Our Eggs Are Here!

Today, Beth – the knowledgeable educator from Casey Farm – spent the morning with us. She brought with her twelve fertilized eggIMG_2181s, an incubator, warming lights, and lots of different kinds of bird eggs! And she also brought with her another wonderful surprise: a hen – Henny Penny – to visit us! We were able to touch her and see – up close – her comb, waddle, beak, ears, feathers and claws. We were surprised to discover that Henny Penny felt so soft. We even fed her some corn!


After we spent some time with Henny Penny and learned more about chickens, Beth then invited us to see the eggs laid by swans, bluebirds, robins, grey catbirds, golden eagles, hummingbirds, and even ostriches! We learned that eggs are camouflaged to be either the same color as their nests or as their mothers. 


Beth then showed us the incubator into which we will place our eggs. There they will stay (round side up, pointy side down) for 21 days until they hatch. We will have both Rhode Island Red and Black Ranger chicks.

Our countdown has begun . . . we can hardly wait!



Blooming in PreK

In honor of Tu’Bishvat (“the birthday of the trees”), we planted an amaryllis plant in our classroom. One of the many exciting things about an amaryllis is how fast it grows; we can actually observe the bulb’s growth from day to day. While caring for our amaryllis plant, we are practicing measuring, close observation, scientific documentation, number sense, and making predictions and comparing them to observable results.


We are having a wonderful time preparing for Tu’Bishvat in other ways, as well. While it is still winter in Providence, we know that spring is arriving in Israel and that some trees are beginning to bloom. Inspired, we are transforming our classroom into a colorful and flower-filled forest by creating beautiful and glittery flowers and trees to decorate our walls and ceiling.


We Are All Upstanders!


This week, as we prepared to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we learned about Dr. King’s legacy and how he – and many others – worked to change people’s beliefs and attitudes, as well as the laws of the land. We acknowledged that there is still so much more work to be done and reflected on the ways in which we could build on Dr. King’s legacy of repairing our world (tikkun olom). Our reflections are hanging in the school lobby’s bulletin board.

Learning about Dr. King’s life also afforded us an opportunity to learn about  upstanders and bystanders. As one child explains: “An upstander stands up and says ‘STOP’!’ They say ‘stop’ when people aren’t showing kavod or hesed.”

“A person who helps people when they are fighting is an upstander,” states another student. “If someone is fighting, a bystander doesn’t help them. We should be an upstander and help people,” she continues. “Martin Luther King Jr. was an upstander. He taught people kavod, hesed and shalom. He also changed bad laws. Like if someone like Wilma Rudolph [an Olympic Gold-medalist – one of our favorite books recounts her life story] had brown skin and the doctors didn’t treat her well, the law should be that doctors have to take care of you.”

Every day our kehillah (community) works to affirm Dr. King’s words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”


This Little Light of Mine!


We all enjoyed our classroom’s Hannukah celebration with our families and friends! We eagerly sang songs (Sivon, Sov, Sov, Sov; I Had a Little Driedel; 3 Little Latkes; This Little Light of Mine – HaNer HaKatan Sheli), proudly wore our beaded beautiful necklaces (complete with the svi’vonim we made out of clay) and our bejeweled candle crowns, lit our newly completed hannukiyot, and ate latkes with our “home-made” applesauce. Thank you to all that joined us for this festive celebration.

Writing Our Names in Braille


Last week, our kehillah learned about the life and work of Louis Braille, who created Braille – a tactile writing system used by people who are blind or have low vision. After examining some books written in Braille, we were able to practice writing our names in Hebrew and English Braille (using beads and seeds). We then used our names to create a huge hannukiyah in our classroom!




A Tent, a Well and a Sheep in PreK!

When our kehillah (community) plays and works together, we deepen our friendships and hone our social and emotional skills. Last month, we became experts at hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests) thanks to our ohel (tent) inspired by the Torah’s story of Avraham and Sarah and their desert abode  . . . complete with a well . . .


. . . and a sheep!


In addition, business in our Dramatic Play “office” is booming (there is a daily cacophony of sounds in the office, including the ringing of phones, the “tap, tap” of the typewriter, and the scribbling of pens on many scraps of paper!). We have also peeled and carefully cut apples for applesauce (yes, with a very sharp knife!), drawn our “peaceful places” (helping us with our meditative practice), and played with our 3rd grade buddies!


