Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Shemot- Names, Stop-Motion D'var

This is Cohava's Stop Motion- Start Learning video on Shemot. (My voice, her words and animation)

Monday, 24 December 2018

Tzedakah Stop Motion [Start Action!] Video

Every year, I contemplate how to take our Torah learning to the next level. I want my girls (and students) to grow in the knowledge and skills.
At the science museum, Cohava enjoyed making stop motion videos. We are going to attempt to make a short educational video each week.
We watched the educational modules provided by BimBam. These were very helpful.
Here is her first video!

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Hanukkah games and projects

Every year I wonder, "Oh what activities should I do for Hanukkah?" And since I never remember what I do from year to year, I inevitably reinvent the wheel. This year we:

1) Made olive oil soap.
I bought the compound at Michael's (always use that 50% coupon!). The girls grated old crayons, added soap compound cubes, added essential oils, all inside of silicon trays.
Microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir melted compound gently. Place in fridge to harden.

The finish products were beautiful! We gave them to the teachers as small Hanukkah gifts. Olive oil in another miraculous form.

 2) Scientist Hanukiyah
This we did for the last few years. This Hanukiyah is not for lighting. It is a series of test tubes and pipets for children (and adults) to use for color mixing.
Here they are in action at the Torah Fair.

 3) Wooden Hanukkah art

We bought several packages of popsicles sticks (different sizes and colors) and clothespins (different sizes if possible). Then people were able to clip together whatever they wanted.

 4) This was someone else's game, which I thought was neat. Ring toss onto 'Hanukkah lights'.

5) SBH hosted a Hanukkah cookie decorating party before Hanukkah. We read Hanukkah Cookies with Sprinkles and money was donated for food for the poor.
6) Food Drive
The Giving Club at school organized a canned food drive.
Then they constructed a massive Hannukiyah 950 cans!!!

7) Dreidle Bingo! 

 There definitely more.
Day of darkness and light.
Reading Jodie's First Dig and having a mock archeology dig.
Latke party.
Decorating Donuts.

Lots of light and joy!

A New Way to Play Dreidel

I love Hanukah as much as the next person.  Every aspect of the celebration is beautiful, positive, and family friendly. Except maybe dreidel.
 This theoretically fun game always feels too much like gambling and always ends with a child crying.  For the last few years we've simply skipped the game and just eaten the gelt (just go for the gold!)
This year I created a new dreidel game, which can be played independently, non-competitively, reinforces letter recognition, and can involve strategy (instead of just luck). I present you Dreidel Bingo!

Here you can download the Game board! Unlike traditional bingo, there is only one board.
There are a variety of ways to play.

You need:

  • printed game board(s) here
  • a dreidel (per player or shared)
  • bingo daubers or dot markers (you can use regular markers, but they aren't as fun)

Method 1- Independent Play:

  1. player spins and announces their letter
  2. mark it on the board
  3. play for a row, or coverall
Method 2 

Everyone takes a turn spinning. Either everyone marks only their own letter, or everyone marks for everyone's spin. Then strategize, like Connect 4, to decide which spot on the board to mark.
We played it at home. I set my little ones up with it, and they entertained themselves while I made dinner. No one fought! We played it at school.

We put it out at a community Hanukkah celebration.
The kids loved it

Some parents got a little competitive, but it was all good!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Bursting with Excitement Omer Counting

The girls and I have created a variety of Omer charts, like the one here or here or here.
This time we have really made the very best, most fun, exciting, and educational omer chart ever! A Balloon Omer Counter!  I won't forget to count because all my children will excitedly remind me.  Every night before bed they will have a fun, bonding experience, do a mitzvah, learn something, work to improve ourselves, and giggle together. And the room looks like a celebration. Total win!!!
Each night we make the beracha together. Then one girl pops that night's balloon.
Inside the balloon are slips of paper. One paper is a meditation on that day's omer. One is a fun science fact. One is a joke. Sometimes there are stickers too.  I chose these inserts based on the girls interested. C is very into balloons and confetti balloons. G loves science facts. R loves jokes, especially if she can read them. T loves opening the unknown (like LOL dolls and Hatchimals). I wanted the omer meditation. 

If you want to use these inserts, this is the document I made.

I printed the inserts on different colored papers and cut them into strips. Then I gathered balloons, sharpies, yarn, and some helpers.

 The littles helped roll the papers and insert them into balloons. This was a numeracy experience as two papers are numbered. C blew them up and labeled each balloon in sharpie with the appropriate number. I couldn't have done it without her. I supervised and tied each balloon on with a slipknot.

Getting them upstairs and mounted was more challenging than we anticipated.

But it is done and so much fun!

Happy Omering!

A Giant Omer-bacus and other Torah STEM fun

Counting the Omer is a mitzva, a time for spiritual reflection, and marks our mounting excitement for Shavuot. In preschool it is an opportunity for numeracy and Hebrew number vocabulary.

I want to make counting the omer a very big deal in my preschool class.  Therefore we are making a giant omer abacus. A regular abacus is in base 10. For the omer it will be base seven.

Items needed:
pool noodles (ideally 7 different colors)
serrated knife (& cutting board)
permanent marker

strings and pushpins
pvc pipe

First we sliced the noodles into rings. This was surprisingly easy and fun. I cut them approximately 3 inches thick.
Tova was very excited about the mounting pile of pool noodle beads. She quickly began collected them and stringing them onto the PVC pipes. The holes in the noodles were a little stiff on the pipes and I asked her to stretch the hole so it could slide more freely. 

 She began making patterns (STEM!). Ruti quickly joined in the action, making a more complex pattern.

We weren't ready for adding the numbers yet, but learning and fun were definitely happening.

When all the beads were cut (fifty plus a handful of extras in case we made a mistake adding numbers) there was still more noodle. 

These I cut into small rings and gave the girls a box of toothpicks. 
They loved building, using the toothpicks to fasten the noodles.

 This alone was wonderfully engaging. Then they began testing the ability to float their structures.
"We should use these for Noach!" Gabi exclaimed. Or bathtime.
 Back to the abacus.

At school, a teacher patterned the bead onto the tubes. The students loved helping, announcing which color would appear next. 

Finally everything was lined up and the teacher labeled each number. 

Meanwhile, the students painted the wood planks.
Finally, when everything was dry, the students assisted with using a power screwdriver and assembling the frame. This power is always empowering. 

Everyone is excited about the results.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

A STEM Haggadah

Are you all ready for Pesach? Of course not! The list of things which require attention at Pesach time seems endless. I'm not here to help you clean, menu plan or decorate. I'm here to think about the children.
Small children always require attention.  And to be learning. And to actively engage in open-ended learning. And to have Torah values in all of their thoughts. And of course STEM learning. Since these priorities were all at the top of your Pesach prep list, I have helped you out with a STEM Haggadah and Pesach toy.

This Haggadah is a series of pattern block challenges. Pattern blocks were invented fifty years ago to enhance mathematical, geometric reasoning, critical assessment, and creative design. 

Hopefully you already own a set of pattern blocks. If not, Amazon can send them fast, like these or these. I made them for my students, die-cutting the shapes out of foam.  You could cut them from paper, but I am skeptical of the time and durability. 

Lay the pattern blocks inside of the Seder related images. Testing how to manipulate each of the six shapes to best create the picture. Creating their own images is part of the fun as well.

Children can use this Haggadah, before, during, and after the Seder to enhance their learning and keep them quietly engaged. You're welcome.

Print and enjoy!
Pattern Block Haggadah

Chag Kasher v'Sameach!