Congregation Netivot Shalom Preschool seeks to create a stimulating and enriching educational environment for each and every child.
We are devoted to helping children learn socialization skills, building their self-confidence and teaching them the preliminary skills to explore and experience the world independently from their parents.
In addition, we seek to ignite a spark in each child to lay claim to her or his Jewish heritage and commit him or her to a lifetime passion for learning.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HaShavuah She'avar

Hashavuah She'avar/ Last week
May 30, 2012
9 Sivan, 5772

Shalom Nachshonim Families,
Here is a little bit of information about what went on in the kitah last
week as we prepared for Shavuot.

- We talked about the pilgrimage that people would take a long time ago
to get to Jerusalem with their season's harvest.
-At circle time, the children were asked what kind of harvest they would
like to take with them if they were to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
-We discussed the tradition of decorating a synagogue with plant life
and fruits for this chag.
-We also shared the story of Moses climbing Mt. Sinai in the desert when
he received the 10 commandments.
- At circle time on Monday, we made our "kitah commandments". The
children mentioned the rules and guidelines that we have at school and
we wrote them down on a large sheet of paper as they were mentioned. We
have posted it on our wall if you would like to see what the children
came up with.
- We had a very special visit from Rabbi Shalom Bochner. He came into
our kitah and sang some songs with us and he shared with us a bit about
the chag of Shavuot. We also had a great experience with Shalom in the
sanctuary when he took the Torah out for us to have a look at the real
thing! We got to see what the Hebrew inside looks like up close. We were
sure not to touch the parchment with our hands. Shalom explained a bit
about how a Sofer, the person who writes the Torah, uses a feather for
the ink and how it takes many, many months to finish.

-We looked at our tzedakah box again, the one that we use at pretend
Shabbat. This time, we also looked at a large plastic bag that is full
of all the coins we have collected from pretend Shabbat. Each child had
the opportunity to hold the bag by themselves to feel how heavy all
those coins were.

-We had another opportunity to look at our miniature Torahs.
-Inspired by the miniature Torahs, we decided to make our very own
Torah. We layed a long piece of butcher paper across our tables and the
children drew on it. Later in the play yard, we searched for two sticks
to use to roll up our scroll. We learned from Shalom that they are
called the Etz Chaim/ tree of life. Some children helped label the
things in the torah, such as the story of Moses, Sukkot, blessings, and

More exciting news from the Nachshonim kitah coming soon.
Ofra and Colin

Friday, May 25, 2012

HaShavuah - Nevonim

May 25, 2012
4 Sivan 5772

Dear Nevonim Parents,

Wow!  What a full and rich week of Shavuot learning we have had.  We talked all week about getting the Torah, eating first fruits, the sweetness of the land of milk and honey and the book of Ruth.  On Tuesday, we had the wonderful treat of Rabbi Kelman, who is a sofer (scribe), coming into the kitah and teaching the children all about how a sofer works.  In honor of Shavuot, he unrolled the Torah and showed us how the words are written and arranged so we could tell where one book ended and one began.  We also looked for shins, with tagim (crowns) on them.  He let us touch parchment and we learned that the sofer writes on the rough side, not the smooth, and if even if there are imperfections in the coloring, it is still kosher.  He showed us the quills that he makes from turkey feathers.  He also showed us how scribes used to use bamboo reeds since turkeys were not indigenous.  He explained how he writes not only Torah scrolls, but klafim for mezuzot and for tefillin as well as megillot.  Also interesting was the fact that a sofer can't write from memory - to stay focused he must look at any text he is copying carefully.  If he makes a small mistake, the ink can be scraped off with a knife.  The highlight of his visit was when he wrote each child' name in Hebrew on a miniature scroll - the children then added their own scribal arts to these scrolls.  Notice the crowns that appear only on certain letters.

We were so busy with Rabbi Kelman that we had to send Melita away without singing with her!  That same day Nora came to read to us since the library is now closed.  On Wednesday in the afternoon we learned more about Shavuot with Lesley as she told us a story while we stretched.

