boat. 

Child 1: Some people now are stuck in their houses on video calls all day, and they’re like bored sitting there putting their eyes against the screen trying to participate, and they’re too bored staring at screens all day. They (Noah, his family, and the animals) want to get out because they’ve been there for 150 days! 

Child 2: You would always want to get out of there! You’ve been there for so long! {Child 2 imagined a falcon stuck in the same room on the ark}. Being stuck in a room for 150 days is kinda hard.

Morah Sara: Were you stuck in your house for a long time?

Child 2: No. But people in Italy were.  

Child 1: I was really stuck. Our teacher told us this coronavirus thing is starting. Then we had to skip school. Then we’re here now, and it’s so many months away from that [first time our teacher told us about coronavirus], and we’re still on Zoom. People are still stuck looking at their screens all day. 

Stay tuned as we dive deeper and consider personal connections to our Teyva (“Ark”) text.

Nov 05

Small Shabbat Scenes and More

When the children in the School-Day Program at the Jewish Enrichment Center recently gathered for a Special Day (a full day of Jewish enrichment when school is closed), they demonstrated remarkable creativity using autumn leaves and other natural materials to make small Shabbat scenes and more!

We began by checking out this website of amazing, adorable work by an artist from the Czech Republic. Then we went outside (in the rain!) to gather colorful fallen leaves and other natural materials. We brought them back inside, dried them off, and got to work!

This kindergartner used two plastic cups to build a Shabbat table, then propped a third on top as a kiddush (wine) cup (notice how it is the only one that is decorated!).

This is a rabbi addressing a congregation. The child who created this scene used a pine cone to prop up the rabbi, then searched for a small piece of blue and white striped fabric to be the tallit (prayer shawl). The congregation is made up of small pieces of foam that once couched an etrog from the recent Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Shabbat is a day of rest, so this child created a person napping next to silver candlesticks. On the nearby table (made from a leaf) is a kiddush (wine) cup and a burlap challah on a silver platter.

The children spent the rest of the afternoon making the natural materials into bookmarks, cards, and dreamcatchers.

Try making some small Shabbat scenes on your own! Send us pictures of your creations at Have fun and Shabbat Shalom!

Oct 28

Building new skills!

As we dive deeper into our theme, תֵּבָה (Teyva – “Ark”), the children in Nitzanim (“Buds” for 1st grade) have also been diving deeper into their feelings and opinions about the text. One skill that Nitzanim has been working hard on is listening to each other’s thoughts and then saying if we connect or agree with our peer’s idea, or if we have a different idea.

When exploring the question “Do you think the humans deserve to be wiped away by the flood?” children had the following discussion:

Child 1: “No, I don’t think they deserve it because they being mean to the world and it doesn’t mean you have to do it back to them.”

Child 2: “I don’t agree. I think they deserve that because then they wouldn’t be able to do the bad things to the earth and he [Adonai] would make new nice people.”

Child 3: “Im completely fine with it. Because they were hurting the earth and that hurts a lot of people. They chose the wrong thing but kept on doing it non-stoppedly.”

In this way, the children are learning that there are all sorts of different ideas and opinions within our Nitzanim community – how wonderful! We are going to continue to be friendly and curious like this as we explore new parts of our text.

Oct 22

Kicking off תֵּבָה Teyva – “Ark”)

We’re closing out the second week of our תֵּבָה (Teyva – “Ark”) theme, and children in Anafim (“Branches” for 2nd-3rd grades) have been full of feelings, both within themselves and for the characters in the text.

Most significantly, children are bothered by God’s decision to “wipe away the humans, animals, bugs, and birds of the sky” (Genesis 6:7). Children are feeling, “sad” and “worried” about God’s decision. They mourn the deaths of the animals and wonder how it might feel to be a lucky animal chosen to stay on the ark. They wonder why God would destroy God’s own creation, and they maintain that God should just ask the people to be better instead of destroying the humans and animals.

My goodness, Anafim, what strong skills for empathy you have. What a marvelous start to our theme!

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