Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sharing the Traditions of Hannakah

We had two special guests visit our class today. One was a former student and the other was her father. They shared with our class the traditions of Hannakah and how they celebrate it with their family.
First she told us about the history of Hannakah - how it began over 2,000 years ago when the Syrian-Greek leader, Antiochus IV, attempted to force the Jews in Israel to renounce their religion and culture. There was a revolt led by Judah Maccabee and the Jews were victorious, despite the fact that their army was outnumbered. The Hannakah celebration of lighting the menorah traces its origin to a miracle that occurred after the victory of the Maccabees. It was a tradition to light a special lamp in the Temple, called a menorah, with olive oil, but all of the vials of oil were made impure with the exception of one. According to Hannakah history, the one vial of oil burned for eight days until pure oil could be obtained for the holy Temple. In gratitude, the Jews began lighting small menorahs in their homes to commemorate the miracle.
Her father explained how to light the candles and volunteers had the chance to come up to the menorah and light a candle using the "helper" candle. They told us of the traditional food they eat during this time including latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly donuts! The children liked the idea of the donuts!
Next, she taught the students how to play a game with a dreidel. It is a toy (like a top) that is played while the menorah is burning. She explained the four different Hebrew signs on the dreidel. Then students had a chance to play the game with a partner and they used chocolate kisses as their coins. Each child was gifted a dreidel and ten chocolate kisses.
Finally, she read a book to the children and answered any questions they had. It was a wonderful way for the students to learn about a different culture and holiday tradition.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

We Can't Forget Our 4-Legged Friends

Every year our "pet" project is to give needed items to our local Humane Society. We learned that at any one time, the shelter has over 400 animals including pigs, birds, goats, and hamsters. During this month, we learned about the care of dogs and cats and how important it is to feed, walk, and keep them healthy. For two weeks we have been collecting bowls, toys, blankets, bleach, and towels. They don't need food because Purina donates all they need. Each morning, the students share what they have brought in and add it to our collection. We know there are a lot of good causes to give to around this time of year...but our classes' favorite is this one...the one that takes care of all the animals that are homeless.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fun With the Gingerbread Man

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"You Can't Catch Me...I'm the Gingerbread Man"

During our read alouds this week, the children have been listening to many different versions of the classic folktale, "The Gingerbread Man." In addition to that book, they've heard "The Gingerbread Boy" and "The Gingerbread Baby." We have been discussing and charting the similarities and differences of each book via a Venn Diagram. This was the first time we have used a Venn Diagram in Reader's Workshop. They will see them a lot more as the year progresses. We also had two Reader's Theater sessions this week. One on "The Gingerbread Boy" and one on "The Gingerbread Man." It was noted that only during our plays are the students allowed to run in the classroom!! Homework included a gingerbread man cut out which students were to decorate and tell how they created them. Today we made a gingerbread man. We shaped the dough in a gingerbread cooking stone and baked him till he was ready. While he was cooling off, the children went to lunch. Upon their return, one student shouted, "The Gingerbread Man is missing!!" This launched the students into a mad hunt to find him. We searched Mrs. Johnson's room, we went through the front office, we visited the library, and scoured the cafeteria. "There was only one place left," we shouted, "Miss Thomson's room is next door - maybe he ran over there." We barged in on Miss Thomson and much to our delight, she found him!!! They were sooo excited when he was found. We brought him back to our classroom and took turns icing the Gingerbread Man. Afterwards, we celebrated with mini-gingerbread cookies brought in by Mrs. Dillard. This was a wonderful kick off to the holiday festivities next week. We are off and running -- catch us if you can!!