Thursday, April 18, 2013

Parshat Acharei-Kedoshim and Charity

As a homeschooling family, we feel privileged that we have a seemingly endless amount of hours each day to focus on our children's character development. We address Jewish values in a twofold manner. We use the weekly parasha as our springboard for discussions and our real life experiences for putting the mitzvot into action. With this approach opportunities are constantly arising to work on middot like anger management, charity, perseverance, respect, etc.

           This week's parasha Acharei-Kedoshim focuses on the the topic of mattanot le'aniyyim  (gifts to the poor) and is addressed through the mitzvot of leket and pe'ah . Leket is an obligation on the farmer to leave the crops that fall to the ground during his harvesting for the poor. Pe'ah is the farmer's obligation to leave a corner of his land unharvested for the poor. Tuesday morning we discussed these concepts and then turned them into a role play scenario by using some toy food and Lego blocks. The girls each took turns being either the farmer leaving the dropped food on the ground or the needy person collecting the fallen crops. We then used Lego blocks to mark off a square farm land and made sure to leave one corner untouched for the needy. This led to a discussion about acknowledging that our possessions are gifts from Hashem and that we must not harden our hearts and be stingy with them.  

            This lesson transitioned beautifully into real life practice when we went grocery shopping later that afternoon. While at the grocery store, a woman pushing her son in a baby carriage walked over to us and asked us for tzedakah (charity) so she could buy some food for her child. I promptly opened my wallet and asked my older daughter to give the woman a dollar. The smile on my daughter's face was priceless. I knew she had made the connection between her act of kindness and that morning's lesson. What I hope to do in the future is have a special wallet set aside for my daughter filled with her own earned money so that she can get a sense of giving tzedakah from money that she feels a stronger attachment to.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Preschool Science Curriculum

The sun is finally starting to shine down on us here in Brooklyn and even though it is only 40 degrees outside, we are taking full advantage of "spring" by beginning our nature study.
 We are incorporating many ideas from Mudpies to Magnets: A Preschool Science Curriculum. Even with all the great ideas on Pinterest,  I truly enjoy the activities and layout of this book. Each activity come with well thought out reasoning, target concepts, and expansion activities. This guide is made for the classroom teacher but can be easily adapted to the homeschool family. Even with a copyright date of 1987, their activities are timeless.

The first activity we used from the book was the creation of a mini-museum. My 4 year old is notorious for collecting "treasures" while we are out and keeping them in pockets of sweaters and jackets. The mini-museum is a great way for her to display her finds as well as let her know that we respect the importance of these items and to encourage her fascination with the natural world. 

There are many ways you can set up your museum:
1. Ikeas's Expedit Shelving unit
 EXPEDIT Shelving unit IKEA Can be hung on the wall or placed on the floor.
2. Milk Carton Cubby Cubes
3. Cardboard case of wine cut in half

 We went with the case of wine since Passover just ended and we happened to have an empty case lying around.

It was really simple to make:
1. I just cut the box and the inner dividers in half.
2. I then glued the dividers to the walls of the box for added stability.
3. Paint and fill. 
4. Label the specimens (didn't do that yet)
 She didn't have enough to fill each cubby so she took some of her dad's "treasures". My husband also likes to collect rocks and other bits of nature he finds when we are out. The apple definitely does not fall far from the tree ;).
Happy Exploring!


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