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Early Childhood Happenings

This is where you will find our monthly newsletters for a sneak preview of what's been happening in Early Childhood.

Could anything be more special than Yom Haatzmaut? Here at HAFTR’s Early Childhood Center, we never stop talking, learning, and thinking about Eretz Yisrael. It’s in our hearts and minds always. But this week we took it up a notch.  If you couldn’t be in Eretz Yisrael on Yom Haatzmaut, the next best place to be was HAFTR! The school was all decked out in blue and white (as were the children) and looked so lovely. First, the yeladim marched in a mini-parade wearing their special hats and proudly waving their flagsWe thank Robin Erber and family for always remembering the Early Childhood and donating the flags every year! Then we regrouped in our warm and cozy MPR and sang all the wonderful songs Morah Leah taught us about Eretz Yisrael. During the day, our three year olds had special Maccabiah games with Morah Naomi while the Pre-K children joined their big sibs in the Lower School for a school-wide celebration. We saw quite a show. We truly shepped nachas as we watched our former students grow into such talented young men and womenWe thank the Frucht, Portal and Mosberg families for sponsoring all of the festivities. Your generous donations make so much possible.
They also learned all about the famous artist Yaakov Agam who is best known for his three-dimensional paintings and sculptures. The viewer becomes a part of the process as he/she must move from side to side in order to capture the genus of the art. The children made their own Agam-o-graphs, where they drew two separate pictures, cut and glued, and then folded them into an accordion. Lean to the right, you’ll see one picture, but lean to the left, you’ll see the other! We hope you will visit our Agam display the next time you are in the neighborhood.
And what would a birthday be without treats? Many of the classes baked star-shaped cookies and cakes with what else…blue and white icing! Despite the fact that the weather was more suitable to a day in February, it was truly a special day.
There are many people who need to be acknowledged for all of their hard work in making this day so wonderful: Morah Leah, as everyone knows, really inspires the children through song and music. Her devotion to your children and her craft ensures that each child is fully prepared in the both song and spirit for Shabbat and each and every chag. My praises also go to all of the Morot who instill a love for Israel not just for one day of the year but all year-round.
Our Pre-K classes are learning about the food groups and this week we looked at various vegetables. The children compared red leaf, iceberg and romaine lettuce using magnifying glasses. They noted differences in shape, size and color! 
During the past two weeks, the children were introduced to the “Meat” and “Bread and Cereal” groups. After showing the children various pictures of foods in each group, they chose one food in each to study.
        The first was the incredible, edible egg! The children compared large, extra large and jumbo eggs and learned how are they are processed and transported to the grocery store after being laid by the hen. They also learned how one can cook an egg and observed the changes that take place.
       The second lesson was all about pasta. The yeladim learned how a variety of noodles are made from semolina flour in a factory. Then they compared raw noodles with those that have been cooked and noted the changes in size, shape, color and texture. 
We welcomed in spring (despite the fact that the temperatures are not quite where we would like them) by embracing our lonely friend - the playground. Playgrounds are a vital part of childhood that help kids develop physical strength, coordination and balance. Here is what a wonderful playground like ours can provide:
  • Community - Playgrounds provide a sense of community. It’s the place where children make friends outside of their classroomMeeting other children on the playground introduces kids to the world outside of their comfort zone, helping them learn to adapt to new situations. Playgrounds offer a place to build early team-building skills and begin friendships. When children play together they hone their social skills as they learn to communicate, share, collaborate and empathize with others. Next, playgrounds provide an environment where they are able to learn and follow rules. Playground equipment not only provides an environment where they are able to engross themselves in physical activity, but it provides a place where children are able to implement the rules that they have developed. 
  • Imagination and creativity - outside play is often open-ended and children need to be creative about what and how games are played. At a young age, children are able to imagine fictional worlds and use the playground equipment as props for the scenario that they are picturing.
  • Thinking and problem solving skills – as children assess risks and tackle new challenges, they learn about persistence and perseverance and the success those attributes can bring. Cooperation and confidence are also developed as they bond with others while learning new skills and techniques.
  • Sense of self - as they master new skills and play with other children they improve their competence and confidence in their own physical and social abilities.
  • Sense of connection - to place, to peers and to their local community and environment.
  • Self care skills - managing physical and social challenges helps children to learn about keeping themselves safe.
While some may say that books are the foundation of knowledge, playgrounds are the foundation for life skills.
Many thanks to all of our children who have truly brightened our hallways with their paintings of spring. It may not be spring-like on the outside but in our Early Childhood Center spring is definitely in the air. 
Last week’s Parsha, Tazria-Metzorah teaches us all valuable lessons about Lashon Hara. The children know that once hurtful words come out, they can never be put back in. Many of the classrooms practiced finding kind words to say to each other. It’s a valuable lesson for us all
This week, we have also been discussing Earth Day. In conjunction with that we are learning about the concept of Bal Tashchit (do not waste or destroy). Although we try to practice this philosophy in our everyday life, we can use Earth Day as a reminder for what we should be doing all year long.Some of the children took a nature walk to take note of the beauty around us.Then they had some wonderful discussions about how even they could help take care of our planet For instance, do you remember to turn off the tap while you brush your teeth? How about using both sides of the paper when writing and drawing? Or planting seeds and nurturing the new plants as they grow? Or turning off the lights when you leave a room? Recycling our bottles and newspapers was a very popular suggestion. Always find a garbage can…don’t be a litterbug! The lesson to remember is that even small changes in lifestyle can make a big difference.  
Shhhhhhhhh…Each of our children has been working on something unique for our Mother’s Day gifts. Each project has been crafted with love and care and we know you will treasure these treasures. More importantly, however, are the responses we hear when the children are asked what they like to do best with their Moms. Rest assured that all of our children already have a favorite Mommy and Me Moment and each response is truly touching
Our three year olds are working on their Ani unit. In this unit, we combine our knowledge of self with learning about our five senses. The unit involves lots of experimentation – tasting parties to discover the differences between sour, sweet, and salty just to name one example. This is also the unit where the children talk about themselves as part of a very important group – their family! They are very proud of their work and all that they have learned and we are sure you will be too.  
Our children are also busy counting the omer each day. Each class has a special bulletin board and the children add a number each day. They know that when we get to number 49, we will have another holiday – Shavuot – which celebrates the special present given to us by Hashem. 
In the meantime, we are gearing up for Lag B ‘omer and Yom Yerushalayim. I hope you have all remembered to look at the Save the Dates note that went out. You wouldn’t want to miss our end of the year celebrations. You will be receiving the “official” invitations shortly
Shabbat Shalom
Cyndy Goldberg
Early Childhood Director