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Grade K-1


Gan-Kita Aleph Teachers' Message

June 15, 2018

Wow here we are at the end of another fabulous school year!  This week was chock full of learning as well as some extra special activities and programs!

In language arts the first graders read Two Greedy Bears and Days With Frog and Toad.  They worked on handwriting, Lexia, and journal writing. We discussed describing words (adjectives) and how they describe nouns. This is just for exposure. Our Scholastic News topics were Lego Ocean Mystery and Safe in the Summer Sun. We shared our non-fiction stories that we wrote. The children did a wonderful job.

Kindergarten students worked on “paper Lexia” and other paperwork; they also finished up some of their writing and completed a page for the class yearbook.  Both classes read two new books which we received thanks to all of the purchases at the Scholastic Book Fair. One was called The Little Red Fort, and it was similar to the Little Red Hen.  There was a lot of speculation about what the ending would be - would the main character allow her brothers to come into the fort that she had to build all by herself?  Ask your child how the story was resolved! The other book was just a fun one called I Don’t Want to Be a Frog!, which is about a little frog who is not satisfied as a frog and wishes to be other animals instead.  Ask your child what the wolf said that convinced the frog to be happy just the way he was! Kindergarten students joined the first graders to read the Scholastic News magazine about the Lego Ocean Mystery, and also read Water, Water Everywhere.  

In math we discussed measurement. The class learned that measuring with  non-standard units in not an accurate method. We were introduced to a ruler and practiced measuring items with a ruler.  Kindergarten students continued working on addition, including word problems and how to “show what you know” - use drawing, manipulatives or modeling to show how you solve a problem.  

On Tuesday we got to attend the SHAS (one minute) Talent Show - wow there are some very talented kids in our school!  In the afternoon we went to the lake and had lots of fun digging in the sand and playing in the water. A group of children worked together and created the Yam Suf on the shore!  . Everyone had fun and loved the Slurpees. What a perfect day to venture to the lake! On Wednesday, we celebrated Eshkol’s birthday and got to watch a movie and have popcorn! We also had an extended gym class with N-Pk where we got to play many of our best games like What Time is it Mr Fox and Fishie Fishie Cross My Ocean. Thank you to Coach Dave for planning this fun time! On Thursday we were treated to an instrumental concert coordinated by Morah Ella. Boy are SHAS students cultured!  Our annual hot dog barbecue was a great success and a nice way to end the school year.

Ivrit & Judaic Studies:

This week we summed up all of our learning about the Jewish holidays by playing a game of Holiday Bingo.  The children generated a large list of holiday related words and then each student made their own 3x3 board.  The game was great fun! It was wonderful to hear the answering questions about the chaggim!

Kita Aleph, as we spent this year on the process of learning to read and write,would like to mention how important  it is that your child make time during the vacation to read in Hebrew.they can read in the Ariot books that you have at home and they can also continue to practice script in Ariot Kotev book. I also recommend that  Kindergarten students practice writing words in Hebrew by hearing their sounds, and practice making words with the magnetic aleph bet letters that you received.

I would like to use this last newsletter to say Toda to Gan Alef sweet children!I had the great pleasure of learning with and teaching the amazing kids in the gan aleph class for the past two years.I enjoyed speaking and hearing Hebrew, singing and dancing, laughing and sometimes crying, hearing stories and reading books, cooking and eating, praying and loving and especially feeling the love of Eretz Yisrael!  

I would like to thank all the parents for the warm words, the compliments, for the gifts, for hosting me and my family on Shabbat and holidays.I will miss you all! Hope to see you in Israel! I also would like to thank Morah Leslee and Morah Devorah for all the help and the amazing times we had together. Love Mora Hani  

For first graders, we wish you continued success in second grade and please stop by to say hello to us! Kindergarteners, we can’t wait to have you as first graders! Have a wonderful fun, safe, and exciting summer. We wish Morah Hani & Moreh Itzik and Elad and Aluma safe travels back to Israel and thank you for the past three years. Thank you to Gali & Aviya also for sharing your enthusiasm, your creativity, your funny videos and most of all your love for Israel.

Please keep reading over the summer. See you in September!

June 8, 2018

What a crazy weather week. The temperatures were like a roller coaster. Welcome June; we hope for consistently warmer days now!.

In language arts the first graders read When I Am Old With You. This is a beautiful story about a relationship between a grandson and his grandfather. The children did a great job reading to me. We worked on our journals, handwriting, and Lexia. Both kindergarteners and first graders illustrated their Robert Munsch style books this week. Hopefully they will be ready to read by this coming shabbat! As a class we read two books about friendship; Chester’s Way and Big Al.  First graders learned a lot about dolphins in this week’s Scholastic News, while kindergarten students read about water safety..

In math first graders  learned about telling time to the hour and the half hour. Telling time reinforces skip counting by 5s. The class practiced showing different times on Judy clocks (these are model clocks with minute and hour hands). We also discussed fractions. They learned that a fraction is a part of something. We learned to identify and create ¼, 1/3 , and ½  and realize that they would rather have ½ of a cake rather than ¼ even though 4 is a bigger number. Kindergarten students practiced identifying major US coins and enjoyed investigating all the different features that distinguish one coin from another. This is a skill that can easily be practiced at home over the summer - let your child sort your change purse or the family tzedaka pushka!  

Of course, the big highlight of this week was the Maccabiyah games! After a funny breakout, students in K-5 were divided into 3 groups - Eretz Yisrael, Midenat Yisrael and Am Yisrael. Each team has a 5th grade captain and 4th grade lieutenants who lead the teams in activities such as posters, cheers, songs, D’vrei Torah, banners, field day, capture the flag, and the Chidon (quiz). Teams can also earn “derech eretz” points for kindness and cooperation. Maccabiyah culminates with the performance and sharing of each teams’ work.  The big idea is to have fun and demonstrate good sportsmanship! It is so exciting to participate in Maccabiyah with our friends and siblings from other grades! We are sure that your children have talked about this by now. If not - ask them.

June 1, 2018

Here’s hoping that everyone had a wonderful long weekend!  We are down to our last 10 days of school! Our field trip to the Trailside Museum was a big hit. We had a special program on animal movements and met a real snake. Everyone learned so much about animals while we toured inside the museum through the displays of taxidermied animals, as well as some live animals both inside and outside.  All of the wild life at the Trailside Museum is native to Massachusetts, and all of the animals were rescued and are now cared for at the museum. Ask your child what we saw and what was their favorite animal. Thank you to all of our drivers - we couldn’t have done it without you!

In language arts first graders read If You Give a Pig a Pancake and The Forest. We learned what a play is and acted out The Lion and the Mouse. We continued our study of antonyms and learned about compound words. The children are looking for compound words in their daily reading. This week’s Scholastic News for first grade was about a praying mantis and a honey bee; kindergarten students learned about a scientist who used her cat as an inspiration for an invention! We are still finding time for journal writing, handwriting, and of course Lexia.

All of the students are enjoying our author study on Robert Munsch. We have read We Share Everything, Stephanie’s Ponytail, Alligator Baby, and More Pies. Some of the common elements we have discovered in Robert Munsch’s books are: they are funny, they are fiction, they have kids as the main characters, there is a lot of repetition, there are words that make sounds (onomatopoeia), there is a lot of screaming, there are big emotions and there is usually an element of danger or something that is not realistic.  We used this understanding of Robert Munsch’s style to write our own class book - hopefully it will be illustrated and ready for you to read at home very soon!

In math the first graders learned about solid shapes. They learned what  flat surfaces are and vertices. It was fun building with solid figures. Our last mini math chapter is on telling time. First graders will learn to tell time on the hour and the half hour.  Kindergarten students are learning about number bonds and all the combinations of numbers that add up to ten.

First grade and kindergarten students are learning about bird beaks in science.  We are looking at different shaped beaks and discovering how their properties allow birds to eat different foods and do different tasks.  Long beaks, short triangular beaks and curved beaks all serve different functions!

Pinat Ivrit

Now that the Gan students have learned the whole aleph bet, they are working on developing their Hebrew lexicon.  Each student worked on their own aleph bet book with a word and illustration for each letter. We have also been reviewing color words by playing tag!

Kita Aleph students were happy to finish learning script handwriting, but their job is not done!  In order to become more automatic and fluent, students are practicing with white board markers, and also timing themselves and working in partners. This week we worked on writing sentences with verbs in common and we even wrote our first book in Hebrew!

Congratulations to Morah Devorah on the wedding of her son Yakov to his bride Miriam Pearl!

May 18, 2018

This week in language arts the first graders practiced finding antonyms for words. They learned what an antonym is and did a great job coming up with the opposite (antonym) of many words. We continue to work hard on forming our letters correctly in handwriting. We never, never start a letter from the bottom! Students continued with their Lexia skills. Categorizing words has been a difficult task in Lexia for some of the children. To help them we practiced this skill before they went on Lexia. In our anthology we read Lost!.

This is a cute story about a bear that gets lost outside of his habitat in the city. We realized that the bear actually got lost in Boston as we recognized some Boston landmarks. Our little reader story was called Grizzly and the Bumble-bee. Just like Lost, this story also portrays the bear speaking or doing human things. The children had to go back into to the text to help them with the comprehension check. We are emphasizing the fact that is important to be able to go to the text to find the answers.  Kindergarten students continue to work on their non-fiction books. All the students have presented at least one book to the class.

In order to streamline our schedule and help minimize transition times, this week we picked reading and writing spots for ourselves.  The students thought about where in the classroom would be the best spot for themselves, where they could be the most productive and least distracted - some people prefer to lie on the carpet, while others like to leanback on a wall or piece of furniture; others like to stand or sit at a table.  Students had the opportunity to give their top three choices of a spot, and then the teachers used this information to assign spots. Now when we break up from our whole group activities to read or write independently, we can do so quickly and efficiently!

In math the first graders used pattern blocks to make a creature. After creating and tracing their creature they had to give it a name and decide where they came from. We also learned the difference between a plane and solid shape. They were able to identify the names of several solid shapes.  Kindergarten students did “domino math”; they selected a domino, and then transferred the dots they saw onto paper, and then added the dots up to get a total. Students continue to practice forming numbers correctly - from the top down, and facing the correct direction!

We have exciting news. Our chrysalises turned into beautiful Painted Lady butterflies! All five caterpillars turned into chrysalises and then into the butterflies. After observing them for a number of days, we let them go and wished them well. The students were very interested in seeing the various stages of the transformation.

We have finished our animal books!  They are up for display on the bulletin board outside mercaz aleph.  On Wednesday May 23rd we will be going to the Trailside Museum. We will be touring the museum and be going to a workshop on animal habitats. The children are looking forward to the trip.  Thank you to those parents who have volunteered to drive.

Judaic Studies

This week we began with a follow up activity to Yom Yerushalayim prepared by our Bnot Sherut.  First we had the opportunity to sample some delicious “mixed grill” Yerushalmi style chicken in a pita.  Then we entered the social hall to try to “escape the room” in order to free the Kotel! Moreh Itzik gave us the challenge, and we had to solve many puzzles in order to finally reach this special place, blow the shofar, and shout “Har HaBayit B’yadeinu!”  Thank you so much to Gali and Aviyah for this great experience!

We went straight from the Escape Room to learning about Shavuot.  Shavuot has many names - the Harvest Holiday, The Holiday of the First Fruits, and the Time of Giving the Torah.  We learned about the three days of preparation prior to getting the Torah and the midrash of little Har Sinai whose modesty was rewarded with the honor of serving as the site for matan Torah, and who was miraculously transformed with flowers and greenery.  Similarly, there is a custom to decorate our homes and the bet knesset with flowers for the holiday -each student is bringing home a vase for you to use! Other customs we learned about were the tikkun leil shavuot, eating dairy foods, and reading Megillat Ruth.  

Pinat Ivrit

Kita Aleph is diligently practicing script handwriting.  The Hebrew script letters are divided into groups based on how they are formed; so far we have learned two groups and we are in the middle of the third.  The Gan students were busy preparing for the Miseebat HaOtiot. We reviewed the order of the aleph bet, and we practiced the word building activity for the Miseebah.  We also tallied up the letters in all of our names, and used that information to make aleph bet cookies to serve as refreshments. Thank you to all the parents, family and friends who were able to join us!  Now the Gan students are prepared to read and write in Hebrew next year in Kita Aleph!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Samayach!

May 11, 2018

What a busy week! Thank you to the parents who volunteered to drive us on our field trip to the Trailside Museum on May 23rd. We still could use a couple more drivers.

In Language Arts the first graders read That Toad is Mine in the anthology. The students practiced sight words by finding the words in a word search. In Scholastic News this week the topics were Sunflower Snack (life cycle of a sunflower) and Lend a Hand to Lemurs. We learned what a synonym is and were able to come up with 2 words that are synonyms. In handwriting we are working on finger space between words. We see that it is a lot neater and easier to read when there are spaces between the words!  Ask your child about how cheerios help us with this skill. We practiced reading with our printable little books from A to Z publishing. The class is working very hard on Lexia as students want to continue to progress this school year.

Kindergarten students are continuing their work on non-fiction book writing.  We introduced a rubric for students to assess their own work - is their writing neat, do they use a capital letter at the start of a sentence, do they use punctuation at the end, are there spaces between words and do the words and the picture match?  Students are also setting goals for themselves before they begin writing. A goal might be to complete a certain number of pages, to add detail to a picture, to rewrite something that was not neat, to check spelling of sight words, to finish the cover ...really, anything that the writer determines that would improve their work.  Every student is excited to share their completed writing to the group - the author sits in a special chair, and when the reading is finished, they take comments from the group.

