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Grade K-1


Gan-Kita Aleph Teacher Message

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.