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.

Friday, October 25, 2013

HaShavuah - Nevonim

October 21-25 2013
18-22 Cheshvan 5774
Shalom Kulam,
Mazal Tov to the Neta family on the birth of their son!  We recited the shehechiyanu in class to celebrate Lilit's entry into big sisterhood!

Emergent Curriculum
This week several of the children opened a library in the kitah/classroom.  Books can be checked out with a card to remind the borrower to return the book (and the librarians are sure to keep you honest as well).  Perhaps you would like to borrow a book from our library?  We have a fabulous selection of books! 
Children continue to care for babies, growing their imaginations, practicing nurturing others with love, negotiating decisions with the other parents (at times the most difficult part of parenting, wouldn't you agree?), and developing fine motor skills.
Still so much dress up, in dresses, skirts, aprons, hats, and more, with multiple layers on at once! SO MUCH dress up that we are planning to expand our dress up area! Keep your eyes open for a window into what emerges.
You might remember from last week's HaShavuah that we already started reading a book about Rivka's kindness in this week's parsha/ Torah portion.  Some children were so inspired by this story that they chose to dress up as Rivka!  They were very excited to show the rabbi when he visited the kitah that day.
A fascinating part of an emergent curriculum is bringing things into the classroom and seeing what catches the children's interest.  For Parshat Bereshit we served yogurt and blackberries to introduce the idea of God creating light and dark on the first day.  Now, whenever we serve food that is black and white, like this week then we had cereal with milk and raisins, the children notice and point out that we are again eating darkness and lightness.  
This week this idea was extended to include eating midbar/desert (in the form of cereal), and yam/the sea (in the form of milk). 

Activities initiated by the teachers this week included:
-eating lunch by candlelight
-filling balloons with water, freezing them, removing the balloon and then painting the large ice spheres with food coloring using eye droppers.  The children also had the opportunity to melt the ice spheres by applying salt.
-We also made a graph of all the names of all the children in the kitah (and teachers and a few pets) showing how many letters are in each child's name.  This documentation is on display in the kitah.
-We also made, with the children, a calendar of the days of the week on our classroom whiteboard.  The calendar itself didn't last but it inspired the children to draw on the whiteboard with dry erase markers.
Orchnasat orchim/welcoming guests is featured again in this week's parsha, this time featuring Rivka.  We learned a new song, a welcome song in Arabic from children's music giant Ella Jenkins, which we translated into Hebrew, "bruchim haba'im."  We sang this song to Nachshonim when they came to our class for Havdalah.  We also sang it at circle time to Ima Jess, who volunteered again to help us with cooking, and congregant Ruth who also volunteered again this week.
A big thank you to Ima Dorothy, Yael's Ima, for volunteering by leading Pretend Shabbat this week!
We LOVE having parent involvement in the classroom! Email Ruth ( if you're interested in volunteering!

Rabbi Creditor came to our kitah and told this story emphasizing Rivka/Rebecca and Yitzchak/Isaac's shared love of gamalim/camels.  This connects to the middah/virtue of tsar balei chaim/caring for all living creatures.

Remember that you can involve your children in gemilut chasadim/acts of lovingkindness by helping out two of our preschool families.  
To help out Lilah's family click on this link:
If you have questions about the jobs, you can talk with Laura Callan or email Lilah's Ima, Elana, at
To prepare food for Lilit's family click on this link:
Again, if you have questions you can contact Laura Callan
Every Week

This week Melita sang songs with us about farms and animals.
Every week we are scrolling our mini-Torah for children to the week's parsha.
Every week there are classic picture books on our bookshelf.  This week's popular favorites included: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, and many of the Maisy books by Lucy Cousins.
Every week we recite some tefilot/prayers at circle time.  We sing Modah Ani, Elohai Neshama, Mah Tovu, and end with the Shema.  We begin Elohai Neshama with a call and response siniging.  This week when we began the song the children sang along for the first "call."  So we, the teachers, stopped singing the call.  The children became the leaders of the song and we sang the response.
Shabbat Shalom,
Ruth, Shirley, and William