In math the first grade students discovered different ways to make larger shapes by combining other shapes. We also sorted shapes by sides and corners. Of course a favorite with this unit is building with shapes. Next week we will move to solid figures (3 D shapes).  Kindergarten students began a unit about addition. We talked about addition being the combination of groups to make a new, larger unit. After listening to story problems, students offered various ways to visualize what they heard - they could draw, use tally marks, use ten frames, use dots, fingers or dice, or even numbers - to show their understanding.  For instance, if your mother gave you one lollipop on shabbat, and then she gave you another, how many would you have? How can you SHOW that?

Guess what? Our caterpillars have turned into chrysalises!  We watched a very interesting video about caterpillar metamorphosis.  We weren’t able to directly observe the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis, but we were able to see it on the video.  We made a life cycle wheel highlighting the four stages - egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), butterfly. The children are observing our caterpillars daily and  have journals to record what they see. We also watched a mystery science video that explained why butterflies are so colorful.

In other science news, our non fiction animal unit is almost complete.  Each student is working on a book with information about their animal. Next week we will put on the finishing touches, and work on a cover.  

Please note that the children brought home a Scholastic Book order on Thursday. This will be the last one this year. It is due on 5/15/18. Thank you for your support this year!

Judaic studies:

We are getting ready for the 25 of Iyar, Yom Yerushalayim, which falls this year on Sunday.  We learned about the War for Independence, which ended with the Jewish inhabitants of the Old City forced to abandon their homes.  After 19 years, during the Six Day War, Jewish forces liberated the Old City and Jerusalem was reunited. We read a number of interesting books about the period, including Savta Rivka from the Old City of Jerusalem, The Six Days and the Seven Gates, and The House with A Secret.  We sang and learned about the famous song Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, and we played a lotto game with pictures of famous places in Jerusalem.  Everyone made a beautiful tile magnet with a Jerusalem theme.

Pinat Ivrit: The Gan finished all the letters of the aleph bet, and they are beginning to prepare for the miseebat ha otiot.  Kita Aleph also finished the fourth book of the Ariot series and received their certificates. They are excited to begin their script workbooks!  

Next week on Friday May 18 we will celebrate the miseebat ha otiot for Gan students.  Gan parents are invited to Shabbat Ruach at 8:00 am, followed by a brief presentation in our room, station activities and light refreshments.  We need a parent volunteer to shop for snack foods next week.  Please be in touch with Morah Hani if you can help out!  

Shabbat Shalom,

The Gan Aleph Team

PS Please enjoy some special surprises for a family member this Sunday!

May 4, 2018

It is hard to believe that it is May. Where has the year gone? We continue to learn and have lots of fun.

In Language Arts the first graders read Red Eyed Tree Frog in their anthology. This is a non-fiction piece that deals with animals in the Rain Forest. The students noted a lot of high frequency words. They have really gotten to be experts at paired reading and then reading to self after they have heard the story. We are very proud of them. We worked on journal writing, Lexia, and handwriting. Consonant pairs were revisited (ch, th, sh) as well as the sound -ng makes at the end of a word. After giving some thought to a non-fiction topic that they wanted to write about, they got right into drawing and writing about something that they were familiar. They will be working on this for at least a week. We have focused on the importance of a table of contents in organizing their writing; the students will include this in their writing. In Scholastic News we learned about the life cycle of a tortoise.

Speaking of life cycles - we have some new members of the class. We have 5 caterpillars who were introduced on Monday!  By observing them, we will learn about the life cycle of a butterfly. In a few weeks, we hope to have five healthy painted lady butterflies!

Kindergarten students are well into their non-fiction writing.  Topics range from floods to hockey to hamsters! As a process, first we brainstormed things that the students are interested or expert in.  Then we began to write, keeping in mind that we wanted to try to use some non-fiction text features such as photographs or detailed drawings, labels, close ups, cut-aways, captions, maps/charts, table of contents, index or glossary.  Students checked in with peer editors to find out what information the reader was interested in learning about. Finally, the authors shared their books with the class, and got specific feedback about things that worked well and things that could be improved.  Non-fiction writing will continue next week - look for books coming home for your reading enjoyment!

Our non-fiction report writing continued in science as this week as students used their reference books to find information to answered one of our four “big questions” about animals. We discovered that none of our reference books actually answered all of them! Ask you child what the questions are, and what they have written so far about their animal.  We hope our reports will be finished next week.

In Math, first graders continued our study of plane shapes. The class had fun composing and decomposing geometric shapes. We discussed the properties of plane shapes and compared the shapes. Kindergarten students used toothpicks and clay to form solid (3-D) shapes; this was a great way to notice which flat shapes are part of the solid shapes, and the transition from flat to solid.

This week in Judaic Studies, we read stories related to Lag BaOmer, and learned about Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.  We talked about the custom of lighting bonfires, and ending the mourning practices like not getting haircuts, not listening to music and not having weddings.  Now after Lag BaOmer, we will still continue to count the Omer until Shavuot. In Ivrit, kita aleph finished the story with the letter Resh and practiced the verbs to jump, to dance, to sing and to live. They began the letter Sin.  Gan students learned the letter Nun and practiced breaking words into phonemes (discrete sound units).

Kindergarten and first grade students will be going on a field trip to the Trailside Museum in Milton on Wednesday May 23rd. We will be leaving school at 11:30AM and returning around 2:30PM. While we are there, we will learn about how animals move. Please let us know if you can drive for this fun trip.

Gan parents, please save the date!  May 18 at 8 am iis our miseebat ha otiot, celebrating our completion of learning the aleph bet!  Students of kita aleph will also be our guests, but first grade parents do not need to plan to attend.  

Shabbat Shalom!

The Gan Aleph Team

April 27, 2018

Welcome to the real spring. It is just a month behind but we will take it! Thank you to Ella and Eitan for bringing in treats for their birthdays.

In Language Arts the first graders read Dragon With a Cold. The children were able to answer comprehension questions pertaining to the story. This week’s story in the anthology was Eek There’s a Mouse in the House. The class had to remember which animal broke which item in the story. In Scholastic News we learned how to keep our Earth clean by not polluting and remembering to recycle. Each child picked out a non-fiction book to practice reading. We are trying to encourage everyone to write down any word that they don’t know. It is okay if they don’t know how to read every word as this is how we learn.

Kindergarten students met “King Ed”, sometimes known as “magic e” or “silent e”.  King Ed can make the vowel before him say its own name - even if he has to reach over a consonant to get there!  King Ed can change words just by being at the end! We practiced putting King Ed at the end of words to see his powers - pin becomes pine; pan becomes pane...You can try this at home as well!  Spell out a C-V-C (consonant, vowel, consonant) word, and have your child sound it out..then add King Ed to the end and see how the word changes!

Since Pesach, Kindergarten students have been building their stamina as independent readers.  They can now read to themselves for seven minutes, and partner read for three. Each student has a basket with books that are a “good fit” for them.  A good fit book is both interesting and at the student’s reading level, so that they can actually read the book themselves. It’s been very interesting to observe the students as they develop the skills to read independently, which include much more than simply decoding.  Kindergarten students should be proud - they have all made a lot of progress!

Kindergarten and first grade students have been thinking a lot about non-fiction books and what they look like.  Students worked together in groups to play “non-fiction text features” bingo, using non fiction books to locate the table of contents, index, glossary, captions, labels, maps/charts/graphs, different fonts and close ups and cut away pictures.  Kindergarten students also used magazines to identify these text features. All students brainstormed non fiction topics that they could write about. Kindergarten students began to write/draw about something that they know very well. Topics ranged from hockey to Jewish holidays to hamsters.  We will be working on our writing every day!

In our science unit about animals, we are also doing some non-fiction writing!  Students each picked an animal to research. We started by using a draft/feedback/revise process for drawing a detailed depiction of our animals.  Students worked from a photograph, and were then asked to seek a peer editor to give them advice about what was drawn accurately, and what could use improvement.  Then, using a set of simple non-fiction books from our science curriculum (science companion), we developed the “big four” questions that we will try to answer for each animal.  1. Where does it live? 2. What does it eat? 3. Where does it get water? 4. Where/how does it get oxygen? We will continue our research and writing next week.

In Math the first graders completed the place value chapter. We started our next topic of geometry. We reviewed plane shapes and identified plane shapes in the classroom. We  read When a Line Bends A Shape Begins. The book creatively displays how many shapes start as a line and become many different items in the world.  Kindergarten students were exposed to the solid/3-D shapes sphere, cylinder, cube, cone and pyramid. Students tried to identify wooden shapes only by touch, and divided the shapes into various categories based on appearance.  Then we experimented to see which shapes would roll down an incline vs slide down.

Judaic Studies

Rabbi Akiva says “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  This week we explored how to keep the mitzvot between people.  We told the story of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students who were struck with a horrible illness following their poor behavior toward each other.  We discussed some of the prohibitions of the Omer period; even here at school we don’t dance and sing at shabbat ruach during these weeks. We read some stories about lashon ha’rah, such as Yettele’s Feathers and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and connected them to the topics of last week’s parasha, Tazria Metzorah.  We prepared a Shabbat booklet for this week’s parasha, Acharei Mot/Kedoshim; please send back the signed cover sheet if your child shares at the Shabbat table.

Pinat Ivrit

Gan worked on the letter tzadi and the words that begin with this sound such as tzedaka, tzippor and tzitzit.  We reviewed all the letters we learned so far through games, puzzles and drawing. Kita Aleph continued to practice how to answer who and what questions using stories with the letter kuf.

Has your child told you about our cotton ball jar?  We are working together to improve our behavior both as a class and individually.  When the morot notice students who are demonstrating expected behavior, being respectful to teachers and peers, being kind, taking care of the classroom and our materials, or working with extra focus, a cotton ball is put into a large jar.  We have three goals - when we reach the first level, the class will have extra recess; the second level will equal a movie with popcorn in the classroom, and finally if we reach the top goal, we will get to have a picnic with fresh pitot! So far, students have been doing a great job of earning cotton balls!

Shabbat Shalom

The Gan Aleph Team

April 20, 2018

What a wonderful week filled with lots of learning and fun! The Yom Ha’Atzmaut Celebration was truly “amazing” Please ask your child about this special memorable event dedicated to celebrating Israel’s 70th birthday. A SPECIAL thank you to Moreh Itzik, Morah Hani, Aviya, and Gali for all of the hard work that went into planning such an awesome day!

Meanwhile, back in the classroom... during Language Arts the first graders were busy with journal writing, handwriting, and of course Lexia. This week’s story in the anthology was The Sleeping Pig. The children did a great job reading this story to me. After reading the story they had to draw an animal that helped Celina  and then write about what the animal actually did to help. This week our vowel teams were ee, ea, oa, and ow. We also practiced our sight words by playing Sight Word Bingo. The children used the printable little books and practiced their reading skills. In Scholastic News we read about healthy foods and the importance of eating healthy foods. We know that the children would rather not have to eat the “healthy” foods. Our read aloud was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.

Students in both classes began a focus unit on non-fiction books.  This will support us very nicely in our study of animals in science. We began by exploring a large number of non-fiction books in order to determine what makes them different from fiction.  Then we looked at the special features of non-fiction books, such as the table of contents, index, glossary, close up photographs or drawings, cut away illustrations, different fonts, labels, captions and diagrams/charts/maps. Students learned that no matter what the topic is, most non-fiction books will share some of these characteristics as a way to share information with the reader.  If you have an opportunity to read some non- fiction with your child over the next few weeks, look for some of these features in your book!

Speaking of science, this week we refined our definition ANIMAL to mean something that is alive, that can move on its own (at some time in its life), that is able to reproduce and that needs food, water and air to live.  All students selected an animal to study in greater depth, which we will begin next week. To prepare for this activity, we have been using the smart board to read some short books about various animals (so far we have read about hummingbirds, spiders and sea slugs) to practice finding information in the text.  We also tried our hand at scientific drawing. Each student drew an elephant, either from memory, from a photograph or from a model. Then we watched the following video, which describes the process of making multiple drafts in order to achieve the best final product. This is a skill that is relevant in all areas of life; it involves effort, perseverance and the ability to think critically about one's own work. It can be scary to offer up your efforts to critique, and we spoke about how to give constructive feedback in a way that is not hurtful.  We will revisit our elephant drawings and see how we can improve them, and then extend the same process to our own animal reports.

In math, all of the children got to go to the Rotman Store. The Rotman Store is part of the first graders math unit but of course Kindergarten students came too. There are many items that the children can purchase with their fake 20 cents. Each child was able to purchase 2 items. The first graders had to make sure that they had enough money to make the purchases. This was a big hit. The first graders learned about expanded form (example 56= 5 tens & 6 ones= 50 +6). The class worked hard on this concept as it is a bit confusing. Our next math topic will be geometry. Kindergarten students worked on a photo book of shapes in the playground, and started learning about solid (3-D) shapes.  

Our Judaic studies focus this week was of course on Eretz Yisrael and the events leading up to the establishment of the modern State.  We learned about Herzl and the Zionist congress, about the development of the flag and the national symbol and the experiences of the early pioneers. We listened to the UN Partition vote and the declaration of statehood by David Ben Gurion.  Finally, we all had a great time at the Amazing Race program on Thursday!

April 13, 2018

Welcome back from Pesach break. We hope everyone had a restful, enjoyable and meaningful Pesach. The calendar says that it is spring but we are still waiting for that spring-like weather!

