This week, the students found another series of notes from Ginger the Gingerbread man. In Ginger's first note he let us know that he had gone to learn about Kwanzaa. He then gave us clues to where in the school he went to learn about Kwanzaa. One day the students followed the trail and found Ginger sitting in the Runnymede office with a book on Kwanzaa. On another day they followed the clues and found him with another book in with our reading buddies in room 125. Through reading different books on Kwanzaa, the students made connections to how Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa were similar. The students found that all of these celebrations involved lights. The kinara which holds 7 candles reminded the students of a menorah. The colours of Kwanzaa are red, green and black which the students found were very simialar to Christmas colours. The students also found that these celebrations also involved family, food, music and presents.
After the students had finished studying Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa they shared with holidays and traditions were important to them. Over the course of the week, the students completed artwork surrounding their favourite family celebration on tradition. Some students wrote and drew about family trips to the cottage each summer, decorating the Christmas tree or playing dreidel with their family over Hanukkah. The students worked to create patterns around the border of their artwork using fingerprints or symbols.
To celebrate the last week of school before the holidays, the students had the opportunity to participate in a variety of holiday/winter crafts and activities. They made winter soaps, had the chance to meet Santa, make holiday trees and gingerbread houses. The students also made gingerbread play-dough and made their own gingerbread people.
This week, when the students came in on Monday, they found that our classroom fairy had left us a poem about December celebrations. As we had studied Hanukkah last week the students began talking about other celebrations their families celebrated this month. We uncovered that Christmas was another holiday many of our students celebrated with their families.
The students had the opportunity to explore symbols from this holiday in many hands on ways. We made our weekly batch of play dough as a Christmas tree themed batch. The students were able to create and decorate Christmas trees during sensory play.
As we read books about Christmas and learned factual information around this holiday we also looked to see if we could find any similarities between Christmas and Hanukkah. The students made the connection that both of these holidays use lights. One students said that during Hanukkah Jewish families light candles on the menorah each night and families who celebrate Christmas put lights on their trees and sometimes outside their homes. Another child pointed out that the Star of David is an important symbol during Hanukkah and during Christmas many people put a star on the top of their Christmas tree. Another student said that during Christmas they liked to eat lots of yummy food with their families and during Hanukkah families ate lots of food together too.
During a discussion about what kinds of treats the students like eating at Christmas time a few students spoke about how much they love to eat gingerbread and decorate gingerbread houses. The next day after this conversation the students found a gingerbread person waiting them in the class. Ginger the Gingerbread person had told the students that she loved our class. She was wondering if they could build a home for her using 3D shapes that we had been learning about.
The students used examples from the song Geometric Shapes to decide which shapes they would incorporate into their houses for Ginger. They build pyramids, triangular and rectangular prisms and cubes for Ginger to live in. The students took pictures of their work and wrote about what they had created for Ginger. We also extended this writing piece by having the students write letters to Ginger. Magically, Ginger answered all of the students' questions in his daily letters.
After attending the grade 6&7 musical instrument symposium our Kindergarten class started asking if they could work with these students to create their own musical instruments. This provided us with a wonderful opportunity to build community in our school and work on a special project for our Kindergarten yard. Last week for the first time, the grade 6&7 students gathered to start working on a music wall. As they took turns rotating through centres and building together it worked to strengthen our community as the students got to know each other in a meaningful way.
Later in the week, all of the Mountview classes gathered together for the first time to rehearse the finale for our school concert. As they did so we started to look at how music can bring us together as a community over the holiday season and throughout the year. This led to student talk around holidays, traditions, ceremonies and memorials that they experienced throughout the year. During this study, we started to look at one holiday that some of our students celebrate in December. This celebration was Hanukkah.
Students listened to books to understand the tradition and celebrations surrounding Hanukkah. They learned that Hanukah is also referred to as The Festival of Lights. The students learned that more than 2,000 years ago, the Jewish people fought against an enemy who would not allow them to practice their religious traditions. Their enemy destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, which contained many holy objects including a sacred lamp called the menorah. One small band of people, called the Maccabees fought their enemies and won. When they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem the first thing they did was restore the sacred lamp. But there was almost no oil left -- only enough for one day. The lamp was filled with this oil and lit. Instead of lasting only one day, it burned brighter, and brighter, lasting eight days. This was considered a miracle!
During our daily math routine, the students continued to study 2D & 3D shapes. At one centre they were given the opportunity to make menorahs and the Star of David using pattern blocks. After being introduced to a dreidel game, some students participated in the STEM challenge of building a spinning dreidel with connecting cubes. They then counted how many cubes they used.
As a sensory & math activity, the students looked at different symbols of Hanukkah and used hollow dreidels to explore capacity. After learning that Hanukkah lasts 8 nights they were able to use loose parts to build pretend candles and represent numbers from 1-8 on a tens frame.
Students also had the chance to examine a menorah. After they learned that a menorah has 9 candles they were able to examine a menorah and make one out of plates, paint and clothespins.