Skip Navigation
Building community and bettering the future, one child at a time

Grade K-1


Gan-Kita Aleph Teacher Message

May 24, 2019

19 Iyar 5779

We think that this is finally the first week of spring. We welcomed it with open arms!

In language arts the first graders were introduced to compound words. In the classroom we have a Compound Word Bank. From now until the last day of school every time a child reads a compound word in their reading or finds a word anywhere we will deposit the word into our bank. The only problem we have is being able to distinguish a compound word from just 2 separate words.  In addition, the students are working on their comprehension skills and trying to locate the main idea in a text. We worked on Lexia and handwriting. Our Scholastic News this week was A Trip to the Sun. We learned a lot of interesting facts about the sun, including why we can’t visit there!

A very enjoyable read aloud this week was Hunter’s Best Friend at School, which tells the story of two young racoons who are best friends.  Stripe has a hard time behaving appropriately at school, and Hunter has a hard time doing what is right.  He is always tempted to copy Stripe. Hunter learns that to be a really good friend, there are things that he can do to help Stripe be in more control of his behavior.  

In math first graders identified how much of a shape is shaded in order to read it; for example 1 part of 4 equals one quarter. We even learned what a numerator and denominator are - for exposure, not mastery! Eating Fractions and Hershey’s Fractions Book  were enjoyed by the children. Can you guess what treat went along with the Hershey’s Fractions Book?? Kindergarten students practiced strategies for addition including making models to support their understanding and “counting on”, which means that when you are adding two numbers, you can start with the larger one and then “count on” - no need to count all the way up from one!  Students are noticing that math problems can be turned around, and that 3+5 is the same as 5+3. We are using math vocabulary like addend and sum. We learned how to play a learning game called roll, say, keep, which can be adapted to practice many skills.


In Ivrit, first graders finished the letter ק and started the letter ר. We read a story and learned how to look for the answer in the text. We highlighted the “question words” and circled the “clue word”- that will help us find what we’re looking for. Than we went back to the text and underlined the sentence that has the answer in it. This is an important strategy that  we will practice in the upcoming days.

Kindergarten students are looking forward to their otiyot party! We learned the letter ק and the words: קוף ( monkey), קשת (bow), קיפוד (porcupine), קוביה (dice). We played games and practiced our letter/sound recognition.

After finishing our All About (informational writing unit) last week by reading our work aloud to friends from grade 2-3, we have begun a poetry unit.  Listening to a variety of poems helped us begin to hear the difference between poetry and prose. We learned to “see with a poet’s eyes”; to look at ordinary objects and experiences and write about them in a style that is different from both narrative and informational writing.  Poets notice small details; they make connections between things (metaphor and simile); they use their senses to describe or share things; they convey emotions about objects and experiences; they use specific and carefully chosen words to express their ideas and their writing has a rhythm or a musical feeling.  We read a short poem that compares a pencil sharpener to buzzing bees, and then we tried to write about a common object, but with our “poets eyes”. We will continue to read and write poetry for the next three weeks.

In science, we are taking a quick look at the moon.  We began by thinking of some questions or things that we wonder about the moon. Next, we read two informational texts about the moon.  Now we are working with partners to write and illustrate facts about the moon. Look for them at Yom Orchim! We are also studying a piece of art that features the moon - it is Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.  We are so good at observing and noticing details in art. The picture has a style that is very different from the way we usually paint or draw. Van Gogh uses many small, overlapping lines of different colors to make the features of this picture, which include a town, an ambiguous object (is it a tree?  A rock? A building? A fire?) in the left foreground, a large swirl in the middle of the picture, and twelve stars and a crescent moon up above. We are trying our hand at a picture in the style of The Starry Night. Have you seen our gallery wall in the classroom filled with our version of Van Gogh’s sunflowers?  It is amazing! Please stop by to visit!

Speaking of visiting, thank you to your families and friends for coming in to spend the morning on Yom Orchim. It is a wonderful opportunity for your children to showcase what they are learning in school. The interactions are wonderful, and learning and exploring together will surely make memories for all.

Don’t forget! Friday, June 7, 8:00 - Kindergarten Mesibat HaOtiyot following Shabbat Ruach with Rabbi Cheses

May 17, 2019

12 Iyar 5779

Is this really spring? It is hard to tell here in Sharon!  Maybe next week we will have warmer temperatures.

Gan and Aleph have had such a busy week! In language arts the first graders finished up their study of synonyms and antonyms. They can identify the difference and give good examples. We practiced sight words by playing Sight Word Bingo. The children are doing a great job being able to tell which end mark comes at the end of sentences. The class is working hard on Lexia skills and their handwriting. This week’s Scholastic News  for first graders was about the life cycle of a chameleon, while kindergarten students read about butterflies. Both classes worked on finishing up their All About Books so that we can present them to the second and third grade students on Friday. Next week we will begin learning about a new genre - stay tuned to find out what it is!

First graders finished their chapter on telling time. The expectation in first grade is that the student can tell time on the hour and half hour. We discussed lapsed time as exposure. The children were able to complete a mix and match telling time puzzle. For example there was an analog clock piece and they had to find the time in words that showed the proper time. We started our next math chapter,  which is about fractions. We needed to determine whether a shape is divided into equal or unequal parts.

The most important concept is to realize that a fraction is a part of a whole. We will learn about ½, ⅓ and ¼.   Kindergarten students are working on addition. We talked about the plus sign, the equal sign and what a sum is, and that the sum of an addition problem will be bigger than each of its parts.  

During read aloud time we read Arthur Goes Camping and Arthur's First Sleepover. The class loves Arthur and all the adventures that Marc Brown creates for the beloved Arthur.  We also read a funny book, Dear Dragon, which was about a fierce dragon who ends up blowing only bubbles. Later in the week we made “dragon breathers” to practice ways that we can use our breath to calm ourselves down.  Our dragon breathers took all kinds of formats - butterflies, unicorns, bees, cheetahs, pink cats and octopi, just to name a few!

We also read Van Gogh and the Sunflowers. This tells the fictional story of Camile, a young boy who befriends the unusual painter who comes to his town.  In the end of the book, Van Gogh gives Camile one of his sunflower paintings. Did you know that while Van Gogh painted nearly 900 paintings, only ONE is known to have been sold during his lifetime?  The rest only became famous after his death. We painted our own sunflower paintings in the style of Van Gogh.

The highlight of our week was our field trip to the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton. During our tour of the beautiful museum we saw many facets of contemporary art and crafts. We even got to try our hands on metal punching. Ask your child about this cool craft. Thank you to Natan’s, Eitan’s and Uri’s moms for driving us. We hope you enjoyed it also!  After we returned from the museum, we walked over to Sharon High School to watch the Maimonides baseball team face off against Ramaz in the Ezra Schwartz Memorial Baseball Tournament.

In Ivrit,  first graders learned the letter ק and practiced  the different forms of the verb (single/plural/ male and female). Kindergarten students learned the letter צ and the words ציפור (bird), צב (turtle), צהוב (yellow) ציצית and צלחת (plate).

In Yahadut,  We started learning about Lag Ba’omer. We talked about Rabbi Akiva that didn’t know the Aleph Beit although he was 40 years old. We discussed the pasuk :אבנים שחקו מים” that helped Rabbi Akiva understand that he also can learn Torah.

The children heard the story of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who hid in a cave with his son, and the miracle of the carob tree and the stream of water that supplied them food and water for 12 years of Torah learning.

We ended the week with the story of Bar Kochva who fought against the Romans, and made our own bows and arrows.

May 10, 2019

5 Iyar 5779

Here we are at the home stretch with less than 30 days left of school - but don’t worry, there is still lots of time for learning and fun!  We are excited about our field trip on Thursday May 16, 2019 to the Fuller Art Museum in Brockton. We are still in need of drivers so if you can we would appreciate it.

In language arts this week the first graders  learned about antonyms. They are doing a great job distinguishing between synonyms and antonyms. Given one antonym from the list the children like to be challenged by creating a sentence with their word and adding anywhere from 7-22 words in their sentence! We try to squeeze in a game of sight word bingo a couple of times a month. Of course we worked on Lexia and handwriting too. Our Scholastic News topic this week was called Rainbow Plants. This tied in great with our science unit on plants, and reinforced the plant parts and the development of a plant.  First graders practiced adding “King Ed” to words to see how the vowels change from short to long. We also played a game to identify the long and short vowels in words we know.  First grade and kindergarten students took a break from writing their individual All About books to write on a common theme - you will have to wait until Sunday to see what it is!  Kindergarten students read a Scholastic Science Spin about what we can find in soil, which related very well to our science unit about plants and their needs.

In math first graders we continued our study of telling time. We learned how to tell time on the half hour. This is a confusing concept. The first graders showed on the Judy clock  times on the half hour and realized that the hour hand is not on one number but in between two numbers. They had fun putting different pictures on a specific hour time to represent different times that we do things during the day. The clocks were very colorful!  Kindergarten students finished up their unit on solid/3d shapes. Next week we are on to number bonds and addition!

One of our books during read aloud was Betty Bunny Didn’t Do It. We had  a few laughs when Betty Bunny used the Tooth Fairy as a scapegoat as she tried to wiggle her way out of trouble.   We also read Ricky the Rock that Couldn’t Roll - in this book, a not very round rock is left out of the fun of rolling down the hill.  Then his friends come to the rescue and offer various suggestions until he can finally join them in their fun.  We read this book as part of our Open Circle discussion of problem solving. Step 1 is to stop and calm down; explain what you are feeling and why.  Step 2 is to brainstorm different ways you might solve the problem. Ricky’s friends had a lot of great ideas - Ask your child how the other rocks help Ricky solve his problem!

We have switched our science study focus from plant life cycles and plan needs to looking at flowers in art.   We are taking a close look at Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”, and learning about the artist. Next week we will paint our own Van Gogh style sunflowers.  We also watched a Magic School Bus video about how photosynthesis works. This was the number one question that the class generated at the start of our study of plants - how do plants make food from sunlight?  Ask your child what they learned about this topic!

In Ivrit- first graders are learning the letter צ and the words: צבי (deer), מצייר/ת ( drawing), צובע/ת (coloring) מצביע/ה ( pointing), עץ (tree) and עציץ (pot for a plant). We read a story together and we learn how to find the answers in the text.

kindergarten students finished the letter פ. Only 5 letters left! : )

We learn the words: פיצה (pizza), פיל (elephant), פרפר (butterfly) פרח ( flower) and פה ( mouth).

In Yahadut- we finished our site seeing project for Yom Ha’atzmaut. We visited the biblical zoo in Jerusalem, the ramon crater in the Negev and the underwater observatory in Eilat. It was a beautiful and very interesting journey that enabled the children to discover new wonderful places in Israel.

For Parashat Hashavua- we emphasized the Mitzva of ואהבת לרעך כמוך  “Veahavta lereacha kamocha”, and shared different ways to comply this important mitzva every day in the class.

Thank you to Arye, Hila, Noam, and Michel for the fun filled Yom Ha’atzmaut program.   Thanks also to the fifth grade students for leading the groups around the school, and to the parents who helped prepare and serve the lunch.  There were so many interesting stations to visit; we felt we were really in Israel!

Happy birthday to Avi, and thanks for the yummy snack!

Shabbat Shalom!

May 3, 2019

28 Nissan 5779

It was wonderful to get back into the swing of things. The children had lots to share about their Passover seders and what they did during the vacation.

In language arts the first graders shared their vacation adventures in their reader response journals.We finished our unit on synonyms. Next week we learn about antonyms. The motivation in Lexia is at an all time high. Everyone is so excited for their peers when they finish a level! In handwriting we reviewed correct number formation.  Kindergarten students met “King Ed” (also called “magic E” or “silent E”); he has the power to change short vowels to long! When he is added to the end of a word, he holds points to the vowel before him and says “Tell me your name!” You can practice switching words by adding King Ed - change can to cane! Change fin to fine!

The first graders’ new math topic is telling time. We learned about telling time to the hour, which hand is the hour hand and minute time, and how many minutes in an hour vs. minutes in a second. They practiced telling time with the Judy clocks (clocks with hands that can be moved and set to different times). Even though we are working on telling time they still need to practice their math facts. Some practiced with flash cards while others played addition war (need to tell what the sum is when each player throws out a card). Kindergarten students are busy working with solid shapes - see what shapes you can find around your home - for example, the pantry is full of cylinders and rectangular prisms! Kindergarten students are also really enjoying using the IPad app Splash Math to for review and practice of math skills.  

This week’s Scholastic News was about helping hippos and what it means to be endangered. A baby hippo (calf) is very cute and extremely playful.  Kindergarten students read about Rainbow Plants - ask your child what color carrots we saw! This tied in very well to our science topic of plants.  We have been learning about parts of plants, the plant life cycle and what plants need to grow. How are your bean plants doing at home? Isn’t it amazing how quickly they grow?

In Open Circle our topic is Problem Solving techniques. We read the books Horace, Morris and Mostly Dolores and My Friend Is Sad.  We are thinking about problems, and how they make people feel. We learned about the three steps to solving problems - STOP, THINK, GO - which we associated with the red, yellow and green of a traffic light.  Please see the Open Circle home link for more information about the Open Circle problem solving technique.

This week in Ivrit, first graders learned the letter פ,פ, ף and the words: פיל (elephant), פנים (face), אף (nose), פה (mouth), גוף (body) , כנפיים (wings), עף (flies) עפיפון (kite), ספסל (bench), ענף (branch). As we add more words, we learn to use them in a sentence and to put the letters together into a word. We also read two stories that have the new letters in them.

Kindergarten students learned the letter ע and the words: עין (eye), עפרון (pencil), ענן (cloud), עץ (tree) and עוגה (cake). We made a new notebook for the letter ע and wrote the words together. We listened to the sounds in the word to help us with the spelling.

In Yahadut, we are getting ready for Yom Ha’atzmaut and we are taking a tour around Israel. We visited Mt. Hermon- and were excited to see the fun things you can do there, and The kinneret- kids were thrilled to hear about Aqua kef- a special floating water park.

On Thursday, Yom Ha’shoah, we read a poem ‘There are no butterflies here” and colored butterflies as a symbol of freedom and hope.

T’fillah- we add ספירת העומר every day and switched from saying “ותן טל ומטר “ to “מוריד הטל”.

On Thursday May 16th we will be going to the Fuller Art Museum in Brockton. Please look for the permission slip, which will come to you as a google form. We will be looking for drivers. If you can help us out, it would be great!

Thank you to Eitan’s family for coming in to celebrate his birthday. The snacks were yummy.

April 12, 2019

7 Nissan 5779

This sure is a busy time of year! Your children are very excited for Pesach to start!

This week in language arts, first grade students  wrote letters for parents to read during parent teacher conferences, continued our synonym search, played Sight Word Bingo, worked on Lexia and practiced our handwriting. This week’s Scholastic News was about the duck’s life cycle.  Kindergarten students continued sight word, short vowel and digraph review. We’ve been writing and illustrating sentences using our sight words - there’s quite a lot you can write even with only 32 words! Kindergarten students read about Earth Day (which is April 22, during the Pesach break) and how to be an Earth Day Hero.

