Hanukkah Feast

Hanukkah is one of the most significant periods in the Jewish calendar, celebrated by millions worldwide. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it is observed by lighting one candle on the menorah candelabrum each day.

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Hanukkah is celebrated in November or December in the western calendar. The holiday begins on ninth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar, and is celebrated for eight days.

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Observing the Jewish peoples’ struggle for religious freedom, the word Hanukkah means “rededication”. The festival marks the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century BC, when the Israelites, led by the Maccabees, gained victory over the Greek-Syrian oppressors. Hanukkah is celebrated in a number of ways, from the traditional lighting of the menorah to special foods and games.

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As Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as sufganiyot – jam-filled doughnuts. Traditional foods include potato pancakes, known as latkes in Yiddish, particularly among Ashkenazi families. According to rabbinic literature, there is also a tradition of eating dairy products, such as cheese, during Hanukkah.

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For this activity, we talked about these different fried foods. We then created a number of them out of play dough, and pretended to cook and serve them to our friends!

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Cooking and dramatic play activities are not only a fun, engaging activity for children, but one that can be used as an important teaching and development tool.

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For instance, the act of following a recipe or creating a dish can encourage self-direction and independence, while also teaching children to follow directions and use thinking skills to problem solve.

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Also, when children come together in a dramatic play experience, they are learning many things! They not only negotiate roles, but cooperate and listen to one another to bring their ideas to life. And by recreating some of the experiences they actually face, they learn how to integrate new material with previous learned information.

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Fine Motor Menorahs

Fine motor skills encompass a variety of tasks that color all aspects of our lives. For little ones, these skills enable them to thrive in their daily environments.
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These skills are not only the precursors to writing, but include a variety of tasks, including manipulating objects, operating scissors, opening and closing lids, turning pages, and completing puzzles.
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Because we have been talking about the menorah, your little one participated in an activity that honed in on these skills. Using tweezers and pom poms, students created their very own menorahs!
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Play Dough Menorahs

Using play dough (or in fact any type of dough) with young children is beneficial in so many ways.

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The malleable properties of play dough make it fun for investigation and exploration as well as building up strength in all the tiny hand muscles and tendons,  making young writers ready for pencil and scissor control later on.

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For this activity, we used play dough and menorah play dough mats to teach your little ones about the menorah.

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Using their hands, they practiced rolling their play dough into candles to put onto their menorahs! When finished, students counted how many candles they had.

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Ursus Maritimus

Your little one participated in yet another fun sensory activity!

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Using insta-snow,  rocks, and  toy polar bears, your little one created their very own winter wonderland!

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We began this activity with a discussion and review of the various bears that we have been learning about this week.

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We then talked about the polar bear and the kind of environments that the polar bear prefers.

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Our discussion concluded with a review of the new vocabulary that we have been learning, such as glacier, blubber, the Arctic Circle, and carnivore.

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Your little explorer then happily constructed the perfect living space for their arctic creature.

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This was the definite favorite for the week, as your little one applied their understanding of various vocabulary and scientific concepts.

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Letter S Snow Tracing

Although the formal study of reading and writing does not occur until kindergarten, young children are capable of recognizing letters and their functions.

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Providing regular opportunities to practice pre-reading skills, is essential in gaining knowledge of the alphabet and its association to how words work.

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Using insta-snow and our fingers, we practiced tracing the letter S.

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Throughout the week, we have been talking about different words that start with the letter S.

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We have additionally been singing songs that reinforce the different sounds that S makes.

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Sensory Play with Insta-Snow

Children (and adults) learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses.

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By giving children the opportunity to investigate materials with no preconceived knowledge, you’re helping them develop and refine their cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative and linguistic skillsets.

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These sensory experiences provide open-ended opportunities where the process is more important than the product; how children use materials is much more important than what they make with them.

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For this activity, we explored the physical properties of insta-snow. As your little ones manipulated the snow with their hands, they used many different words to describe its texture and temperature, giggling with their friends as they did so!

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Green Apple Trees

Food preparation is not only a fun, engaging activity for children, but one that has been used for years as an important teaching and development tool for all ages.

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For one thing, hands-on cooking activities encourage a sense of pride and confidence. The act of following a recipe can encourage self-direction and independence, while also teaching children to follow directions and use thinking skills to problem solve.

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Working with food also inspires children’s curiosity, thinking, and problem solving, offering new opportunities to make predictions and observations. Additionally, creating meals offers authentic opportunities for students to understand and apply their knowledge of measuring, one-to-one correspondence, numbers, and counting. As they follow a recipe, children organize ingredients, follow a sequence, and carry out multiple directions.

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Lastly, chopping, squeezing, spreading, and mixing materials help develop a child’s small muscle control and eye-hand coordination.

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For this activity, we used our thinking minds and our strong muscles to create Christmas trees!

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Using apples as our “trees”, cereal as our “ornaments,” and cheese as our “stars”, we enjoyed following a recipe (with the assistance of colorful illustrations), constructing a tree, and then devouring our yummy snacks!

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