Friday, October 18, 2013

HaShavuah - Nevonim

October 15-18 2013
11-14 Cheshvan 5774
Shalom Kulam,
Check it out! The children can now hang their own artwork in the kitah!
There has been a lot of pretend play in the kitah this week.  Some examples:
a couch can be ...
   a library
   a helicopter
chairs can be ...
   an airplane
a table can be ...
   a birthday party
string can be ...
  a spiderweb
a bucket can be ...
   a pot of soup
Emergent Curriculum
The children have continued to explore the themes we began seeing in the kitah/classroom last week.  Building and boats have been combined and some children are making miniature boats out of popsicle sticks and tape.  The children are continuing to care for babies
The theme of balance has grown and expanded throughout the week.  String has been used to explore balance, becoming spider webs, tails, and rescue ropes.  We also brought out the balance beam.  The children practiced balancing by walking on the beam.  The beam also requires them to construct it themselves and they did, exploring different shapes including a straight line, curving line, square and triangle.
We played a focus game with tape and bean bags.  The children used the bean bags to try to hit one of three targets on the wall, each worth a different amount of points, which the children practiced adding up to get their score for each round.
On a related theme, the children explored symmetry by making omanut/art in which they fold a piece of paper in half, paint one side, then close the paper so that the mirror image is copied onto the other half of the paper.  In circle time the children also played a game where they made a shape with their body and another child made a mirror image of the shape with their body.

We rocked out to The Macaroons! We were dancing and singing along while playing air guitar, drums, accordion, keyboards.  We even froze and answered questions about Hebrew and Jewish holidays as they related to the songs!
Still so much dress up, in dresses, skirts, aprons, hats, and more, with multiple layers on at once!
Helping Hands
Rabbi Creditor sang his song Modeh Ani with the children.  Then he talked about lending a helping hand to others, as the parents do in this week's Torah parsha/portion.  This was the inspiration for this week's pretend Shabbat Challot, made in the shape of two hands.
This is an important theme in both kitot/classrooms. 
Hands Are Not For Hitting is a picture book classic.  Helping is one of the many things it share that one can do with one's hands.  It also has a picture of a child crossing the street holding an adult's hand, just as both Hagar does with Yishmael and Avraham with Yitzchak in the parsha. 
Kind Little Rivka tells the story of next week's parsha, with additional details added from midrash.  In this story Rivka bandages a boy's foot, lends a helping hand to a woman who is lost, and gives her seat to a tired old man before giving water to Eliezer and all his camels. 
There is also a book in the kitah, by Lawrence Kishner and Karen Kushner, called Because Nothing Looks Like God.  As described in the section titled "for parents and teachers" at the back of the book, this book "suggests that God does not dramatically intervene in the world except through the use of human hands," giving examples of actions children can perform themselves, or as the book puts it, "with your hands."
Speaking of ways children can offer helping hands to others, this week we talked about two middot, orchnasat orchim/welcoming guests and bikkur cholim/visiting the sick. 
Orchnasat orchim/welcoming guests is featured in this week's parsha with Avraham and Sarah welcoming guests into their home.  The children practiced saying bruchim habaim/blessed is your coming when guests visited our classroom, including Ima Jess (who made playdoh with the children on Wednesday), congregant Ruth (who also visited the classroom on Wednesday), Melita, Menachem, even moreh/teacher Collin. 
Bikkur cholim/visiting the sick is featured in the book Bear Feels Sick, by the author/illustrator of Bear Snores On.
Every Week
This week Melita sang songs with us about cats, dogs, other animals, and rainbows.  Later we noticed the children playing pretending to be kitty cats and puppy dogs or pretending to care for kitty cats and puppy dogs.
Every week we are scrolling our mini-Torah for children to the week's parsha.
Every week there are classic picture books on our bookshelf.  This week's popular favorites included: Caps for Sale, Chu's Day, Everyone's Ready For Fun? 
Shabbat Shalom,
Ruth, Shirley, and William

HaShavuah - Nevonim

Hashvua'im/ The Last Two Weeks
October 18, 2013
14 Cheshvan, 5774
Shalom Nachshonim families,

We have had a very eventful couple of weeks. We are thrilled to share with you the excitement that occurred in our kitah. 

