Can you believe we’re halfway through the school year? This week, students reviewed and wrapped up our second unit, Holy Me.
The Garinim (kindergartners) looked back at the highlights on our journey of exploring the holiness in ourselves and how it interacts with the holiness in the world around us. We played games to revisit this unit’s texts and stories, created a class-wide mural of the holy and praiseworthy parts of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), and read books where the characters found their own holiness in some unexpected ways.
On Wednesday, we circled back to a text about the holiness and absoluteness of our souls. We focused on how to best take care of and feed our souls. What does it mean to nurture something or someone? The Garinim explored a few examples in order to create a definition for themselves:
- Chaim getting himself water to drink
- Hugging a baby
- Watering a plant
We determined that the common thread in each of these examples is that each action helps its recipient to grow and be the best version of themselves they can be. What else can we do to nurture ourselves? What are ways we can show care for and encourage our own growth?
- Eat plenty of growing foods like vegetables, protein, apples, and pears.
- Sometimes we have treats.
- Get enough sleep.
- Training! [physical activity]
- Reading books and drawing – those things take me on adventures!
What can we do to nurture – show care for and encourage the growth of – others?
- Help someone have a safe place to be or to sleep – like if they’re homeless.
- Offer hugs.
- Check in with someone about how they’re feeling.
- Tell jokes or be funny to help someone laugh.
- Give gifts.
- Show love!
What an excellent list of ideas! After brainstorming, we tried some of them out.
- Cuddles are important! Kids who wanted got wrapped up in blanket burritos.
- Sometimes we need warm treats on cold days – hot chocolate break!
- Kiddos chose their preferred art medium (drawing, paper and tape, play dough) and got creative.
- We had a singalong to one of our favorite songs from Encanto.
- One or two kids chose to have some dedicated one-on-one time with a teacher.
What about you? What can you do today to nurture your soul or the soul of someone you love?
To review and wrap up our current Holy Me unit, Shorashim (1st and 2nd graders) revisited class favorite texts, shulchanot avodah activities, and modalities. We created a Shorashim Garden of Eden which included praise flowers, a sculpture garden and more!
On Monday, kiddos reflected on their ancestors:
Who are some of your ancestors?
- Bnei yisrael (the Jewish people)
- my great-great grandma
- my dad
- someone on the titanic
Who is considered an ancestor?
- People who came before you
- People in your family
- An ancestor doesn’t have to be a person in your family
Is it possible to be connected to someone from long ago, would you consider yourself connected to bnei yisrael? Why/Whynot?
- No! They are dead
- Yes, because they might be a relative
- Yes, we are all connected
- Maybe you can feel them if they are dead and talk to them because my mom talks to my grandpa even though he is dead
Do you feel connected to your ancestors?
- Sometimes my mom can feel her dad when she’s cooking
- When I put on the tallit i felt connected to bnei yisrael
What would happen if we didn’t have ancestors?
- We would make the same mistakes
- We wouldn’t even be here
We then reviewed a text about Honi witnessing a person planting a carob tree and the kiddos did an awesome job acting out certain lines for kids to guess. Then we created a holy moments timeline which included: Birthdays, first day of school, Jewish holidays, camping trips, family vacations, family recoveries, watching penguins of madagascar during camp last week, shabbat, eating my favorite food
On Tuesday, learners picked a name from a hat and wrote a praiseworthy thing about that person on a paper flower petal and incorporated them into our praise garden. Expressing praise was once a scary thing to do for Shorashim but it is now a skill that comes second nature to them. Teachers saw so many awesome, praiseworthy petals about Shorashim kiddos.
On Wednesday, Kiddos picked out different monuments and public sculptures in Philadelphia and what they represented. Using sculpy, learners created tiny sculptures that were holy to them.
A concept that struck a chord with Shorashim was taking care of the world around us. On Thursday, we read City Green, a book that takes place in Philadelphia, about a young girl who creates a garden in the vacant lot near her house. Learners reflected that there are many vacant lots near them and some of them have even been turned into gardens.
We discussed whether they thought creating a community garden was a good thing:
- Adds color to the neighborhood
- Builds community
- Doesn’t take a lot of money or work to create a garden
- I’d rather have a playground
- It takes a long time to see results of the garden
- Sometimes you need to be a member of a community garden
It’s showcase week! Nitzanim kiddos have been finishing up all the awesome elements of this project to celebrate a belated Tu B’Shevat. Who doesn’t want an extra excuse to continue celebrating the trees and our awesome learners?
On Thursday, kiddos showcased their Tu B’Shevat seder plates that have parts that represent them and their place in the world. Additionally, we showed off our community seder plate, which seeks to answer the question: how can we leave our world better than we found it?
This week we’ve been reviewing texts and ideas from throughout this past unit! In our discussion about God’s commandment for B’nei Yisrael to teach the practice of adding fringes to the corners of garments to generations to come, we imagined what else we might pass through generations! Together we read some Jewish folktales including “The Sultan’s Horns,” a tale from Morocco, and a couple tales from “The Wise Men of Chelm,” a collection of stories from Eastern Europe. We compared and contrasted how tangible things, like tzitzit (fringes, usually on tallit, Jewish prayer shawls), and non-tangible things, like stories, are passed from generation to generation across the world. Here are some thoughts about folktales:
- It feels cool knowing that there are generations of Jewish folktales
- It’s cool to see how stories started versus how they are now
- The Jewish names helped the story stand out as Jewish
We also revisited Elohai Neshama, the prayer about having our souls breathed into us by God. One kiddo reminded us of a Jewish idea that our souls leave us when we go to sleep. We imagined what it would be like for our souls to hangout in our dreams. We decided we would meet for a “dream potluck” and here is a portion of what’s on the menu:
- A spicy thing that is the perfect spice level for each soul
- Lemon creme brulee (created in the physical world, but taken to dream world)
- Tub of mac n’ cheese (obviously)
- Fresh strawberries
Awesome job, Nitzanim! We have such clever and imaginative kiddos. Thank you to all our families who showed up for the Unit 2 Showcase! We’re so very proud of this awesome group of kids!
Next week, we will be starting our next unit, Becoming the Jewish People. We can’t wait to see what will be in store!