In math Kindergarten students went on a shape hunt in the playground.  It was very interesting to notice all of the shapes that are part of our daily environment!  Both classes started to discuss solids in geometry. We learned that they are called 3D shapes.  We looked for the vertices and flat surfaces, and classified the shapes using those attributes. The children could see the plane shapes within the solid shapes. We also found that some of the solids could roll.  It was fun to build with the solids.

This week we finished out mini unit about living and nonliving things with a challenge - students met Morah Devorah’s pet hamsters, Olive and Pepper, and had to determine if they were living or not, and give evidence to support their answers.  Ask your child what their opinion was! We then moved into our study of plants by asking students to share something that they knew about plants, as well as something they wonder, or a question that they have about plants. There are some very curious students in our class who asked amazing questions like “Do plants eat dirt?”, “How much does a tree weight?” and “How does a plant come out of a seed?”  We might not be able to answer every question, but we will try! Students all germinated beans in a plastic bag that we hung in the window - hopefully next week we will observe some changes in our beans!

Gan and Aleph went to visit our 3rd grade friends and were so impressed with their research projects. It was fun to learn about their interesting topics, including Minecraft, bottlenose dolphins, JK Rowling, You Tube celebrities, planets, Labradoodles, art and architecture and babies! We also had a visitor to the class;  Rabbi Cheses came to talk about Pesach and also read us a book about values. As part of our social emotional curriculum, we read a great book called Duck!  Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. This little gem led to an intense discussion of how people have different perspectives, and that it’s fine to see things a different way from others...and also how no one knows your opinion until you share it with them - we cannot read minds; it’s necessary to communicate in order for people to be aware of what you are thinking.

In Ivrit, first graders finished their second Ariot book!! We are starting the last book with the letter פ, ף and words such as: פנים ( face), גוף (body) אף (nose), and פה (mouth).

Kindergarden students are learning the letter ס and made ספר אותיות  by using the letters and pictures we learned so far.

In Yahadut- we spent the week learning about Pessach. We learned about the 4 questions and added 4 questions of our own (to ask our parents during the seder). We sang together “Echad Mi Yodea” and had fun “racing” to match the picture to the correct number. We spoke about what makes something a “Chametz” and we checked the class for hidden pieces of chametz. We learned the bracha: “Al biyur chametz” that we say before the bedika.

Israel landing on moon: we were very excited to be part of history as the Israeli spaceship “Beresheet” attempted to land on the moon. We watched the live broadcast from Israel and it was very meaningful.

It was wonderful meeting with many of you on Wednesday to discuss your child’s progress thus far. We look forward to continuing at Monday’s parent teacher conferences. There is no school for the children that day.

Thank you to Talya’s mom for coming in to celebrate Talya’s birthday with us!  Thanks for the yummy cookies and grapes, and for giving us all bubbles. Now we just have to hope for warm weather so we can play with them outside!

We hope everyone has a wonderful Pesach with meaningful sedarim!

April 5, 2019

29 Adar 5779

It is hard to believe that Passover is in 2 weeks. Didn’t we just put away the Purim costumes?

In language arts the first graders continued to learn rules for breaking words into syllables. The children had to figure out the main idea of several short stories. They did a wonderful job listening for the important parts of the story. We started our discussion on what a synonym is and were able to give good examples.  Kindergarten students learned letters /w/ and /h/ and digraph /wh/. This means we have now learned all the digraphs and will be taking some time to review and solidify our skills with them. Then we will move on to long vowels and end the year with initial consonant blends.

After our fairy tale unit concluded by reading our stories to the n/pk class, we have moved on to a new, non fiction genre - informational writing, specifically, “all about” books.  We are reading this type of book together and noting the non-fiction text features such as table of contents, captions, labels, index and glossary. Students are busy writing books about topics that they know very well, including various sports and activities, animals and experiences.  Ask your child what they are writing about!

Hooray For Fly Guy was a fun read aloud this week. We all know that flies can’t play football but the main characters are determined to prove this wrong. This is a funny simple book with funny pictures - there were a lot of laughs over this story!  We also read a favorite book, The Most Magnificent Thing.  We used this story to explore the connection between what we think and what we feel. In the book, the main character begins to excitedly build a “magnificent thing”.  As her “thing” continues to not match her expectations, she becomes increasingly negative about her abilities, and her feelings move from frustrated to explosive. After reading and discussing the book, we worked with a partner to complete a challenge.  Each person worked with the same number of blocks. One partner built a block structure, and then described it, while the other tried to build the exact same structure - but without being able to see it! This allowed us to focus on communicating clearly and calmly, and to think about the relationship between what we were thinking and what we were feeling.  You can try this activity at home!

This week’s Scholastic News topic  was Hiding in My Habitat. We learned about several cool creature’s habitats.  Kindergarteners read Is It Spring? in Let’s Find Out - what a good question for New Englanders!  Our science unit for this week and into next is “Living vs non-living”.  This week, students were presented with a number of pictures of various things, and asked to sort them into two groups.  After they determined that the groups were living vs non living, they then worked on generating rules that would allow them to sort anything into one of those two groups. The rules are:  a living object is one that can change or grow, that is born and can make more of itself, can move on its own, and needs to breathe, eat and drink. This led to many interesting discussions, for instance - mushrooms are alive; do they move?  If trees are alive, why is an object made from wood not alive? Do plants breathe? Are birds and animals that hatch from eggs “born”? This topic will continue into next week and then we will move into a study of plants which will take us all the way to May.  Our gan/aleph scientists also enjoyed visiting the grades 4-5 science and state fair to learn about many interesting topics from the older students.

In math we had fun creating items using plane shapes. The first graders created very interesting things! We learned about how to add shapes to shapes that were already made in order to make a new shape. The children enjoyed creating shapes with our geoboards and also the geoboard app on the IPADS. Kindergarten students are also studying shapes, and this week we began math rotations; students rotate between teacher directed instruction, games and hands on activities and IPad review and reinforcement for 15 minute periods.  The students are learning math along with important skills like working independently (since some groups are self directed), problem solving, turn taking and self regulation. They are really enjoying the opportunity to learn math within this new structure!

In Ivrit, first graders learned the letters ס and ע. For ס, we learned the words: סוס, חסה, סוד, סבא סבתא, and read a story about a surprise birthday party for סבא. The students practice their ability to find information in the text and answer relevant questions. For ע, we learned the words: עוגה, עין, ענן, עננים and read a story about different shapes in the עננים (clouds). Kindergarten students finished the letter נ and practiced writing the words: נוצה (feather), נר (candle) and נעל (shoe). We are moving on to the letter ס with words like: סידור (siduur), סוכריה(candy) סבא and סבתא.

In Yahadut, we are getting ready for Pessach. The students learned about the Sedder plate and the different things in it. We explained the meaning of each thing and created our own Sedder plates.  We enjoyed working together and cleaning our classroom for Pessach. It looks sparkling! :)

Thank you to Na’ama’s family for coming in to celebrate her special day. The treats were yummy.

March 29, 2019

22 Adar 5779

We are back to a normal 5 day week. We all made it!!!

In language arts the first graders continued their digraph study by playing a game. I would give them a clue about a word that begins with or ends with th, sh, wh, or ch. They had to guess the word. They did awesome!  The children worked on a puzzle to distinguish words that were verbs or nouns. We worked on Lexia, started our new handwriting book and started talking about syllables. Kindergarten students used their “vowel sticks” to show that they know what vowel is in the middle of a CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) word.  

First graders started our new math chapter on Geometry. Plane shapes are the first topic in the chapter. We learned how to identify properties of these shapes. The children had to sort shapes and figure out how many corners and sides they had. Kindergarten students also began learning about shapes - the primary plane (flat) shapes we will learn about are: square, rectangle, circle, oval, triangle, pentagon, hexagon, octagon and rhombus (diamond).  

This week’s Scholastic News for first grade was all about American symbols. The emphasis was on the bald eagle. It was interesting to hear about what symbols the class knew about. Kindergarten students read about the saying “March comes in like a lion but goes out like a lamb.”

One of our read alouds this week was A Cat and Dog.  This cute picture book with bright, bold illustrations is a funny look at the age-old battle between cats and dogs. The characters had to do some problem solving and found how a simple act of kindness can turn an enemy into a friend. As long as we were reading about dogs we had to read one of Laura Numeroff’s books…..If You Give a Dog a Donut.   This week we also read Splatters, about how three different paint splotches learned to work together to paint a beautiful picture.  We extended this lesson of teamwork, cooperation and communication to try a very challenging activity. Working in small groups, we had to try to stack 6 plastic cups in a pyramid - without touching the cups with our hands!  Ask your child how we moved the cups, and if their group was successful at the task (hint: no one has succeeded - yet - but we learned a lot about what we can do to help our group move and stack those cups!).

One of the highlights of our week was reading our fairy tales to the students in the npk.  Our gan aleph authors did an amazing job! We prepared by discussing what we could do to be sure that our readers/listeners were engaged and comfortable.  It is so great that our class has the opportunity to be leaders and examples to the younger students. Please look out for your child’s fairy tale book/s in the backpacks this Friday,and enjoy the creative stories they have to share with you!

In Ivrit, first graders are learning the letters נ, ן and ס. We worked on building sentences that contain a noun (such as: אבא, אמא, בלון, שחר) and a verb ( such as: בוכה, יושבת, חדש, צהוב). We learned the sound או,  א and thus completed all the vowels in Hebrew.

Kindergarten students learned the letter נ and the words: נוצה ( feather), נר (candle) and נעל (shoe). We shaped our shoes in the shape of נ. It was a lot of fun!

אביב הגיע פסח בא! (!spring is here and so is pessach)

We learned about the spring and talked about the nature changing around us.

The children were very excited to go in “a time machine” and travel back in time  3000 years ago.They experienced the slavery in Egypt, built Pyramids, found baby Mosheh in the river and followed him to the burning bush. We walked through the 10 plagues and crossed the sea as it  opened in two. Finally, we “came back” to today and learned the Mitzvah of : חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים ( everyone should see themselves as if they went out of Egypt).

March 22, 2019

15 Adar 5779

Wow what a wonderful fun filled week! To say that the children were excited is an understatement. We enjoyed a special treat of waffles and bedtime stories for pajama day on Monday, and loved seeing all the funny accessories everyone wore on Tuesday! The highlight of the week was the Purim Carnival on Friday. Thank you to Mayan, Yael, Noam, and Michal and all the teachers for making the carnival a great success!

In language arts the first graders finished their handwriting books by working on correct number formation. Next week we will start our new books. The children welcomed spring by putting spring themed words in alphabetical order(a skill we have been working on all year), and  more th, wh, sh, and th digraph work. It was wonderful to see the great sentences that our first graders created with sight words. Kindergarten students used their sight words to write individual sentences, and continued work on short vowel sounds. Next week we will move into consonant blends (such as bl, cr, st, sl…)  Everyone had fun writing and illustrating their favorite jokes in writer’s workshop this week; we hope to put together a class joke book! Of course, we read more silly books, including Interrupting Chicken, Peeping Beauty and Stephanie’s Ponytail.

In math first graders practiced math facts with a variety of math puzzles. We also introduced the “flat” to the base 10 blocks.  The flat represents 100; by using it children can build numbers with hundreds as well as tens and ones. Using the base 10 blocks they can represent numbers, for  example 132 = 1 flat, 3 rods, and 10 cubes. Kindergarten students also worked on representing numbers up to 100 with the base 10 blocks, as well as finding the numbers in a sequence.  

Our artists continued exploring the work of Pablo Picasso.  They learned about his blue and rose periods, and about his transition from realistic to abstract art and the development of cubism.  Everyone drew a Picasso style portrait, which we painted with vibrant colors. We also used cut up photographs of our own faces to explore moving around the elements of a face - what do you look like without a chin or without a nose?  What do you look like with someone else’s eyes or hair? By putting the photographs into a page protector, we could write on them with wipe off markers and experiment with different colored eyes, hair or skin; adding freckles, glasses, earrings, fangs and wrinkles to our faces.  . We even played a dice game which generated an original “Picasso-esque” drawing!

In Ivrit, first graders finished מ and learned question words such as : למה (why), מה (what), מי (who), and כמה ( how many). We also learned about Purim our חג שמח books, read the story ונהפוכו about how things are funny and go the opposite way during Purim. We practiced opposite words such as: טוב/רע, גדול/ קטן, למעלה/למטה and so on.

Kindergarten students practice letters sounds by “feeding” a dog puppet with word according to their first sound. We also had an opportunity to practice some writing! We split words to their sounds and counted them and then wrote together Purim words. It was very exciting!

For Yahadut we learned about the special MItzvot of Purim- Mishloach Manot and Matanot La-evyonim. The children took an active part in those Mitzvot by making Mishlovchey Manot to the school’s staff and to their friends. The children wrote a recipe and baked אזני המן. We had a mishloach manot switching in our class and we wished each other פורים שמח.

In addition, Wednesday was dedicated to the meaning of Taanit Esther and to making food for families that cannot afford it. The children made soup and we donated the money from our Tzedakah box to Matanot Laevyonim.

Thank you to Rabbi Cheses for helping us fulfill this special Mitzvah.

We hope that everyone had a wonderful Purim. Thank you for the yummy Mishloach manot from the PTO; they were very much appreciated!  Now...on to Pesach!

Shabbat Shalom

March 15, 2019

8 Adar 5779

Welcome to Adar Bet - a whole month filled with happiness, singing, dancing, fun and learning! A special thank you to Noam, Michel, Hila, and Aryeh for turning our school into an amazing Shushan city scene, and for planning wonderful activities.

In language arts our first graders focused on the sh and ch digraphs. We discovered these digraphs at the beginning, middle, and end of words. Some children had to identify a digraph with the proper picture, while others had to unscramble letters to create words with the sh digraph. In journal writing it was interesting to see what fairy tales were the favorite and why. We are working hard in handwriting to form our letters correctly. We are almost finished with the first handwriting book that the children were given last year. The new book will go with the children to second grade. All of the students are asking if it is their day for Lexia!. Everyone is so motivated to learn new skills and achieve the next level. This week our Scholastic News was I Have a Wiggly Tooth. Our teeth were compared to several animals’ teeth. Kindergarten students continued to practice rhyming words - we played a game where we needed to beat an imaginary opponent (named “Joe Schmo”); sometimes we won, but sometimes he did!  We are also focussing on really being able to hear and represent the vowel sounds in our writing. This involves s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out the word so we can really differentiate which short vowel sound to use. As a way to remember, we say /a/ as in apple, /e/ as in egg, /i/ as in igloo, /o/ as in octopus and /u/ as in umbrella (or, if we are feeling silly, we say underwear!).

First graders finished our tens and ones place value unit. The children learned different ways to use tens and ones  to show the same number. For example 36= 3 tens 6 ones, 2 tens 16 ones, 1 ten and 26 ones, 0 tens and 36 ones. Kindergarten students are also investigating place value.  We are doing a lot of activities and playing games to practice number order from 20-120 - a very popular one is to color in the correct spaces on a 120 chart grid to reveal a mystery picture.  We’ve also been playing “quiz-quiz-trade” and “I have who has” with numbers represented in base ten blocks (tall rods are a group of 10 and small cubes are 1’s).