Last Week in the Nachshonim Kitah:
-We had Havdallah with the children in the Nevonim kitah to greet the new week. 

-Last Wednesday we made play dough from scratch and we decided to make it the color orange.
-We have been singing songs about colors at circle time. We have been singing "Orange is a Carrot" and "Purple Grapes,  Purple Plum", both songs that use flashcards with pictures.
-Last Thursday the children cooked pancakes. They helped measure and count all the ingredients and we enjoyed them at snacktime.

-We noticed that there are no more worms in our worm composting bin! Ofra picked a few worms up from her community garden. We put them in a container and took some time to observe them, we then placed the few she brought into the bin in hopes that they will reproduce.
-We have been feeding them our food scraps.

-We continue to sing/read "I've Been Working on the Railroad"
-We learned a new  song about trains in Hebrew "He'ne Rakevet"/Here is a train. The song is about how it moves with wheels.
-We have pulled out our play wheels from the outdoor shed and the children are rolling them in the play yard.

-We had our first earthquake drill last week. We now know what to do to keep safe in an emergency situation.

This Week in the Nachshonim Kitah:
-We have made a height chart on the wall With a large sheet of paper. The children take off their shoes and we use the book on the head technique to make a line on the chart at their height. We will revisit our height chart at the end of the year to see how much we've grown. 

-Ana found a baby avocado that fell from a tree outside. We cut it open to have a look inside and compared it to a large avocado that wasn't Ofra's lunch.

-On Tuesday morning, Anna switched all of the toys on our shelves so we have a new selection of things to play with.

-We had a lovely visit from our friend Ruth who will be stopping by on a weekly basis to visit us. We had a nice time getting to know her.

-We also had our usual visits from Melita with her guitar and Rabbi creditor with his guitar

-We keep adding more food in the worm bin in hopes that they reproduce.

Tzva'im/colors continued...
-A very exciting thing happened when a CD was sitting upside down on the windowsill in the sun came shining down on it. It reflected off the disc and made a reflection of a rainbow on the ceiling. We then walked over to the Nevonim kitah to borrow the "science area CDs" that they had on their windowsill. Now we can hold them and create rainbows all over the room whenever the sun comes shining in.
-The children did a lot of paintings this week.
-The children are still excited about playing with various colors of yarn. Including snipping them with scissors.

-We played in the social hall and the court yard a few times this week after lunch.

-a child found a spider in the kitah on Thursday morning. We kept it in a cup for a few minutes to observe it, then we set it free outside.
-On Friday, we found another spider! It was out in the play yard.
-After both of these incidences, we sang the itsy-bitsy spider several times in Hebrew and English.
We are looking forward to continuing our explorations of colors next week.
Shabbat Shalom
Ofra and Anna

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Almost Chanukkah Fair - Save the Date!

Chanukah starts at sundown on Nov. 27 this year,
but it is never too early to get into the spirit!
Come to a fun family-friendly event and get your children excited about Chanukah!
Netivot Shalom's FREE "Almost Chanukah!" fair features: live music; Chanukah latkes and cookies; crafts by local Bay Area artists; children's books; menorahs, dreidels, and beautiful candles; Fair Trade chocolate gelt; exotic Fair Trade Judaica from Africa, Asia, and South America; and a jumpy house! Decorate Chanukah cookies and make your own Chanukah candles.

 Participate in a holiday gift drive:
Bring a new toy, book, game, or item of clothing for a child in need age 3-18.

 This event is co-sponsored by: Camp Newman and Camp Tawonga.  
Learn about local Jewish summer camps!

