The week started out learning some new routines and getting to know Morah Fran. Our class name is Gan Tziporim. When the children enter our room in the morning they go to a big nest and find the bird with their name on it. The children are delighted with their name birds and enjoy taking them out of the nest and then putting them into the tree. This is a quick way for them, and their teachers, to notice who is in class and who is absent. They also have additional name recognition through the birds and their names on their cubbies. Next, they sit on the rug and Morah Yafit leads them in tefilla. They have started learning and singing “Adon Olam”.
The children have been happily exploring their new room. They have given their attention mainly to the kitchen/housekeeping/dramatic play area and the dollhouse. They love opening the various cupboards and oven and refrigerator doors and interacting with the contents. They are busy cooking and serving food using real or realistic bowls, cutlery and pots, and pans. They particularly enjoy using a picnic basket set, laying out the checkered cloth and napkins and china tea service. A group of them were pretending they lived in a “house-tent” and set up a whole household with kitchen and living and sleeping areas! Some put chairs together and said they were beds. They get so involved! We love observing them as they get more creative each day, building on what they thought of the day before.
Another group (our three boys) played with the dollhouse, setting up all the rooms with lots of furniture – figuring out what was needed in a particular room and how to arrange it. One of the boys even had an idea to attach a “chimney” to the roof.
A lot of time has been spent familiarizing the children with the rituals and customs and terminology of Rosh Hashanah. We discussed that the Hebrew word, rosh, means head and that just as our heads are on the top of our bodies, this holiday marks the head or start of the year (shanah). The exploration table has been displaying apples, several types of honey, several sizes of shofars, and pictures and books relating to these items and about bees and rams. We’ve had apple and honey tastings, and discussed the reasons for having sweet foods at this time. The children have handled the shofars and guessed what material they are made from. They already knew it is the horn of the ram, but after looking at and feeling the shofar, a number of the children thought it is wooden.
It was gratifying to learn that a number of the children retained knowledge and the vocabulary they learned last year regarding bees, the collection of nectar, and the making of the honey in the hive.
The challah that we eat during Rosh Hashanah is round and smooth – reminding us of the year and how the seasons repeat around and around. The children enjoyed creating shofars, apples and round challahs from clay. They even attempted braiding the challahs!
An activity that arose spontaneously and that the children enjoyed immensely involved a broken rocking chair. The armrest on one of our little wooden rocking chairs pulled apart from the chair. After lunch, some of the children had the idea that they would like to fix it. They went and got our little tool chest which contains real (but child-sized) tools. Pretty soon the whole class became involved in this endeavor! They used hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches. One child found the ruler in the box and exclaimed, “We have to measure”! They were totally immersed and did not want to stop.
We even managed to fit in a class trip this week. As part of our survey of rituals and customs for Rosh Hashanah, the idea of sending New Year cards arose. The children incorporated the symbol of the apple, by using corks to stamp red, green, and yellow “apples” onto the card and getting some more fine motor practice (and instruction on properly holding a pencil) when they added stems (a new word we discussed) and leaves. They glued pictures of themselves into the cards as well as the holiday greeting Leshanah Tovah Tikatevu. The children put their cards into envelopes and were informed about what an address means (first and last names, the number on a house, street name, city name, and state name). This will require many reviews. The children then applied the stamp and then got to walk over to the post office and personally placed their own cards into the mailbox! This was such fun.
Our Shabbat Party was awesome. The children set the whole table and really enjoyed it. They made sure we had all the items. We even sage some new songs and one of the songs reminded us of all the things we need to set the Shabbat table. And w love our baking challah song. We look forward to baking our own challah rolls again after the holidays.
We wish you and your families a Healthy and Happy New Year. And we look forward to next week when your children direct us to new adventures in learning.
Morah Fran and Morah Yafit