Starting on Monday, we got right back to work. In Language Arts the first grade children reviewed long vowels, learned about the th, sh, wh, ch digraphs, and discussed vowel teams (ai, ay). The children have been reading The Kite.  First we reviewed the high frequency words in the story, then I read it aloud, then children read with a partner and then read to me. In Scholastic News we read about birds and and flying kites. Of course we worked on Lexia, handwriting and journal writing. Our class has a wonderful online resource - printable little books from a company called A to Z. We have multiple copies and use these books to work on decoding, reading fluently, and discussing main idea and details. There are books on a wide variety of topics, including money and silent e, two topics the first grade is learning!  Kindergarten students met a new lively letter, H, and reviewed all of our sight words through a variety of games. All students listened to a variety of books about reading including Rocket Learns to Read and The Incredible Book Eating Boy and Let Me Finish.

In math, first grade started our next chapter on tens and ones. This deals with an understanding of whole number relationships and place value. We counted with groups of ten and leftovers and figured out numbers made with tens and ones and even hundreds!  Kindergarten students went on a shape hunt, using the iPads to photograph shapes in our environment to make a class shape book. We have also been using parquetry blocks to explore how various shapes fit together and how to create one shape out of others - for instance, two squares can make a rectangle, and two trapezoids can make a hexagon.  

We have started a new science unit about animals.  During this unit, we will explore animals and their common needs: food, water, air, and a place to live. We will learn that animals, including humans, get what they need from the environment and that they can change the environment to get what they need. Each student will choose an animal for individual study and complete a “science notebook” (in class) about that animal.  

Jewish studies

Since we have returned after Pesach vacation, we have added sefirat Ha omer to our morning tefillot.  We talked about the mitzvot from the Torah to count seven weeks from the second day of Pesach until chag ha Shavuot - also known as zman ha katzir (the harvest time) - and to bring the omer offering and the new produce to the Bet Ha mikdash.

This week we began to learn the story of the establishment of the State of Israel; we starts all the way back in the time of our forefathers and Hashem’s promise to give the land of Israel to Avraham and his descendents.  Then we continued the story of our connection to the land with yitziat Mitzrayim and then the exile from the land after the destruction of the beit ha mikdash. We discussed Herzl and the modern day Zionists who decided to work together to return to the promised land.  The students “helped” Herzl by giving him ideas for a new flag for Eretz Yisrael, and giving gifts/blessings to the modern State of Israel.


First graders are continuing to read a story about tzadik and tzadik sofit and are learning a strategy for how to answer questions with a full sentence.  Kindergarten students progressing happily toward the Siyum ha Otiot. This week they learned the letter samech. It was wonderful to see the board full of vocabulary words that the students knew with the sound of the letter. samech.  The students were so excited to see that they are able to write so many of their Hebrew vocabulary words by sounding out the letters!

Please note that we have made a small change in our morning schedule, and we have pushed our snack time from 9:00 to closer to 10:00.  Initially, there were some very rumbly tummies! Please be sure that your child has breakfast before school, and that they have a snack food item in their lunch (you may want to discuss with your child what is the snack/treat food and what is the “main course”)    

March 23, 2018

Welcome to spring??? March really is coming in like a lion, but it is time for it to go out like a lamb! Well it is New England!  Let’s hope we have seen the last snowfall of this season!

During the last couple of weeks the first graders phonetic themes were long o and u. The children have been reading Moving Day in their anthology. This week we focused on retelling the story by putting several important events in the correct order. In Scholastic News we read about famous American symbols. We learned about a very interesting invention. It is called a Purr fect invention. Any guesses? Ask your child.

In writer’s workshop everyone had to write about a trip that would like to go on and provide some details. Open ended writing can be harder for some students than a concrete writing prompt. It was an interesting assignment.

Kindergarten students learned ten new sight words; now we are up to 40.  Students are so excited when they can easily read these commonly occuring words in books, or notice them in print.  Our new words are: big, little have, make, what, help, run, where, red and blue. Kindergarten students also read a short book about the lifecycle of the frog, and then put the different stages into the correct sequence.  This was a nice connection to Pesach because of the frogs (number two of the makkot!) as well as the general idea of things that occur in a certain order, as the Seder does each year.

Whole class read alouds this week have included The Passover Lamb (Marshall), The First Seder, Penny and the Four Questions (Krulik) and Engineer Ari and the Passover Rush (Cohen) and The Mouse in the Matzah Factory (Medoff).On Friday, we had the chance to bake our own matzot at the SHAS matzah bakery!  

In math the first grade students learned how to count pennies. After $1.00 this became a more challenging task. If you have any loose change please have your child practice counting (especially dimes, nickels, and pennies). The Rotman Store is coming……….Kindergarten students used geoboards and rubber bands to model the shapes we are studying.  They also challenged each other to reproduce models - some with many shapes that overlapped - it was complicated!

Mazal Tov to Kita Alef who received their Sidurim this past Sunday.  Kol Hakavod - you did a great job at your performance! We wish you all many years of meaningful T’filah.

Of course, we are very, very busy making projects for Pesach, dramatizing the seder at our pretend Pesach table, and learning the order of the seder.  Aleph students are working on their own divrei Torah to include in their haggadot to share at the seder. Meanwhile, Gan students are preparing a haggadah to remind them of the various steps of the seder.  Everyone is practicing the Mah Nishtana too! If your child will be leaving for Pesach BEFORE Wednesday, please inform us so that we can try to have their projects ready to go.

In Ivrit this week, Kita Alehp finished the letters peh, feh, and peh sofit.  We learned new words like panim- face, goof- body, and peh- mouth. We read stories and practiced and repeated the final letters.

Have a Shabbat Shalom!

The Gan Aleph Team

March 9, 2018

This week in language arts, first graders continued with journal and Lexia. In handwriting we reviewed starting corner capitals and center starting capitals as well as reviewing correct number formation.This week our phonetic theme was long i. This week’s story in the anthology was Bud’s Day Out.  We went over the new high-frequency words in the story, we modeled the story, and then the children took turns reading with a partner. It was very exciting to listen to the children read the story to me. During the process they would write down any words that they had trouble reading. The students read a short story called Feeling Fun. After reading the story there were detailed questions that they had to answer. The writing portion of the assignment was to choose one of their favorite toys, describe it and explain how they felt when they played with the toy. The focus was to start each sentence with a capital, use an end mark, and answer in complete sentences. In Scholastic News we read about Dr. Seuss.

Kindergarten students got into the Pesach mood by reading books about cleaning!  One group focussed on opposites and wrote about something clean and not clean; the other group focussed on main idea with supporting details.  Our new Lively Letter for this week was the vowel I. Now that we have four vowels, there are a lot of words that we can decode. We played a “Boggle” type of game where students had to use certain letters to combine with a vowel to see how many words they could make.  We plan to add ten new sight words next week, so we also reviewed our current 30 by playing mystery word. The class beat the teachers by a score of three to two. In Scholastic News, kindergarten students read about funny things that animals do in different weather. It was very appropriate for our month of March with its very changeable weather!

In math first grade focused on counting pennies, nickels, and dimes. We learned the value of the coins and started to count a mix of pennies, nickels, and dimes together. Working on skip counting by 5s and 10s earlier in the year helped so much when we discuss nickels and dimes.   Kindergarten students continued to focus on plane (2D) shapes. We played a game where students drew shapes only based on a verbal description of the numbers of sides and vertices (corners). We are trying to be very exact in our drawings so that our shapes are easily recognizable.  

Judaic Studies:

As the song says, “Simcha raba, simcha raba, aviv higiyah, Pesach bah!”; we are so happy that spring is here (well, kind of!) and we are very busy learning the laws and customs of Pesach.  We reviewed the story of leaving Mitzrayim, and we learned that the most important mitzvah of the holiday is “vi’higadeta l’vincha” - to tell your children about the story of leaving mitzrayim; that is where the name Haggadah is from!  Each student began to prepare their own Haggadah to use at the seder.

Aleph students are particularly excited about the upcoming misibat ha  siddur, where they will each receive their own siddur in a special ceremony! Gan students are also participating in the miseebah, and we are all spending some extra time on rehearsals and review.


Gan students welcomed the letter “pey” and helped Morah Hani identify and even write words that contain the letter.  YES, they separated the word into sounds and write the sounds that they hear in words like parpar, peel and pesach… Students in kitah aleph are beginning their fourth and final ariyot book, and have begin a story that includes vocabulary words for the pey and final phey such as melafifon, pilpel and peel.

Coming up…

Please look out for a questionnaire about your family’s pesach plans and customs.  Even if you completed one last year, please send us a new one. Going over this information together with your child is good preparation for the chag.

No school on Monday March 12 as there is a professional development day followed by parent teacher conferences.  Conferences will also take place on Wednesday afternoon and evening. We look forward to meeting with you next week to discuss your child’s progress thus far.

Our rescheduled evening for ALEPH PARENTS to decorate the siddur covers is Tuesday March 13 beginning at 7:30.  

Misibat ha Siddur, Sunday March 18 at 10:00 am; Gan and Aleph students and their families are invited!

February 16, 2018

This week in language arts, first graders reviewed all of the short vowels. The children find some words are hard to tell if it is a short e or short a. After vacation we will continue our vowel study with the long vowels. We celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s birthday by reading a short story about his life. After I read the story aloud the children spent a couple of days pair reading the story, reading it to themselves, and lastly reading it to me. They did a good job reading the story. We practiced a-b-c order to the second letter with Abraham’s hat . This week’s story in the anthology was The Best Pet. After reading the story we discussed the details of the story. The children were excited to receive their new handwriting books. We read An Egg is an Egg in the big book collection. In Scholastic News we read about Rosa Parks. The students were impressed on how brave Rosa was. During  R &R (formally DEAR TIME) kindergarten and first graders read The Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln.

The Olympics was a topic of interest for the kindergarten. Some students read and colored an easy reader about the winter olympic sports, while others paid close attention to the sport of curling.  Did you know that the curling stones are made of granite, and that the target in curling is called the house?  We read Tacky and The Winter Games, a funny book about that unique penguin Tacky.  We also watched a short video ( ) and discussed the theme - “falling only makes us stronger.”  We read The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, and discussed how everyone makes mistakes.  

In math the first graders learned to take the data they have and transfer the information to tally marks. From the tally marks they created bar graphs from the tally marks. They did a nice job. We also practiced our addition facts with good old flash cards. This is a great activity to do at home.

This week we celebrated our hundredth day of school with puzzles, games, art, surprises and yummy snacks. The children and teachers alike had a lot of fun celebrating this milestone. Don't worry - there's still plenty of school left this year!

Judaic Studies

This week we began to learn songs in honor of the miseebat ha siddur that will take place (bezra’at Hashem) on March 18 2018!  The first graders have begun to work on the story and to practice their lines, but - shhhhh - don’t ask about it because it’s a secret!

This week we all began to learn about the holiday of Purim. Students talked about what they remember about the holiday, and we read the story in Hebrew and English.  


The aleph students learned vocabulary associated with the classroom such as חלונות,כסאות,מחדד,עיפרון  - windows, chairs, sharpener and eraser, and they made memory game to match the word and the pictures.  This week first graders also practiced their reading comprehension with stories related to the letters nun and samech like “Dan and Dina are Musicians” and “The Secret”.  

The gan students learned the sounds for the letters zayin and khaf.  The students found words that they knew that began with the sound like zaytim, zahav, kipah, kovah, kiseh etc.  

In Parashat Terumah we learned about Hashem commanding Bnai Yisrael to bring donations for building the bet ha mikdash, such as gold, silver, wood and leather.

FIRST GRADE PARENTS:  please save the date of Wednesday March 7 in the evening to decorate your child’s siddur cover.  This is an event for parents only, and we ask that at least one parent attend.  More information will follow.

We hope that everyone has a wonderful, safe vacation whether you are in Sharon, out of Massachusetts, or out of the country. Let’s hope the flu and strep leave Sharon during vacation and don’t come back!

The Gan Aleph Team

February 9, 2018

This week in language arts, kindergarten students wrote about their Super Bowl experiences.  There were a lot of parties attended, and some disappointed fans.  Better luck next year, Patriots!  Kindergarten students continue to make great progress in Lexia; each week they track their own usage time and units gained.  It is very gratifying to see how seriously they take their work.  This week we met the Lively Letter digraph Sh; we read the funny Dr Seuss book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, and noticed all the times we could hear the Sh sound.  We learned a game called “Shh, shh, don’t wake the baby”. The first graders wrote in their journals, worked on their handwriting, and worked on Lexia. Everyday the children ask if it is a Lexia day. We have Lexia two times a week. The phonetic theme this week was short e. This week’s story in the anthology was Who’s in a Family?. We focused on comprehension skills after reading the story. We continued our study of verbs. We read Nouns and Verbs Have a Field Day. This funny book helped us distinguish between the nouns and verbs. In Scholastic News we read about how to make toothbrushes (in honor of National Dental Month).

Kindergarten and first graders continued our author study of Mo Willems this week as we made a venn diagram comparing Elephant to Piggie.  We also did a “directed drawing” to learn from Mo Willems himself (in a video) how to draw his famous characters.  Some of our students have gotten quite good at it!  The students have even been writing their own original Elephant and Piggie stories!  We have been reading Cam Jansen mysteries at “R and R” time (our newly renamed DEAR time; it stands for Read and Relax time), and the students eagerly anticipate hearing a few chapters each day.

Kindergarten students are almost done with their unit on place value and teen numbers.  Next we will be moving on to addition!  Please continue to help students find opportunities to count out objects, especially past 10 items, and to practice rote counting by 1, 5 and 10.  

Our first graders started the new math topic on data and graphs. We were originally going to work on the money unit but we needed more time and will start it after February vacation. We started talking about data and what graphs are used for. In describing graphs fewer than or greater than is used. This is new but the children will learn that fewer than is the same as less than.

