Tu B'Shvat is the New Year for the trees.. It is the date from which we calculate the age of trees which is important as we must make sure a tree is ready to be harvested at the appropriate time.
Tu B'Shvat takes place on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat and marks the beginning of the growing season for trees in Israel. Trees are starting to blossom there at this time. (Almond tree first.)
The classes at Giving Tree explored the Almond tree- Ha'Shkediya Porachat in Hebrew- though various invitations of loose parts and art.
Another way that we learn about Tub'shvat is through our sense of taste! There are seven special species, "Shivat Haminim" for which Israel is famous: Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.
Each class was able to taste grapes, dried figs and dates, kalamata olives and investigated a pomegrante!
Chanukah is a time of wonder and discovery in the Giving Tree classrooms. We explore light, viscosity using oil and water experiements, force and gravity with spinning dreidels and explore the story of the brave Maccabees who restored the temple after the Greek army had destroyed it. The holiday of Chanukah is celebrated for 8 days as a miracle occured in the temple- a small jug of oil, enough for only one day, lasted for 8 days and nights!
The symbols of Chanukah are the chanukiah- menorah, dreidels, and foods cooked in oil like donuts or potato latkes! In each classroom, the children recreated some or all of these items.
Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights! We explored various forms of light in the light studio with Chanukah themed invitations.
Here are some of our other explorations that include the number 1-8, loose parts, sensory exploration, art and music and movement.
Fall has officially arrived at Giving Tree Early Learning. Warm colors and scents fill the air in each classroom as children engage in the changing of seasons. From Katon through Ganon, Fall inspiration is found. Let’s explore some ways in which we use Fall inspiration to promote learning throughout the classroom.
Explorations around the use of warm colors (red, yellow, orange), natural materials such as leaves, acorns and pinecones, and sensory explorations involving spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom create a rich Fall experience. In the Art Studio, the classes have participated in a multi-layered collaborative art project in which each class adds their own unique creations. Kindergarten created leaf rubbings with black crayons, followed by our Katon and Maon classes who added Fall paint colors using tempera paints and watercolors. Peuton and Ganon finished the piece by adding collage materials including hand painted leaves and glitter. The final result is a stunning Fall mural on display in the Giving Tree hallway.
Patterning, shapes, counting, number sense, measurement, classification and algebraic thinking are math concepts being explored through our Fall activities. The light studio partners loose parts, cookie cutters and numbers together on the light table as an activity to support various age groups.
For example, our Katon and Maon finds can practice filling the cooking cutter shapes with various sized objects to explore the concepts of shapes and volume.
Peuton children can create patterns with the materials focusing on ABA or ABBA patterns using the leaves, pompoms and bobbles.
Ganon children can count and compare the quantities of loose parts materials found to fit within each shape using translucent numbers to label and identify their creations.
While one activity was presented, the materials allow for differentiation to easily occur to meet the unique needs of each child and class.
From stories to dictation to writing, Fall literacy can be found in each classroom. Connections are being made between the spoken and written word daily as we capture the children’s voices and thoughts through dictation. Questions promoting inquisition are added to invitations regardless of a child’s ability to read, providing exposure and guidance as teachers and students interact with the activity. Favorite Fall stories such as Leaf Man by Lois Elhert or Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak inspire the children to explore the changing seasons both inside and outside of the classroom. In Ganon, our friends explore Fall words and practice writing using Fall colors. What is your favorite Fall story to share with your child?
Fall sensory exploration is a personal favorite of mine! Warm, rich spices fill the air, natural materials like pinecones and acorns fill sensory bins and ooey-gooey slime makes for a great time! Sensory exploration is an extremely important part of early childhood development as children learn to engage in the world around them with all of their senses, taking in information to form knowledge and understanding. Giving Tree’s approach to sensory exploration is full immersion. Children are encouraged to explore, create, and innovate using all of their senses including touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight and proprioception.
One of our most exciting creative play spaces is the Light Studio. Fall explorations create beautiful experiences for our children. Small world play with farm animals and squirrel blocks set the stage for autumn. Videos of Fall scenes and Falling leaves are paired with clear umbrellas and leaves to create the experience of a sunny Fall day indoors. Fall themed loose parts on the light table and a farmer’s market round out our explorations in the space.
With so many wonderful ways to explore and grow, we cannot help but to get excited that summer is gone and Fall has arrived at Giving Tree Early Learning!
Each spring our students plant vegetables and herbs in the Outdoor Classroom before saying goodbye for the summer months. Throughout the summer, the plants have a chance to grow uninterrupted allowing nature to do what it does best! This means that the Outdoor Classroom tends to become a tad bit overgrown- but more importantly, it gives the plants and ecosystem a chance to thrive.
Shortly before school begins, the Giving Tree teachers return to tame the space and to make it ready for students. We pull weeds, refresh the 10x10 sand box and begin to harvest some of the vegetables from our plants.
This year we have a wide variety of leafy greens, cucumbers, various tomato species, herbs, pumpkins, green beans, sunflowers, carrots and flowers growing. We are excited for the children to see the "fruits of their labor" come to life!
If possible, we will plan to hold a "farmer's market" in which parents can purchase vegetables from our students. All proceeds go back into the Outdoor Classroom funds so that we may continue to offer farm to table experiences for our students.
The summer months are a busy time for everyone! From fun in the sun to preparing classroom spaces, our teachers have been hard at work. Take a look at some of their favorite moments from their summer-
As we look to prepare for the 2021-2022 school year, the summer often times becomes a reflection period for the early childhood team and administration. Every year a theme is selected for our team to focus on as we continue to grow professionally. This year, the staff will be exploring the idea of INTENTION. This is an overarching theme that appears in every facet of our classrooms, professional development and instruction.