Farmers for a Day!

IMG_0843We have learned that the holiday of Sukkot is a harvest festival – and what better way to celebrate than to take a field trip to a local, organic, family-run farm? So last week, we all loaded on  “Pete Bus” and made our way to Casey Farm in Sauderstown, RI.

When we arrived at the farm, we met Farmer Adam and Beth, an educator at the farm and long-time friend. While we toured the farm and learned a bit about the PrekFarmdifferent vegetables grown there, Beth encouraged us to harvest herbs, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, beans and carrots (a great way to celebrate the harvest festival of Sukkot).

We also met the farm’s pigs, petted a gosling, gobbled at some turkeys, brushed a rabbit (named Licorice) and ground corn to feed to the chickens. We will be returning to Casey Farm in the spring, affording us an opportunity to observe the changes of the seasons (and visit our animal friends again!).


The Time of Our Rejoicing!


Our community has discovered the joy of preparing for Sukkot – “the festival of booths”! Laden with screws, hard-hats, and a power drill, we’ve constructed a (very!) temporary dwelling in our classroom in honor of the holiday and decorated it with paper chains, leaves, and lights. We have already snuggled together under its roof, pretending to count the many stars or seek shelter from the (much needed) rain. During Sukkot our kehillah (community) has the opportunity to enter into another realm – one that compels us to refocus beyond the material (and usually temporary) “structures” of our lives and concentrate on our values: that of honoring our community, respecting nature, practicing hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests), and expressing gratitude. The holiday is also called zeman simchateiun – the time of our rejoicing – and we wish everyone a happy and meaningful Sukkot!

The Joy of PreK!

“The problem is I thought yesterday was the best day ever . . . but now today is!” exclaimed one member of our kehillah (community) when reflecting upon his day at school during our closing Circle Time.

And indeed, our time together these first weeks of school has been wonderful. We really feel like we are creating a sense of belonging and community in our classroom – and we are experiencing so much joy!

Most of our mornings begin with free play; during this time, we’ve observed children thoughtfully drawing in their Feelings Journals, giggling at our sand table, making “cupcakes” with home-made blue (sparkly!) play-dough, observing their daily findings at our Discovery Tray, and working collaboratively to create complex structures in our block area. And in just a short time, we’ve learned each other’s names during Circle Time (by singing “Thumbkin”), created some meaningful classroom rules, and practiced bringing peace and kindness to our classroom through the use of prayer, yoga, and meditation.

This sense of discovery and wonder continues throughout the day and we are grateful to be accompanying our students as they begin their learning journey here at JCDSRI.

In peace,

Andrea and Ilana

Returning Our Chicks to Casey Farm

Today we returned our chicks back to their home on Casey Farm in Saunderstown, RI. While we were a bit sad to say goodbye to our feathery friends, we understood that the farm was a better place for them to grow up then in our classroom.


It was wonderful to return to the farm (we visited in the fall!). Founded in 1702, it has 300 acres and overlooks Narragansett Bay. It now raises organically grown vegetables, herbs and flowers. And – of course – Casey Farm’s hens produce lots and lots of fresh eggs for both local families and nearby farmers’ markets! When we arrived at the farm, our guide, Terry, took us to the barn so we could introduce our chicks to their new home. We even learned about barn swallows and watched as they swooped over our heads.


We then went outside to learn a little more about chickens. We practiced clucking like chicks and even tried to find food in the sand by scratching with our “claws.”


We discovered some delicious worms and beetles!



We met Marshmellow, the rabbit . . .



. . . and then took a peek at the pigs (we even got to scratch their backs!)



We then saw the hens roosting and learned how to tell the difference between a freshly laid egg and one that had been laid hours before (ask us how we can differentiate between them!)



We moved on to feed some Rhode Island Red chickens (we learned that corn is like ice-cream for birds!)


We also visited some baby geese . . .


and baby turkeys (who tried to eat our zippers and buttons!)


Finally, Terry taught us how the farmers prepare their eggs for the market. First, we washed the freshly laid eggs . . . 



. . . and then weighed them to determine whether they were small, medium, large or extra-large. 


Once weighed, we sorted the eggs into the corresponding containers.


Afterward we sat at picnic benches and ate lunch – and then ran around the farm’s huge oaks and old stone walls. It was a very special adventure.