Snapshot from recess

Recess and unstructured play are critically important for elementary school children.  These non-academic learning experiences promote fine and gross motor development, social emotional growth, and interpersonal bonding.  Recently, children have been constructing and deconstructing a stick fort in the parking lot — one of the designated areas where some students choose to have recess.  Using ingenuity, creativity, collaboration and design thinking, kids forge temporary structures and lasting friendships. This imaginative play is only possible when you trust children to explore their world on their own terms, a hallmark of the philosophy of a progressive school like ours.  

Building literacy skills and more around Tu B’shvat

As a progressive school, our teachers seek out areas of integration within our curriculum. With the holiday of Tu B’shvat (the Jewish New Year for trees) approaching, second grade teachers worked collaboratively, weaving the theme into many subject areas. Students are reading poetry about trees and learning about the important role trees play in our environment using the scientific guiding question, “how can we work together to solve problems?” This question also happens to be a focus of second grade’s Social/Emotional curriculum which is reinforced through the literacy and science explorations.

Spreading Tu B’shvat spirit to the rest of the school, the class will perform a Readers Theater production next week based on the story, Save the Lofty Trees by Leslie Mills. Readers Theater performances help students build fluency, confidence and stamina in reading – important second grade skills. Rhonda Mills, second grade’s Judaics Studies teacher, translated parts of the script so the students will perform in both Hebrew and English. They will also include Hebrew and Tu B’shvat songs accompanied by our resident musician, Chris Southiere. Introducing another subject area into the unit, second graders have been busy in TikkunXDesign building props for their production.


Second grade students completed beautiful nature-themed watercolors with specific direction from our art teacher, Mr. Mirsky. He introduced students to a number of techniques including using salt to create a marble effect and using a straw to spread the paint into thin lines. These paintings have been paired with Haikus that the students wrote during their poetry unit. They are on display in our school’s main hallway. Visitors are in for a treat!

It’s great to have life
Fresh air water crunchy leaves
Fit peace in your life


Good smelling flowers
Blue jays flying in the sky
Bright stars in the sky







Stars are in the sky
Bees pollinating flowers
Sheep in their warm wool

The mountains are cool
Rocks are different colors
Climb the steep mountain






Meet our new school social worker, Meghan Cavanaugh

Meghan Cavanaugh joined JCDSRI’s faculty in September as our school social worker. Meghan has over a decade of experience working with children and families in schools as well as in home-based and office settings.

When asked about her impressions of JCDSRI, Meghan said that our school community is “positive and supportive — teachers reflect to students their strengths and talents, and model how to solve problems effectively and resolve conflicts fairly. Students are encouraged to think independently, create solutions to problems, and grow as learners.” She goes on to say that she is “most excited about helping students and teachers further integrate social-emotional learning into classrooms.”

Meghan is already making an impact focusing on four main areas:

  • Teaching students ways to manage their feelings at school so that they are ready to learn
  • Teaching teachers skills to help students pay attention, cope with their feelings in class and calm their bodies
  • Supporting JCDS families when their children meet challenges at school
  • Creating a team with teachers and staff to ensure the success of all students

Meghan is thrilled to be a part of the JCDSRI community and her presence is already felt. She is helping teachers further develop their developmentally appropriate, social and emotional curriculum and helping students learn mindfulness techniques to help them regulate their wiggly, squiggly selves in the classroom.

Celebrating Israel!

Our school-wide celebration of Israel’s Independence Day was very active and kef (fun)! In honor of Israel’s 70th birthday, students played Israeli games and participated in Israeli folk dancing during recess. Students “visited” a variety of places in Israel as they traveled around school participating in different stations. We had an all-school trivia competition, Jewperdy, in Jerusalem. They also visited Jaffa, where children were challenged to an orange-picking/sorting relay, and Tel Aviv, where our artists created graffiti on the city’s “walls.” Finally, students created their own mosaics similar to those found in the Israeli city of Tzipori.

Each class collaboratively wrote a thoughtful poem reflecting their Hopes and Dreams for Israel. The poems were shared at an all-school Yon Ha’atzmaut assembly. Here is third grade’s class poem:

FOR YOU ISRAEL  כיתה ג HOPES . . .


FOR YOU ISRAEL  כיתה ג HOPES . . .


FOR YOU ISRAEL  כיתה ג HOPES . . .


FOR YOU ISRAEL כיתה ג  HOPES . . .



Excited about writing in first grade

How do you get your first grade class excited to practice writing?
Ms. Bour knows the secret! Because when she transitions with her students to writing, they cheer every time.  That’s because they are writing their very own comic books.  They started with a story map to organize their stories. They have been practicing writing dialogue and they have been collaborating with Mr. Mirsky in art class to illustrate their comics. They even invited their fifth grade buddies to help them edit and revise their work. We cannot wait to read their creative stories!

Purim at JCDSRI is a festive and busy day!

Our school-wide Purim celebration was filled with costume parades, games, hamantaschen baking and more! Leading up to Purim, students studied the holiday story from Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther) and each class decorated its door with a scene from the story. Students filmed themselves acting out the scene from their classroom door. On Purim, children visited each other’s classes and upon entering were treated to the student-made videos that brought the Purim story to life.

Older students chanted from the Book of Esther for the whole community. In the afternoon, we assembled bags with toiletries for people in need and everyone exchanged Mishloach Manot, goody-filled bags, to complete the celebration!





Jonah and the Big Fish in Legos

Story sequencing is an important skill that helps emerging readers develop comprehension. Sequencing also helps students develop problem-solving and organizational skills. In first grade we practiced sequencing using the story of Jonah and the Big Fish (The book of Jonah is traditionally read in synagogue on Yom Kippur).

The best part was that our students practiced their sequencing skills through Legos. After drawing and mapping out the scenes from the story they created sets with their favorite story-telling medium! Enjoy these Lego-highlights of the story:

Jonah boards a boat to sail for Tarshish. Suddenly there is a terrible storm. The sailors don’t know what to do.

Built by Jake







Jonah realizes that God is punishing the whole ship because of his mistake. He tells the sailors to throw him overboard.

Built by Sasha







Jonah is swallowed by a Big Fish.

Built by Eli






Inside the belly of the fish, Jonah prays to God for 3 days and 3 nights.

Built by Asher







The Big Fish spits up Jonah onto the shore of Nineveh.

Built by Eli






Jonah warns the people of Nineveh to change their ways or face the consequences. The people of Nineveh take the warning to heart and stop their wicked behaviours. God forgives the people of Nineveh.

Built by Sidney





Jonah is angry that God forgave them. “It’s not fair!” he cries

Built by Maya






Jonah is furious and leaves the city. He sits under a shady tree. He is grateful for the shade. Suddenly a worm comes and eats all of the leaves. Jonah is hot and angry again. God asks Jonah why he is more upset about the tree then he was for the 120,000 people of Nineveh.  

Built by Ruben