We have completed our unit about US presidents and symbols and have moved on to an art unit that encompasses portraits, the Mona Lisa, feelings, and Leonardo da Vinci!  We began by drawing self portraits, to get a sense of the challenges of drawing a face. Then we took time to closely observe the Mona Lisa; students generated a list of things that they could see as well as things that they wondered about. We watched a short informational video about the painting, which led to a great interest in the story of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, so the next day we learned about the thief, Vincenzo Peruggia.  One theory for his actions is that he was motivated to return the painting to Italy. Ironically the Mona Lisa became more famous after it was stolen (and returned) to the museum. We discussed some of the features that make the painting so special, including the mystery of who the subject really was, and why she has such an enigmatic expression on her face. The students agreed that it really does look as is her eyes are following you! Then students each drew the Mona Lisa with a different expression and wrote about why she was feeling that way.    

Our new topics in Open Circle are problems and problem solving. We read A Friend is Sad and A Cat and a Dog. Both of these fun stories featured animal characters that had a problem. In keeping with the humor of Purim one of our read alouds was Amelia Bedelia’s First Field Trip. Everyone loves Amelia’s funny take on words! We also read some books from silly author Robert Munsch, and The Better Than Best Purim,a  Purim book in the style of The Little Red Hen.  The children also enjoyed Three Silly Ghosts Gruff. Can you figure out what fairy tale is similar to this one?

In Ivrit, first graders learned the letter  ל and the new words: גלידה, אוכל/אוכלת, חולה/לא חולה.

We continue practicing the difference between positive and negative as well as male and female. We read a story about mishloach manot and put together the letters to create a word. Kindergarten students practiced their vocabulary and their Hebrew skills of finding the opening sound and letter for each picture. We use more writing when making our notebooks. This week we started learning the letter מ  and referred to the 4 mitzvot of Purim starting with מגילה,משלוח מנות, מתנות לאביונים, משתה: מ

For Yahadut, we talked about תחפושות(costumes) and shared ideas with each other. The children were excited to help us teachers decide what we should dress up as, by drawing costumes to a paper with our picture on it. It was so much fun seeing all the creative reasons they gave for each costume. Take a look at the bulletin board and see for yourself :)

This weeks’ Parashah is parashat Zachor- we talked about the mitzvah of remembering Amalek and how it’s related to Purim. We learned the bracot that we say before reading the Megillah (על מקרא מגילה, על הניסים, שהחיינו) and made רעשנים (graggers) to use during the reading of the Megillah.

Thank you to Yonah’s parents for coming in to celebrate his birthday,and thank you for the delicious cupcakes!

March 8, 2019

1 Adar 5779

Even though we move the clocks ahead and spring is in a couple of weeks, March sure came in like a lion! We’ve really enjoyed the chance to play outside in the snow, but are looking forward to the warmer weather - here’s to hoping March goes out like a lamb!

Despite the fact that we had an unplanned 4 day week, our students were able to accomplish a lot! In language arts the first graders were very motivated to continue Lexia where they left off last week. The children were given a sentence and had to circle the verb. Some of the verbs were a bit tricky but our students were able to find them! We worked on proper formation of lower case h and b in handwriting and reviewed digraphs. Digraphs are two consonants that produce one sound such as sh, th, wh. Our first digraph is sh. This week’s Scholastic News for both Kindergarten and first grade students was about Dr. Seuss, in honor of his birthday, which was on March 2 . Did you know that his real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel?  Kindergarten students learned six new sight words: come, look, here, big, little and make, played a new rhyming word game and reviewed all the short vowel sounds.

In math we continued our study about place value. The first graders can use of groups of tens and ones to show and write a two-digit number. We even started thinking about a three-digit number! The first graders have worked hard on being good estimators. They look forward to our weekly item to estimate. They all understand that when you estimate something you are giving an educated guess.  Kindergarten students are using the base ten blocks to represent numbers up to 100, and describing numbers as groups of tens and ones. We are doing a lot of activities that reinforce how to write numbers correctly and neatly.

This week in our study of fairy tales, we read a number of creative versions - sometimes called “fractured fairy tales” of traditional tales.  One was Kate and the Beanstalk; in this version we meet Kate, who is a clever and confident heroine. Other funny fairy tales were two versions of the Little Red Hen - Little Red Henry and The Little Red Fort.  Most students have written one fairy tale of their own and are busy writing a second.  Their work is amazing; students are doing a great job of incorporating what they know about this genre into their own writing.  

In social studies we learned about a number of American symbols, including the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, the American Eagle, the American Flag, Mt Rushmore and the Washington and Lincoln Monuments.  Students worked in pairs to watch short videos on the IPad, and then drew and wrote information about a symbol of their choice.

In Ivrit, first graders are making a progress and finished the 3 forms of the letter (כ. כ, כ, ך) . we learned the words: בוכה (crying), כוכב (star), כוכבים (stars) as well as : איך (how) and כך ( like this). We played a game to review many of the words that we learned so far and practice our reading abilities.

Kindergarten kids learned the letter ל . we read a recipe and made לימונדה

( lemonade ) out of לימונים ( lemons). The student colored לימון and got their own recipe to use at home :) .

As Purim is approaching we learned the word ליצן ( clown) and listened to the song ליצן קטן שלי ( “Leitzan katan shelly”).

Shavua Ivrit- we enjoyed fun activities led by Michal and Noam. We baked cookies shaped like the Hebrew letters and we learned “The letters song” (Alef- Ohel, Brit as Bait…) and sang it together using pictures. *We loved using our Hebrew!*

In Yahadut, we talked about parashat pekudei and referred to the fact that it's the last Parashah in Chumash Shemot.

We celebrated the Siyum during kabbalat Shabbat.

We welcomed Rosh Chodesh Adar Beit with a special drop off and many more singing and dancing through the day. We added ”Hallel” to our Tefillah and joined the npk students dancing of  “Mishenichnas Adar” :)

We started learning about the story of Purim as we read it in Megilat Ester.

The children saw a puppet show of the story and made their own puppets. We irked in pairs to prepare a big and colorful class Megilah. We also divided the story into small parts and each student illustrated one of the parts. This will become a personal Megillah for every child.

March1, 2019

24 Adar 5779

It was great to get back to school. We heard all about the children’s vacations and the fun that they had. What wild weather we had this week. Thank you for continuing to send in snow gear when necessary - believe it or not, spring is less than 3 weeks away!

In language arts the first graders wrote in their journals about their vacations. We continued our study of verbs, Lexia, and handwriting. March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’s birthday. He will always be remembered as one of the most favorite children’s authors. We read The Cat In The Hat’s Great Big Flap Book. This funny  book is inspired by many of Dr. Seuss’s books. There were also fun activities.  In honor of dental health month, the kindergarten Scholastic news was about teeth, while this week’s Scholastic News for first grade was all about our first president.

In social studies we continued learning about the US President and the White House.  Students created coins with their faces on them, and wrote about what they would do if they were President.  We took a “virtual field trip” to the White House and learned some very interesting facts, including how many bathrooms there are (35) as well as some of the unusual things inside the White House like a bowling alley and a movie theater!  We read Grace for President, and learned why Grace won the class election over her opponent Tommy Cobb.  We made election posters for ourselves to explain why we would make a good candidate.  Next week we will investigate US Symbols including the American Eagle, the American Flag and the Statue of Liberty.  

Our Fairy Tale unit continues with a whole class comparison of the classic tale of the Little Red Hen. We first all read one version (Paul Galdone) together. Then we broke up into five groups, and each one used an IPad to listen to a read-aloud story of a different version.  Each group was tasked with recording the different story elements, such as setting, characters, main character, problem/solution and what item was being baked. Next week, the class will split up again and students will have the opportunity to present the story elements of the version they read in order to compare them.  In our writing, this week we focussed on trying to add exciting ways for our characters to move. Why walk through the enchanted forest when you could hoverboard, ski or gallop on your unicorn? We also read a version of Hansel and Gretel that led us to a really intense discussion of good vs evil, if it is ever justifiable to be a bad character, and whether characters choose to be bad or if they are just born that way.

The first graders started a new math topic about place value. We learned about making groups of ten and having leftovers (tens and ones) The children practiced writing numbers in expanded form. For example 23 is written 20 + 3 and 2 tens and 3 ones.  Kindergarten students finished up their unit about money, and are moving on to becoming familiar with the numbers 20-100, including a beginning exposure to place value. There is often confusion with these numbers based on directionality - is it 82, or 28?  74 or 47? Any practice you can give your child in reading numbers in the real world - on labels, packaging, road signs, advertisements - will be helpful! Or you can ask, what number is written 3 - 6? Or what number is five tens and two ones? We will continue this topic for about two weeks to get practice in reading, writing and understanding these bigger numbers.  

During Open Circle this week we discussed teasing and how hurtful it can be. We read Ira Sleeps Over. This is a great book that talks about Ira and his first sleepover. He is worried about taking a special something on his sleepover because he fears getting made fun of. Ask your child what it was that Ira took on his sleepover.

In Ivrit, both kindergarten children and first grades finished the letter כ.First graders read a new story and practiced the differences between כותב  (write) and כותבת.

Kindergarten children sorted the words we learned so far according to the opening letter. We have such an amazing vocabulary already.

For Yahadut we learned about parashat “Vayakhel” and about the special tools of the mishkan. We played a matching game (picture-Hebrew word) and made our own personal game to take home. We discussed the name of this Shabbat : “Shabbat Shekalim”, that  always comes before Rosh Chodesh Adar (this year Adar Beit). We explained the reason for giving half a Shekel and that everyone must give the same amount as they are all equal.

Finally we are so proud of our children at the Messibat Hasidur! K-1 performed beautifully. Mazel Tov to our first graders on receiving your first Siddur. We couldn’t have done it without our amazing kindergartners.

February 15, 2019

10 Adar

Wow what a busy week it was for our Kindergarten and First graders!  In addition to all of our usual fun and educational activities, we had some extra special events this week!

On Tuesday Rabbi Cheses came to our class and read the book Weird. This book, which is part of the Darchei Binah inclusion library, is about a child making fun of a classmate because they felt she was “weird”. Things change throughout the book and end with the problem being solved. Rabbi Cheses also told us a story that had to do with Lashon Hara, and we discussed the difference between “telling” and Lashon Ha’ra.  Rabbi Cheses explained that if you need help, if your feelings or body are hurt, it is always OK to tell an adult or someone else who can help you. It is also OK to tell if you see another person who needs help. But if you are not involved, if the other people are handling the situation, or if your motive is to hurt another person, then that would be Lashon ha’ra.  This is a very complicated topic - we are so grateful that Rabbi Cheses could visit and teach us about such important values. This topic also fit in very well with our Open Circle discussions regarding the difference between dangerous and destructive behaviors and annoying behaviors. Please see the attached information from Open Circle to find out more:

We read Ruby the Copycat, about a new student who copies another child in the class in an effort to be accepted - until it becomes apparent how annoying her behavior is.  

In language arts the first graders finished their vowel study. We continued being verb detectives in sentences, working on Lexia, Abraham Lincoln alphabetizing, long e word searches, and handwriting. We are working hard on our lowercase and letters and numbers. Kindergarten students worked on letter/sound sorts to identify words that begin with sh, z and s, as well as words that begin or end with sh.  We also began a study of rhyming words! We read the very amusing book Rhyming Dust Bunnies, and made our own dust bunnies to take home!  Training the ear to recognize words that rhyme is an important phonemic awareness skill.  Beginning readers often mistake words that begin with the same sound as rhyming words (mud/man), rather than attending to the middle and ending sounds.  Luckily, there are many easy ways to practice this skill, both at home and at school. There are lots of great rhyming books that are fun to read together (here are two pretty thorough lists: and .)  You can also play rhyming word games while in the car, at the store or at the dinner table - you can present two words and ask if they rhyme or not; you can also name a word and see how many rhyming words you and your child can generate.  Another activity is a rhyme hunt - take a household item and see how many other objects your child can find that rhyme. Have fun!

Our Fairy Tale unit continues.  This week we practiced a technique that helps us improve our writing. Each student retold their story to a partner and the two students worked together to add details and fairy tale elements to their writing.  It is important for authors to think of their audience, and by telling our stories to another person, we can be sure that our ideas are being communicated effectively. Our Fairy Tale unit will continue after the February break.

In math we continued working on coin identification and counting coins. The first grade children enjoyed playing Money Bingo and the Dice Dollar game. We had our money assessment. Kindergarten students finished sorting the class tzedakah - the final total will be announced soon!  Kindergarten students also did a “grab and graph” activity where they sorted and graphed coins and used tally marks to record the number of heads/tails from flipping a penny. The grand finale to our money was visiting the much awaited Rotman Store. The children were able to purchase an item (to keep) if they had enough of their hard earned pretend money. Both kindergarten and first graders enjoyed this trip to shop. Ask your child to show you what they purchased!

This week in Social Studies we took notes on A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln. We used a graphic organizer to help us sort the information about his life into different categories (birth, family, education, jobs…).  Then we used a Venn diagram to write about the similarities and differences between Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. We also read a book about being President, and wrote about what we would do if we were president of the United States - and then we drew ourselves on a coin!

In Ivrit, first graders learned the letter כ and new words such as: כיתה (class), כואב (hurt), כחול (blue), כן (yes) , כד (jug) and כותב (writes).

On Thursday we attended a concert given by the Grandels along with some other musicians.  These concerts are always wonderful opportunities for our students to be exposed to a variety of classical music, and be introduced to instruments and the people who play them.  It also allows us to practice how to be a member of an audience - to sit quietly AND listen actively. A favorite part of the concerts is the Q&A afterwards - our students have such thoughtful questions and display a real interest in the music, instruments and musicians.  

Guess what Friday was ??? The 100th day of school! Everything we did had to do with the 100th day of school. Some of the activities were: reading 100 words, writing 100 words, dot to dots, word games, 100th day math activities, building challenges, art activities and of course the highly anticipated Hershey kiss hunt! We even had a 100th day snack. There were 10 different snack items and each child took 10 of each item to equal 100 items.What an exciting way to end school before the February break!

Have a wonderful, restful , and fun vacation.

February 8, 2019

3 Adar 5779

So, the groundhog didn’t see his shadow so we will have an early spring. Do we believe this? Well this week we did have spring... but also winter! I guess we will have to wait and see what the future brings.

In language arts the first graders continued identifying word contractions. This week we focused on long /e/. Now we have completed our vowel study. It was a little confusing to decide if a word has the magic e at the end of a word and having two vowels together (first one does the talking and the second goes for the walk). We played a game changing words and meaning by adding an e to a word (i.e. tap, tape). The children were introduced to verbs. We acted out certain verbs and we had to guess what the verb was. Of course we worked hard on handwriting and Lexia. Our topic in Scholastic News was brave Ruby Bridges. We learned how she was one of the strongest activists for racial equality.  Kindergarten students met letter pairs S and Z, as well as the digraph SH. We practiced letter formation with shaving cream - always a favorite activity (plus it leaves our tables clean and fresh smelling!).

