Gan Tziporim

Gan Tziporim Dreidels, Olives and Fun

What better way to start Hanukkah than a wonderful singing session with Morah Jill!  There were songs and games about dreidels.  Hanukkah candles glowed and danced and finally melted.  And who could resist “five little latkes sizzling in a pan!”  This all occurred first thing Monday morning and set the mood for the week.


The children learned several games this week relating to the Hanukkah theme.  They continued practicing spinning their dreidels in order to improve on their skill when playing the dreidel game.  This game and several other games twhich were played at the Hanukkah  aught the children many things.  The children learned how to follow directions, math skills were used to count how many chocolate chips they lost or won,  patience and waiting for one’s turn was introduced as necessary qualities, and good fine motor ability and eye/hand coordination was required to get a dreidel to spin. The children enjoyed decorating some of the game boards with watercolors, crayons, and markers.

The letter “Hh” has been introduced in written and verbal form.  The children are also being exposed to the lower case “h” and getting a little practice with that as well.  The initial phonics sound for “H” was explained as the sound we make when we laugh. Words such as: hammer, heart, hurt, horse and hat were thought up.  The children practiced writing the letter.

Plain wooden blocks are the most wonderful open-ended toy in existence.  These pictures demonstrate the variety of things the children have thought up, either alone, or in collaboration with other children.

An informative and entertaining time was had by all with Rabbi G and the olive press.  The children were able to squeeze […]

By |December 5, 2018|

Thanks for coming to our Gan Tziporim Chanukah party!!

We had so much fun at our Chanukah party this morning! Thanks for coming! Thank you to the Goldenthals for helping us to make the fried donut treats.






By |December 5, 2018|

Gan Tziporim Build and Play the Hanukkah Way

We pulled out another variation of a magnet building toy, a magnetic stick and ball construction toy.  These building toys are open-ended and offer opportunities for creative building ideas, problem solving, engineering three-dimensional shapes, as well as building letters, numbers and a multitude of designs.  Sometimes the children work on their own, but often enjoy collaborating and building on each other’s ideas.


One of the class’s major endeavors this week involved the construction of an individual hanukkiah for each child.  Our good friend, Mr. Bob, helped out again with this project. The children are enjoying their wood building experiences and becoming proficient in the use of tools.  Mr. Bob prepared the wood for the base,  brought the materials to class and guided the children in hammering into place the wooden piece for the shamash.  He left the proper screws and Phillips head screwdrivers for the children to screw on the candle holders.  One more step was needed prior to installing the candle holders – decorating the base.  We mixed acrylic paint (blue, red, and silver) with oil in a tub, and swirled it around to create interesting designs.  The children then dipped their hanukkiah bases into the paint. We explained that we wanted to include oil into the process to remind us about the miracle of the oil in our story of Hanukkah. When dry, the children placed the candle holders on the small holes that Bob had marked off, placed the screw on the hole and then began the process of screwing the candle holder securely into place.  Of course they had to repeat the process nine times!  This was quite a commitment.  But it was all so worth it!  This particular project was created […]

By |November 30, 2018|

Gan Tziporim Celebrate and Prepare for 2 Great Holidays

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 […]

By |November 28, 2018|

Preparing for Thanksgiving with Gan Tziporim

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already here!  Time passes quickly when one is experiencing a positive learning and social environment.  From the time the children arrive in the morning until the time they leave, everyone (including the Morahs) is involved in happy, purposeful activity.  The children enjoy being together so much and collaborate incredibly well.  They share ideas and work out most issues relatively quickly.  The pictures that are posted really tell the story.  Though the children built the Mayflower a week ago or so,  they were not done with it.  They continued to build and rebuild it, adding to it and refining their work.  Our friend, Bob, had visited last week to do some repairs on our sukkah/tent.  He needed to glue and clamp two pieces of wood that had split. The children incorporated Bob’s clamp, which he had left for them to use and explore some more, in addition to the usual tools.  They found new pieces of wood/laminate which had been donated to us, which they incorporated into the main structure of the ship.  Toy animals and people became the passengers.  This went on for several days, with the structure being left overnight to return to (and fiddle with) the next day.


After having discussed the Lenape tribe and the Wampanoag tribe, we looked at some patterns the native tribes used and also their pictograph symbols. When European explorers arrived in America, Native Americans did not communicate through writing as we know it. Instead, they told stories (oral histories) and created pictures and symbols.  The children created a lovely gift to be used on their family’s Thanksgiving […]

By |November 20, 2018|

American Customs in Gan Tziporim

Our birthday celebrations are a special time.  It is a time that encourages giving and friendship.  Besides baking a birthday cake for Ella and  decorating her treasure box gift, the children joined together to sing and play some lively birthday games.  They played the Israeli circle game of “Uga, Uga Uga” (Cake, Cake, Cake) while also learning the terminology for sit and stand in Hebrew – lashevet and lakum.  Then they played an old classic American children’s circle game, “Bluebird, Bluebird Through My Window”.  The children stood in a circle holding hands high up in arches (to form the “windows” in the song).  Ella was the first “Blue Bird” who flew in and out of the arches or “windows”. During the second verse, the “bird” (Ella) chose a partner by patting him/her on the shoulders. The second child then followed holding the first child’s shoulders while they passed through the “windows”. The game continued on until all the children made a chain and there were only two children left forming an arch (or “window”). The morahs made the final arches.  The children giggled as they tapped each other on the shoulders and followed on the long chain through the windows.  Ella’s family enjoyed watching the fun- her mother, two grandmothers and her great-grandmother.  It was wonderful having the four generations in our classroom to celebrate!


The children enjoyed another fun sing-along with Morah Jill.  They sang about falling leaves, five round orange pumpkins, a sad turkey sitting on a backyard fence, and danced a Thanksgiving food dance.

