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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.  

Constraints drive creativity

Certain mantras that infuse our curriculum come from the Design Thinking mindsets that we practice in TikkunXDesign. The mindset constraints drive creativity is especially prevalent in art. By imposing constraints, Joe Mirsky, art teacher extraordinaire, challenges his students to think outside the box. A great example of this principle is the attachment test. The idea is simple: encourage children to design creative ways to attach objects together without using glue or tape. Once students demonstrate mastery in an attachment test, glue and tape become available for use in art class.

 

First grade interprets the Hanukkah story

As a Jewish school, we teach our students the story of Hanukkah. As a progressive school, we encourage our students to interpret and relate to the story of the holiday in their own way. First graders represented themes of the holiday in Lego creations. (A class favorite!) Students also practiced literacy skills by sequencing the Hanukkah story and telling it in their own words. Here they are reading their version of the Hanukkah story:

 

 

 

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.

Saying goodbye to our baby chicks

Last week our Pre-K and kindergarten classes said goodbye to the baby chicks that hatched in their classrooms’ incubators. Our young scientists eagerly observed the incubating eggs very carefully for over three weeks. Of the 12 eggs our students watched, 5 hatched before returning the chicks to Casey Farm. This annual spring tradition is a beloved part of the Pre-K and kindergarten year and gives them the opportunity to learn about life cycles while helping to preserve an endangered chicken breed, the Dominique.

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 . . .

YOU ALWAYS REMAIN A PEACEFUL COUNTRY.

FOR YOU ISRAEL  כיתה ג HOPES . . .

YOU WILL BE AN EXAMPLE FOR THE WORLD.

FOR YOU ISRAEL  כיתה ג HOPES . . .

YOU WILL HAVE NO MORE WARS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES.

FOR YOU ISRAEL כיתה ג  HOPES . . .

YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE A STRONG HEALTHY ARMY. 

 

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!

     

 

 

 

Music in early childhood: it’s all about exploration and discovery

In pre-k and kindergarten, music class focuses on exploration and discovery. We begin learning about sound and how it is made using vibrations. We learn about and listen to several different kinds of instruments including ukulele, guitar, piano, keyboard, recorder, many types of percussion and more!