In math, first graders  counted quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. In counting several coins we separated all the coins and counted the largest value coin first. The children solved money word problems. Kindergarten students are learning to recognize penny, nickel, dime and quarter.  We started sorting our class tzedaka - ask your child how many pennies we had (and also how we were able to count them all). Sorting and counting coins is a great way to follow up at home. Students in both classes are very excited to visit the Rotman Store next week. We have been busy stocking the store with brand new merchandise and students are busy earning class money to spend at the store.

One of our read alouds was There Was An Old Mermaid Who Swallowed A Shark.. In this fun new spin-off, the Old Lady turns into an Old Mermaid, travels down into the ocean, and swallows a well as many other sea creatures.. Why? Ask your child!. We also read Perfect , about a fussy eraser who tries to keep the pages clean by erasing the scribbles of a mischievous pencil. Before long, they both discover what can happen when two very different styles work to create something together. We have also been reading many traditional Fairy Tales, including The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella.  We have been focussing on identifying characteristics of the fairy tale genre (yes, our students use this type of language) such as:

Royal characters

Imaginary characters like fairies, wizards and trolls

Talking animals

Good vs Evil

Magic, often used to solve a problem

Rule of three

Unusual settings such as a far away land, an enchanted forest or a splendid castle

Once upon a time...Happily ever after

Students are using their knowledge of fairy tales to write their own - and they are doing an amazing job!!  We have seen so much growth in student’s writing abilities since the beginning of the year. In anticipation of this new unit, we have emptied our writing binders and are sending home a lot of student work - please take the time to look over what your child is bringing home.  Emptying the folders and backpack over the weekend is an important way for you to keep up with what your child is doing at school, and lets your child know that you value their effort and learning.

Our social studies unit on American presidents continued this week as we read a biography of George Washington and took notes on his life. We also took a little peek into the life of first lady Martha Washington. We will read about Abraham Lincoln next week, and then compare/contrast what we learned about their lives.  

In Ivrit - first graders were very excited to finish their second Ariot book!! We finished the letter י and learned the words: יושב, יושבת (seats), יויו (yoyo), יד (hand). The children were given stories from the book to read at home, and to bring back on Monday. They will get a new book every time they bring one back.

Kindergarten students started learning the letter כ. We learned new words with כ such as: כובע (hat), כפפות ( gloves), כיפהand כף (spoon). We heard a Hebrew song called כובע קסמים (a magic hat) and made our own “magic” hats.

Yahadut- Mesibat Hasidur is coming on March 1 at 8:00…we spend a lot of time practicing and preparing for the exciting day.  There will also be an evening to make the siddur covers on February 25.

The children will bring home their lines for the play. Please help them practice.

Parashat Hashavua- “Terumah”. We learned about the Mishkan and the special things in it. We talked about ארון הברית, the Menorah, and שולחן לחם הפנים.

February 1, 2019

26 Shevat 5779

Welcome February. We hope everyone is staying warm. Does spring actually start in 7 weeks? The groundhog will let us know on Saturday.

In language arts the first graders wrote about what they remembered about Martin Luther King. The children remembered a lot of important changes  that he made for our country. This week we focused on long /u/. We worked on our handwriting skills and Lexia. This week our Scholastic News was about the science of sound. We learned about the different speed of vibrations and how the sound travels to the different parts of our ears.  Kindergarten students added to our sight word repertoire; we now know I, A, can, see, the, and, like, play, to, for, it, is, in, me, my, we, go, do, you, by, yes and no. We practiced using these sight words in original sentences, which we incorporated into our football themed writing later in the week (see below). Our Lets Find Out magazine this week was about snow.  We read a rebus story about snowmen, and learned about Wilson Bentley, one of the first people to figure out how to photograph snowflakes. His beautiful pictures are still fascinating today, more than 100 years later. We also read a funny book about a snowman who is chilly, and how he tries to warm himself up. Maybe someday it will snow here in Sharon!

One of our read alouds was When Sophie Gets Really, Really Angry. We read this earlier in the year as a mentor text in our personal narrative genre unit.  At the time, we focussed on the author’s use of color and text styles to reflect emotions. Now we used the book as a springboard for a discussion about what makes us angry and how we can help ourselves when feeling angry or mad. We also read There Was An Old Pirate Who Swallowed A Map! This is a funny story about an old pirate on the open seas who swallows many things.  We also enjoyed Dr Desoto - ask your child about this unusual dentist and how he handles a difficult patient.  

This week we introduced a new genre for readers and writers workshop - Fairy Tales and Traditional Tales!  We began to work on a chart to represent what we already know about how Fairy Tales are constructed - they have pretend characters like wizards and unicorns; animals can talk and do things that humans do; characters have magical powers and they often begin with “once upon a time…” and end with “...happily ever after.” As we read more Fairy Tales, we will expand our understanding of this genre.  One question we immediately noticed was why Fairy Tales generally don’t have an author. Ask your child some of the reasons we thought of.

In math first grade students continued counting dimes, nickels, and pennies. Working in partners, the children put their coins together and had to come up with ways of finding 63 cents,84 cents etc. They learned that many times there are more than one way to show the amount. We learned the value of a quarter and practicing adding quarters and pennies together. The class enjoyed The Penny Pot; this is a story about coin counting.  Kindergarten students are finishing their teen number unit. We have learned to identify teen numbers, to build teen numbers from one group of ten and some ones, to represent teen numbers with ten frames, tally marks and drawings of objects, and to neatly write the number.  Next week we will move on to a short unit about money; this will help prepare us for visiting the Rotman store. Our goals will be identifying the penny, nickel, dime and quarter and understanding that they have different values.

This week in Open Circle we reflected on and discussed some of the concepts and skills that we have learned to help students strengthen their relationships with others. Some of the concepts discussed were giving compliments, inclusion, speaking up, cooperation, and ways to express angry feelings.  The Open Circle curriculum builds in time for reflection after every unit. We also tried a new challenge in our sock toss game by adding another sock. We are still working on it!

Our social studies focus this week was on our classroom community.  We took a look at jobs, and why people have jobs. Some answers we thought of were: to get out of the house, to get money so you can buy things, to help the world and help other people and to have something to do so you’re not bored.  Then we made a job description for a student. We asked, if a student were doing their job successfully, what would you see? We listed things like; respectful behavior, caring for the classroom and materials, being kind, learning, and having fun.  Then the teachers explained that each student in our class would be getting a salary - five (paper) pennies per day - for doing their job as expected. We made wallets to hold our salary. In two weeks, everyone can visit the Rotman store and spend their hard earned money!  However, just as in the real world, there are sometimes costs that employees have to deal with. For instance, disruptive or unexpected behavior in the workplace can mean you have to pay a fine! You could also earn a bonus through exemplary behavior and effort.

We also spent a little time preparing for an upcoming American holiday - Super Bowl Sunday!  We actually used this opportunity to do some writing about football and to make pennants to root for our favorite teams -wherever they hail from!  This also gave us a chance to speak about sportsmanship, fairness and working together as a team. GO (insert name your team here), GO! We hope everyone enjoys and comes to school on Monday morning in good spirits!

In Ivrit this week, first graders learned the letter ט and new words with טבח :ט (a cook), טוסט (toast), אוטו (a car), טוב(good) and לא טוב (not good). We practiced the difference between positive and negative ( טוב/לא טוב) and between feminine and masculine (טוב/ טובה).

We read a story with the new words and the first graders were asked to take the book home and practice reading with their parents.

Kindergarten students learned the letter י and we played a game called ים- יבשה )sea and land).

We learned the words ילד (boy) and ילדה (girl) and the sentence: אני ____ , הוא/היא. We learned that the words ישראל and ירושלים also start with י, And we colored the map of Israel.

Thank you to Mia’s mom for coming in to celebrate her birthday. We loved the treats!

January 25, 2019

19 Shevat 5779

Here’s hoping that everyone had a nice three day weekend and kept warm. New England weather sure keeps us on our toes!  One day it is five for a high and then three days later it’s almost 50 degrees. If you send your child to school wearing boots, PLEASE send slippers or sneakers in their backpack to change to - it keeps our classroom neater (we work and play on the floor very often, and it’s not fun when there’s water, salt and sand on where we sit!).  

In language arts, the first graders learned about long /o/. Just so we don’t forget about the short vowels, we played Short Vowel Bingo. The children learned about word contractions ( i.e. can’t = can not). A word contraction is a shorter word that stands for 2 small words. We also had Lexia time and in handwriting we worked on lower case y and j.  Kindergarten students added four new sight words (my, for, we and play) and one new Lively Letter - the vowel /u/. All students reviewed decoding strategies that they can use when encountering an unfamiliar word - stretch it out, look at the pictures, skip and go back, look at and say the beginning -middle-final sounds and flip the vowel (from short to long).  

In math, first graders started our unit on money. In first grade we focus on pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. The students will identify, count coins, and figure out what coins are needed to purchase items. They see how nickels and dimes means we count by 5’s and 10’s. Next week if you have spare change, ask your child to sort and count the different coins. This week we focused on counting pennies,nickels and dimes. Kindergarten students continued on in the study of teen numbers.  We are working on recognizing that teen numbers always represent one group of ten and some additional ones. We have had some very interesting conversations about whether 10 and 20 should be considered teen numbers!

One of our read alouds was Jamaica’s Blue Marker. This is a story about Jamaica who

is friends with everyone in school except for Russell, who is mean to other kids. Jamaica is not sorry to learn that Russell is moving away--until she learns why. Ask your child why Jamaica’s feelings changed. This week in Open Circle we continued talking about how we express angry feelings and what we can do to help ourselves when we are angry. We also played a fun group game called Sock Toss.  It is very challenging, and requires focus, memory, cooperation and the ability to interpret non-verbal signals. Many of the games we play in Open Circle have the important goal of improving our social/emotional skills.

We also read Who Will I Be? This is an uplifting story about a teacher who asks her students who they want to be when they grow up. Isabel doesn’t have an answer but knows it makes her happy to help her friends and family and she opens her eyes and heart to see all the different helping jobs people dedicate their lives.

On Tuesday we were lucky to have two programs. In the morning we attended the fifth grade ECO fair.  The fifth graders each planned an activity that would teach us some of the important things that they learned at their trip to TEVA.  Our oldest SHAS class attends TEVA yearly; the program integrates outdoor environmental education with Jewish concepts and values through exciting hands-on activities in a cooperative residential setting.  We had the chance to make some recycled art, play games like predator and pray, “trash toss” and find the camouflaged animals, and even see (and touch) worms in compost! Then in the afternoon we participated in a wonderful Tu B’Shevat program run by the Bnot Sherut; we used Israeli money to buy fruits at the shuk to make fun fruit kabobs, did a craft activity and drank “prigat” (Israeli fruit juice) at the juice bar!

Even though Martin Luther King day has already passed, we continued to focus on his values.  We read The Other Side of the Fence, which is about a white and a black girl whose homes are separated by a fence, and the tension between their desire to play together and their parents’ feelings that “the other side of the fence” is dangerous. Ask your child how the problem was resolved.  We wrote/drew about the differences between then (prior to the Civil Rights movement) and now. We also read The Colors of Us, which celebrates the wide diversity of skin colors.  We mixed up our own skin tone paints and used them to paint paper hands that we traced and cut out ourselves.  Look for them on the bulletin board near mercaz aleph!

Since we have are currently focussing on social studies topics, we are not doing a science unit.  However, both kindergarten and first grade students learned about the life cycle of penguins in Scholastic News.

January 18, 2019

12 Shevat 5779

It was wonderful to share Havdalah last Saturday night with all of you. The sense of community and warmth was beautiful, and the crafts and activities were terrific. Just a head’s up about the decorated glasses: first, they were not yet toiveled, and second, in order for the paint to set (and not wash off), please follow these directions: put the glass on a tray (upside down is fine) and place in a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 300 degrees, leave on for half an hour and then turn off and allow the glass to cool. The paint should now not wash off; the glass may be rinsed and wiped, but is not dishwasher safe. Hopefully you will enjoy these Havdalah items for many years to come!

This week in language arts the first graders learned about long vowel sound /i/. We also learned about consonant clusters. Consonant clusters are when there are two consonants together without a vowel and you hear each sound. We are working very hard on our Lexia skills and handwriting skills. The emphasis is proper formation, starting from the top and no mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters. Kindergarten students met letter /r/ and practiced generating sentences with our sight words.  For read alouds, both Gan and Aleph enjoyed The Recess Queen and The Way I Feel. In writers’ workshop, we have finished our “how to” unit, by publishing one of our works. On Friday, we had the opportunity to read to groups of students from the N/PK. Good work, authors!

This week’s social studies topic was Martin Luther King.  The Scholastic News for both classes was about Dr King. The first grade students’ was about all the important things that Martin Luther King Jr accomplished. The article was written by Martin Luther King Jr’s granddaughter. Kindergarten students compared experiences in the US before and after Dr King’s life and work.  All students read Martin’s Big Words and worked on a project focussed on their own “big” words.  Coincidentally, our Open Circle topic for the week was angry feelings (and how to manage them appropriately); this will continue next week as well. In Open Circle we played a game called inside/outside circles - it was a little challenging to set up, but we managed it!  Ask your child to explain it to you.

In math the first graders  finished our chapter on graphing. We created picture graphs and answered questions about many different kinds of graphs. The children have done a good job reading the graphs and figuring out how to use the information in a graph to answer questions. Our next topic is the money unit. This will culminate with a trip to the Rotman Store. Children will be able to purchase items if they have enough (pretend) money.  Kindergarten students moved on to study teen numbers; through games, songs and practice, we are learning to recognize that the teen numbers are one group of ten and then some more...that is why they all begin with a one - that represents the one group of ten.

We finished our science unit on motion by reflecting on something that we learned about the topic.  Then we read and investigated an artist who is known for his movement and active painting style - Jackson Pollock.  We watched a short video about his painting style (re-enacted by a museum educator and artist; and read Action Jackson.  We discussed that as an abstract expressionist, his paintings do not depict any objects, but rather convey a feeling, which people can interpret for themselves.  Then we tried our hand at painting in Pollock’s distinctive style, which was to apply the paint “in the air”, and letting it fall to the surface, without touching his canvas with a brush or other paint tool.  We laid easel papers on the floor, and used sticks, wooden spoons, toothbrushes, pipettes, and pipe cleaners to drip, drop and splatter paint onto the paper. It was amazing to see the students do this intricate dance of movements while creating distinctive and individual works of art!

In Ivrit-first graders finished learning the letter ז and started the letter ח. We practice reading short stories with the letters that we learned. we also practice the difference between feminine and masculine in words such as: זז (move) זזה, אוז/אוזה, חדש.חדשה.

Kindergarten students finished  learning the letter ח and moved on to the next letter ט. We learned the new words: טלית, טבעת (ring), טוש (marker), טרקטור (tractor). We practice our vocabulary by playing  many different games.

