The Chagim are over and now we are putting our minds and hands to other topics of interest. But something wonderful occurred during Sukkot that we wanted to share with you. We had constructed sukkahs prior to and during the holiday in a variety of ways (pop-up sukkah, wrapping material around trees in the playground, and edible sukkahs for snack). But now we were fortunate to be given the opportunity to actually “build” our very own little sukkah in our classroom! It all began with our broken rocking chairs and the need to “repair” them with our own real and child-sized tools. The children continued hammering and screwing nails into pieces of wood. Morah Fran’s friend, Bob, came to our school with pieces of wood, screws, and fresh cut schach. He helped the children find which pieces of wood belonged together, and provided them with screws and screwdrivers to assemble it. The children helped drape pieces of material for the walls and lay the schach on top. They were so enthusiastic and had the best time!
An interest emerged several weeks ago on the playground. Lia drew an outline of the trunk of a tree with chalk and the whole class participated in filling in the outline with soil (to simulate the bark) and then added fallen leaves for the top of the tree. It was inspiring to see how fully engaged the children were in recreating their image of a tree. We knew we needed to pursue this emergent interest further and saw an opportunity when we began talking about this week’s parashah of Breisheet. As we came to Day 3, Hashem said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation- plants and fruit trees of every kind.” We could talk about the importance of trees from the very beginning – how Hashem loves us and gave us trees to add beauty to our world and provide us with so many things. We returned to the playground and picked out a tree to observe throughout the year. We will take pictures of this tree to mark the changes it goes through as the seasons change. The children noticed that the leaves had already started to change color and they could see some orange and purple and brown. They also felt the bark and commented that it was bumpy.
The artistic re-creation of the trees we observed in the playground is just one of the ways the children are experiencing trees. The children drew pictures of trees with crayons and oil pastels that are displayed on the bulletin board in the back entryway of the Synagogue. They also had the experience of painting a picture of a tree at the easel and which is now hung in our classroom. Next the children will be creating three dimensional trees from brown butcher paper. The initial step was using little wheels to apply brown paint – adding a sense of the texture of bark.
We spent some time in our outdoor classroom gathering lots of tomatoes! We also had the opportunity to observe the “inside” of a tree by checking out the cut end of a stump of wood. Look at all the rings – about 20! Some books read – The Sukkah That I Built by Rochel Groner Vorst; Outdoor Explorer- I See Trees by Tim Mayerling; and Trees – A Compare and Contrast Book by Katharine Hall.
Enjoy a restful weekend. Shabbat Shalom.
Morah Fran and Morah Yafit