Our unit about Gustav Klimpt concluded with the students making beautiful paintings in the style of his famous piece “Tree of Life”.   In anticipation of President’s day, we have begun learning about American Symbols.  Both classes watched Scholastic News video explaining what symbols are in general, and then focussing on four American symbols - the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, the Bald Eagle and The American Bison.  We did a fun activity comparing some facts about the Statue of Liberty to our classroom and played an online American Symbol matching game.  

We are glad that Morah Hani is feeling better! A big huge Mazel Tov to Morah Devorah and the Ellenbogen family on Yishai becoming a Bar Mitzvah.

February 2, 2018

What a roller coaster of weather this week! Our kindergarten weather watchers noted temperatures in the 50s and then snow with temperatures in the 20s. Well, this is New England! We are looking forward to seeing if the groundhog sees his shadow on Friday.

The first graders were very busy in Language Arts. The phonetic theme this week is short u. The children read a reading passage called The Car Trip. After reading they had to answer questions. We went back into the text and highlighted the information that helped us. We read What a Trip in the anthology. The stories we read in the series provides the children with rich vocabulary and high frequency words. This week we took the high frequency words and categorized them. The class learned about verbs. We identified many action words. The book If You Were a Verb helped us to understand many, many action words. In Scholastic News we read about a wheel chair racer. This was very interesting to see how a young boy with disabilities can be a good athlete.

In math we finished the addition and subtraction related facts chapter. Our next math topic will be on money. At the end of the topic the children will be able to purchase items with their money (not real) at the Rotman Store. This has been a favorite and memorable activity over the years.

Kindergarten and first grade students read Stick and Stone as a read aloud. This deceptively simple book tells the story of two unlikely friends. Students were able to have a very sophisticated discussion about the themes of individual differences, bullying and friendship. students responded in their journal by imagining the two friends in a new setting. We began an author study of Mo Willems by thinking of what we already know about of his two famous characters Elephant and Piggie. This will continue next week as well as we read many more Mo Willems’ books.

In honor of Tu B’shevat, we painted a tree in the style of Gustav Klimt’s well known painting “Tree of Life”. Students did a “directed drawing” of the outline, and then decorated their tree with Klimt’s recognizable motifs and patterns as well as designs of their own choice; they then named their own trees.

Judaic Studies: This week we learned the parts of the tree in Hebrew through the song “Who Sees what the Tree Has”. The students drew trees with all the parts and labeled the roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit. We discussed all of the important things that trees give to people such as fruit, shade and a home for animals. We reviewed the difference in the weather between Israel and here on Tu B’shevat; in Israel, the sun is shining and students can actually go outside to plant on Tu B Shevat, while here we had snow on the ground! We read the stories “Tu B’Shevat ba Sheleg” and “Ariot on the Birthday of the Trees”. On Wednesday we celebrated the birthday of the trees; we sang them happy birthday, ate yummy cookies and had a special treat! Everyone who could ask Gali and Aviya in Hebrew got a freshly made pink or orange smoothie (“shake”) full of delicious fruits in the style of the Israeli store Rebar! Thanks to Gali and Aviya for the shakes and the planting activity that they did with us earlier in the week – each student planted mint seeds to take home.

Pinat Ivrit:

The Gan students did a new review activity where they drew pictures that match the initial letters sounds that we have learned so far, and a partner had to guess the word and the letter! We also met the new letter “yud” and the students suggested words they knew that begin with yud such as yerushalayim, yad, Yardena, Yehuda and Yonah. This week kita alef played a review game for the words mah/lama/kama (what/why/how many). We read sentences and asked questions about them. First graders did a dictation for the letter mem and began the letter nun and the last two vowels, shoorook and koobootz.

In Parashat haShavua we learned about the advice Yitro gave to Moshe and about the experiences at Har Sinai and the receiving of the Torah and Ten Commandments.

We wish our friend Judah the best of luck as he and his family left for Israel this week – each student signed a card and gave Judah a personal wish for his time in Israel at our small goodbye celebration on Tuesday.


January 26, 2018

First Graders continued working in their journals, handwriting, and of course Lexia. The phonetic theme this week is short o. We read Bears Snore On. After I read the story we worked together to gather details about what we read. Speaking of details the class did a great job reading aloud The Green Dragon (a short little book about a dragon that gets too much sun) and then having to remember which character recommended what they dragon should do about his sunburn. We read Hilda Hen's Scary Night in our big book collection. Again we found important details and also the main idea. We continued to work on word contractions. We made contraction wheels to help us read the contraction and find the two words that make up the contraction. Our Scholastic News this week was about the different kinds of penguins.

Kindergarten students read books about winter and worked on finding the main idea and supporting details. We reviewed our sight words and met the Lively Letter /u/. We practiced all of our left starter letters for a review and moved on to the center starters, beginning with the “magic c”. In Let’s Find Out we read a science spin about melting.

During D.E.A.R. time the kindergarten and first grade students read The Thank You Book. The book is by Mo Williams and is the last Elephant and Piggie book. Mo Williams has retired the Elephant and Piggie series but will continue to write books for children. We started our second Cam Jansen chapter book. This one is Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Corn Popper. Ask your child about Cam Jansen and her special power.

Both kindergarten and first grade students continued our study of character traits. This week we read Ruby the Copycat, Me First, The Great Fuzz Frenzy and A Bad Case of Stripes. We discussed how characters can change their traits over the course of a book, and also about the difference between internal and external characteristics. Students used Camilla Cream, the main character from A Bad Case of Stripes as an example to practice finding evidence in the text to support their ideas.

In Math we continued to learn how addition facts can relate to subtraction. For example 5+5=10, 10-5=5. The first graders had fun solving a puzzle by finding as many addition and subtraction facts as possible. Time ran out but they were able to find 44 facts!!!

We continued our study of the artist Gustav Klimt by printing in his style! We used various shaped items to make prints using some of his favorite colors – red, orange, black, white, gold and bronze. We also added something fun to our pictures from last week to make them resemble one of Klimt’s famous paintings – Baby (Cradle). Ask your child what we added!

Judaic Studies: This week we learned that the fifteenth of the month of Shevat is determined by the Sages to be a new year for trees, and as the date determining the age of the tree. Why do we need to know what the age of the tree? In order to know when we may begin to eat the fruit. We talked about Tu B’shevat customs in Israel, including tree planting. This month our daily tzedaka collection will be donated to the Keren Kayemet L’yisrael. There is also the custom of eating fruits, especially from the shivat ha minim, the seven species blessed in the land of Israel. We had a fun (and yummy) Tu B’shevat seder with Gali and Aviyah – we drank four cups of grape juice and ate many of the shivat ha minim.

Pinat Ivrit

Gan students reviewed letters and sounds taught by various activities such as worksheets, making letters to match the first sounds of words out of Wikki Stix, and putting all of the pictures cards that “morah Hani mixed up” in order in a big Dictionary Students also welcomed the letter AYIN in the mystery box, which gives us Tu B'Shvat-related words such as aytz (tree), alim (leaves), anafim (branches), and anavim (grapes).

Kita Aleph: Students did a writing exercise for the letter lamed and practiced words with flash cards. We learned new words that begin with the letter mem such as mi (who), mah (what), kama (how many) lamah (why)? We read stories such as Hillel the Questioner (Hillel haShoel) and Big Tree, Little Tree.

Parashat ha Shavua

Parashat Beshalach is also called Shabbat Shira (the Shabbat of song). We read about the splitting of the sea, the song at the sea, the mon that was given to Bnai Ysrael to eat and the war with Amalek.

We want to apologize – last week we mistakenly celebrated Eden and Yonah’s bithdays at our kabbalat Shabbat, but we were apparently a little bit early - their birthdays are in the month of Adar! In any case, we all enjoyed the homemade cupcakes that the Gan students made!

Even though we had a full week of school this week, something was still missing – some of our classmates. Unfortunately children have been ill ☹ We wish a refuah shelayma to those who were not feeling well – let’s all do our best to stay healthy!

Shabbat Shalom to all.

January 19, 2018

Even though it was a short week we were very busy in the classroom.

In Language Arts the first grade read Mr. C's Dinner in the anthology. The story had lots of short i words in it. The children did a great job making predictions and finding the main details in the story. The class continues to work very hard on the skills in Lexia. Our read aloud was Take Away the A. This idea behind the book is that within every language there are words that change and become a different word by just deleting a letter. It goes through the alphabet. For example without the "a", beast becomes best. Kindergarten students read easy readers about winter, practiced our sight words, finished our left corner starting letters in our handwriting book and met a new Lively Letter – r.

In math we learned how to use two ten frames to model addition facts and how to use double addition facts to master related subtraction facts. Flash cards are a great way to help your child with their facts. It is fine if your child wishes to use manipulatives.

Kindergarten and first grade students finished their Martin Luther King Jr. study by reading the book As Good as Anybody, which recounts the wonderful story about MLK and Abraham Joshua Heschel's amazing march toward freedom. The children saw how these two men had similar experiences in the American South and in Nazi Europe, and developed the same goals for the world. After reading the story the class had to think of a dream that they have that would make the world a better place today. We had a fabulous discussion and our projects are hanging in the hallway in the main building. First graders read about Dr King's wise words in Scholastic News; kindergarteners read about Dr King last week.

This week we introduced a new unit of study – art and artists. The first artist we are studying is Gustav Klimt, best known for his paintings of Adele Bauer Bloch (subject of the recent movie, Woman in Gold) and The Kiss. We began by looking at a variety of Klimt’s work in small groups. Each group was asked to make notes about themes and styles in the pictures. The students worked very hard and were able to make a lot of interesting observations, such as: Klimt used a lot of colors, especially yellow, tan and gold; he used a lot of shapes such as circles and rectangles; he often had a pattern that looked like a chess board; he painted a lot of girls; everything he paints has a meaning and the backgrounds are very interesting. Then we painted an abstract picture that is the start of a Klimt inspired piece of art which we will complete next week.

Finally, we also started an investigation of character traits. Using the familiar character of David (from the books No, David, David Gets in Trouble, and David Goes to School), we tried to learn what kind of kid he is. The author never tells us directly, so we need to infer from the text. For instance, we can see that David is immature, because we see him chewing with his mouth open, or we can see he’s irresponsible because he lets the bath overflow. Students needed to support their ideas by finding proof in the book. Then each student completed a graphic organizer that shows the of David’s character traits. Next we read Olivia – she is also a character with quite a personality! Next week we will continue with A Strange Case of Stripes and talk about internal and external characteristics.

עברית Pinat Ivrit:

Kindergarten students reviewed the letters we learned so far by doing sorting and matching activities with the initial consonant sounds of words that we know. We also learned a new letter that is connected to the upcoming holiday – the letter tet, for Tu B’shevat! First graders read a short story related to the letter lamed – Ha Glida shel Doda Leah, and we practiced using the word shel – of.

Judaic studies:

First graders shared their opinions about their hopes for the miseebat ha siddur, which will take place on Sunday March 18 – mark your calendars; family and friends are invited!

We welcomed the new month of Shevat, which began this week and learned about the upcoming holiday of Tu B’shevat. The students shared information that they remember about the holiday. In Parashat Bo, we learned that the parasha’s name gives us a numerological (gematria) clue to the number of plagues included. The bet in the name is equal to 2, and the aleph to 1 – there are three plagues in the parasha! We learned about these last three plagues, the first mitzvah of blessing the new month and the exodus from Mitzrayim.

At Kabbalat Shabbat his week we celebrated the birthdays for the month of Shevat; we wish a mazal tov to Yonah and Edden!


January 12, 2018

Welcome to the January thaw! Also, have you noticed that at 4:45 it isn't dark out anymore?

In Language Arts first graders read Seasons in the anthology. After reading the story the children had four descriptions of the four seasons. They had to read them and glue the statements with the correct season. Short i is the vowel of study for the week. We also continued learning about contractions. Of course there was time for Lexia, Journal writing, and handwriting. Our Scholastic News this week was A Real Snowy Day, based on the book A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, which taught us a lot about snow!

In math we used a ten frame to connect addition facts that have 5 as one addend or that have a sum of 10. We then extended the activity to use two ten frames to translate 7, 8, or 9 into an addition fact with a 10.

Kindergarten students continued working on rhyming words, playing lots of rhyming Bingo and matching games. We also introduced ten new sight words: he, she, they, play, said, come, here, all, so and look. Regular repetition through games and activities as well as practicing short easy reader type books helps students recall these sight words, which are distinguished by being very high frequency AND difficult to “sound out” phonetically. We play a number of fun games such as tic tac toe, “head bandz”, hot potato and treasure hunt to review these words in class. Each student also has a book ring with index cards for each sight word. Our Lively Letter for this week was the digraph –ng, which joins the other “nose” letters M and N.

In science we completed our unit from the Museum of Science on “catching the wind”. Students designed and then build blades for a windmill. After observing how they worked, students were asked to assess their blades’ success and describe how they would “tweak” the design to improve its performance. This was a great unit for learning about the design process as well as the role of mechanical engineers.

In social studies, Gan Aleph learned about Martin Luther King Jr. We read the books Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Martin’s Big Words and A Picture Book of Martin Luther King. We also watched a short segment from the famous “I have a Dream” speech from the march on Washington. We had some very interesting discussions about fairness, laws and the importance of peaceful protest. We made a small project showing different colored hands linked together.

This week in Judaic studies we learned about Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who revived the Hebrew language. We learned a song and watched a short video on how he returned the Hebrew language to life, and developed new words. After hearing the story, the students prepared their own “teudat zehut” (identity certificate) for Eliezer Ben Yehuda. We learned some of the words he invented, played a lotto game with the words and even helped Eliezer arrange words in his dictionary in alphabetic order. The students had the opportunity to participate with the rest of the school in daily assemblies, with activities, contests, singing and prizes in honor of Shavua Ivrit.