On Wednesday, we had our second visit to Urban Adamah.  Thank you to all the parents who drove and chaperoned.  In small groups we made butter (since dairy is part of Shavuot tradition), we transplanted the sunflower sprouts that we had planted as seeds last time directly into the ground (adamah), and we picked bouquets for Shavuot - we included wheat for the counting of the Omer, as well as curly mustard flowers, arugula flowers and edible nasturtium.  We learned from Adiel's abba that another reason we eat dairy is because dairy was extremely important since the laws of kashrut regarding meat were challenging, We also learned that the Torah is sweet like milk and honey and we celebrate the joy we have from studying it.  At Urban Adamah we happened to be there the day that food is given to the needy - so we got to see tzedakah in action.  Next week, we will count our own tzedakah money and decide where to donate it - as always, we value any parent's input if you an idea to contribute.

On Thursday, we made borekas for Shavuot - we made both matok (sweet) and maluach (salty) since cheese can be either!  They were a big hit as was the cheese filled challah we made for snack today.  We also were inspired to create watecolor paintings of fruit and wheat as we enjoyed having these around the kitah. And of course, we had pajama day today and talked about the excitement of staying up all night to study!

Today we had a new substitute teacher, Mike, help us in the kitah, so we had fun translating the Hebrew we take for granted that we use all the time, and explaining the meaning of the tefillot that we say daily - Modeh Ani, Elohai N'Shama, Mah Tovhu, the Shema and the berachot.  It was nice to see how much the children know!

We hope you have a Shabbat Shalom and a Chag Sameach!

See you on Tuesday,

Nevonim Teachers
Caitlin, Ruth and Shirlee

Monday, May 21, 2012

HaShavuah - Nachshonim

Hashavuah She'avar

May 21, 2012
29 Iyar, 5772
Shalom Nachshonim Families,
Last week was a very busy and pleasant week. Here are the highlights of the things that occurred in the kitah.
-On Monday last week, we went into the sanctuary. We had a look at a tallit and Ofra showed the kids how it is worn. The tallit we looked at had Hebrew letters on it. We began to talk about how the stories in the Torah are also written in Hebrew and how a person wears a tallit and a kipah when they read from the Torah. We sang "Torah, Torah, Torah" while we were in the sanctuary. One child asked "Can we dance?" and then the children ran in circles as we sang.
-The following day, we had a look at our collection of miniature Torah scrolls. We had a chance to see what the inside of the torah looks like. We talked about how the real Torah is not made of paper like our miniature ones, the words in the real Torah are written on sheep skin.
- We discussed the importance of being serious when we say our brachot. We have plenty of time to be silly, goofy and funny throughout the day, but blessings are not the best time to joke around. We now know that we can save it for after the bracha.
-At circle time on Thursday, we looked at a tzedakah box and we talked about how we will give the money we have collected to someone that could use some help. We discussed some thoughts about what we might want to do with all of the money that we have collected over the school year. Some of the thoughts the children had as we discussed are "water bottles", "seeds from plants", and "princess dolls". We hope to continue this discussion this coming week and have a look at all the coins we have collected.
-We played with sticky foam and included our tiny wild animal set.
-We cleaned the guinea pig cage and changed their bedding.
- Out in the play yard, we played with our "lilypad" buckets. The children have found creative ways to use them. At one point, every bucket was on top of a child's head. They were being fire fighters.
- While out in the play yard, we had a fire drill. Now we know what do to remain safe in an emergency.
- We had a discussion about picking flowers from a plant before it is fully in bloom. We talked about how if they get picked before they open, they will never get a chance to become blooming flowers.
Another week of learning is ahead of us as we prepare for Shavuot and continue our explorations.


Friday, May 18, 2012

HaShavuah - Nevonim

May 18, 2012
26 Iyar 5772

Dear Nevonim Parents,

We had a very busy week. We made lots of caves and forts.  We made a foot bath with the stepping stones.  We made many melted wax stained glass pieces. We sang with Melita.  We now do yoga with Leslie and Sara on Wednesday afternoons.  We went to the park on Tuesday and had our lunch for snack in picnic form so that we could come back and celebrate Naomi's 4th birthday with a fruit bouquet! Many of us had soccer class on Tuesday and others were sad on Thursday that Shorashim had ended!
In anticipation of Shavuot next week, we have been reading, telling and acting out the story of Ruth.  Today we looked at the letters that spell out Ruth and we made them with our bodies with Aleph Bet Yoga. We have been talking about the theme of going to a new place and what it would feel like - Naomi and Elimelech leave the land of Judah for Moab, and Ruth leaves Moab to return home with Naomi. 

