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.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Note from Cheryl Eccles, our Drama/Movement Specialist

Dear Netivot Shalom Preschool Families:

My name is Cheryl Eccles and I am honored to be sharing my Creative Drama/Dance program at Netivot Shalom Preschool through the first Wednesday of June. I grew up acting, and taught drama to elementary students throughout high school and college. I went on to"grown-up-type jobs" for many years, and in the past eight years have had the fortune to return to my passion as a creative drama/dance instructor. I have been teaching at three other preschools in Berkeley and Oakland and have also taught at Berkeley Playhouse. As part of my training, I've participated in the California Institute of Dance Learning Summer Institute Advanced Program for the past six summers. I've also taken courses at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Alameda Arts Alliance Council, Pan Improvisational Theatre, Luna Dance Institute (LDI), Shawl Anderson, and Cal Shakes, and have facilitated fellow teaching artists in a lesson study at LDI. Our three children are Temple Sinai Preschool"graduates" and are currently in the Berkeley Public Schools.

I am delighted to spend 25 minutes once every week for eight weeks with your children to sing, dance, be silly and use our imagination to act out story dramas. In collaboration with the amazing NSP staff, I am infusing a few Jewish values in my program including Derech Eretz (Common Courtesy), Kehilah (Community), Shomrei Adamah (Guardian of the Earth) and Mitzvah (Commandment). I will bring these values to life through dance, music and story dramatization. We also have focused on a couple of Jewish holidays including Yom Ha'atzma'ot and Shavuot.

My overall goals for this program are for the children to have a deeper understanding of basic dance/movement skills to help empower them with the ability to control their bodies, improve motor skills, control of direction, speed and energy. Also I'd like for them to develop character traits with gestures, voices, emotions, and movement in our stories. We develop skills to safely move around the room and around other children by utilizing our bubble spaces, stop/go games, as well as exploring the space around us—high/low, under/over, big/small, and fast/slow.

Each week I read a picture book and then the children act out this story taking on different roles. We incorporate Jewish holiday celebrations and Jewish teachings with story, song and scene work. Some of the stories we bring to life include A Duck So Small (Derech Eretz), Who Said Moo? (Kehilah), Sadie and the Big Mountain (Shavuot), Old Bear (Mishpochah and Mitzvot), Teeras Cham, Ma'as'e B'chamisha Balonim (Israeli stories read by teachers in Nachshonim) and The Great Kapok Tree (Shomrei Adamah). The children act out the stories using simple props, voices, gestures, and movements while utilizing the room as their stage.

The children's ability to have a keen understanding of their body and their relationship to others blends beautifully with their discovery of themselves through acting and dancing. Thank you again for offering me the opportunity to learn and play with your children. Feel free to contact me with any questions/comments/concerns at

With Gratitude,

Cheryl Eccles

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