In addition, the gan added the letter Hey to their repertoire of letters they have learned so far. Words associated with Hey are har, hadassim, Havdalah and hippopotam. First graders completed the letter chaf (as well as final chaf), and after a dictation they moved right on to letter lamed.

In parashat ha shavua we are learning parashat Va’era, in which the first seven makot (plagues) are visited upon the Egyptians. The children contributed to the story by adding familiar songs.

Shabbat Shalom!


January 5, 2018

Welcome back! We hope that everyone had a great break. At school, we are back to our routine.

In Language Arts the children were excited to get back to Lexia. Our journal prompt this week was about vacation. It was fun to read about all the fun things that the children did. In the anthology we read a play called A Rope Tug. We discussed the difference between a story and a play in reader's theatre. Some of the children have already learned about word contractions in Lexia. As a whole class we learned how contractions are a short form for two words and that the apostrophe takes the place of usually one letter. We will be working on practice activities to help us pick a contraction for two words and also pick the two words that represent a contraction. As part of our phonic study we reviewed short a words(cvc words such as cat, tap). During guided reading the children were in small groups reading and discussing the short stories. These went home in a bag. Please make sure that your child reads the story to you and you sign the form. Thank you! Given that it is winter and there is snow on the ground and bitter cold temperatures, the children created winter acrostic poems. We brainstormed different words that describe winter with the letters W I N T E R. The children did a great job.

First graders learned about double facts. We went as far as 1,000 + 1,000! After learning about double facts learned near doubles. We used ten frames to represent math facts. It would be helpful for the children to practice their math facts so that they will come naturally. If you have flash cards that would be great to do during these freezing temperatures.

Gan Aleph enjoyed The Wish Tree during DEAR time. This is a story about a boy and his sled that want to find a wish tree. His brother and sister don't believe there is such a thing. They go to find the tree and along the way they discover that wishes can come true in the most unexpected ways.

Welcome to Na’ama Shain who join our class this week!

We look forward to seeing you at the Melaveh Malkah this Saturday night at 5:45 in the Mercaz.


December 22, 2017

The first graders continued with Lexia, journal writing, and handwriting in Language Arts. We blended a consonant in front of -ut and -ug words and created a lot of words. Some of our new sight words this week are: does, away, live, pull, where, and are. We read Hot Fox Soup and A Hut for Zig Bug in our anthology. We discussed the difference between fantasy stories and realistic stories. Can you guess which these two stories are? Speaking of deciding whether a story is a fantasy or realistic ask your child what category Rosie the Nosy Goat was. The children are doing a good job finding main details, identifying the characters, setting, problem, and solution in what we read. To welcome winter we read Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter. It was interesting to see what the class likes to do in winter. In Scholastic News we read about gingerbread men. We also read the classic story, The Gingerbread Man.

Kindergarten students have been focusing on rhyming. If you are interested in why rhyming is an important language arts skill, please take a look at this short article We have played a lot of games to practice rhyming and we read the Dr Seuss classic Hop on Pop as well as the very funny Rhyming Dust Bunny and Here Comes the Big Mean Dust Bunny books by Jan Thomas. We even made our own rhyming dust bunnies! Playing with rhyming words or reciting nursery rhymes or poems is an easy thing to do in the car or whenever you have a few minutes with your child. This week we also worked on developing our writing stamina. Using some photos of winter weather as prompts, we tried to write for ten minutes. Students reviewed a variety of strategies they can use to help them with their writing, including:

  • Putting spaces between each word that they write
  • Thinking of the beginning sound of the word
  • Stretching out the word to hear the middle and end sounds
  • Consulting an alphabet strip to remind them of which letters make which sounds, and how to form various letters
  • Using sight words

The students did a great job of using these strategies to write independently. We will work on improving our writing stamina after the vacation!

In math first grade started a new topic on the relationship between addition and subtraction. We will learn and review doubles, near doubles, tally marks, and ten frames. Kindergarteners continue to work on understanding teen numbers and what they represent (a group of ten and some ones) using some fun new games! We have also been practicing skip counting by 10’s and 5’s. Can your child skip count automatically? Check it out!

We took a short break from our engineering unit “catching the wind” to investigate the question: Why is snow white? Using Mystery Science, an online resource, we learned the answer to this interesting question. Ask your children to explain it to you! Then we used waxed paper and glue to make our own snowflakes. Winter has officially begun, yet now there is no snow on the ground!

Judaic studies:

This week was so busy and full of such fun; every day we began with the recitation of al ha nissim during our teffilah,and ended with the candle lighting in the lobby with the whole school. We enjoyed the performances of the Striar Choir as well as all of the other grades each afternoon. In our classroom we played dreidel games – both the traditional kind and also a type of game where you need to find words in Hebrew that begin with the letters that appear on the dreidel. We drew, colored, made edible holiday symbols from Twizzler candies and even dressed up and acted out the Chanukah story.

Pinat Ivrit

Gan students finished their memory game to match pictures to the beginning letter sound of words and played in pairs. We investigated the letter daled, and learned how to write it, including how to differentiate it from the letter resh. The students though of words that contained the sound of the daled like Devorah, d’vash, degel, Yardena and Yehuda.

Kita Aleph’s reading activities practiced and reinforced the sounds of the tsaray and the segol. We learned the letter yud and words like yoshev and yoshevet. We read the story “Yesh Chaggigah” and that’s how we finished the second workbook. Yashar Koach to the kids of kita aleph!

At our kabbalat Shabbat this week we celebrated the children who have a Tevet birthday. We wish good luck to Judah, Hasdai and Maya, as well as Morah Leslee, on their birthdays this month!

We can't believe that this is the last newsletter of 2017. We hope that you have a wonderful, fun filled, restful vacation. Looking forward to continuing our journey with your children in 2018.

December 15, 2017

How can it possibly be Chanukah?? We hope that you are having a wonderful, festive holiday. We are having a great time celebrating the festival of lights in school. Read all about further down in this newsletter.

In Language Arts the first graders continued with Lexia, journal writing, and handwriting. We added consonants to -et and -en and made a lot of words. We read What Can a Vet Do? The class did a great job with their comprehension skills. They were able to recall important details of the story. Our read aloud was Wilfred , a heartwarming tale of friendship and loyalty. Given that it is Chanukah we worked on Lighting the Menorah (introduction to vowel sounds) and Hanukkah Happenings( which fit in nicely as we are working on punctuation). We also read Who Ate My Latkes? We all read parts of the story aloud. This is a good book to focus on making predictions and story elements.

Kindergarten students used magnifying glasses to find their sight words in a “teeny tiny” activity; they also searched for them hidden around the room. Students are encouraged to “say the word – spell the word - say the word” as a strategy to help them remember the sight word. They are starting to see and hear sight words all around them; recognizing these familiar words helps them anchor their reading. This week we also added another Lively Letter vowel sound – o. Now we can make a lot of words! We read the books The Dot (Reynolds) and There’s a Wocket in my Pocket. We did an activity with the –at and –an word families, and talked about what a rhyming word is. We played a game of rhyming bingo. Our handwriting letter this week was K, which is a side starter. In Scholastic News we read about scientists who study pandas.

In Math, the first graders had fun with Chanukah math. Spin the Dreidel was a good review of patterns and Lighting the Menorah was also a good review for tally marks. Of course we even had Chanukah word problems involving addition. Kindergarten students began investigating teen numbers (11-20) with a variety of activities. Anything that can be counted out at home is great – count out the silverware, the socks in the laundry basket, the green beans on your plate! All kindergarten students have now joined the 10x club – they can all count by tens to 100. Next week we will see who can count by 5’s!

In science we continued using our “Catching the Wind” kit from the Boston Museum of Science. This week we were mechanical engineers dealing with a design challenge – how to make the best sail. Using a variety of materials, students first planned and constructed sails and then tested the sails on a suspended track. A fan provided the wind as we observed how successful our sails were, then went back to improve them. Students noticed a number of factors affected their sail – materials (felt, paper, index card, waxed paper, tissue paper), size and shape of sail, position of sail, height of sail. There was a great deal of focus and excitement as the students went through the design process. PLEASE SEND IN CLEAN ½ GALLON CARDBOARD MILK OR OJ CARTONS NEXT WEEK SO WE CAN CONTINUE THIS INVESTIGATION!!

Judaic Studies

At the beginning of the month of kislev, the students decorated the 25th on the calendar with symbols of Chanukah, and every day since they have been anxiously awaiting the date – and now Chanukah is here! The students did an amazing performance in front of the whole school about liveevot, including a recitation of a recipe for making your own. Every day we have added “al ha nissim” to our teffilah and birkat hamazon, and the students can pick out words that they recognize – koehn, gadol, m’at, torah, yisrael, etc. We played a game of opposites related to Chanukah, such as or/choshech, m’at/harbeh, sham/poh. We watched a number of Chanukah song videos on the smart board and played many games of siveevon.

Pinat Ivrit

The Gan students worked on making a memory game to match letters to words that begin with that sound. We had a great time playing “name that tune” to review lots of the Hebrew songs we know.

The Aleph students practiced words that begin with the letter taf, and read a new book. We learned new vowel sounds t’sayray and segol. We practiced our fluency by reading the story Bina and the Sufganiyah.


December 8, 2017

General Studies:

In Language Arts the first graders read Wigs in a Box. We learned that this story is a fantasy as animals don't talk and wear wigs. Our big book read aloud was Jasper's Beanstalk. After discussing the story we created a story map of the story (character, setting, problem, and solution). We subscribe to Reading A to Z which provides us with many, many downloadable stories at many levels. This week we read The Birthday Party . After reading the story, the children needed to find the main idea of the story and details. We continue to work on our sight word vocabulary, nouns, and punctuation marks. Of course Language Arts wouldn't be complete without Lexia, Journal Writing, and handwriting (focus on the letter L). As we know the book Wonder now is a movie. The author has written a picture book for younger children called We're All Wonders. After reading the story the students wrote what they learned from the book.

Kindergarten students met a new Lively Letter, q (followed of course by u), and ten new sight words! They are it, is, do, go, to, no, not, yes, you & The class is getting very good at finding sight words in many of the things they read! Read alouds this week we included The Quiltmaker’s Gift, The Odd Potato and A to Z: Do You Ever Feel Like Me.

In Math the first grade learned about fact families (ex. if you have 1, 6,5 as your numbers you would make 5+1, 1+5, 6-1, and 6-5). We finished the topic on subtraction. The children took a domino, traced it, and made 2 addition sentences and 2 subtraction sentences with their domino. Kindergarten students continued to work on representing the ideas of “greater than”, “less than” and “equal to”. We played the card game War as a fun and easy way to review which of a pair of numbers is the greater one.


This week we began our Engineering is Elementary unit from the Museum of Science. Our unit is called Catching the Wind, and it is about designing a wind turbine. We began with a story about a boy in Denmark who goes through the design process in order to create something that will aerate pond water for fish. The students were asked to think about wind energy in their environment, and how it affects various objects. Part of the focus of this unit is to educate the students about the role of a mechanical engineer. We began by asking the students what that might mean. Unsurprisingly, many of their answers related to trains (engineer) or to cars (mechanic). We took a look at some simple machines (scissors, glue stick, stapler) with an emphasis on figuring out where the energy goes into the object and what the reaction is – what moves as a response. Next week we will begin to design some blades for a wind turbine, and experiment with various materials and shapes. Although there will be a finished product at the end of this unit, the process of planning – creating – revising is really of primary importance. The following week we will need those milk or orange juice cartons. Just as a reminder, we are collecting ½ gallon milk or OJ cardboard box type containers – please rinse thoroughly but do not open up the top of the box. Thank you!


Judaic Studies:

This week we continued to learn the halachot of Chanukah: who is required to light, what you can use to light, when you light and where to put the Chanukiya. We reviewed the brachot for candle lighting and what makes a chanukiya kosher or not. The students finished making their own chanukiyot. And we even learned the recipe for making fresh liveevot (latkes) – in Hebrew!


Gan students practiced recognizing the initial sound in words related to our Chanukah study. Students also tried to make sentences using the words that we have learned plus the words ochel and ochelet and sufganiya and liveeva. This week we reviewed all the letters that we have already learned – aleph, bet, gimel , chet, mem, resh and shin – with a game using aleph bet letter cards. Students identified the initial consonant sound of many words.

Kita Aleph practiced nonsense word reading and writing words with the vowels sh’va and cholom. We completed the letter chet and began the letter tet.

In parashat ha shavua, parashat Vayeshev, we learned about Yoseph and his colorful coat, about his dreams and his brother’s decision to sell him to a group of passing traders.


December 1, 2017

It was wonderful meeting with you last week to discuss your child's progress. We learn so much from the conferences. Please remember if you ever have a question or concern, you can feel free to contact us. The children came back from Thanksgiving break with lots of stories about their wonderful times with family and friends.

Last week the first graders had fun learning what chores the Pilgrims had, what school was like, and A Talking Turkey activity. We practiced our comprehension and fact and opinion skills while learning about the Pilgrims. Our math was Thanksgiving themed also! We practiced our math facts on a paper hornbook, worked on a problem solving activity, as well as a graphing activity.

Now we are back to our regular routine!