 All are welcome. Fun for all ages!
Sunday, Nov. 24, 11:00-2:00


Friday, October 11, 2013

HaShavuah - Nevonim

October 8-11 2013
4-7 Cheshvan 5774
Shalom Kulam,
Here are some themes that are emerging in our classroom:
The children have been:
--Having babies
--Feeding food to babies
--Nursing babies
--Putting babies to bed
--Dressing babies

The children have been building:
--in 3D using cardboard boxes, corks, pipe cleaners, and more!
--with blocks
--with MagnaTiles
The children have made many kinds of boats (inspired by Noah's Ark), including:
--paddle boats
----made out of blocks, with blocks for oars
----using our wooden boat, with blocks for oars
--motorboats with 3D jet engines (using corks, popsicle sticks, tape, and more)!
The children have been practicing balancing in many ways including:
--on our balance board (documentation board on display in the classroom)
--forwards and backwards
--moving through an obstacle course taped on the ground without touching the lines
--and balancing on one foot!
Dress Up!
so much dress up!
--dressing up in dresses, skirts, aprons, hats, and more!
-----often with multiple layers on at once!

The children have been dancing to all kinds of music, including Rabbi Creditor's CD's as well as while playing musical instruments and singing "All You Need Is Love," with alternate lines ("All You Need If Food," "All You Need Is ______").

Every Week
We begin each week by having the Nachshonim join us for havdallah/ritual separating Shabbat from the rest of the week. 

Every week Rabbi Creditor comes to visit our classroom.  This week he used his guitar and his walking fingers to show the children how their Jewish journey begins with Avraham but changes with each new generation.  We also sang "Lechi Lach" (by Debbie Friedman z"l)/
Melita also comes to visit our classroom every week.  She sang many songs with us, including a song about the earth.
Every day we have circle time.
--We sing tefillot/prayers.  
Our other activities this week included:
--learning AlephBet Yoga.  
-- doing Animal Yoga with Ima Jenni Mangel (Kaila's Mom) at circle time for Parsha Noah.  We learned many animal yoga asanas/poses including: eagle, lion, dog (downward, square, upward), locust (!), cat, cow, rainbow (spontaneously created by the children), and dove.  
I know some of you have already spoken with us about volunteering in the classroom.  We LOVE having parent involvement in the classroom! Email Ruth ( if you're interested!
-- rehearsing our Noah's Ark play to perform at Pretend Shabbt!
Every week we are scrolling our mini-Torah for children to the week's parsha.
And we also end by reciting the Shema!

Parsha Noah

We read many versions of Noah's Ark in Hebrew and in English, including: 
Why Noah Chose the Dove (by Isaac Bashevis Singer), Inside Noahs' Ark, Too Tired, Noah's Bark, (Jan Brett's) On Noah's Ark, The Littlest Pair, and (Lucy Cousin's, author of the Maisy books) Noah's Ark.

We also sang songs of peace (in honor or the dove, the olive branch, and the rainbow)! Od yavo Shalom Aleinu!
The olive branch led to an interest in olives so we tried 3 varieties at snack time and graphed our favorites (also on display in the classroom). 
The children missed having our poster of the seven days of creation so we made our own (on display in the kitah/classroom).
We also have documentation boards for each of the parshot/Torah portions, including Lech Lecha/Go Forth where the children told us what they would bring on a journey (also  on display b'kitah/in the classroom).
Shabbat Shalom,
Ruth, Shirley, and William

Save the Date! Saturday Evening, Nov. 23 is the Congregation Netivot Shalom Channukah Ball!!!

Save the Date! Saturday Evening, Nov. 23
Congregation Netivot Shalom Channukah Ball!!!

Mark your calendars for Congregation Netivot Shalom's Channukah Ball!
Saturday Evening, Nov. 23rd!
An evening of fun for all adults!
Childcare provided!
Want to help get involved and help us plan this party?  Contact Michael at
More details soon!
Congregation Netivot Shalom // 1316 University Avenue // Berkeley, CA 94702

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fwd: Announcing: A Gift to the Netivot Shalom Preschool!

Save the Date:
Netivot Shalom Scholar in Residence Shabbat with Rabbi Aaron Alexander!
Nov. 1-2
more info soon!


Rabbi Aaron Alexander is Associate Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles where he teaches rabbinic literature and Jewish law. He currently serves on the Committee for Jewish and Standards of the Conservative Movement and is a Rabbinic Leader in the American Social Justice Movement. 

from Lauren Kindorf and Jenni Mangel
A Gift to the Netivot Shalom Preschool!