Yahadut-  This week was all about Tu Bishvat ! The children learned the meaning of the holiday, gave presents to the trees and learned tu bishvat songs such as: טו בשבט הגיע, עץ חדש נולד, השקדיה פורחת. We learned about שבעת המינים and made a Tu bishvat plate with their pictures. We sprouted different seeds and planted seeds that were sent to us by the JNF. we heard the song זרעים של מסטיק (“seeds of chewing gum:) ) and “planted our own imaginary trees.

During Kabbalat Shabbat we made a beautiful “Seder Tu Bishavat” with lots of different fruits. We sang songs told stories about this special day. We wish you all a Happy Tu bishvat!

Parashat Ha’shavuah- we learned the story of קריעת ים סוף and talked about the special meaning of Shabbat Shira (שבת שירה) that refers to שירת הים.

January 11, 2019

5 Shevat 5779

Happy New Year to all! We all got right back into our Gan Aleph schedule this week.

In language arts, the first graders learned about magic e . Our first long vowel sound is /a/. Along with magic e the children are learning about two vowels together. The first one does the talking and the second one does the walking, for example in the word rain. We also worked on handwriting and Lexia. This week’s Scholastic News was about different New Year’s traditions.  Kindergarten students met letter “L”; she is a sound that we make with our tongues at the front, top of our mouths, and practiced our new sight words in, it, is and go. In Reader’s workshop we all tried to be aware of our sight words when reading; they can help in a number of ways! Of course, simply reading them accurately helps us with fluency and comprehension...but also, knowing that c-a-n is “can” means that we can figure out that m-a-n is “man”!  In addition, sometimes we can find sight words as parts of unfamiliar words, for instance, knowing the word i-n can help us figure out the word “hint” or “winter”. Sight words are high frequency and also often difficult to decode phonetically, so knowing them automatically is very helpful, especially to beginning readers.

For read alouds, both Gan and Aleph enjoyed Willow’s Whispers, Too Much, Not Enough and Arthur’s Teacher Moves In. Too Much, Not Enough is about  exuberant Peanut and steadfast Moe.  They are best friends -most of the time - but Peanut is messy, while Moe is neat. Peanut is loud. Moe is quiet. Peanut always wants more. Moe always wants a little less. Ask your child if there was a resolution. Willow’s Whispers fits beautifully into our Open Circle discussion about speaking up (see attached handout for more information). This book is about Willow, who speaks too softly, and what happens to her.

In math the first graders started a graphing unit and have learned that graphs are important because they provide us with data. So far we have worked with bar graphs and tally marks. The children also practiced their facts by playing a dice addition game, finding sums, and using flash cards.  Kindergarten students completed their measurement unit, and have also been solidifying their understanding of how to make ten. This forms the basis for addition and subtraction within ten. You can practice easily at home with small objects, or using mental math by saying, “I have (x number) of _________; how many more do I need to make ten”?  You can also use ten small objects displayed in front of you, and then cover some part of them with a plastic cup, or by hiding them in your hand; then ask, “how many are under my cup/in my hand?”

Ivrit- first graders learned the letters ה, ו ,ז and the vocabulary is growing each day. We are using short sentences and reading short stories. We learned the days of the week, and recited the sentences: Eize yom hayom (איזה יום היום?) and Hayom Yom …. ( היום יום…). We also learned the word הנה that is used to describe things that we see (similar to :”here is…) .

Kindergarten students finished the letter ז by making their notebooks and prepering their  own זחל (caterpillar). The children learned the letter ח and were introduced to words like : חלב, חולצה, חללית, חילזון, חורף, חלה. We  also made a challah shaped like a ח.


This week was dedicated to the Havdallah ceremony that we are all looking forward to. The children learned about the concept of Havdallah, which means separation, and learned the different things that Hashem separated in our world. We also learned the meaning of the brachot, decorated our besamim jars and made our own “Seder Havdalah” to use at home.

We want to thank Mrs. Saks for teaching us the Havdallah song: “Hiney el yeshuati”  and we hope to see all of you this Motzeiy Shabbat.

Fun was had by all on our bowling field trip! This was a great way to finish up our unit on motion and force!  Earlier in the week we engaged in two engineering activities from Mystery Science. In the first, we needed to try to figure out how to guide a “boulder” (bouncy ball) down a “mountain” (angled clip board) and into a “dump truck” (plastic cup) so it could be safely taken away from the mountain WITHOUT knocking down the (paper) houses at the bottom of the mountain.  Students used push pins (no more than five!) to redirect the boulder’s path. Then we read a Mystery Science book about a boy who learned how to use the bumpers at the bowling alley to knock down the most pins. We created a simulated bowling alley in the social hall, and students used large blocks as “bumpers” and rolled a tennis ball to try to knock down plastic cups - that gave us good practice for the real bowling alley!  Our bowling field trip allowed us to consolidate a lot of the information we have learned about force and motion, including:

Objects need a force applied to them in order to move

Force is energy that moves something

A push moves things away from you; a pull moves them toward you

The more force you use, the faster/farther an object will go

The amount of force you need depends on the size of the object

You can change the direction of an object in motion by applying force to it while it’s moving

Friction affects how fast/far an object moves

There are other forces, such as gravity and magnetism, that make things move

Thank you to our driver’s for taking us to the bowling alley!.

Thank you to Judah’s mom for coming in to celebrate Judah’s birthday. We loved the treat and also your science experiment. Please ask your child about electrocuting fruits and pickles! Thank you to Libby’s parents for coming in to celebrate her birthday  and bringing in a birthday treat.

December 21, 2018

13 Tevet 5779

It is hard to believe that this is the last newsletter for 2018. Where has the time gone?

This week, first graders reviewed short  e. You might wonder why we learn about e last. The reason is that short /e/ and short /a/ sound similar, and it helps to learn them separately, rather than back to back. We are also learning about nouns. The children need to identify whether the noun is a person, place, or thing. In handwriting we worked on lower case /u/. Practicing correct formation afterward with shaving cream on the tables  was a big hit! Everyone had Lexia time. Kindergarten students added another digraph to their lively letters - /ng/ - and reviewed all of our letters and sight words with a variety of games and activities. Both kindergarten and first grade authors continue to do great work on their “how to” or procedural writing. We read two mentor texts this week, How to Be a Baby, How to Find a Friend ,and How to Catch a Fox, and we worked to find the various steps that the main character tries.  All students practiced using letter/sound knowledge as a strategy to decode unfamiliar words in their read-to-self books; even just using the first sound in the word can be a good clue,when combined with other information such as the picture or the content of the sentence.  

For read alouds, both Gan and Aleph enjoyed Arthur in a Pickle by Marc Brown. We also read Swimmy, by Leo Lionni, in connection with our Open Circle discussion of cooperation.  To welcome winter we read Snow Family . After reading the book the class wrote and illustrated about what they like to do in the winter. We even had  a special language arts center time to do puzzles and play some alphabet and word games.

In math first graders learned how addition and subtraction are related, drawing a picture to write a number sentence, and a short assessment. After vacation we will start our graphing unit. Kindergarten students continued with our unit on measurement.  We used some interesting non-standard measuring tools like pennies, paper clips and unifix cubes to measure objects in our room.

In science we investigated friction and how various surfaces can slow down a ball rolling down a ramp.  Ask your child which surface made the ball roll the shortest distance - bubble wrap, a towel, or carpet.  Since we were testing the different surfaces, we made sure to only change that one variable, and left the type of ball and angle of the ramp the same.  First graders read in their Scholastic News about animals who hibernate or migrate.

In ivrit- first graders finished their first “Ariot” book! The children took the books home and they would love to share what they learned with you. We started the new book with the letter ו (vav) and we are adding more and more words to our Hebrew vocabulary.

Kindergarten students just finished the letter ז and learned words like: זברה (zebra), זחל (caterpillar), זבוב (fly), זית (olive). The children got blue folders in order to put their “notebooks” together and they will bring it home to share with you. Please send the folders back after winter break. Thank you.

In Yahadut-  we continued learning two more brachot of Birkot Ha’shachar : מלביש ערומים (malbish arumim) and מתיר אסורים (matir asurim). For Parashat Ha’shavuah- we

Learned 2 songs that are related to Yaakov’s bracha for Menashe and Effrayim. The first one is : ישימך אלוקים כאפרים וכמנשה” and the second is: המלאך הגואל אותי ( hamalach hagoel oti). The children enjoyed listening to the songs and shared with us that their parents say/sing them at home every friday/ every night.. We made a card and a mobile to take home and put in your room.

We learned about the brachot that Yaakov give to each of his sons, and the special symbol that each tribe has.

Chumash celebration- in honor of the last Parashah of chumash Bereishit, we baked  cupcakes and celebrated the siyum with a special and exciting Kabbalat Shabbat and with the blessing of חזק חזק ונתחזק!

Mazal tov to our dear Morah Leslee, and thank you to all the wonderful children for the beautiful card and celebration :)

Thank you to Tal’s mother and brother for coming in to celebrate his birthday. Thank you for the treat.

Have a wonderful vacation and stay warm. See you next year in 2019!

December 14, 2018

6 Tevet 5779

Here’s hoping that everyone had a wonderful Chanukah week filled with lots of quality time spent with family and friends.

In language arts the first grade reviewed short u. Some of the activities around short u were finding short u rhyming words, making short u words from a code or riddle, and completing a sentence with the correct short u word. We also continued a-b-c order and Lexia. In Lexia the children are at different levels and have different skills to work on. Some of the skills are vowel combinations. medial vowels, sequencing stories, comprehension, sight words, word contractions, and silent e. This week’s Scholastic Science Spin for first grade was all about squirrels and their nuts. A scientist actually studied whether squirrels steal nuts from other squirrels. Ask your child what the researcher found, and how!

Kindergarten students met two new letters - we call them the “nose letters”.  Can you guess which ones they are? We continue to practice our sight words and to try to spot them in our books when we are reading.  Knowing these words automatically helps us to be successful readers! Our Scholastic News this week was about animals that hibernate. We tried accessing it on the IPad instead of the smart board this week - hopefully that worked out well!

We read a wide variety of read alouds this week!  First up was How to Teach a Slug to Read!  This charming “how to” book goes through the ten steps of teaching a slug to read - which are very suspiciously like the process of teaching a child to read!  One of the highlights of the book were the classic texts featured in the lessons, such as “Where the Wild Slugs Are”, “Slug and Snail are Friends” and “Go Slug Go!”.  Next up was Peanut Butter and Cupcake.  This is a cute book about how Peanut Butter sets out with his soccer ball to find a friend after moving to a new town, but everyone from Hamburger to Soup seems to be too busy to play. We also read the very beautiful The Quiltmaker's Gift, a story of how a greedy king learns an important lesson from a generous quiltmaker.  During Chanukah we read I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel; a family drives through the snow to visit their beloved bubbe, who spreads out a Chanukah supper for everyone to enjoy. We also read Hershel and the Chanukah Goblins, a (mildly) spine tingling story of industrious Hershel of Ostropol, who defeats the Chanukah-hating goblins and returns the holiday celebrations to the town.  

In math our first graders learned how to use doubles and addition facts to master related subtraction facts.  When we have a simple addition problem such as 5+3=8 we explain that those are the only numbers that we can use to find another addition problem and 2 subtraction problems. We used two ten frames to to model addition facts. Meanwhile, Kindergarten students are busy measuring everything in sight!  We tried to find things in the classroom larger than an eraser, or smaller than a unifix cube. Then each student got a pipe cleaner and had to find things longer and shorter than that length. Finally, we used giant brown bear paws from our Scholastic News article about hibernating animals to measure our bookshelves and carpet!  

In science, we continued our exploration of pushes and pulls by comparing how far different balls (tennis ball, ping pong ball, golf ball, bouncy ball, etc) would roll down a ramp.  We learned about variables, and how we only want to change one thing at a time when we are investigating - in this case, we were seeing what features of the balls might affect how they roll, so we needed to try to keep all the other variables the same. We learned that many things can affect the outcome, including some that we cannot predict (or change) such as how level and how clean the floor is!  Students enjoyed predicting which balls would roll the farthest and then trying to figure out WHY? Does a small ball or a large ball roll farther? What about a heavy ball or a light one? It is fascinating to hear their reasons. Ask you child what their experience was!

Ivrit- first graders are back to their Ariot books. We learned two new letters this week: ד (dalet) and ה (hei).

Kindergarten students learned the letter ו (vav) together with words like: וילון (curtain) , ורוד (pink), and ופל (waffle).

December 7, 2018

29 Kislev 5779

What a fun Chanukah week of school. Thank you to Moreh Arye, Morah Hila, Michal, and Noam for the wonderful Chanukah carnival. The activities were so much fun.  Also thank you to Uri’s mom and sister for coming in to celebrate his birthday. The treats were yummy.

In language arts the first grade students worked on a-b-c order. They are doing a great job. We learned that if you have two words that have the same first letter, than we have to look at the second letter. This week we reviewed short o. The children were not tricked by trying to find the correct short vowel sound of the picture shown. In journal writing the children shared what they like about Chanukah. In their sentences they had to include at  least one short o word. Of course we worked on our handwriting and Lexia skills. Kindergarten students played ABC Bingo and other games to practice their letter recognition skills. They are amazed that with their knowledge of two vowels and almost ten consonants, they can READ many words!

Both kindergarten and first grade students made the transition from narrative to how-to writing.  We began the unit with a lesson on the importance of being clear and detailed in our directions - ask your child about “How To Eat Cereal”!  Our students are experts on so many things, from sports, to lego building to drawing and cooking - and their writing has started out very well.  We have been reading some procedural books to serve as mentor texts.

One of our read alouds was Will I have a Friend? This is a great book about a little boy’s anxieties about making a friend at school. He quickly forgets about being worried and he finds a wonderful friend who has similar interests. We also read “Menorah Under the Sea”, about a marine biologist in Antarctica who celebrates Chanukah in an usual way - ask your child what he made a chanukiyah out of!

In math our first graders learned what addition near doubles are (2+3, 3+4) and discovered that if we know our doubles it makes it easier to figure out a near double. We used ten frames to figure out addition facts. The goal is to practice our math facts so that they become more automatic. We practiced subtracting 0, 1, and 2. Not only are the children using IPADS for Lexia they are also playing math games and practicing facts on the the IPAD. Kindergarten students took a math assessment on the topic of comparing numbers 0-10, and did very well!  Our students are to be commended on their neat number writing as well! Our next math unit will be measurement, including standard and non-standard units of measure.

In science this week the students were challenged to work with their partner to design a way to move a small rock using only a limited set of materials - and without touching the rock with their body!  Many creative inventions ensued. Next week we will be comparing how far/fast various balls roll down a ramp, and what factors - size, weight, material - affect the outcome.

Ivrit- we had a full week of Hanukkah fun!

First graders learned the song סביבון סוב סוב סוב and made a paper dreidel and a chocolate dreidel. The students learned how to spell Hanukkah words in Hebrew and wrote their own word search to play with the family. We have a new book for the holidays (its called חג שמח) and we are going to use it for each Chag.