In Language Arts the first graders were excited to get back into Lexia and journal writing. We added consonants to -ot and -ox to make real words (ex. got, hot, box, fox). We read The Box and were able to recall lots of facts in the story. The first graders read a book called Spoon. This is a book about a spoon who wonders if life would be better as a knife or fork. The children had to form their opinion and provide details to back up their opinion. We continue to practice and add sight words to our vocabulary. We revisited nouns by putting certain nouns into 3 categories (person, place, or thing). The children enjoyed practicing their reading skills by reading the short little readers and then taking them home to read to a family member. Scholastic News has a science magazine that is called Science Spin. This month's topic was about scientists and what they do. We used wikki stix to practice letters.

Kindergarten students also continued their Lexia learning. Every week, students are given an amount of time as a goal; we are proud to say that we have regularly been meeting our time goals! Students wrote a short book about what they did over the Thanksgiving holiday. We met a new pair of Lively Letters – the digraph TH, which is both voiced (them, their, this) and unvoiced (three, think, math). We also read a great book The Most Magnificent Thing, which is about a girl who perseveres with her building until she can create the most magnificent thing. In handwriting this week we were introduced to the corner starter letters. As we are getting closer to Chanukah, we read a Scholastic News about fire safey.

In Math first graders continued with our subtraction chapter by working on word problems that involve missing parts and comparing. The children are working hard as subtraction is a whole new concept for them. We are focusing on having the children understand that when you subtract you always start with the largest number (except when you work with negative numbers which isn't covered in first grade) and addition the sum is the largest number.

Kindergarten students have moved on to comparing numbers – it is confusing to refer to numbers as “bigger than” or “smaller than” - you can have a number 4 written in a large font compared to a number 8 written in a much smaller font – which number is bigger? We are also figuring out how to represent one more than or one less than a given number.

In science, our weather unit continued with observational drawing of the weather outside our classroom, as well as a review of how the seasons change (in our area) and the cycle of the seasons. Students watched this cool video which shows a timelapse of a full year in only 40 seconds!

Judaic Studies

Chanukah is almost here! We’ve started our preparations for this holiday full of light and happiness. The students spoke and wrote about things they remembered about Chanukah, and heard the story of the holiday. We discussed the main mitzvah of the holiday, publicizing the miracle of the victory by lighting the Chanukah candles. We learned the brachot for lighting and what makes a kosher or not kosher chanukiyah. Each child began to make their own chanukiyah which they will be able to really light! We learned vocabulary for the holiday like nes Chanukah.

Pinat Ivrit

Kita aleph: After completing the dictation of sentences and words with the letter zayin, the students welcomed the letter Chet and practiced writing new vocabulary such as ach, achot and chagigah. We practiced reading and writing the letters with the vowel sound of cholam, chireek, kamatz and patach. We read the story “Ach BaMishpacha”.

The Gan welcomed the letter chet and were successful in listing many words with the sound of chet in them, either in the beginning or middle of the word – the board was full and the happiness was to the sky! This sound begins our holiday words Chanukah and cnanukiyah. We did an activity where we broke Chanukah words into their individual sounds.

In the parasha this week, parashat Vayishalch, we spoke about Yakov’s wrestling about with the angel and how his name was changed to Yisrael. In order to prepare for meeting up with Eisav, Yakov sent presents, davened and prepared himself for battle.

At kabalat Shabbat this week we celebrated the birthdays of those born in Kiselv – Yoni and Tal – Yom huledet samayach! On Wednesday we also welcomed Eileen Schongold to our class as a weekly volunteer!


November 17, 2017

In writing this newsletter it is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week. Where has the time gone?! We look forward to meeting with you next week to discuss your child’s progress at Parent Teacher Conferences.

In Language Arts this week, both kindergarten and first grade students used Lexia. It is so exciting to see how the children encourage each other to do their best. First Graders wrote in their journals. In handwriting we practiced forming the letter u. This week read The Big Pig. The children are doing a good job decoding, learning the sight words, and understanding what they are reading about. We learned what a noun is. If you ask them what it is they should tell you that it is a person, place, or thing. We are very busy identifying all kinds of nouns. We read I Wanna New Room. This is a story about a child trying to persuade her parents to let her have her own room. Students then used a graphic organizer to write their own opinion. They could see how well the child tried to persuade their parents. Scholastic News was about a Pilgrim's Day which tied in very well with our unit on Thanksgiving.

Kindergarten students read short books about Thanksgiving and wrote about their favorite Thanksgiving foods. Students are practicing reading strategies such as pointing at each word as they read, using their sight words and making “good guesses” for unfamiliar words by looking at the initial consonant sounds AND the picture for clues. We met two new Lively Letters – the “nose” letters M and N. We read If You Give a Moose a Muffin and Miss Nelson is Missing to remind us of these two new letters and their sounds. We also learned a new game – Roll/Say/Keep – it is a very versatile game and this week we used it to practice letter names. In Handwriting we reviewed the formation of all of our “frog jump” letters; after the Thanksgiving break, we will move on to the corner starter capitals.

This week in math, the first grade used number lines to help us solve subtraction sentences. We learned to hop back in subtraction. The following vocabulary words were taught: difference, minus sign, compare, and subtraction sentence. The children played a game in which they rolled a dice to complete a subtraction number sentence and then find the subtraction sentence on their game board. Kindergarten students have also been using number lines, to practice counting on from a given number up to ten.

We've also been busy preparing for Thanksgiving. We watched a Scholastic video made by Plymouth Plantation about the life of a Pilgrim child. We created an impressive list comparing how the Pilgrim child lived to how children live today. Then the class had fun doing a sort, deciding which items were used during the Pilgrim days and which are used today. Each student also made either a Pilgrim boy or girl and wrote about what they would have done if they had been a Pilgrim. We read Molly’s Pilgrim at DEAR time; this classic story tells of a “modern day Pilgrim”; Molly and her family came to the US from Russia to escape the pogroms and to enjoy freedom of religion.

Judaic Studies

This week we continued learning about Shabbat; we returned to the topic of the creation of the world and how the seventh day was made for rest. The students wrote and drew about what the like to do on Shabbat. We read the folk tale Yosef Who Loved the Shabbat, and we played Shabbat charades.

Parashat HaShavua

We hope that the Parasha booklet that your child works on each week with a sequencing activity and a journal page is helpful to you at home. Our goal is that the students should be able to retell the Parasha story and discuss at the Shabbat table. This week in Parashat Toldot, we learned about Yakov and Eisav, and about how the bechora (bracha of the first born) was sold – and we even had a chance to taste “this red stuff” (by which we mean we made our own delicious lentil soup for kabbalat Shabbat!)

Pinat Ivrit

Each morning we begin by checking who is in the class by taking attendance in Hebrew; the students have to reply to their names by answering “ken, ani ba kitah”. Then we count in Hebrew how many students are in class and how many are not. This week we reviewed color words; we played a game and we colored some balloons. Kita aleph learned that in all the names of colors there is the vowel sound cholom. Kita aleph was introduced to the letters vav and zayin; they learned words with those sounds and read the stories Adon haBalon and Zaz ha’avazon. The Gan met a new mystery letter, Gimel and many words that begin with Gimel such as geshem, gan edden, gamal, and gallim. This week Gili, Oren’s au pair taught us a lesson about eretz Yisrael. Gili came to America as part of the “Au Pair American” program, and she is responsible to present an activity to a class. Gili showed us slides of many parts of Israel and even gave each student a degel Yisrael sticker. Thanks Gili!

Shabbat Shalom!

The Gan Aleph Team


November 10, 2017

In Language Arts this week first graders used Lexia. We also wrote in our journals. In handwriting we used play doh to practice lower case g.

First Grade students practiced reading The Big Hit. They discussed the different characters in the story and answered comprehension questions. We continue to learn and practice new and old sight words. Some of our sight words are very tricky. The children played Go Fish for rhyming words. We read To Be a Kid in our big book. The book shows how children dress and play around the world. First Graders read about Veterans Day in Scholastic News. We discussed what a veteran is.

Gan students met their first Lively Letter vowel, “a”! Now they can make lots of real and nonsense words by combining “a” with k,g,d,t,v,f,b and p. Here is a fun game you can play whenever you have a few minutes. Say a word – BAT. Then ask your child to switch the first letter from B to V (or you can say, “switch the first sound from /b/ to /v/. Now what do you have? VAT! This game supports your child’s literacy development by improving their phonemic awareness – their ability to recognize and use letter sounds. Gan students have some new activities to support their letter formation and letter/sound correspondence skills. One is called “pokey pins”. Using a push pin, students make the shape of a target letter and also a small picture that corresponds with the letter (such as a dog for the letter D). This helps with fine motor skills as well!

Throughout the year the first graders will be practicing their addition facts by taking a time test. The time isn't as important as the accuracy. This week the class took their first timed test. They did a good job! We started our next math unit which is on subtraction. We discussed the number we start with and the number we know and have to find the missing part. Subtraction is a new concept for some of the children but they are catching on easily. We are using manipulatives to help us.

Gan students began using their math journals. Working in the math journals involves drawing to show thinking and finding various ways to solve problems. Students need to learn how to approach a problem and also how to organize their responses. Looking at the math journals over time will allow us to see growth in these areas.

For the next couple of weeks we are taking a break from our weather unit. We still track the weather and temperature daily, but our focus has switched away from science and toward social studies, where we are learning about Thanksgiving. We watched a classic video about the voyage on the Mayflower called “This Is America, Charlie Brown”. The students learned a lot of factual information about the Mayflower crossing and the pilgrim’s first hard winter here in the New World. It was very interesting to see the details that they recalled! Later in the week we read Pilgrim Cat, which is a fictional story about a cat that makes the crossing on the Mayflower and joins the Pilgrims in their new home. Each child made a story retelling bracelet of the Thanksgiving story as well as a Thanksgiving book modeled after Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Look for these items to come home before Thanksgiving. 

Speaking of thanks, thank you for Roni's family for coming in to celebrate Roni's birthday!

In Judaic Studies, this week we completed the topic of brachot and as a culminating activity the children worked in groups and prepared posters that help us remember the brachot to say when eating snack or lunch. We also continued to learn about birchot ha shachar, adding “matir assurim” and “zokef k’fufim”.

This week in parashat Chayei Sarah we discussed the death of Sarah, and Avraham’s purchase of me’arat ha machpelah as a place to bury her. The students saw a video about me’arat ha machpelah. Ask your child why it was important to Avraham to pay for the land. We also learned about finding a wife for Yitzchak and Avraham’s death.

Pinat Ivirit:

Kita Aleph students were so excited to receive their certificates for completing the first level of Ariot. We started the second level – the green book – right away! Students learned the letter vav and its sound, and also its function as a link between two words – Sharona v’ Shachar; oogot v’chalav. Gan students reviewed their vocabulary words with a memory game activity about what words begin with the letters aleph, bet, mem, resh and shin.

Shabbat Shalom,

The Gan Aleph Team

November 3, 2017

In Language Arts this week, both kindergarten and first grade students used Lexia. The class is very motivated and making great progress! First graders wrote in their journals. We continue to focus on beginning a sentence with an uppercase letter and using an end mark. The children are encouraged to write two sentences. We also worked on handwriting lowercase a and d. Kindergarten students practiced upper case letters N and M.

First Grade students practiced reading We Can; they identified vocabulary words in the story as well as discussing the main idea. We read Stellaluna and discussed physical and social characteristics of Stellaluna. The children decided whether they liked the story and drew a picture of something they remembered in the story. They also wrote a sentence about what they drew! We are reviewing the vowels and consonants and learning that a word can't be a word without a star letter (vowel). We read The War Between the Vowels and Consonants. Ask your child about the war. We worked on the -it and -ig word family. First Graders read about bats in Scholastic News.

Kindergarten students read Hey Little Ant, which is a dialogue between a boy and an ant; they each give their opinion about whether or not the boy should squish the ant. Then students wrote their own opinion about the question. We met Lively Letters G and K. In Scholastic News, the kindergarten students read about an unusual friendship. Ask your child who the friends were!

In math the first graders continued with the Commutative Property and played Commutative Property Concentration. The children had their first assessment. We started our second chapter on subtraction. Kindergarteners practiced “counting on” (beginning at a certain number and not having to go back to one every time you start) and subitizing. Subitizing is the ability to instantly recognize the number of objects in a small set or arrangement without counting.

The Kindergarten and first graders continued with our science unit about weather. We learned about different types of thermometers, observed real small thermometers, and learned that in the United States we use the Fahrenheit scale, but that much of the world uses the Celsius scale. We illustrated thermometers by using a color scale to represent the different temperatures. We also discussed safety while using thermometers, and how to properly read a thermometer. The class practiced reading thermometers by placing the thermometers in different cups of water and recording what they found. Mr Mario installed a new thermometer for us outside of the classroom so that we can check the temperature outdoors every day and record it on our new weather calendar. The daily helper will now also be the class meteorologist, and be in charge of adding to our weather calendar. At the end of the month, we will look at the accumulated data.

Judaic Studies

This week we observed two important dates. The 11th of Cheshvan is the anniversary of the death of Rachel Imanu. We learn modesty and love of others from her example. On the 12th of Cheshvan we remember Yitzchak Rabin, who was assassinated 22 years ago. We agreed that it is important to learn from this event that it is fine for each person to have their own opinion, but that we need to to use words to resolve conflicts.

This week we added four new brachot to our shacharit T’fillah. As we learn each bracha, we discuss its meaning and we are creating a poster of all the brachot. We continued with our food brachot as well, and decorated a holder for the class birkonim.

Parashat Ha Shavua

In parashat Vayeira we learned about the angels who came to visit Avraham and their promise that Sarah would have a child within the year. We also learned about the destruction of Sdom, and the akaida. We discussed the good middot of Avraham that we can try to emulate such as faith in Hashem, belief in humanity and hospitality. This week we invited the daled/hey class to our kabbalat Shabbat. We made them fresh challah rolls to share!

