Names, literacy and identity

One of the biggest celebrations that takes place in kindergarten is the Naming Ceremony. This important milestone event highlights the beginning of our young students’ journey into literacy – in both English and Hebrew. Focusing on names gives our children an opportunity to begin exploring their Jewish identities through their naming story.







Learning the Aleph Bet

Our kindergarten students learn the Hebrew alphabet right along with the English alphabet. They practice proper letter formation, learn the sound each letter makes and master sight words.

They were recently introduced to the letters resh and gimmel.

Students were quickly able to recognize the letter resh in the words Rakevet (train), Rosh (head), Rimon (pomegranate), Ru-ah (wind) and Regel-Raglayim (foot-feet), and the letter gimel in the words Gamal (camel), Gadol (big), Gezer (carrot), G’vina ( cheese).

For a listening activity for the letter resh we read the story The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss in Hebrew (translated by Datya Dor). The students had a great time making the letter resh with their own raglayim (feet).

For the letter gimmel we heard the story Eliezer Vehagezer  (Eliezer and the Carrot). After we listened to the story, we spread g’vina (cheese) on crackers and wrote the letter gimmel with gezer (carrot). It was fun to eat the letter gimmel.

For the letter resh the students created a rakevet (train) in the shape of a resh and filled it with words that start with the letter resh.

When we discussed the shape of the letter gimmel, the students discovered that when they put two gimmels together, they can make a gamal (a camel).

We ended our study about resh with the rakevet song.

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.

Working on social and emotional intelligence in kindergarten

What kinds of social and emotional skills are we working on in kindergarten?

In kindergarten we…

  • use our Peace Table to strengthen communication and peacemaking skills.
  • use feelings charts, journaling, projects and role-playing to recognize social cues and solve social dilemmas.
  • practice yoga and meditation to support calm, focused and flexible bodies and minds.
  • take responsibility for classroom jobs and routines that support our community and our space.
  • build a classroom community (kehilah) based on respect (kavod), kindness (hesed), and peace (shalom).

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 . . .


FOR YOU ISRAEL  כיתה ג HOPES . . .


FOR YOU ISRAEL  כיתה ג HOPES . . .


FOR YOU ISRAEL כיתה ג  HOPES . . .



Indoor snow!

Our Pre-K students have been excited about snow this winter. They even experimented with it! They brought some snow in to the classroom from outside and made predictions about what would happen to it. Students dictated their predictions in their science journals. The next morning they entered the class excited to see how their experiment worked and if their predictions were correct. What they found was some water and wood chips remaining in the cup. All of the children agreed that the snow had melted.

Eager to play with snow inside the classroom where it’s nice and warm, our teachers declared, “let’s make our own snow!” By mixing baking soda with shaving cream, students were able to build and adorn table-top snow-people.

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!