It’s a new year and we’ve been busy celebrating and learning about all of the significant holidays that usher in Fall at the Growing Garden Academy.
Our school-year focus of community was once again front and center during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as we encouraged each child to reflect back on and set future expectations about his or her role in school, family and the Jewish community.
Then, with a little less reflection and a little more celebration, we welcomed Sukkot and Simchas Torah by introducing the idea of shelters and homes in the global community.
Students participated in building not only a large Sukkah on the campus, but also smaller versions within the classrooms. By constructing homes out of Legos in Ms. Tracy’s class, we were able to turn the holiday into a larger lesson about how others live around the world.
In the Kindergarten class, each student was asked to identify what kind of home he or she lives in. Then students were given pictures of different types of homes from various countries and asked to place them correctly on a large map of the world.
The teachers will continue to connect this idea of home in the coming month as they dive further into the Torah portion about Noah’s Ark—a different kind of home. As Simchas Torah marked the time of the year when we start reading from the beginning of Torah, Morah Alta drew upon the creation of the world and the introduction of Noah’s Ark to introduce the significant role of animals in society and the Jewish culture.
As the month continues, the classes will be given a deeper understanding of animals. For example, the secular curriculum kicked off animal exploration with Farm Day, where goats, ponies, ducks, rabbits and other live animals were brought onto the campus for students to explore, touch and feed. And the lesson will culminate later this month with a trip to the Los Angeles Zoo.
Now old enough to understand the worth of animals, Morah Alta will be reinforcing with students the mitzvah of taking care of animals. In addition, a veterinarian—and a parent of a Growing Garden student—will be speaking to the classes about the care of animals.
Finally, in honor of the beginning of the Torah, Morah Alta is working with the First Grade to create a 3D timeline of history, so that the students can better understand when the events they learn about actually took place in relation to other events. Eventually, the timeline will be put on wheels and displayed around the school. A great exercise in interdisciplinary learning, timelines and calendars help the students to understand history, Judaic studies, math and spatial references.