One area in which we are looking to create more INTENTION is in the opportunity for collaboration among teachers. In Reggio Emilia, teachers spend a large portion of their day in dialogue, collaborating on the needs of the children, collective group and pedagogy.
In order to support this in our own practices, many changes are being implemented for next school year. This includes welcoming Mrs. Nicole Mahern, our Ganon Lead teacher, as our new Assistant Director. She will spend a portion of the afternoon fulfilling this role in addition to her classroom duties as Lead Teacher. Her role will focus on mentoring, collaboration and support of our team as we continue to refine our developmentally appropriate practices and Reggio inspired pedagogy.
Another support includes the development of a professional development curriculum for both new and returning staff. This curriculum will touch on all areas of our program including Paths to QUALITY standards, accreditation, Reggio philosophy, classroom environment, Judaics and developmentally appropriate practices. The year long study will include reading passages, reflection questions, collaboration and practical application in the classroom.
Lastly, in order to fully support intentional collaboration, the team must have a space in which to create dialogue and make discoveries amongst themselves. The new collaboration space will contain a meeting area, resources, materials, professional works and research methodology, and will foster a sense of comradery as we grow with each other professionally and alongside our students and their families.
Well we made it! This year was both challenging and rewarding. At Giving Tree Early Learning, we are proud to say that we remained open throughout the school year to provide in-person care for our children. While there were a few bumps along the way, the Giving Tree family of parents, children and staff stayed the course to finish the school year on a high note!
As we look towards August, we will continue to evaluate and stay abreast of the latest COVID 19 mandates, recommendations and updates. We will share changes to our policies shortly before the start of school in order to make sure that we are meeting best practice standards and current safety protocols.
Over the summer, the classrooms and hallways may be empty of children, but that does not mean that the work stops! Each summer administration and our cleaning crews work diligently to prepare for a smooth and safe return to school. Should you need to reach us, the front office phones will be checked daily as will email.
We are all excited to see what next year holds and would like to remind everyone of our Referral Rewards Program. For each new family that enrolls, you will receive a $500 tuition credit. We have only a few spaces remaining, so have your friends call today! 317-251-1261.
We hope everyone has a wonderful summer full of laughter, fun and JOY!
For the last several years, the Early Childhood has participated in Outdoor Classroom Day. This global initiative helps to get kids outside to learn, play and grow. This year the Early Childhood celebrated with a wide range of outdoor activities. Gardening, bubbles, shaving cream, chalk and paint were just a few of the play opportunities explored!
The EC children worked collaboratively on a giant canvas to freely create and to express themselves through various paint techniques. From spray bottles to finger paints, the children worked hard to create their masterpiece! This beauty resides as a mural in our green space and will be revisited throughout the remainder of the school year.
The playground and outdoor classroom were also hot spots for activity! Shaving cream, paint, bubbles and chalk artwork were enjoyed by all as we spent the day engaged in play! Check the Giving Tree Facebook page to see more photos of our fun!
At Giving Tree Early Learning children are valued and their "voice" is recognized in various ways. None more prominent than in the Ganon's children's most recent project- The Turtle Project Artist Collaboration.
This project brought the collective vision and experience of the children to life as they expressed themselves creatively. It all began with a question from Artist Seth: "Can you draw me a turtle?"
Well of course- that meant that we first needed to learn more about turtles! After researching turtles through books, pictures and manipulation of toy turtles, the class was ready to begin.
Using black sharpie markers, the children created various sketches of turtles, refining their point of view with each new edition.
Artist Seth was impressed to see the variations of turtles and surprised the class with the opportunity to bring one of their creations to life! The class then voted to pick a class favorite to be brought to life using wood, tools and colorful paint! It was decided the E's drawing would be used.
Over the next several days, Artist Seth kept in close contact with the class to share his progress! First, Artist Seth recreated E's drawing onto a large sheet of plywood. Next, he cut out the turtle before adding color!
On Monday, May 10th, 2021 the turtle was ready! Artist Seth brought the life size cut out to school to help place it into its forever home in the outdoor classroom.
Thank you Seth Mahern for helping to bring to life the imagination of our students!
You can read more about the project by visiting:
One of our favorite creative play spaces is the Light Studio which was inspired by one of our family Reggio- inspired events, the Light Expo in 2018.
(read about it here: https://hhaireggiojourney.blogspot.com/2018/04/upcoming-family-reggio-event.html)
The Light Studio is home to various explorations of light, color and sound. Throughout the school year, a committee of innovative educators come together to routinely rotate and shift the Light Studio environment to support the children's current interests.
Various themes are explored each year including color, seasons, ocean, winter, artic animals, Jewish holidays, weather, insects and more!
The Light Studio is set up as what we call a "yes environment." Every item is meant to be controlled by your child. They are allowed to turn switches on and off, move and manipulate light sources, construct and deconstruct invitations and transport material from one center to the next to support their play.
Materials include projector and computer, overhead projectors, various lamps, rope lights, strings of lights, battery powered lights, light tables, black lights, mirrors, light curtains, "party lights" like disco balls, various translucent materials and manipulatives such as magnatiles, dramatic play items such as umbrellas, flashlights, clamp lights, tap lights, icicle lights, blocks, window blocks, various height platforms/surfaces, and recycled materials.
In the Light Studio aesthetics, accessibility, intention and creativity shine to provide your child with a world of wonder and discovery.
Mrs. Ashley is the Director of Giving Tree Early Learning and mother to 3 busy boys! You can reach her by emailing- firstname.lastname@example.org