Pinat Ivrit

Gan: what words do we know that begin with the letter Mem? Mayim, mezuzah, morah, mishkafayim (glasses, like the ones worn by Morah Devorah, Morah Hani, Noah and Yoni). We played a game to divide words into categories; the ones that start with mem, shin or bet. We played the game on the smart board (until it stopped being so smart, and then we did the activity on paper). We are also starting to focus on words that we use in the classroom every day, such as machak, eeparon, misparayim, toosh (which means a marker, but sounds like TUSH!)

Kita aleph: so exciting! We ended the letter hey and read a story about a kelev and the students in the class on the harim. We played a game of matching words to pictures with all the letters we have learned so far = shin, aleph bed, vet, gimel, daled and hey, and we completed the first workbook! Mazal tov! Now we are ready and waiting to receive the next book!

Thank you to Baer's family for coming in to celebrate Baer's birthday,

Shabbat Shalom from the Gan Aleph team


October 27, 2017

In Language Arts this week, both Kindergarten and first grade students used Lexia. First grade students wrote in their journals and practiced lower case t in their handwriting books, while kindergarten students practiced frog jump letters B and R. In Lively Letters, the kindergarteners met the two teeth on lips sounds, f and v.

First grade students practiced reading Nan and Fan, answering comprehension questions and figuring out what high frequency words make sense in given sentences. They also read sight words, cut them out and created a sentence with the words and practiced reading little books. Kindergarten students read Rabbits and wrote their own sentences about rabbits, or read I Draw a Bunny (and then practiced drawing bunnies!) graders read How Do You Grow a Pumpkin in Scholastic News, while kindergarteners read about kindness in Let’s Find Out. DEAR time read aloud I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato. This brought a big discussion on whether we are fussy eaters.

The kindergarten students have been reading persuasive writing mentor texts to learn about making and defending an opinion statement. This week they tried their own hand at persuasive writing, giving their opinion about whether fall or spring is the better season.

In math, the first grade played Bean Toss. The children had beans that had green on one side and white on the other. The beans were put in a cup, shaken up and rolled out. The children had a graph with all the addition number sentences that equal 4. They had to graph their results of their tosses. Ask your child which they got the most of. We worked on word problems and also learned how it doesn't matter which order we add numbers. They learned two names for this - The great math turn around and the Commutative Property. Kindergarten students worked to put numbers between 1-10 in the correct order. They played a dice game to practice this skill.

This week we began a science unit on weather. We made a list of weather words, and wrote some weather poems. Here is one of them:


Cold. Cold trees. Bare trees.

I feel sad,




South Pole.

I would make a snow man.

North Pole.

Sledding, ice skating, snow angel.

Snowboarding. Skiing.


We talked about weather scientists – meteorologists, and watched a local weather report online. Each student observed the weather and drew a picture of what they noticed. Next week we will be learning how to use a thermometer. We are sending home a “family link” activity about thermometers – please review and send back to school on Monday. Thanks!

We had a lot of fun making a Mazel Tov card for Morah Devorah as her son, Yakov got engaged this past weekend!

Judaic Studies

This week we began a new theme – Tefilot and Brachot. We noticed that most blessings begin in a similar way “Baruch ata Adonai, elohainu melech ha olam…” We started to learn the brachot to say before eating things made with flour, and how to differentiate between those we say hamotzi before and birkat ha mazon after – all kinds of breads, bagels, matza, challah, pita…and those for which we say “mezonot” – donuts, cakes, cookies, crackers… The main difference is that mezonot foods can be made with additions of milk or fruit juices, but breads cannot. We prepared birkonim for the students to use in our classroom after lunch. We also began to add birkot ha shachar to our daily teffilot – the first thanks Hashem for giving the rooster the knowledge to differentiate between day and night, and the second for making us Jewish.

In Parashat HaShavua, Lech Lecha, we see how Avraham's faith was strong. He left his parents’ home to go to Israel Canaan, the land that promised to Avraham and his descendants – the Jewish people.

Pinat Ivrit

Every morning after tfillah, we talk about the weather in Hebrew - today is sunny and cloudy, today there is rain, lots of rain ... and we remind the students that it is also fall in Israel, and what are the differences between the weather in Israel and here in Sharon. This week Morah Hani brought a gift to the class; we tried to guess by asking “ooly yesh…” (maybe there is…). The students were happy to see that it was a clock that shows the time in Eretz Yisrael!

Gan reviewed the words that begin with bet and sorted words into groups that have an aleph or have a bet. We used wiki stix to practice writing the letters and to form things that begin with a bet. We practiced the song “mi yachol lasiim Yad all ha…”’ who can put their hand on their (insert body part). We added to our vocabulary “omer” and “omeret”, and practiced them using pictures in a book – Abba omer Shalom, Eema omeret Shabbat Shalom…

First grade practiced reading and writing letters daled and heh. We read a story and learned new words like dvash, dag, har and harim. The letter “heh” brought with her Morah Shira’s students Hillel and Hadassah from the Ariot books. The heh is important because she is the last letter in feminine words such as challah and Sharona.

We want to remind all of you that next Shabbat, Parashat Vayeira, everyone in the class is invited to Shabbat lunch at the home of the Moyals. Moreh Itzik and Morah Hani will meet the children immediately after the Kiddush in the shul, and will walk together to the house. Parents should plan to pick their children up at 2:00. Please let me know if your child is not able to join us.


October 20, 2017

Our students returned to school on Monday so excited to share all of their experiences from Simchat Torah in the bet Knesset! This was the perfect time for us to add a new routine to our daily teffilot – we now take the Torah out of the Aron kodesh with the appropriate tefillot and songs every Monday and Thursday. We explained that in the past, Torah scrolls were so expensive, and not everyone knew how to read, so that when people gathered on Mondays and Thursdays at the market, that was a time for them to hear the Torah read aloud and to share divrei Torah.

The children were introduced to the job of a sofer STa”M – what does he write? (a Sefer Torah, T’fillin and Mezuzah) What does he write with? The students saw a short video of a sofer at work, read a book about how a Torah is written, and even used a feather pen and ink to write Hebrew letters themselves!

Pinat Ivrit

The Gan students learned the alef bet song, and we welcomed a new letter – bet – after the game of trying to guess what is in the treasure box. The students practiced the phrase “oo-lie yesh…(maybe there is…)” for their guesses. In the box we also discovered a surprise that begins with a bet – banana!

The students named words that contain the sound of bet, such as bayit, balon, arbah…We played games like memory and what’s missing and even got to play a letter game on the smartboard!

The first grade began the week with a review of the nekudot/vowel sounds that we learned, as well as flash cards and nonsense word reading. We met Dina and Dan, two children in the classroom of Morah Shira, and we practiced reading words and stories with the letter daled. This week we also reviewed body parts with the song “Mi Yachil lasim”.

Mazal tov to the children celebrating birthdays in Tishrei and Cheshvan: Simcha, Yardena, Baer and Roni. We had our first celebration at our kabbbalat Shabbat this week with lots of singing and games.

Parashat HaShvua

On Monday after the singing and dancing with the Torah, we began from the beginning. We told the story of creation, and learned the song “Mah Barah Hashem” about the different things that were created on each day. Then we continued with the story of Adam and Chava in Gan Eden (since the previous week we weren’t able to finish learning the parasha.)

On Thursday we told the story of Parashat Noach. Ask your child about the Parsha at the Shabbat table. Why did Hashem bring the flood? How long did it take Noach to build the Tayva, and why did it take so long? Every weekend your child will bring home some work that they have done to remind them of the weekly Parasha and allow them to participate in discussions of the Parasha at the Shabbat table. Please return the signed cover page each week to indicate that your child did share about the Parasha so that we can praise and encourage the children to continue to learn Torah. Looking ahead: in Parashat Vayeira we learn about the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (hospitality). All of our students are invited to the Moyal home that week for a shabbat afternoon meal with Morah Hani and Moreh Itzik. More details will follow, but save the date of November 3!

Language Arts

Frist graders and kindergarters worked on Lexia. This week we had three students move up a level! First graders journal writing this week focused on starting a sentence with an upper case letter and using an end mark at the end of the sentence. Kindergarten students practiced their sight words; a, I, the, and, can, me, my, like, see, & we; each student has a “word ring” with an index card for each word. Students can practice writing the word on a white board, making the word with magnet letters or letter tiles, writing the word with stampers in play dough, writing the word in a sand tray or using wikki stix to write the word. Kindergarten students met Lively Letters T and D – ask your child which one is the loud sound and which is the quiet sound. Kindergarten students are also reading mentor texts in the persuasive writing style. We read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Pig Parade. We are focusing on how to build an argument with details to support your opinion. First graders read The Mat and worked on identifying the correct sentence to match the pictures in the story. They were also introduced to alphabetical order (by first letter), and to short readers; these are books that are read at school and will be sent home on occasion to practice what was read in class. For read alouds, first grade students also read Elephant Walks, a story about friendship, and How to Read a Story, which details the process of reading a book from taking a book off the shelf and finding someone with whom to share a story, to reading aloud, predicting what will happen, and—finally—coming to The End.

In handwriting, kindergarten students continued with the frog jump letters D and P. First grade students used shaving cream to practice upper and lower case Vv and Ww as well as how to write their sight words. The process of building a sight word vocabulary continues throughout the year.


First grade had an introduction to addition sentences and played a math bean game to help us them identify the correct addition sentences. Kindergarten students played math bingo and also worked on quickly and automatically identifying groups of items and writing the appropriate number.

Social Studies

Our class read a fun book What if Everyone Did That, which uses various scenarios to help the reader think about how their behavior affects the world around them. For instance, what if everyone threw their garbage out of the car window? Or what if everyone called out in class? After that, we worked together to brainstorm a set of classroom rules. We tried very hard to make our rules positive – what CAN we do – rather than negative. “Chew with your mouth closed”, rather than “don’t chew with your mouth open”, and “take good care of our books” rather than “don’t’ step on books”. We created a list of rules that will be hung up in our class to remind us how to keep our classroom safe and fun for everyone!


We went outdoors to do some observational drawing of signs of fall – whoops, it is so warm that there were not many signs of fall to observe! But we had a great time in the school garden finding beautiful and interesting natural wonders, from a huge green caterpillar to some delicate spider webs.

Friendly reminder- As the weather is variable, please make sure that your child comes to school with the appropriate outer wear.

October 11, 2017

Here is an update on what we’ve been doing these past two weeks.

Language arts

First grade and kindergarten students continued with Lexia learning. Each week students are completing levels and when they do, the whole class celebrates their accomplishments. The student receives a certificate and everyone gets a sweet treat! In addition…

First grade students

  • wrote in their journals and reviewed the –at family of rhyming words. They read The Cat Sat. Students are building their comprehension with read alouds.

  • were introduced to author Tedd Arnold in Scholastic News. We learned how an author gets started in writing a book. We read one of Tedd Arnold’s books, Fly Guy. Since October is Fire Safety month we also learned about the tools that firefighters use in Scholastic News.

  • In honor of Columbus Day, read a biography on Christopher Columbus and made mini books to help us remember facts about Columbus.

Kindergarten students

  • read a book about fall; either It’s Fall or Fall and Spring, and we discussed some of the things we have observed about the season’s changing. We also read about autumn leaves in Scholastic news.

  • were introduced to their first list of sight words. Sight word knowledge is an important component of successful reading. Sight words, or high frequency words, are those most commonly encountered in reading, and often cannot be “sounded out” using rules of phonics. Students should work toward gaining an automatic recognition of these sight words. Our first ten sight words are: I, a, the, and, can, we, see, me, my +like.

  • continued to practice recognizing our names and our classmates names in print using the game “who’s on my back” and “guess who”.

  • Were introduced to the “Lively Letters” p and b. These are partner letters; for both of them we put our lips together and make either a quiet sound (/p/) or a noisy sound (/b/).


First graders

  • In our unit Understanding Addition we learned how numbers can be broken into parts of the whole in different ways.

Kindergarten students

  • We are continuing to practice recognizing numbers 1-10, writing the numbers neatly, counting objects with 1-1 correspondence, and representing the numbers in ten frames and with tally marks.

Judaic Studies

Immediately after Yom Kippur, we began to discuss the mitzvah of building a sukkah. The students learned about what makes a sukkah kosher or not kosher. We looked at pictures of some unusual sukkot, including a sukkah on a boat, a sukkah on a truck and others, and tried to determine if the sukkah was kosher or not.

We learned

  • about where the mitzvah comes from, and for how many days we celebrate, as it says in the Torah “In sukkot you shall dwell for seven days.”

  • that there is a mitzvah to be happy on sukkot – so we made funny emoji sukkah decorations for our home and for the school sukkah!

    1. the lulav and etrog. We saw that they resemble different parts of the body – eyes, lips, the spine and the heart. On chol ha moed as part of our tefiilah, students made a bracha on the lulav and Etrog.
  • We talked about shemini atzeret and simchat Torah, and why we are happy on these holidays.

  • That on simchat torah we finish reading the Torah and we begin immediately again from B’raisheet.

  • A little bit about parashat B’raisheet; next week we plan to begin our weekly parashat ha shauvua study

  • We made our own flags to use on Simchat Torah.

Pinat Ivrit

In Ivrit the Gan continued to play and learn words with the sounds of the letter aleph, such as avatiach (watermelon), eema, abba, ariyeh etc. The students sorted pictures into groups that begin with the sound of shin vs the sound of aleph, and used the sentence starter “hinei” (here is…). We practiced breaking words into their sounds, first by “clapping” them out, and then by putting a sticker for each sound. For instance, Etrog is broken up into eh-t-ro-g and lulav is broken up into lu-la-v.