In connection to the language arts “how to” unit, we made a “how to” guide for making latkes. The student learned the Hebrew names of the ingredients, the tools, and the steps in order to make a לביבה.  

Kindergarten students learned the names of the fingers and a song where each finger is a symbol of Hanukkah ( כף היד שלי חג אורים) . We also discussed the meaning of the phrase “Chag urim”- holiday of lights, and made our own handprint with the song. We learned the meaning of the letters on the dreidel (נס גדול היה פה) and made a paper dreidel. We enjoyed making chocolate dreidels . It was so yummy !:)

We learned the difference between ingredients and tools and then named the things we need in order to make latkes.

Finally, everyone did a great job peeling, greateing and eating wonderful levivot!

Yahadut- We all enjoyed making our own dreidels out of iron beads and our own hanukiyot to light the candles of Hanukkah. We learned the tefila of “Al Hanisim” and discussed the special miracle of Hanukkah.The students watched a puppet show about גברת קרש ומר מערוך written by Datya Ben Dor and made their own puppets of the story.

Tefilla- every morning during Hanukkah, we are adding “Al Hanisim” and Hallel to our Teffila. Tha children learned 2 songs from the Hallel: Betzet Yisrael Mimitzrayim (בצאת ישראל ממצרים) and Ze Hayom Asa hashem Nagila Venismecha bo (זה היום עשה ה’ נגילה ונשמחה בו).

Parashat Hashavua: parashat Miketz- we talked about Yosef being in Egypt and about Paroh’s dreams. We discussed the meaning of the dreams and how Yossef solved them.

November 30, 2018

22 Kislev 5779

The children were excited to share their Thanksgiving happenings. We are back in the swing of things in Gan Aleph.

In language arts the first grade students were excited to get back to Lexia. It is a pleasure to watch your motivated children learn the concepts! Due to a short week last week,  we actually learned about alphabetical order this week. We talked about the difference between a fact and an opinion. The class had to tell the difference between facts and opinions about Thanksgiving. Kindergarten students met a new Lively Letter, “q”; we see the q’s tail like a mama duck hugging her baby duck.  Now that we have learned b,d,f,g,k,p,q,t,v and a, students are practicing switching letters - for instance, if you have the word “pat” and switch the p for a b, what do you get? If you have the word “tab’ and switch the t for a g, what do you get? This leads to some interesting discussions about what is a real word vs a nonsense word...but in terms of decoding (sounding out), it doesn’t really matter!

Many of our read alouds this week were chanukah favorites - this will continue next week as well!  We read A Chaukiya for Dina, The Ugly Menorah and The Menorah Under the Sea.  During another read aloud period we talked about collections. There sure are many children who like to collect money and rocks! We read The Word Collector. This is a story about Jerome, who discovers the magic of words all around him.  

We are finishing up our personal narrative unit this week.  The students have been working hard to integrate the examples from our mentor texts in their own writing.  We have also been focussing on reading strategies, including using sight words, stretching the sounds, breaking the word into parts, looking for sounds you know and skipping words and then going back to re-read.  This week we went “book shopping” for new books to put in our baskets for read-to-self. The students have been doing a GREAT job keeping our library neat. Each bin is labeled with a student drawn picture and a number, and each book has a matching number - this makes it easy to put the books back in the correct place, and helps students when they are looking for topics or authors that interest them.  

Our new first grade math chapter is about addition and subtraction. We played a number match domino game and practiced adding 0, 1, and 2, The children are practicing their doubles. (1+1, 2+2 etc). Our weekly estimation was estimating animal crackers. We had 3 people who guessed the exact amount. Kindergarten students finished up their packet on comparing numbers 1-10.  We have been playing games with the greater than/less than/equal signs, and we also learned the card game “War”.

This week’s Scholastic News for first grade was all about the Thanksgiving feast! This is a great review of all the interesting things we learned about the Pilgrims and Wampanoags.  Kindergarten students read a Let’s Find Out science spin which tried to answer the question - do squirrels steal nuts from each other? Ask your child how the scientist figured it out!

In science, we have begun an exciting exploration of motion and force!  Here is some information about this topic from Science Companion, an online science resource that our class uses;

Everything—anything—that pushes, pulls, squeezes, stretches, or twists is a force. Forces are responsible for all changes in the motion of objects. Whenever an object speeds up, slows down, or changes direction, a force must have been involved. (However, no force is needed to produce a constant motion—a motion that proceeds at a constant speed and in a constant direction.)

There are a bewildering variety of forces in our daily world. Things are pulled down by gravity, pushed ahead by bulldozers, lifted up by rockets, knocked down by wind, swept aside by snowplows, attracted by magnets, sucked up by vacuum cleaners, propelled forward by engines, and slowed down by brakes.

In Starting Things Moving (our science unit), the children try to think of as many ways as they can to start a toy moving. The variety of methods the children invent illustrates the many types of forces. Yet, every method the children think of involves either a push or a pull.

We began by brainstorming many a HUGE list of different ways that things can move.  We played “movement charades” where students acted out a movement and the class had to try to guess what they were demonstrating. Then we posed a question - how could you make a beach ball move?  Students wrote or drew their ideas - kicking it, blowing it, dropping it, bouncing it, throwing it, “golfing” it, rolling it down a ramp...there were so many suggestions! We learned that the force of “push” or “pull” can make things move.  We sorted picture cards into groups - hitting a nail, kicking a soccer ball and scootering all involve a push, while dragging a sled, wheeling a suitcase and a horse and buggy need a pull to move. It was fascinating to hear the students debating some of the pictures.  Is swimming a push or a pull? Does it matter which stroke you are doing? What about flying a kite, or digging sand at the beach? Our study of motion and force will continue for the next two weeks - please help your child look for opportunities to recognize motion and force at work throughout their day!

Ivrit- both classes spent the week learning about Hanukkah. We learned words that are related to the holiday, and practiced them in many different ways.

First grades learned the words of two songs- “kad katan” and “sevivon sov sov sov” and marked the rhyming lines. We learned about opposites and each made their own opposites game. We practiced the difference between single and plural in hebrew and added ים or ות to different words ( חנוכיה- חנוכיות, סביבון- סביבונים). The students read 2 stories about Hanukkah : אריאות והסביבונים, חידות על חנוכה.

Kindergarten students learned the Hebrew names of the Hanukkah symbols,  and used hebrew sentences to play a lotto game. We learned about the letters on the סביבון:

נס גדול היה פה and explained their meaning. We learned a short song about Hanukkah and made our own hand print with one symbol for each finger (ask your kids to show you :) ). The “grand final” of our preparations for Hanukkah was making an edible סביבון (surprise :) ) .

Yahadut- We learned the Halachot related to Hanukkah: When and where to light the Hanukkiya, which Hanukkiyot are kosher, and what is necessary to make a kosher Hanukkiya. The students explored different Hanukkiyot and made their own Hanukkiya to use during Hanukkah. We leaned the Brachot of the candle lighting and their meaning. We put special emphasis on Birkat Shehechiyanu, that we say on the first night.

Parashat Ha’shavua- we talked about Yosef’s dreams in Parashat Vayeshev. We discussed times we felt  jealous of other people and ways to make jealousy a motive for change and improvement.

November 16, 2018

8 Kislev 5779

In language arts our first graders reviewed short i words. We identified short i words, searched for the correct word to complete a sentence or a picture, and completed a word search. The class loves word searches and everyone is doing a great job with them. They can even find words that were not on the list! The children were introduced to a-b-c order (alphabetical order). We also practiced handwriting and worked on Lexia. Kindergarten students met the digraph TH, and the two sounds it makes - quiet as in “thimble” or “Thursday” and noisy as in “then” or they”.  We have also been practicing the sign language ABC’s - having a physical movement to do which is associated with the letter name and sound helps the brain remember the letters and sounds, especially for kinesthetic learners.

In math, first graders finished our subtraction chapter. We are also using our IPADS to practice math facts and play math games. There were lots of math choices for Thanksgiving math. There was Turkey math (adding and subtracting), counting Native American symbols, counting by tens, cracking the code, and problem solving activities.  Kindergarten students are working on using the greater than/less than/equal to signs to describe the relationship between two numbers.


First graders finished the letter ג (“gimel”). We learned words like גג (roof), גן (playground), גדי (Gadi), גילה (Gila). We read a story together and practiced our reading and writing skills. We learned the sound of the vowel חיריק (hirik) that makes the sound “i” :  בי (bi), גי (gi), שי (shi)…. Heading towards Hanukkah, we started learning related words such as כד, (jug) ,מכבים(maccabi) נס(miracle), שמן( oil). And the hebrew song : כד קטן (kad katan)

Kindergarten students learned the letter ד (“dalet”). We had a lot of new surprises in our treasure box such as:  דובי (teddy bear), דבש (honey) דבק (glue) דגל (flag) דג (fish). We learned the hebrew song: שלושה דגים and made a song kit with fish puppets. Encourage your child to show you the envelope and sing the song. We started learning the letter (Hei) and learned words starting with , such as : הר (mountain), היפופוטם (hippo), הורים (parents) and Hila :)   


For parashat “Vayetze”- the students took part in a little play about Yaakov’s dream.  We learned the midrash about the stones that were fighting who will get to be under Ya’akov’s head and finally Hashem made one big stone from all of them. The students talked about Ya’akov’s dream and the angels that were going up and down the ladder.

Hanukkah- with a huge amount of excitement :) we started talking about Hanukkah!

we told the historical story of the holiday, and went looking for the small jag of oil In our class, to light our “Menorah” . We will continue learning all about the Minhagim and special Mitzvot of the holiday.

“Light up our class” project- We want to increase the light of good, kind and friendly behaviors in our class. We are going to put up a big “candle” and our goal will be to fill it with as much light as possible! Every compliment, helping a friend, inviting a classmate to join an activity will be acknowledged and written down on the candle. We are certain that the light of goodness will fill both our room and our hearts!  

Social Studies

We are getting ready for Thanksgiving!  The students were excited to share their plans for the holiday weekend.  This year we are studying the similarities and differences between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. We began this week by learning about the voyage of the Mayflower. We read The First Thanksgiving and also took a “virtual field trip” on the Mayflower!  Each student wrote a postcard about their trip. Ask your child what they remember most about the journey from England.  Next week we will learn about the daily life of the Pilgrim settlers and the Native Americans, including clothing, and housing, and the chores, games and education of children.

This week’s Scholastic News for first grade was reviewing the properties of pumpkins and learning about white pumpkins, and the kindergarten students’ issue was about things that we are thankful for.  Speaking of which, thank you to Roni and Emily’s moms for coming in to celebrate their birthdays last week. Thank you for the treats! Thank you also to the families who sent in vegetables for our parashat Toldot soup - it was a delicious addition to our kabbalat Shabbat last week.

We look forward to meeting with you during parent teacher conferences next week.  We wish everyone a wonderful happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family and friends and don’t eat too much turkey!

November 9, 2018

1 Kislev 5779

This week in language arts the first graders practiced sight words with various word searches, practiced lower case letters in handwriting, and  had a short i review. Kindergarten were introduced to two new sight words, me + and. We played a new game called “treasure hunt” to review our sight words.  We get our sight words from the Dolch list, developed by Dr. Edward William Dolch in the 1930s-40s. Dr Dolch studied the most frequently occurring words in children’s books of that era. The list contains 220 “service words” plus 95 high-frequency nouns. These words comprise 80% of the words you would find in a typical children’s book and 50% of the words found in writing for adults.  Sight words can often not be easily sounded out, and automatically recognizing them makes reading much easier, because the child can then focus his or her attention on decoding the remaining words.

Kindergarten students read a Scholastic News article about Veterans Day.  First graders met author Melanie Watt in Scholastic News. She gave some good advice on how to write stories. This is sure to help our blossoming authors during writer’s workshop. Her favorite characters are Chester and Scaredy Squirrel. We read Chester this week, and Scaredy Squirrel is already a class favorite!  Our read alouds this week included My Most Favorite Thing, about a young girl who is sensitive to her grandfather’s needs and lends him her favorite stuffed animal when Grandpa’s dog needs to go to the vet for an operation.  We also read Something Special For Me, which is a sequel to A Chair For My Mother.  Ask your child what the girl picked as her birthday gift!  Both classes loved I’m FunToo.  The book is about a LEGO minifigure who meets other minifigures that have elaborate vehicles and  colorful items. He doesn’t feel good about himself because he is very plain and simple. He thinks he's no fun at all until something happens to change his feelings!

Feelings continue to be the focus of our Open Circle discussions.  This week we explored how body language can convey emotions, and how we can actually “read” other people’s faces and bodies to find out how they feel!  On Monday, the staff will be having a whole professional development day devoted to enriching our understanding of how Open Circle’s social emotional curriculum can benefit all of our students.  This training will help all our staff - not only the classroom teachers - support our students’ skills for recognizing and managing emotions, and developing empathy, positive relationships and problem solving.  We appreciate the opportunity to grow and learn together as a staff!

In math first grade worked on subtraction stories and connecting addition and subtraction. We learned that every subtraction fact has a related addition fact. The children practiced their estimation skills by estimating miniature marshmallows and pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins in our mini-science unit.  Kindergarten students are working on the math skill of comparing numbers and gaining a better understanding of what makes a number larger or smaller than another. We found that grouping objects into sets makes it easier to count them, and also that when comparing objects, the size of the object itself does not matter, nor does the amount of space it occupies...five raisins is a larger group than three basketballs!

Our science unit about pumpkins was completed with excitement as each group estimated and then counted how many seeds were in their pumpkin!  Each pumpkin had over 300 seeds! Ask your child what their strategy was for counting so many seeds. We tried roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack, and saved some to plant next spring.  We also found out whether our pumpkins would float or sink, and used adjectives to describe the inside of the pumpkins. We learned about how pumpkins grow, and each student drew the six parts of the life cycle.  For the next two weeks, we will be focussing on Thanksgiving, and then after the Thanksgiving break, we will start a new exciting science unit!

Ivrit- first graders were practicing the letter ב (veit) by learning the colors (צבעים). We played תופסת צבעים (colors tag) and practiced our speech skills by using a sentence to describe our clothes, such as: “yesh li chultza yeruka” (i have a green shirt).

We read 2 books about colors: 1. פילים בכל הצבעים (Elephants in Different Colors) and 2. הצבע הכי יפה בעולם (The Most Beautiful Color in the World). We started a new letter - ג(gimel) and we learned the different sounds of it (gi/ ga/g)

Kindergarten students were introduced to the letter ד (Dalet). We learned the sound of the letter (da, d) and played with different objects starting with ד such as:  דובי, דבש, דבק דג דגל. We practiced writing the letter and made a new notebook to go in our treasure boxes. We learned the word fish (דג) and sang a new song about 3 little fish that went swimming in the sea… :) each child prepared his own 3 little fish together with the lyrics of the song. Try it at home!!

Yahadut- this week’s Parasha is Toldot. We learned about Rivka being pregnant with twin babies (teomim=תאומים) . We explained which things must be in common with your twin (such as same parents, same birthday) and what can stay different (personality). Each student made a book to describe him/herself and draw his/her imaginary twin.

