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Insights from the Intersection of Childhood and Education

Monday, December 14, 2015


Ever since Judaics teacher Mrs. Brackman’s ten-year-old son Shmulie was diagnosed with Leukemia, her students have been trying to come up with ways they can help. It began with the entire middle school saying one Perek (chapter) of Tehillim each day before going to class. However, students still wanted to do more.

7th grader Shira David, one of the leaders of Chesed Club, is trying to get enough people to commit to saying Tehillim/Psalms daily so that we can complete the entire book of Tehillim in Shmulie’s merit. If you are interested in participating, please contact Alise Gold.

Other students have decided to take on a new Mitzvah in Shmulie's honor. The Mitzvot range from helping out more at home to adding a new Tefillah in their daily davening (praying). Once they chose a mitzvah, they shared it with Shmulie. Shmulie would love to hear from anyone taking on a Mitzvah.

In addition, a group of 8th graders, including Sarah Winitzer, Jake Gordon and Aya Hamlish, came up with the idea of creating wrist bands to show support for Shmulie. They consulted with Shmulie (who loved the idea!) and decided on a color (orange) as well as the writing for the wrist band - “no one stands alone” - and #teamshmulie.

The 8th graders will be selling these wristbands for $2 and the proceeds will go to Shmulie’s charity of choice. If you would like to purchase a wristband, please contact Alise Gold or come to the school office.

We are so proud of everything our students are doing to show support and to pray for Shmulie’s full recovery. Please keep Baruch Shmuel ben Nechama Baila in your thoughts and prayers and feel free to contact us with any suggestions for future projects!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Come Light the Menorah!

Careful still lives created by our three-year-old preschool students. 
Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hanukkah Books

Books that rhyme are rare these days, and one that is not saccharine is even rarer, so Gracie's Night by Lynn Taylor Gordon comes as a special treat. It is refreshing and fun to read out loud (always a pleasant thing when you're reading to children!). Gracie's Night tells a contemporary and almost a secular story of urban life and its challenges. Many children will relate to this. Hanukkah only comes into play towards the end and delivers a welcome twist on what it means to do a Mitzvah, a good deed.

Eve Bunting's One Candle transports us to another time even though it is set in what might be a typical suburban home. An extended family gathers to celebrate Hanukkah and to invoke the grandmother's annual ritual of remembering her crude efforts of lighting a candle in the concentration camp of Buchenwald. This book manages to gently marry the darkest hour of Jewish history with its light-filled and light-hearted yet historically-minded holiday. The sepia-toned, soft-edged illustrations give the book a magical feel while depicting ordinary kitchen and dining room scenes. One Candle celebrates Hanukkah with depth as well as delight.

Recommended by our librarian Thea Crook, who will be reading both books to her library visitors this coming week. Happy Hanukkah!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Family Is...

All our preschool classes worked on a family project. What is family? The children gave their own answers, and each classroom chose to present them in a different way. The result is a gorgeous exhibit, currently displayed in the preschool hallway.

The Purple Room asked children to make a drawing, the parent/tot class did parent/child hand prints, the Blue Room created weavings. Others did collages, sepia prints and little story boards.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Lech Lecha - Migration through a Jewish Lens

As part of their great study of Migration, our Kitah Alef (first grade) class explored: What do monarch butterflies and whooping cranes have in common with our ancestors Abraham and Sarah, as well as our own great-grandparents. They all migrate(d). Butterflies and cranes migrate as part of their life cycle. Abraham and Sarah were told by G-d to migrate from Charan to Cana'an.

What was it like to pick up and move? What animals did Abraham and Sarah take with them? What did they see along the way? Where did our great-grandparents come from? These are some of the questions the children have been investigating.

Within the continuing story of the Jewish people, the students explored how their own great-grandparents migrated from places such as Japan, Ukraine, Egypt, South Africa, England, Israel, Poland Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Belgium, Germany and France to the United States. They left to escape persecution and/or to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Leaf Observations

"I see stem and leavy parts. I see red, orange and yellow. I see spots. I see a hexagon." - Matthew

The four-year-olds in the Blue Room have been closely observing all the beautiful leaves that are floating down from the maple trees outside. A light table helped in tracing their shapes, and after working with the leaves, the kids recorded their findings. Education in the Scientific Method begins early!

"I see colors. I see red. It looks like a tree. The edges are smooth." - Noa

Friday, October 9, 2015

Migration Study

Our first and second graders are studying migration. Specifically, they are learning all about Whooping Cranes as they follow the big birds' trip from Wisconsin to Florida via Operation Migration.

How big is a Whooping Crane? The children measured themselves against a life-size model, and some of the adults got to compare themselves, too.

The preschoolers from the Purple Room also came to learn about Whooping Cranes and to see themselves against the big bird in the hallway.

Any project of course involves hands-on activities. Each student built his or her very own Whooping Crane model.

As part of this study of migration, both of our first and second grade classes are participating in Symbolic Migration, an initiative that has classrooms close to the Monarch butterflies' northern habitats sending class photos and symbolic paper butterflies to classes in Mexico. In the Spring, the Mexican school kids will send a similar package back to classrooms in the north.