Kita aleph welcomed a new student, Gadi and the letter gimel together with the song “shalom, shalom, shalom Gadi”. Students added words to their vocabulary, and also the vowel sound chirik. We practiced fluency with all the letters and vowel sounds we know.

Our trip to Borderland State Park began with a downpour as we boarded the bus, but luckily by the time we arrived it was barely drizzling! Each class participated in three activities – ponding, a mansion tour and a hike. We went to ponding first. Using long nets, we worked in small groups to dig into the muck at the bottom of the pond, and then searched in the net for living creatures. Ask your child what he/she found! Then we went on a half mile hike through the woods and ended up at the mansion. On the way we stopped for a small snack. At the mansion, we learned a lot about the Ames family who resided there. The home was built in 1910 and was lived in by Oakes and Blanch Ames and their four children. Ask your child to tell you about the many windows on the first floor, or the two story library. Our ranger was full of interesting information and the students really enjoyed the tour!

Sukkah hopping is so much fun no matter how old you are! Thank you to the Hilewitz family and the Marcus/Stramer family for letting us visit their sukkot.

Enjoy the rest of your chag and Shabbat Shalom

The Gan Aleph Team


September 29, 2017

Here’s some of what we’ve been up to!

Language arts

First graders used the IPads for Lexia ,wrote in their journals, and practiced handwriting. They used wicky sticks to practice making s's before carrying over to their handwriting book. In Scholastic News, students read about friendship. The children love read alouds and discussing the stories. We read Back to Front and Upside Down. This is about students in a class learning to write who get frustrated because they don't like the results. They learn that nobody's good at everything and lots of practice helps. We also read Hunter 's Best Friend at School- . After reading the story the children sat with a partner and talked & turned. Each child had to think about something that makes their partner special. It was interesting to hear what they came up with. Additionally, this week we reviewed final consonant sounds, -at word family, and sight words go, on, and the.

Given that fall arrived on Rosh Hashanah we read Fall Mixed Up. This was a very funny book that talked about signs of fall but mixing up the signs. For example apples turn orange and pumpkins turn red. When we were finished we completed a fall 4 square chart. We needed to think of what fall feels like, looks like and also sounds of fall.

Gan students also used the IPads for Lexia. Our students are learning how to sign on to Lexia, adjust the volume and headphones and navigate their way independently through the Lexia tasks. Each Lexia session begins with a choice of a simple warm up game. Then students enter the level that they are on – each level has a theme, such as A Day at the Beach or A Snowy Day (not THAT snowy day book!) and contains various activities to learn and review skills. Earl topics include letter names and sounds, phonemic segmentation, syllabification, classification of objects, story recall, vocabulary development, sight words and prepositions. Kindergarten students are learning the three ways to read a book: retell the story from memory, tell the story by using the illustrations and reading the words themselves. This week we “read” wordless picture books as an easy way to demonstrate that even if you can’t decode the words, you can understand what the book is saying through the illustrations. Some of the books we enjoyed were Chalk, Pool, The Red Book and The Girl and the Bicycle. Students also read one of two easy readers about apple trees, and did some writing about our trip to the orchard.


First graders identified skip counting by 5s and 10s on a hundreds chart, learning what an addition sentence looks like, the plus sign, equals sign, sum, and even what an addend is (for exposure). We have a math journal in which we keep each unit, and when we are done with the unit we will send it home. The first unit reviews writing numbers and adding numbers and items.

Kindergarten students are counting items and groups up to ten, and learning to use a ten frame and tally marks to represent numbers. They are also practicing correct number formation – remember, always start your numbers (and letters) at the top!

We had our first estimation station; we estimated how many Mike and Ikes were in a box. Ask your child how many there were!


Last week, our junior scientists investigated measuring tools – thermometers, measuring cups and spoons, rulers, measuring tape, yardsticks and scales. We discussed how various tools are appropriate for different needs. This week we discussed balance scales. We learned how scales are a symbol of Yom Kippur, as Hashem is weighing our deeds and that we hope our mitzvot and good behaviors outweigh our aveirot. Students used small classroom materials (markers, crayons, paper clips etc) to see how the balance scale responded. We could see that the side that goes down holds the greater weight. Sometimes, the scale was in balance, indicating that the two sides held equal weights. We watched two short videos about balance; in one, a person balanced a huge structure of toys on top of one lego; in the other, an acrobatic troupe did a balance board show. Then we tried to make a balancing toy modeled on this one ( We used a piece of clay, two forks and a wooden stick. Initially, the students were frustrated; this was not an easy task! However, they carefully worked individually and in small groups to figure out the optimal placement of the “wings” (forks) and the beak (stick) that would allow the bird to balance. It was really wonderful to see the degree of collaboration among the students as they were able to solve this problem!

Social Studies

We began our social studies curriculum with a discussion about rules. We read the very entertaining (and realistic) book No David, and used David’s experience to generate a list of “no” behaviors and “yes” behaviors. Then we watched a short clip from the movie Despicable Me, where Gru is giving rules to the three girls when they move into his home. It helped us begin thinking about realistic vs unrealistic rules. Next week we will work together to make our own classroom rules. Having mutually agreed upon rules will help our classroom community function smoothly. The students have “thinking homework”: to be prepared to suggest some appropriate rules for our classroom community.

Judaic studies

Before Rosh Hashana, we emphasized to the students the importance of hearing the Shofar, and the customs of special foods for a sweet new year, such as honey, or the rimon which has many seeds to represent our mitzvot. We learned about tashlich after reading the book A Tashlich Walk, and discussing the idea of throwing away all of our negative behaviors from the previous year. Right after Rosh Hashana, we began the day with counting the days in Hebrew from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur – these are the ten days of teshuva. The students know that during these days we especially ask forgiveness from Hashem and from those around us. We added Avinu Malkanu to our daily tfillot during this time. Morah Hani also shared with us her experiences as a young child during the Yom Kippur War, where her older brother was called into service in the army right from the bet Knesset on that holy day, and the feelings of confusion and fear surrounding that time as a way to remind us of the importance of prayer in general, and specifically of the tfillah l’shlom ha mideena, which asks for peace for Israel and the world. We also continue to encourage the students to give tzedaka daily.

We read the books Talia and the Very Yum Kippur and Sneakers to Shul as a way to open the discussion of prohibited activities for adults on Yom Kippur. We discussed that children are not required to (and indeed, should not) fast, but instead can help by preparing their own simple food for the day so that their parents do not have to do it themselves; they can also refrain from excessive snacking. Children can of course wear non-leather shoes, avoid lotions and perfumes, and some students shared that they would be fine skipping a shower or bath! Students prepared a picture which shows what is prohibited on Yom Kippur in comparison to something that we can do on that special day. We were treated to a re-enactment of the story of Yonah by the 4/5 class: this is the story which we read in shul during Mincha of Yom Kippur. We also read a few picture book versions of the Book of Yonah. Each child made a “dag gadol” that can open to find Yonah inside! Ask your child why this was chosen to be read on Yom Kippur. We also made a mat that can be used to put on the floor for bowing during the tfillah Aleinu. Finally, we reminded the children that immediately after Yom Kippur, we begin to prepare our sukkot!

Pinat Ivrit

The Gan was introduced to the letter Shin, and we learned words that begin with the sound “sh” such as shemesh, shaon (clock), shalom, shamayim (sky/heavens), shofar and shalom. We compared these sounds to words that contain the letter Resh. We played a memory game of the words beginning with Shin and Resh. We practiced using the language routines “eipho” (where is…) and “hinei” (here is….) and “yesh li” (I have…). Kita aleph reviewed reading and word recognition with words we learned with the letters aleph and shin together with the letters bet and vet. We welcomed a new student to the class of the Ariot – his name is Barak. We read stories such as Abba Babayit and Abba Bah, and practiced our fluency. It’s great to see the students smiling when I can fulfill their request for homework!

We wish you all a gmar chatima tova,

Shabbat Shalom

The Gan Aleph Team


September 15, 2017

Language Arts

This week the first graders started Lexia. They continued where they left off last year. Some of the skills introduced or reviewed are phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. We will be working on Lexia two times a week. Journal writing with a prompt was also introduced. Each child has a journal and a personal dictionary. At the beginning, some of the children start off with a picture and a word or two. As their writing skills develop, they will be writing sentences. It is a reader response journal, which means that I respond to what they have written. The children created and played a rhyming match game. In handwriting, our focus is learning lower case letters as well as reviewing the upper case letters. The class is familiarizing themselves with color and number words. Our first project was called Marvelous Me. This is a great back to school activity in which the children share their favorite colors, favorite season, color or eyes, age and favorite toy, food, and animal. Their work is hanging in our classroom.

Gan students continue to focus on their names and the names of classmates. We are reviewing letters as we talk about our names. We made a graph of the number of letters in everyone’s names. Ask your child for the results!


The first few weeks we review skip counting, ordering numbers, and patterns. Gan students are reviewing numbers 1-5; recognizing the number and being able to count objects with one-one correspondence. We are also practicing how to write the numbers neatly.

Scholastic News

In first grade and Gan we subscribe to Scholastic News. This is a wonderful and enjoyable way to expose children to various science and social studies topics. We will be able to watch a video and play a skills game on the smart board or IPads.


We did a short investigation of apples. Students worked in pairs to observe and draw an apple, guess how many seeds were inside, measure the apple’s height and weight and predict whether the apple would sink or float – ask your child what happened! This quick and simple activity allowed the students to discover and discuss many of the skills that scientists use such as observation, measurement, counting, predicting and experimenting.

Apple picking

We all had a lot of fun at our first field trip. Apple picking is always fun for the teachers as well as the students. Our hayride took us on a cool tour of the farm. There was also time to visit the farm animals and the playground. We brought graham crackers and apple juice for our snack. This is a great trip that ties in with the beginning of fall, harvest time, and of course Rosh Hashanah. Thank you to Yonah’s mom, Shifra's mom, Baer's mom, Yoni's mom, and Roni's mom for driving us on our field trip!

Judaic Studies

Our focus was Rosh HaShana and the symbols of the holiday. We looked at a number of Rosh Hashana cards to discover the main symbols, such as a shofar, apple and honey, pomegranate, dove, Jewish star and Jerusalem. Tahnk you do Yardena’s grandmother for donating the cards to us! We made our own cards to send to friends and family, and we also got to taste some apples in honey. We discussed the shofar and how it is a mitzvah to listen to the shofar calls. Thank you to Tzvi Diamond for coming to blow shofar for us!


We discussed the tefillah Modeh Ani and made a list of things we are thankful for, like our lives, our families, food, Torah and Eretz Yisrael.

Pinat Ivrit

This week kita alef sang with Ariot to practice the sound of aleph with the vowel sounds katatz and patach. We learned words like Aba and aron. Following that we met a new letter, Shin, who introduced us to two children in the virtual classroom, Shachar and sharona. This virtual class accompanies our students as they improve their reading and writing. The Gan students reviewed the language routine “my name is” and we learned an activity song called Yadahim baKissim. We used crepe paper to decorate a letter resh and added the words rimon and rofeh to our lists of resh words.

It was wonderful to see so many parents at our back to school night this week. We realize that there was not very much time for questions, so please email us if there is anything that we can help you with!

Shabbat Shalom

The Gan Aleph Team


September 8, 2017

Welcome to a new school year!  

The Jewish new year is almost here, so we have been learning about Elul, the last month of the year, and the cycle of the Jewish months.  The students wrote and drew about what they remember about Rosh Hashana from the past.  They learned vocabulary words in Ivrit such as dvash (honey), tapuach (apple), rimon (pomegranate) and shofar.   Each day we begin with tefillah and we will add tefillot and learn their meanings as the year goes on.  This week we heard the story , which tells about a young boy who visits a soup kitchen to see how his tzedaka donation directly helps to feed needy individuals.  Gan-aleph students are encouraged to give tzedaka daily as part of our tefillah routine.  Students can bring a small wallet or coin purse to school to keep a supply of coins available to them.  The amount is not as important as getting into the routine of giving.  

In Ivrit, kita aleph students have already begun to use the first book in the Ariot series!  It was a big surprise to see how well the students remembered the connections between the letters and the sounds.   Gan students are learning simple language routines such as “Ha shem sheli…” (my name is) and “Ani ohev…” (I like…).  Gan students were introduced to the letter Resh, and were able to shape their bodies into a resh (with the help of a friend) and learned words that contain the sound of resh such as Rosh Hashana, rimon and rakevet (train).

In general studies, we have been reading books about school and friendship, such as Leo the Late Bloomer, The Kissing Hand, First Day Jitters and Ready for School Murphy.  All the students wrote about how they felt on the first day of school, and we also compared our school to Chester’s school in The Kissing Hand.  Students in first grade practiced rhyming words and initial consonant sounds.  Students in kindergarten are working on recognizing their names and their classmates’ names, and writing their own names neatly with an upper case letter to start followed by lower case letters.  New students are taking the placement assessment for our Lexia learning program.  In math, first grade started with ABC patterns, and kindergarten students are focusing on numbers 1-5; courting objects, recognizing and writing the numbers, and using ten frames and tally marks to represent the numbers.  All students are learning about apples in preparation for our field trip next week.  Half the class read How Do Apples Grow and watched a video about apple trees, while the other worked with a partner to investigate an apple-what size is it, how much does it weigh, how many seeds are inside…  Next week the two groups will switch.  

This week we also had our first gym class with coach Dave and music class with Elah.  

Have a Shabbat shalom,

The Gan Aleph team