We have also begun the thinking process of where to donate all the tzedakah money we have raised this year.  Some of the early suggestions were giving it to poor people or to Helios Corner, where the children visited the elder residents earlier in the year.

We decorated our mishkan Shalom with lots of sparkling beads and lights and the same beads keep reappearing as "otzar" (treasure) that we are finding. 

We spent time noticing that snack one day was Pretzels and Peas (both beginning with P) and another day Bananas and Bread (both beginning with B).  We have had fun coming up with other food alliteration. We have also noticed that many of our emerging writers who wrote their names in English left to right at the beginning of the year, are now integrating Hebrew order and often write their names in reverse now!

On Thursday Bennett (Caitlin's boyfriend) came to the kitah in his EMT uniform to talk to us about working in an ambulance and first aid.  He taught us the different ambulance calls and told us always to be cautious around ambulances since they are often on call for an emergency even without the sirens.  We learned about blood pressure, heartbeats and oxygen.  He also introduced how to use all the emergency child - size first aid equipment we have in our new Magen David Adom pretend kit (Red Cross in Israel is literally Red Star of David).  This kid includes splints, a neck brace and bandages. 

One day this week our afternoon children played a game mixing up the initial sounds of children's names and then mixing up the ends of the names challenging them to listen and decipher initial and ending sounds.  At rest time they listened to the Beggar King, a story about King Solomon.

A reminder that we will be going to Urban Adamah on Wednesday next week! Long pants and fully-enclosed will be a must. Also, please refill your changes of clothing as the weather gets warmer and water play happens.

In anticipation of Leyl Sahvuot, (where we stay up all night studying) we will have a highly requested PAJAMA DAY on THURSDAY!

Have a great weekend,

Nevonim Teachers

Caitlin, Ruth, Shirlee and William

Monday, May 14, 2012

HaShavuah - Nachshonim

Shalom Nachshonim Families,
I apologize for the delay in getting our Hashavuah to you the last couple of weeks. It is never to late to share with you all what we have been up to.
Two weeks ago, which was Anna's last week:
- On that Monday, Ima Jeanine came into the kitah to cook with us. We made muffins in honor of Anna and her Birthday! We sang Happy Birthday to her.
-We looked at some new additions to our selection of baby photos.
-Baby Owl has now been at every child's home. We have begun to go back to the beginning of the journal to reread what the children were up to with Baby Owl.
-We had a new selection of toys in our science area including our small wild animals that are perfect for sorting and classifying.
-We also now have a very long train puzzle that the children were able to help each other with and complete without any teacher assistance.
-The guinnea pigs spent the whole week with us in the kitah. The children built a "maze" for them with building blocks. We put the guinnea pigs on a folded blanket as the children built their project around them. The structure was built so that they could not escape. However, the guinnea pigs stayed on their blanket with their hay, and never stepped off it once. I have a feeling that their lack of movement will not deter us from doing this again.
-We made a lot of mixed media art a couple of weeks ago. We did wax-resist paintings with crayons and watercolors. We made collages with glue and various materials, and we made lots of paintings at the easel.
-We held conferences with parents on Tuesday. It was great to catch up with everyone,
- We checked out the roots of our raddishes and carrots that are growing in our root-vue
-We continued to talk about Anna's pregnancy leave with the kids in the kitah. We discussed why Anna needs some time at home and we taked about how Colin and Nina will be in the kitah teaching while Anna is away.
Last week:
-We went on a field trip with the Nevonim to Berkeley way Mini Park. Thank you to our volunteers that helped make it happen. We had a lovely time.
-When Menachem was recording his song with the preschoolers. We had pulled out an old tape recorder, but unfortunately it was not working. Since then, Mr. Fix-it, also known as Ofra's Aba, has fixed it. We recorded our voices singing songs and telling stories.
-We now have 30 new beanie babies!! It has been very interesting to see how children use such a large amount of beanies.
- We prepared ourselves for Mother's day by making special paintings for our mother's.
- Colin shared his mandolin with us and let the kids strum.
- We have been looking at our Baby Owl Journal over the past two weeks. One parent sent the teachers an email with photos of baby owl at their home. We looked at these pictures on Ofra's iphone. Tobie also sent the teachers an email with a link to an article about an Owl who has nested in Berkeley hills and now has a baby. Using the iphone, we had a chance to look at what a real baby owl looks like.
-We had both Nina and Colin with us and it has been nice to have some new company in the kitah.
- On Wednesday last week, we had an unexpected and very involved reading time together. All the children chose to sit and listen to the stories instead of playing with toys.
- We danced to animal actions a few times at circle time last week. It is a great way to release lots of energy and enjoy ourselves.
We are looking forward to more excitement this week.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shabbat Yeladeniu and Shabbat B'Yachad - TOMORROW!