Preschool Logo

Dear Netivot Shalom Community,


We are delighted to share that the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay has awarded us financial aid support in the amount of $1,560.00 for the purpose of preschool scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year and will be applied directly to the Joe Meresman Scholarship Fund!


Thank you also to everybody who participated in the annual honey fundraiser this fall. Our Parent Association raised close to $400.00 through this fundraiser which will also support scholarships in the preschool!



The preschool has a fundraising goal of $20,000.00 to raise before June 1, 2014 in order to continue the generous scholarship support we currently offer families. We encourage you to consider how you might be able to financially support our preschool this year, and invite you to consider making a gift online! (Click here!)


Please contact us!


Lauren Kindorf, Preschool


Jenni Mangel, Parent Association
Netivot Shalom Preschool
Join Our Mailing List

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

HaShavuah - Nachshonim

Hahsavuah she'avar/ Last week
October 9, 2013'
5 Cheshvan, 5774

Shalom Nachshonim Families!

Last week was filled with many fun activities and learning. 
Here are last week's highlights in the kitah/classroom.

-We had Havdallah with a Nevonim children on Monday. A weekly ritual that happens when Shabbat ends and we greet the new week.
-We then pulled out our wooden Havdallah toy set from the closet. It includes a pretend twisted candle, a pretend  bottle of wine, a kiddush cup and a besamim/fragrant spices container. 

Noah's Ark!
-We have several book about Noah's Ark in our reading corner.
-We took out our wooden ark and wooden animals from the closet for the children to play with

-We have hung up our communal painting that we made last week
-We took a field trip to the courtyard after lunch on Wednesday. We played with strands of yarn, chalk and we read some songbooks outside.
-Upon our return to the kitah, many of the children began to snip their yarn with scissors.

-We had our first fire drill. We now know what to do in an emergency. We made the sound of the alarm with our voices as we made our way outside.

-We have made "name sticks", which craft sticks with every child's name written on it. We have them placed in our "do" and "done" cups in order to help us select who will feed the guinea pigs and who will change their water on a daily basis. The children have the opportunity to look at and recognize their written name and their friends names.

-We played with Ooblek! A mixture of cornstarch and water which results in a very interesting texture.

- Many children have been enjoying cutting with scissors this week.
-At circle time and throughout our days we have been talking about how to safely hold the scissors when we walk with them with a sharp point covered by our hands.

-Before baking our challah bread on Friday, the children came with Ofra to the big kitchen and we had a look at the ovens that bake our challah bread.

Books in the reading corner this week:
- The Israeli classic "Ma'ase B'chamisha Balonim"/ The Tale of Five Balloons
- Bark, George (a teacher favorite)
-  The Seals on the Bus, a fun songbook
-Puppies, Puppies Puppies 
-What Color is Your Underwear?,  we lift the flap to check out the underwear that the animals wear.
-Trains by Byron Barton 
-I've Been Working on the Railroad,  a songbook book with pictures
-Lots of books about about Noah's Ark
We are looking forward to sharing more of our weekly activities with all of you.
Ofra and Anna

Monday, October 7, 2013

HaShavua'im - Nachshonim

Hashvua'im (The two weeks)
October 2, 2013
28 Tishrei, 5774
Shalom Nachshonim Families.
The last two weeks here in our Nachshonim Kitah (classroom) has been very eventful.
Here are the highlights of the last two weeks at school.
-We walked to our sukkah in the courtyard 
and we had a chance to meet Milt and Bert who were helping construct it. Later that day we made decorations for the sukkah when we were out in the play yard. We then hung them in the sukkah, 
-We have brought out our construction tools and workbench to play with during this time of year when we talk a lot about building a sukkah
-We have been singing songs about building a sukkah with tools in both Hebrew and English.
-We ate lunch in the sukkah a few times!
-We had a chance to look at a lulav together and we discussed what we saw at circle time. 
-After eating lunch in the sukkah, we used the courtyard for running and playing. The children played a game where they ran back and forth from one end of the courtyard to the other once they heard the words "ready, set, go!"
-One day after lunch in the sukkah, we made a pitstop in the sanctuary on the way back to the kitah. We sat in front of the Aron Kodesh and we had a look at  and the Torahs inside.

