Our focus in kindergarten reading is on listening, decoding, and speaking. Our reading program is based on phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. We utilize the Wilson Fundation program, which is a researched based curriculum that breaks down the rules and patterns of the English language. Our class mascot, Benny the Alphabet Bear, visits the class when we teach letters. The children also enjoy doing art projects and using multi-sensory experiences to reinforce letter sounds. We listen to literature and learn how to discuss what we heard. The children listen to stories, both fact and fiction, and are taught to use critical thinking when forming their answers to factual as well as inferential questions. They have many opportunities to practice speaking in large and small groups. In February, the children perform on stage for their families, building poise and confidence. They also act out characters in puppet shows, practice asking relevant questions, and describe observations in detail. On Fridays, each child is encouraged to bring something from home that starts with the letter that they learned during the week. They show their object to the class, describe and explain what it means to them, and take questions from their friends.
During the week, the children have many opportunities to work in our Writing Center. Their writing is self-initiated, and they spontaneously practice their letters, label drawings, or write stories to keep in their writing folders. We make many class books that the children love to create, read, and borrow to share with their families.
We use the ThinkMath! program for kindergarten math, which builds computational fluency through practice in basic skills. Because of the often diverse developmental levels in kindergarten, ThinkMath! makes use of manipulatives for hands-on activities as well as games and strategy building so that children are able to advance at their own pace. We frequently use ‘Silent Teaching’ where the teacher is absolutely silent and the children watch for clues! In the fall, the children work on numbers up to ten, shapes and amounts, patterns and sorting. As the year continues, they practice moving on a number line, addition and subtraction, introduction to fractions, stories in numbers, words, and pictures, three-dimensional geometry, measurement, and working with larger numbers.
In kindergarten science, we begin the year by exploring our five senses. The children play games, use hands-on activities, and listen to many science books that explore the senses. In October, we discuss the seasons and how the environment changes, which leads to our next unit in November on habitats and hibernation when we discuss the habitat of different animals and learn about bears and their characteristics. In February, we focus on dinosaurs and the three periods of the Mesozoic era. The children learn to identify some dinosaurs and categorize them as herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. We discuss Pangea and the separation of continents as we learn about fossils, paleontology, archaeology, and the difference between myth and fact. In addition, each week we have a visit by our resident scientist who presents a science topic that is linked with the letter we are learning. For instance, when the children learned about the letter X, our scientist showed them actual x-rays on our light table!
In kindergarten social studies, we begin the year by getting to know each other and seeing our similarities and differences. The children each make an “All About Me” box, which is used in a guessing game to facilitate dialogue between them. The children learn their addresses and telephone numbers and discuss their neighborhoods. In October, we learn about Christopher Columbus’s voyage, discussing the story from the perspective of the colonists and the Native Americans. The children do an art project based on the story, and they often build the three ships in blocks. They begin to look more carefully at globes and maps as they learn cardinal direction. In November, we read about Thanksgiving, and the children make a book to take home and read to their families. As the ability to be critical thinkers develops, the children listen to the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and discuss the civil rights movement, focusing on acceptance and justice.
In kindergarten Hebrew, the alphabet is taught through hands-on projects, songs, and multi-sensory activities. Each student creates an Aleph Bet book with appropriate vocabulary. Students learn to print letters and write their names. Students also hear stories read in Hebrew and perform two plays. Vocabulary development includes numbers, colors, clothing, weather, family members, and classroom items and activities.
Torah is taught mostly in English using different teaching approaches such as Godly Play, story reading, and role- playing. We focus on the first book of the Torah (Genesis/Bereisheet) with the addition of the Passover story.
In kindergarten, students learn several Jewish prayers through story, sign language, and song. Students’ appreciation and knowledge of morning prayers are showcased at the culminating end of the year breakfast.
Holiday symbols, customs, and prayers are taught in kindergarten through stories, songs, and ritual practices. The children learn that there are both similarities and differences as to how Jews all over the world celebrate holidays. A highlight of the year is learning about Havdalah and performing a play and Havdalah service with families on a Saturday evening.
Students develop a meaningful relationship with Israel through personal connections with language, people, places, and events. As an ancient land and modern state, we teach our students that Israel is a home for diverse and vibrant expressions of Judaism. Kindergarten students take an imaginary trip as an introduction to their study of Israel. Through our cutting-edge Hebrew language curriculum, experiential programs, and Israeli young emissaries (Shinshinim), our students engage with Israel at all grade levels and feel a deep connection to their homeland.
The goal of our music program is for students not only to become skillful and enthusiastic music makers but also to encourage music literacy, participation, and performance. Through joyful discovery of classical and contemporary music, students cultivate musicality and knowledge. In kindergarten, students learn to move their bodies in coordination with beat, rhythm and tempo and learn to sing in-tune with expression and confidence while gaining confidence on stage. Music is integrated across the curriculum as students sing and perform to enhance understanding of subjects from social studies to Judaics.
Students work with a variety of drawing tools, paints, and papers. Students learn techniques for drawing, painting, weaving, printmaking, and collage. In kindergarten, students are introduced to the concepts of lines, shapes, color, and texture. Emphasis is put on the process of creating art rather than the finished product. Art history is an important component of the curriculum; students study a number of different artists and art movements from the past. Some artists may include Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, and Claude Monet. Throughout the year, art is integrated with units of study in the classroom as art helps children to understand subjects more clearly when content is expressed visually.
Kindergartners begin to learn to express emotions by using facial expressions and body language. They also learn to create characters, using puppets, pretend to be different animals, and learn the basics of how to act out a story. As a group they learn to, and by the end of the year can demonstrate, the ability to observe, listen, and respond to their fellow actors.
In physical education class, students are encouraged to participate in low and high energy activities with a focus on physical coordination, sportsmanship, and problem solving. Students learn the fundamentals and rules of major sports, as well as physical fitness, stretching, and agility. Units over the school year include soccer, flag football, basketball, handball, strategy games, and floor hockey. Using demonstration of skills, review of age appropriate rules and scrimmages, students learn new sports, the importance of physical fitness, respectful play with others, and how to engage in healthy competition.