It's Shabbat Yeladeinu, our special Shabbat honoring our families with young children! This celebration and Shabbat B'Yachad will be held this Shabbat, Saturday, May 12th at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, preschool room.  
Please come to the Preschool room at 10:20 in time for the Torah Service/Parade and 1st Aliyah to the Torah for all children and their parents. 

We will reconvene in the Preschool room where the schedule will be a bit modified.  We will have a snack/kiddush, supervised free play and when Liora finishes the Haftorah in the main congregation we will 
have our welcome circle followed by age and developmentally appropriate Tefilah (prayer).  Our Torah story will be inspired from this week's Torah Portion,

Parashat Emor / פרשת אמור

We will join the main congregation for the very kid/gluten free friendly kiddush in the social hall.


HaShavuah - Nevonim

May 11, 2012
19 Iyar 5772
Dear Nevonim Parents,
We have been continuing to count the Omer with great excitement each day.  On Wednesday, Rabbi Shalom helped us acknowledge Lev B'Omer, the 32nd day of the counting of the Omer. He sang with us a song about appreciating God's light.  He retold the story to us that we have been talking about all week, about the history of Lag B'Omer, about Rabbi Akiva and about his student Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai  who hid in a cave in Peki'in where the secrets of the Zohar was revealed to him.  A spring miraculously arose to give water and a carob tree to give  food.  We celebrate him and his teachings on Lag B'Omer which is both his birth and death dates with a huge bonfire.  Rabbi Shalom told us that in Israel, in Meron, the bonfire is so big that it can seen from outer space!
The bonfire we made in class, although not as large or as real, was equally exciting.  The mural of it is hanging in the kitah.  Outside we also made a cave to hide and meditate in and had our kumzitz (bonfire) snack and circle and lunch outside on Lag B'Omer - we had roasted potatoes and cheese.
In addition to that holiday, many children chose to make artwork for their mothers for Mothers Day - we discussed at circle some ideas that included artwork with hearts and flowers which is why you see many in your cubbies and around the classroom.--
We also made many more flowers for Shabbat Yeledeinu.  We experimented with stamps and paper.  We played with tinker toys.  We did Havdalah with Malkah, singing with Melita, Yoga with Leslie and Sarah. We had our first ever, very successful, soccer classes and we read lots and lots of books and used lots and lots of Hebrew!  Today we talked about meditating about God and what the children see - some answers included God made the world, everything, horses and trains!
Have a great Shabbat and weekend, and Shabbat Yeledeinu,
Nevonim Teachers
Caitlin, Ruth and Shirlee

Friday, May 4, 2012

HaShavuah - Nevonim

May 4, 2012
12 Iyar 5772

Dear Nevonim Parents,

This week was filled with lots of flowermaking in anticipation of Shabbat Yaldeinu - tissue paper, coffee filters, foil and pipecleaners abounded all week - we hope you enjoy the beautiful results next week.  We celebrated Elijah's 4th birthday and Isaac's 5th birthday in the same week!  We counted the Omer every day and marked when we were halfway done.  Next week we are looking forward to Lag B'Omer on Thursday.  On our one rainy day we made a tent (ohel) in the social hall.  With Rabbi Shalom we learned more about Israel turning 64.  We learned how when Jews did not live in Israel we always faced in that direction to pray. We sang  "Im Tirzu" again and this time saw photographs on Shalom's computer of Herzel and of Israel in its very early days.  We realized that Israel is both ancient and new!

We read lots of books including "Tiki Tiki Tembo" which was a big hit!  We missed our park day on Tuesday, but enjoyed catching up with the parents for conferences.  With the lovely weather, we have been outside a lot where the lions, soldiers, pretend babies and ninjas seem to thrive! We also planted bulbs in the yard in honor of Spring.  We have started reading "No Rules for Michael" and the "Biggest Mountain" in preparation for talking about Shavuot in a few weeks.

We hope you have a lovely Shabbat and weekend,

 Nevonim Teachers
Caitlin, Ruth and Shirlee