Brought to you by the Pre-K Judaic Studies Team: Morot: Rebeka Ebrahimi, Gali Naftali and Connie Reichman
Our Pre-K students are the youngest in the building here at Cherry Lane and our program balances a mix of play and the academics that will prepare them for the years ahead. Our goal is to use interactive play, role play and hands on / sensory experiences to foster the learning of Jewish values, Torah, holidays, Hebrew, tefillah and knowledge of Israel.
As an example of our approach, the pre K teachers collaborate to create grade-wide events to celebrate each holiday. We’ve done this in the past for Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Thanksgiving, and others. We incorporate multi-sensory experiences reinforcing the main concepts of each holiday. Just this week, we had an incredible Chanukah celebration which included a variety of educational but playful activities. First, each student created edible menorahs out of crackers, frosting and pretzels. Next we went on a scavenger hunt for Chanukah themed items – the children followed clues to find gelt, chanukiyot, dreidels, candles and an oil pitcher. We played dreidel with gold coins which helped us learn the Hebrew letter/language skills and basic math skills associated with the game (halves, wholes and counting). We loved singing and dancing to Chanukah music. In the grand finale, all the classes joined together for an interactive performance of the Chanukah story by the teachers, including costumes and scenes set in the Beit Hamikdash and the Judean desert caves. Each class presented a song of their own as the musical accompaniment.
Through these play based activities, we worked with our students on improving fine motor skills through spreading frosting and spinning Dreidels. We improved counting skills by counting out pretzel sticks and gold coins. We sharpened cognitive skills by deciphering clues about Chanukah items. We developed Hebrew language and Jewish identity by learning songs, blessings, letters on the dreidels and holiday words – sufgania, Chanukiyah. We also fostered social skills and developed our Pre-K community by joining all of the classes together for this Chanukah celebration.
We create these types of community play based educational celebrations whenever possible and it is a real joy to see our students growing and developing through these experiential learning moments! Chag Sameach to all!