As the oldest class in our school, Gan Tziporim was given the task to decorate the tables for the Thanksgiving Feast. Children in this age group are developmentally able to draw recognizable pictures – such as people and houses and trees. The children were happy to be given this honor and responsibility. They spent a lot of time working on their creations.
When it was time for the feast, the children were excited to wear their beautiful, beaded headbands. Most of them were willing to try all of the foods each of the classes prepared and especially enjoyed their own soup. They also loved learning and singing many of the Thanksgiving songs we had been practicing for the last few weeks. We sang: This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land; Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow; A Turkey Sat on a Backyard Fence and He Sang a Sad, Sad Tune; and The Mayflower Sailed Over the Ocean,complete with hand motions. They had learned so well, that they were able to sing many of the songs without requiring an adult to lead them. They all had a very pleasant time.
Later in the day, the children acted out the Thanksgiving story, Mousekins Thanksgiving by Edna Miller. They all chose different forest animals to portray – mousekin, owl, woodpecker, squirrel, hare, and turkey. Acting is a great vehicle for self-expression, for acquiring confidence, and for learning to be comfortable speaking in front of a group of people. It also helps one put him/herself in the shoes of another and learn empathy. We intend to present the children with other opportunities to act out stories. One possibility is the story of Hanukkah.
We jumped from Thanksgiving right into Hanukkah! The two holidays are so close to each other this year. Out came all of our Hanukkah paraphernalia – various Hanukkiot along with candles, a huge basket of dreidels, storybooks, and puzzles. The children enjoy manipulating these objects. We have a number of larger, special dreidels with bases that release the dreidel. The children really have fun with those. We have also found several fun math-related Hanukkah activities. There is a counting mat which counts candles and dreidels and uses playdough to form the numbers from 1-8. And another mat uses a die to match the number of dots the die lands on to the numerical symbol on the mat.
Another activity the children enjoyed was painting at the easel. The children did a great job painting Hanukkiot containing the correct amount of candles. Some children also attempted to paint the Hebrew letters found on a dreidel. Another great attempt! There are many other fun activities waiting for the children this week and next week.