-We had our usual visit with Melita on Tuesday, where we sang songs, danced and played instruments.
-We had our usual visit from Menachem on Wednesday, he also came to sing songs with us.
-We made a large communal painting together. Then we turned it into a mixed media project the next day when we drew on top of the painting with oil pastels.

-We shared a pomegranate that we picked from the tree in the play yard.

-We have been singing songs, lots and lots of singing. Some of the songs we sing you may have heard at home. 
Baby Beluga, 
Yada'im Lemala (Hands Up), 
Our hand washing song, 
Hashafan Hakatan (The little Rabbit) and other songs in Hebrew, 
Open, Shut Them,
Some of the books on our shelf these last two weeks are
Tuseekim (Tushies)
 Cats Colors. 
Maisy Goes Shopping. 
Come on, Daisy! 
Books about Sukkot. 
All aboard! 
Little blue and little yellow by Leo Lionni 
Lefamim (sometimes). 
Thank you Bear.
We are already about half way through the week and we will have lots more to share with you soon.
L'hitraot (See you later)
Ofra and Anna

Friday, October 4, 2013

HaShavuah - Nevonim

September 30- October 4 2013
26-30 Tishrei 5774
Shalom Kulam,

Our study of B'reishit began last week when we unrolled a children's Torah scroll for Simchat Torah.  Then we rolled it back up again so that it was "bookmarked" for B'reishit.

This week we began by singing California Cantor Alana Jagoda's song "Seven Days."  We sang this song every day this week.  Each day we pointed to an illustration of the day's events, using a poster from Alison Greengard's slight adaptation of the creation story entitled, appropriately, In The Beginning.  We also wrote the days of the creation/week on stones with chalk.  The next day we built on this by having each child choose a folded up note from a basket.  Each note contained a simple illustration for each day (couresy of Morah Shirlee).  As we sang the song, each child placed their note next to the stone marked with the day that corresponded with the illustration on their note.  Finally, each child retrieved their note and a teacher numbered the note according to its day of creation.

The children made their own rendition of the creation of the world using a collage of many materials.

At snack one day Morah Shirlee asked the children, "What do you think it was like before the world was created?"  Many of the children responded to this question and their responses are on display in the classroom above the children's creation of the world collage.  We even had a heated debate to rival the many legendary debates from the Talmud. What was it really like before the world was created?  Rav Alexander shared that it was"like Egypt" before the world was created.  Rav Noa disagreed, stated that before it was like Egypt it was "all black."  In my opinion the Torah supports both opinions.  

Some of the books we read about the creation follow the Torah's telling very closely, like the aforementioned In The Beginning and Sarah Waldman's Light: The First Seven Days.  Others have kabbalistic inspiration, like Howard Schwartz's Gathering Sparks and Jane Breskin Zalben's Light.  Still others are the creations (no pun intended) of contemporary storytellers, like Martin Boroson's Becoming Me: A Story of Creation.

Special Activities
We practiced emergency safety this week with a fire drill. We perform emergency safety drills every month.
William daughter, baby Haya, and his wife, Ima Lauraina, visited the kitah this week.  Amazing how quiet lunch time is when there is a four- month-old infant in the room!

We did paintings with chalk and sugar water.  The children added the sugar to the water which then makes the colors of the chalk more vibrant.
Every Week

Every week Rabbi Creditor comes to visit our classroom.  This week he
explained that Noah's Ark was more like a submarine, since it had a roof and the flood waters were such a deluge that it was completely surrounded by water.  Then he shared a wonderful drash about a gem in the middle of the ark that gave off light.  The best moment however was when he added his own spin, suggesting that this special light can still be found, shining out at us when we look in another person's eyes.  The wonder on each face as the children looked into each other's eyes was a joy to behold!
Melita also comes to visit our classroom every week.  She sang many songs with us, including a song about the earth.
This week there was also much dancing in the classroom, games of tag outside, elaborate railroad tracks, and magnet tile bunk beds!
Shabbat Shalom,
Morim Ruth, Shirley, and William