We talked about the twins names (Eisav and Yaa’aov) and explained their meanings.

Eisav and Ya’akov were very different. We made a puppet show to highlight their different looks. We also had a special opportunity to try and feel like Yitzchak, since he couldn’t see as he was very old. We played many different games using our senses (smell, touch, sound). It was a lot of fun!

To conclude the Parasha we learned about Eisav selling his “bechora”- (birthrights) to Ya’akov in exchange for a lentil soup. We made soup together and were very excited to taste from it during Kaballat shabbat.

November 2, 2018

24 Cheshvan 5779

Gan Aleph was very busy this week with a lot of learning and fun!

We have been noticing illustrations in what we write and what we read.  Marla Frazee’s Roller Coaster provided us a great opportunity to see how an illustrator can make us feel movement and motion - as readers, we really felt like we were riding the rollercoaster when we looked at the pages of this book!  Now we have a number of elements to look for when we are working, such as the illustrator’s use of color and facial expressions to convey mood and emotions, and various techniques that are used to convey movement, like blurring the edges of a picture, or adding lines or zig zags.  Marla Frazee even has a page where the words and the illustrations are upside down so that it seems like we are actually ON the loop-de- loop!

Emotions were also a focus of our Open Circle groups this week as we discussed various scenarios and how they might make us feel.  Being able to identify emotions is an important foundational skill for social and emotional learning. According to a 2017 NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) publication, “Although there are more than 2,000 emotion words in the English language, most of us use a very limited number of words to describe how we are feeling (e.g., happy, sad, mad). Cultivating a rich vocabulary allows us to pinpoint our emotions accurately, communicate effectively, and identify appropriate regulation strategies”. We read Taking a Bath With the Dog, which is about things that make the narrator happy.  Please see our Open Circle update for more information.

In language arts first grade students worked on sight words, reading to the teacher, Lexia, and journal writing.  Kindergarten students met three new sight words - can, see and like; two new Lively Letters, G and K, and practiced segmenting words by phonemes.  This is different from syllables; phonemes are the individual sounds that make up a word; for instance, “shoe” has two sounds - SH and OO, while “boat” has three - B, O. and T.  This week our Scholastic News theme was about birds and how they get ready for winter for first grade and pumpkin parts for the kindergarten (digital copy only).

All students spent some time observing pumpkins this week!  We broke into small groups and drew and wrote to describe our group pumpkins.  Then we weighed, measured (height and circumference) and counted the lines on the pumpkins.  Finally, we estimated how many seeds we would find inside - and next week we will count them and find out how close our estimates were (then we will roast and eat the seeds!).  We read the book How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin, about a class that also investigates pumpkins!  Earlier in the week, we completed our “spider web challenge”.  Each partner group was given the same supplies - three pipe cleaners, a 6 foot length of yarn, five blank mailing labels and a pair of scissors - and was tasked with creating a web that would hold the greatest number of (plastic) insects.  The outcomes were amazing! It was great to see how many innovative ways the groups found to use these materials to meet the challenge. A lot of our activities in class are done in partners or small groups. Students need to figure out how to communicate, negotiate and work effectively together.  Our students’ development in these areas is just as important as any content that we might be focussing on.

In math the first graders worked on subtraction sentences and word problems. The major emphasis in subtraction is having the children remember that the largest number always comes first in a subtraction number sentence. We  started our weekly estimation activity. We talked about what estimation is (an educated guess - something that makes sense) and then the children estimated how many mini erasers were in a small container. It was fun to see what the estimates were. We lined the guesses up from the smallest number to the largest number. One person was off by only 1. What a great estimate!  We will try to estimate something new every week. Kindergarten students used Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews as inspiration for our own book about what we could make with a certain number of dot stickers. We’ve also been listening to two fun math songs by Jack Hartmann; Subitize Rock and I Can Show Numbers as we develop our skills in quickly recognizing numbers represented in various ways (numeral, written words, dots, dominoes, ten frame, drawing).  

Ivrit- first graders brought back their books and we read them together. If you still have the book at home please send it back.

We continue learning the letter Beit (ב), with words like Barak (ברק), bayit (בית) and בא (bo).  We are practicing reading and writing in our Ariot books.

Kindergarten students learned the letter gimel (ג) together with words starting with gimel such as גמל (camel), גלידה (ice cream), גיר (chalk) and גרביים (socks).

We played some games to practice the letter sounds and the new words.

Yahadut- we had a busy week studying about parashat Chayei Sara.

We learned that Sara died and Abraham is buying me'arat Ha'machpela in order to bury her. The students were very curious whether it's a real story and they were excited to hear all about it.

The students watched a little show about Eliezer looking for a wife for Yizchak. They enjoyed pulling water out of a “real” well that we brought to class, and them made their own well.

The last couple of days were devoted to the special personality of Sara Imenu.

We talked about the miracles that happened while she was alive: ענן קשור, נר דולק וברכה בעיסה .( Hashem was watching over the tent, the Shabbat candles shown for the whole week and there was a blessing in the Challah).

We made Shabbat candles and Challah. Children from both classes were given the privilege to say the bracha of Hafrashat challah.

The students took their beautiful projects home to give as a present to their mothers. Shabbat Shalom!

October 26, 2018

17 Cheshvan 5779

Our class had a great time on our field trip to Maimonides for the Shabbos Project 2018!  We were excited to ride a school bus again, and the events of the day were educational and fun. Ask your child what their favorite part of the program was.

This week we read some of Ezra Jack Keats’ book in his “Peter” series.  We began with The Snowy Day, then Peter’s Chair, Hi Cat and Whistle for Willie.  These books follow Peter experiencing some of the “small moments” of his life - playing outside in the snow, feeling jealous of his baby sister, putting on a little show for the neighborhood kids, and trying to learn to whistle.  These are great mentor texts for our students to learn the craft of narrative writing. Reading a number of books about the same character also allows us to see how the character develops over time, not only physically by growing older, but through his personality, likes/dislikes and interactions. These books are beautiful to look at, with a variety of collage and other illustrative techniques, and require a lot of inference and close attention to words and pictures to understand the plot and the characters.  The city setting and neighborhood interactions and relationships between characters are new for many students, and add depth to the understanding of the story. Ezra Jack Keats himself had a very interesting life, he was “a pioneer” in American children’s literature. He based the lives of his multiracial characters on his childhood but added loving parents, friends and pets. He wanted no child to be an outsider. “If we could see each other exactly as the other is,” he wrote, “this would be a different world.” (

In language arts, first graders reviewed sight words by playing I Have Who Has. We also reviewed the short a with Lively Letters and identified words with short a. The children are very motivated to work on Lexia. They are making a lot of progress. The sight words are the hardest part for the children no matter what level they are on, as the word just appear and they have to just try spelling these words that often can’t be decoded. Kindergarten students met the short a sound and our first three sight words; a, I and the.  We practiced combining the short vowel sound “a” with the other letters we know, and then seeing if our word was real or nonsense!

In math first grade continued with our subtraction unit by finding the missing parts. Subtraction expressions and number sentences were introduced. The minus sign and difference were new vocabulary words. The children are working on understanding that when we subtract we are taking away from the whole.   Kindergarten students practiced subitizing numbers 1-10. Subitizing is the skill of knowing how many objects we see without having to count each one. We also read the book Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews, which we will use next week as the inspiration for our own book in this style!

In science we learned about spiders!  Your child may have mentioned our science teacher, Doug...he is an online teacher on a website called Mystery Science. Each week Doug answers a question posed by real kids!  This week, he answered the question “what is the biggest spider in the world” by showing us two GIANT spiders. One had the longer legs, but the other was the heaviest - and was the size of a dinner plate!  Then we worked with our partners to make our own climbing spiders. Next week we will have a STEM challenge about building webs. Both kindergarten and first grades read about spiders in Scholastic News this week.

Students have completed two Kandinsky style pieces of art; one modeled after  Squares with Concentric Circles (1918) and the other after Composition 8 (1923).  Look for our artwork hanging in the school hallway!

Ivrit- first graders continues learning the letter shin (ש). We learned the word שלכת as part of the changing leaves outside. The students were given books to practice at home. Please take the time to read and practice. Bring the books back on Monday.

Kindergarten students continued the letter Beit (ב) with words like banana, ballon, בית (house) בקבוק ( bottle). We continued to the 3rd letter-Gimel. We learned words like: גרביים (socks), גזר (carrot) and גולן.

Yahadut- the students learned about parashat Vayera. We discussed 2 important mitzvahs in the Parasha -Hachnasat Orchim ( hosting visitors) and Bikur Cholim ( visiting a sick person). We read the story “תהיה בריא מוריס מגי” ( Be well Morris Magee). And leaned the value of visiting a sick friend. We also discussed other ways to fulfill the mitzva such as calling, making a card and so on. We had the chance to make a card to our friend that wasn't feeling well.

For Hachnasat Orchim we invited our friends from N/pk for some play time together. It was a lot of fun!

We told the story about Lot's wife that turned into a pillar of salt. And used salt to do some art. To conclude the parasha, we had a fun online quiz.

October 19, 2018

10 Cheshvan 5779

Another full week filled with lots of learning and fun!

This week we read How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read. The children knew that this book could not happen because dinosaurs don’t talk and they are extinct!  They enjoyed trying to guess all the different kinds of dinosaurs. In our narrative study unit, we spent some time looking closely at illustrations and how they can help us learn so much about the character and setting of the book.  Using the mentor text Jabari Jumps, we looked at how the author lets us know that there is physical movement in the book.  Ask your child what kind of line lets the reader know that a character is moving. We tried incorporating this understanding in our own writing.  

An ongoing study in language arts is building up our sight word vocabularies. We practice with the most common words; these are often words that cannot be sounded out phonetically, and readers need to just automatically recognize them.  First graders worked on handwriting, Lexia, review of vowels and consonants, and journal writing. We reviewed the correct formation of the upper case letters. At the beginning of first grade we don’t expect the children to be able to spell everything correctly, but rather to use their sound knowledge to write the sounds that they can hear. CVC words (consonant, vowel, and consonant words) are words that can easily be sounded out. A four letter word that is decodable can also be sounded out letter by letter, for example, trap (t-r-a-p).   Kindergarteners worked on sound substitutions using the letters we have met already (p, b, d, t, f, v) in words like P-I-N to T-I-N or B-A-T to V-A-T. This ability to manipulate sounds is an important reading skill.

In math the first graders started the second topic. This is understanding subtraction. This week we focused on missing parts. We learned that we can find the missing part if we know the whole and one part. It would be helpful for your child to practice addition facts at home. In class we have used flash cards, playing cards, and math manipulatives.  Kindergarten students continued learning numbers up to ten; we are demonstrating great care with our number writing and remembering the directionality (top down, almost always from left to right) as well as being able to count out objects accurately, and switch from numbers to ten frames to tally marks as a way to show the number. We also have our first member of the “5’s club”, which means that the student can count from 5 to 100 by 5’s.  This is a rote skill that you can easily practice while driving in the car or any time when you have an extra minute.

The weather cooperated so that we could take a nature walk to Hammer Shop Pond on Ames Street. Our scavenger hunt led us to find certain items like different colored leaves, acorns, mushrooms, trees, the sun, and clouds.  Ask your child; what were the most difficult things to find!

During Open Circle we learned about non-negotiable rules. As a class we compiled list of  non-negotiable classroom rules. They are:

Do your best to keep everyone’s bodies and feelings safe.

Do your best to keep our classroom and materials safe and neat.

Do your best to make our classroom the most excellent learning environment.

Pretty much any situation that arises in the classroom can be referred back to these three rules. Students and teachers put their handprints and names on the rules chart to indicate that we all agree to follow them. We discussed non verbal signals and when they can be a valuable tool for communication. We read Moses Goes to School. This is a story about a boy who goes to a special school for deaf children. The children in the story used non verbal signals (sign language), which was a very interesting topic for some of the class.

As part of our social studies curriculum, we are studying famous artists.  This week we met Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), a Russian painter in the abstract movement.  We read a lovely book, The Noisy Paintbox (Rosenberg) about his life and his artistic inspirations.  We learned that he was a synesthete and that he sensed sounds and music as colors.  Ask your child what job Kandinsky had before he was an artist - you might be surprised!   We observed Kandinsky’s famous painting Squares with Concentric Circles (  We shared our thoughts and feelings about the picture.  Prior to our discussion, we made sure to remember that each person reacts differently to art, that there is no right or wrong opinion, and that it is possible to disagree respectfully with someone else.  Students noticed many things about the painting, such as the use of many different colors, different sizes of lines, that it was not organized as a pattern, that there were different numbers of circles (and some circles that were not so circular!), and that no two adjacent shapes were the same color!  We took that knowledge and tried our hand at creating our own version of this painting. Earlier in the week, we read Ruby the Copycat, a funny story about a girl who is new to the class who learns to find her own individual talents after copying a classmate.  We discussed the difference between copying that is a complement (as we are doing with Kandinsky’s art) and copying that is annoying or disrespectful.  Soon you will see our Kandinsky style artwork hanging in the hallway!

Ivrit- first graders finished the letter Aleph by making a family Album.

( אלבום) with family members starting with Aleph (אבא, אמא, אח, אחות, אני) . We learned about an Israeli artist- Hanoch Piven who makes unique portraits using different unusual materials. The students made their own portrait ( to show the word Ani) and you can see their work in the hallway. We started the letter “shin”. Thank you very much for bringing various objects starting with shin! We made a list of all the objects and played Lotto. We practiced reading and writing in the Ariot book. We were excited to make hot chocolate (שוקו) to celebrate the new letter.

Kindergarten students- finished the letter Alef with the word אני (Me) and made their own portraits as well.

We moved on to the second letter in the Alef Beit order- Beit. Thank you very much for sending a variety of objects starting with ב! We decorated the letter Beit using fabric (בד) and practiced the sound of the letter. We played a word game with a balloon (בלון) and made our little notebooks with the letter Beit.

Yahadut- we talked about Parashat “Lech Lecha” , The third parashat in chumash Bereisheet. We told the story of Avram, going from Haran to Eretz Cna’ann. The students made personal suitcases and pasted different pictures of things that they would like to take with them if they were going on an unknown journey. We also printed our own footsteps and wrote names of places in Israel that we would like to visit.

We played a game tracking Avram's path and answers questions on the Parasha. We talked about Hashem's promise to Avram to give him the land of Israel. The students learned the song: לך אתן את הארץ הזאת

and we made a video of the song.

To conclude the Parasha we made stars with our names on them, to show Hashem's promise to Avram that his children could not be counted, just like the stars.

Tefilla: on ז’ מרחשוון we added the tefilla of: ותן טל למטר לברכה (Ve ten tal u'matar livracha) and we sing it every day.