The children have been introduced to their own personal journals.  There is a space on each page for the children to draw a picture.  The […]

By |November 14, 2018|

Gan Tziporim Are Helpers Learning From the Past

Everyday there is some discussion or new discovery about some aspect of the beginning of the colonization of America and about its native peoples.  We have read from or looked at pictures in a number of books – The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward, Thanksgiving by Lisa Herrington, The Lenape Indians by Josh Wilker, Spotlight on Native Americans – Delaware (Lenape) by Joseph Stanley, The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose, and Indians of the Eastern Woodlands. From these books, the children have learned how Native Americans from our part of the country grew food, hunted, dressed, and built their homes (wigwams and longhouses).  The children enjoy simulating what they have learned into their play.  We had a basket of colorful fish in our classroom and spontaneously, the children placed some fish on a blue floor tile in our classroom and started to pretend to fish like the Native Americans.   We then went into the Exploration Room and found small, bendable styrofoam “rods” to use as fishing rods, wooden alphabet letters to use as hooks, and even some more life-like looking fish to add to their pond.  On a subsequent day some of the children took wooden blocks and built Pilgrim homes and barns for their animals.

We are celebrating Ella’s fourth birthday this week and the children worked hard to make a treasure box for her trinkets.  They cut pieces of colorful napkins and glued them onto the outer and inner lid and sides of a wooden cigar box. We modge podged over the napkins to add a shiny and sturdier finish.  The children are getting good practice in cutting and also learning what a mitzvah it is to give to others.


By |November 9, 2018|

Gan Tziporim Learn About Fruits

While learning about vegetables, we discovered that some plants that we think of as vegetables are actually fruit!  These vegetable grow from seeds and produce seeds – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers.  We learned some things about fruit from the book, Fruit – A First Discovery Book by Gallimard Jeunesse and Pascale de Bourgoing.  The book explained that the fleshy part of a plant is the fruit and that it contains the seeds.  The seeds of an apple are at the center, or core, of the apple. When planted in soil, the seeds from an apple grow roots and leaves and develop into a sapling or young apple tree.  It blossoms in the spring, and from those blossoms apples begin to grow and are ripe for picking in the fall.  Many fruits grow on trees, such as pears, kiwis, and figs.  Some fruit grow on vines – such as grapes. bananas, and watermelon.  Strawberries grow on plants close to the ground and have seeds on the outside of the fruit. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons,and limes also grow on trees in warm, sunny places.  The children were able to examine and eat apples and pears (Bosc and Bartlett).  They enjoyed the sweetness of the pears.  When presented with an orange, a grapefruit, a lemon, and a lime, the children all recognized the orange and the lemon but were unsure about some of the other fruits.  We explained that these are all known as citrus fruit.  When smelling the fruit,  Lieba and Lauren agreed that, “the orange smells the sweetest and the lemon smells the most sour.” Everyone wanted a piece of the orange.  Ezra, Simon, Uriel and Lieba were willing to taste the lime.  Uriel thought it tasted […]

By |November 8, 2018|

Gan Tziporim and the Native Americans

The children have been very busy with a variety of sensory activities.  Added to our dry bean/lentil/corn bins, is the box with colored sand, which has been used in a number of ways – making designs with sticks and other implements, moving around rocks with the numbers 1-10 written on them, sifting and pouring into bowls.  For good fine motor practice, the children have been threading beads onto pipe cleaners stuck into a styrofoam base.  The bead-threading is a precursor to another activity that ties into our study of the events and characters involved with the Thanksgiving story.

The children have been looking at the books we brought to class (and that we have also been reading to them) about New Jersey’s Indigenous people, the Lenape tribe, and also the Wampanoag tribe of Plymouth, Massachusetts.  There are drawings and photographs (reenactments) of these Native Americans and their customs and dress.  Several pictures show beaded headbands being worn by the Native Americans.  We were able to get mesh material that could serve as a facsimile of a headband and upon which the children would be able to sew beads. The children had also had some practice sewing on plastic mesh squares with the Hebrew letters, aleph and bet, written on them.  They had to learn to bring a plastic needle through the little holes to the back of the square, and then poke it through to the front of the square.  This is challenging to maneuver, but the children demonstrated patience and perseverance.  It was also a nice way to reinforce these Hebrew letters.  This demonstrates how one activity blends into and reinforces another activity.  And there is also an interconnectedness to […]

By |November 5, 2018|

Gan Tziporim Have Been Cooking!

Handwriting Without Tears incorporates a variety of important readiness skills into their program to help children learn to write (form their letters) more easily.  These include size recognition, placement, and sequence skills.  The program uses a character named “Mat Man” to teach these skills and also promote body awareness, drawing and counting skills. It uses a blue mat and large and small curved and straight wooden pieces to form the parts of his body.  These wooden pieces are eventually used to form the alphabet letters. We had the children work in teams to take the wood pieces and build Mat Man.  They enjoyed adding the pieces to complete Mat Man.  Following this activity, we gave the children paper and crayons and asked them to draw Mat Man.  They were able to refer to a template of Mat Man.  This presented the children with the opportunity to acknowledge the necessary number of eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, hands, legs, and feet and the placement of these body parts or features.  All the children were able to capably draw the figure.  Their drawings are hanging in our classroom.



This week we presented the children with a second array of vegetables, which included a potato, a sweet potato, an onion, an eggplant, a beet, radishes, multi-colored peppers, and carrots and tomatoes from our garden. We washed and checked each vegetable for bugs. We reviewed what type of plant each vegetable came from.  The tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, acorn squash, cucumber, and peppers are all the fruits of the vines on which they grow;   radishes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets are the roots of the plant;  potatoes grow underground […]

By |November 5, 2018|