October 12, 2018

3 Cheshvan, 5779

It was great to have our first full week of school! Students were excited this week to begin chugim!  From gardening to yoga to drama and outdoor games, it was so much fun to try new activities with multi age groups!  These chuggim will continue until Thanksgiving, and then we will begin a new round. This week we also welcomed Fall.   Living in New England, our weather can change from day to day. Make sure your child is dressed for the changeable weather, or has a lightweight fleece or jacket to put on.  Also consider sending in some warmer extra clothing in the next few weeks.

Gan and Aleph continue to read and write in the personal narrative genre.  This week we read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  We worked with our “turn and talk” partners to describe Alexander’s emotions. After reading the story the children wrote and illustrated something about a bad day that they once had.  We also read Jabari Jumps, about a young boy taking his first jump off of the high dive board.  The author lets us see the high dive from Jabari’s perspective, and shows us - without telling us - that Jabari is nervous to try.  Ask your child how the author lets us know that Jabari is nervous, and how he learns to overcome his fear. Now that we have read so many fine narrative “mentor texts” (books that tell a good story and provide clear examples of the narrative style), we took some time to compare what each author can teach us about the narrative writing style.  We hope to put some of these skills into our own writing and to be able to identify them in other books that we read.

First graders continued being rhyming detectives with a fun find  matching rhyme pictures. They also did a nice job identifying medial consonants in words.  Kindergarten students met two new lively letters, F and V, and we practiced sorting words that begin with B,P,D and T.  

In math the first grade learned about the Great Math Turnaround (a.k.a. Commutative Property of Addition) and continued with addition word problems. This week we are finishing the first unit. In our handwriting books we are practicing proper number formation. Please do not worry if you see number reversals. This is very common at the beginning of first grade. This is a work in progress.  Kindergarten students learned a new way to write numbers - tally marks! Now we can represent and read numbers in lots of different ways - numerals, dice, fingers, ten frames, tally marks and dots are some of the ways that we can make numbers. Everyone is doing a GREAT job remembering to write numbers from the top down and (almost always) from left to right.

This week’s Scholastic News for kindergarten was about the pumpkin life cycle.  First graders read about manners and being polite. In Social Studies we read Me On the Map. We talked about the differences between a map and a globe. The book showed how we can start at our room, and then move out to our house, town, state, country and beyond. The children created their own houses and we placed everyone on a handmade map of Sharon. It was cool to see who lived near each other, or close to our town landmarks like the lake, the fire station, library, train station etc.  

We also spoke a little bit about plastic usage and how that is creating a terrible problem of trash all over our world, especially in the oceans.  Although we have plastic cups, forks and spoons available in school for snack and lunch times, we would really like to avoid using them! Please partner with us and try to pack a re-usable fork or spoon, and send a re-usable water bottle to school.  As we learned about Noach and Na’amah and their work in creating and caring for a new world after the flood, we too can be mindful of our impact on the environment

Ivrit- The first graders continue learning the letter Alef. We practiced putting 2 parts together to create a word starting with Alef ( for example: א+רון=ארון). We made an album with the family members starting with Alef :אני, אבא, אמא, אח , אחות.

We practiced reading and writing in many different ways using the Ariot books. On Thursday we plan to have our first “hachtava” (dictation) and the student will be asked to write the words that the teacher says. This will happen at the end of each letter to make sure they achieved the required skills.

Kindergarteners explored the letter Alef using pictures and listening to words. We used our “treasure boxes” to keep a small notebook of each letter. We practice writing the letter Alef and playing matching games of pictures starting with Alef. We learned the word Ani (אני) and made a portrait using journals and other materials.

Yahadut- we had a wonderful time building, talking, coloring, and exploring parashat Noah. We read the psukim in the Torah and used a puppet show theatre to tell the story of Noah and the mabull ( flood). The student built a תיבה (ark) using different materials and then we ran “The flood test” to make sure Noah can stay dry inside. It was a lot of fun! We also explored the different ways to make a tayva and we checked what happens when we put it in the water (floating/sinking). We learned the word  זוגות (pairs) and talked about the animals coming to the ark in pairs of male and female. We learned how the name of the animal changes in ivrit (for example elephant would be “pil” for a male and “pila” for female).

We discussed different problems that could happen in the tayva and the students suggested interesting ways to deal with whose turn it was to take the trash, what to do if the animals make too much noise and how to celebrate the birth of a new baby elephant

We made a big rainbow and talked about Hashem’s promise that the flood will never happen again.


We talked about ראש חודש חשון and wrote our own tefilla for the rain. We learned the song “yehi hachodesh ha’zeh” and explained it's meaning.

The boys started adding birkat tzizit.

This week we celebrated Morah Hila’s birthday - yom huledet samayach, Morah Hila!  For our kabbalat shabbat, we made an edible tayva, complete with animal (crackers) walking on two by two!

Shabbat Shalom!

The Gan Aleph Team


October, 5, 2018

26 Tishrei, 5779

Trip to Borderland

Our trip to Borderland started with the excitement of the children riding the big yellow school bus. The school was split up into three mixed grade  groups. Each group participated in three activities - ponding, painting, and a hike. Everyone created beautiful, colorful paintings of what they actually saw at a quiet spot by the water. Stop by Mercaz Aleph to see all the wonderful artists’ works. During ponding, the children used long nets to dig to the bottom of the pond. Lots of pebbles and muck were gathered, along with a surprising number of living creatures!  Ask your child what they found or observed.

Language arts

Kindergarten and first grade students continued learning about personal narratives as we read Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too.  We learned about the characteristics of narrative writing - it is about people, it tells a story with a beginning, middle and end, and it contains emotions and descriptive language. We worked with our “turn and talk” partners to identify where Knuffle Bunny changed from beginning to middle, and middle to end.  Students also discussed who they felt was the main character of the two books, and took the time to notice differences in the main character from one book to the next We found evidence to support our ideas in both the text and the illustrations. Students took the examples from Knuffle Bunny and used them to inform their own narrative writing during Writer’s Workshop.  Writer’s Workshop time is very busy and exciting and students eagerly anticipate the opportunity to read their finished books aloud to their classmates. First graders continued Lexia where they left off in June and are already making nice progress. Kindergarten students have met four “Lively Letters” - p, b, t, and f, and are working hard to differentiate between those sounds in words that they hear, read and write.  Both classes enjoyed a new book - Where Are My Books? by  Debbie Ohi.  Ask your child what kinds of books Spencer enjoys, and who did take his books?

Science and Social Studies

This week’s Scholastic News for both classes was about identifying rules that are important in school.  This will fit very nicely with our upcoming Open Circle lessons, which are about working together to establish classroom rules.   In science we are working on constructing models of bees as a way to demonstrate our understanding of the parts of a bees body.


The first graders continued working on addition sentences. We practiced using our addition skills to complete word problems.  Kindergarten students focussed on counting objects through six, and correctly writing numbers 1-6. Students met “Mr Marker”, who always tries to write his numbers very neatly, but often needs the kindergarteners to model the correct way for him.  Numbers, like letters, should always begin at the top; when your child writes at home, please reinforce top down writing.

Judaic Studies

We continued learning about Sukkot. The students had a chance to feel, smell and guess if any of the arbah minim have a taste :) We talked about how the 4 minim symbolize the 4 different people in “Am Israel” and that by combining them, we declare that we are all as one. We learned about the minhag of shaking the four minim and we enjoyed getting to do it!

Moving forward to Simchat Tora, we studied about the work of the “Sofer stam” (סופר סת”ם).  The students saw a short movie of how the Sofer makes the feather and uses a special ink to write 3 different holy things: Sefer Torah, Teffilin and Mezuzah. Then they experienced writing their own Sefer Torah with feathers and “ink”.

We talked about the 5 books in the Torah (חמישה חומשי תורה) and the parasha reading, and we wrote down a few stories that we all know. Then we made a class project creating a bulletin board with the Torah stories such as : בריאת העולם (The creation), תיבת נח (Noah's ark) , קבלת התורה (receiving the Torah) and קריעת ים סוף ( the sea splitting in two). You're invited to take a look during shabbat and talk with your child about the parts that they made.

I enjoyed seeing a lot of students in shul, it was a great experience dancing with them during Hakafot!

Parashat Ha’shavua:

We started from Beraisheet, just like we did in shul. We read the First psukim from the Torah in parashat beraisheet and explained about the 7 days if creation. Each student made his own creation story to take home. We are having a special folder of parashat Shavua that the students will take home on Fridays and bring back on Mondays. Please encourage your child to tell you about the parashah and share the questions on the special folder at the shulchan Shabbat.


During Sukkot, we studied the names of the arbah minim. We played a game called “ma chaser ba shulchan?” (what is missing on the table?).  The goal was for the students to say the name of the missing object.

For Simchat Torah we learned the different parts of the Torah and their special names: Rimonim, keter, chagora, etz chayim, yad, me’il/ketonet. We went to shul with Rabbi Chesses and we looked up our names in the Torah.

First graders started Ariot books with the letter Aleph. We practiced reading and writing together with new words that start with the letter. Kindergartens started Aleph as their first letter as well. They made a big Aleph using their body and learned the words : Adom (red), Avocado and Aba. Each of them painted their own treasure box that they will use to keep their treasure of words along the way.

Thank you very much to the Cheses family who hosted us for our sukkah hop - we enjoyed making edible sukkot in their beautiful sukkah, and playing in their yard!


September 21, 2018

12 Tishrei, 5779

What a busy two weeks we have had! Here are some of the things we’ve been doing:

First grade students reviewed initial, medial and final consonants as well as rhyming word patterns.  The students were excited to begin Lexia and learned about feelings in Scholastic News. Kindergarten students met our first two Lively Letters P and B, and practiced sorting pictures based on the first sound, as well as proper letter formation.  In our literacy block, we read two favorites, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes and The Dot.  We also read Titch, by Pat Hutchins.  This simple book gave us lots of opportunities to see how the pictures supported the text - students found many details that informed the emotions of the story.  Then we had an opportunity to retell the story using picture clues. We also “read” a wordless picture book, The Boat, about a mouse who nibbles his way into an adventure!  The students did a great job using the pictures to tell the story.  We also had many opportunities to practice the strategy of “turn and talk” - ask your child what that is.  Finally, we are working to increase our stamina at reading to ourselves. Right now we are able to read for about ten minutes.  After Sukkot each student will get a reading basket that has books specifically selected for his/her reading level.

In math, first grade students played “roll to 4”, a game which allows practice in making addition sentences, and then followed up with addition sentences up to 8.  They reviewed math vocabulary such as plus sign, sum, and equals. Kindergarten students practiced identifying and forming numbers one through four and had a “math talk” about a picture, where they used numbers to describe the objects that they saw.

In science, we learned about the parts of insects.  Ask your child if they remember the bug song ( - warning - it’s quite an earworm!  We worked with partners to label our head, eyes, thorax and abdomen (but not our wings or antennae).  

In Judaic studies, we learned that  the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are called the aseret yemei teshuva. During that time, the customary   greeting is “gemar chatima tova”; we hope that we are sealed for the year in the sefer ha chayim, the Book of Life. During the aseret yemei teshuva, there are three things that we can do to help ensure a good judgement: teshuva, tefillah and tzedaka. Kindergarten students used a balance scale to “measure” their mitzvot in comparison to their aveirot. We heard a story about a ladybug who was born without spots, and only gains them when she helps others.  We created a “chessed jar” in our classroom to note acts of chessed that we observed. At the end of the aseret yemei teshuva, we all got chessed awards for what we had done as a class. All students learned about the laws of Yom Kippur. We spent a good deal of time discussing what children can do instead of fasting, such as skipping snacks and treats, or preparing their own lunch bags. Students learned that fasting helps adults focus on their teffilot. .   

At kabbalat Shabbat we learned the song ”Lo bashamayim hie” by Aharon Raz'el: We explained that teshuva is not far away, but something that we do with our hearts and our mouths (things that we say and do). It was very exciting to hear everyone sing it together! On erev Yom Kippur, the students took part in a show about “Yona Ha’navi” and they enjoyed it very much! We learned that one can always fix his ways and do Teshuva.

Our sukkot preparations included learning what makes a kosher sukkah, making sukkot decorations for home and school, and about the arbah minim.


Gan - we practiced the question: “Ma Hashem Shelcha”? ( what's your name) and the answer “Hashem shelli__” (my name is..) We also discussed the things that we love/like using the sentence: ”Ani ohev”/ “Ani Ohevet”. We played “treasure hunt” and we found the treasure of the Aleph Bet letters that we can use at any time! Students will have their own treasure box to put all letters and words as we begin learning them next week.

Kita Aleph- we kept working on the “Shalom kita Aleph books and we learned about the things that we can find in the classroom, such as: iparon (pencil) and in plural -efronot,  shulchan/shulchanot, as well as tzeva/ tzvaiim, sefer/ sfarim etc. Please take the time to review these words with your children. We also played “treasure hunt” and we found the books of Ariyot in the treasure box! I could not believe how excited they were to get the books!! :)  We will start working with the book next week.

Yom Huledet Samayach to Yardena and Itai!  

It was wonderful to see so many parents at Back To School Night; if you have any questions about the classroom, please reach out to us by email, or leave us a message with the office.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samayach

The Gan Aleph Team


September 7, 2018

27 Elul 5778

Welcome to a new school year! Thank you for sending in the school supplies and the puzzle pieces that your child worked on at home. If there are things you still need to send in, it’s not too late!   

In general studies we have been reading books about beginning the school year.  Some of the books we read are First Day Jitters, Amelia Bedelia Goes to School and Pete the Cat:Rocking My School Shoes.  Everyone made their own Pete the Cat and wrote about something fun he did at school.  After reading First Day Jitters the students wrote about how they felt on the first day of school. The children loved the jitter juice that we made at school! It was a refreshing treat on such a hot day!  

In math, first grade started with a review -given two numbers which is larger or smaller and ordering numbers, while kindergarten students practiced using math manipulatives to explore sorting and patterns.  Both classes begin math time together by talking about the calendar. Believe it or not, calendar time helps us review patterning, odd/even, counting by ones, twos, fives and tens, place value, recognizing the months of the year and the days of the week, and helps us develop a sense of time as we look ahead to things coming up and reflect on things that have already happened.  This week we also worked together to make a birthday bulletin board which features a picture of each student wearing their beautifully decorated birthday crowns - don’t worry, we put the crowns safely away until they are needed!

In Ivrit class, we used the word “shalom” to welcome everyone back to school. We practiced reading and writing the word “shalom” as well as our first names. We talked about other words beginning with the letter “shin” and the students gave many examples for many different words.

In Judaic studies, we tasted apples and honey and learned about other special foods such as “Rimon” (pomegranate) and “Tamar” (dates)  for a sweet new year. We heard the blowing of the “Shofar” and learned the 3 different types of “Tekiot” : Tekiaa, Shevarim, Trua’a. The students learned the bracha of the shofar: “lishmoa kol shofar”.

We made greeting cards for our families together with a round sweet “Challah”.

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

Our class will be using the Open Circle Curriculum. This is a social and emotional learning program that supports children in developing the skills they need to be successful learners. We will give an overview at our Back to School Night which will be Monday September 17, 2018.  Of course, if you have any questions or concerns prior to back to school night, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us

We are wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, sweet 5779.