Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Light in the Darkness

The book, Harvest of Light, offered a wonderful prompt for discussing Chanukah with a natural approach.  We began the conversation with the question, "what makes light in the darkness"?  Not surprisingly, the answer "candles" was very popular.  Other ideas included, a flashlight, the moon and sun, a lightbulb, and a firefly.
I read the book, Harvest of Light.  At the conclusion, I asked the question again, "what makes light in the darkness"?  And the answer was, "olive oil".

We decided to try and create a light using the olive oil.   We compared the flame on the candle with the flame from the olive oil.  They 
decided that  the olive oil made a larger
Next, we conducted a taste test.  The book explained that green olives were not ripe.  Before they are eaten, they need to be pickled.  The dark olives are the ripe ones.  They are the olives that make the oil.  The students tasted both types.  Most everyone liked the green olives the best.

In this experience, we incorporated literacy, home and cultural connections, and Judaic concepts and observance. In addition, through sensory and hands on experience, the students gained an understanding of the origin of the Miracle of Light story, where the oil comes from, and the multiple uses of the olive.

Tops & Bottoms

Our Toddler playspace has a small raised garden bed.  Here the young ones experience the feel of soil on their hands and discover wiggly worms.  Sensory experiences abound with the fragrance of mint, the colors of swiss chard, and the sweet juice of a cherry tomato.  We used this space to enjoy a hands-on discovery of tops and bottoms in the garden.
I began with the wonderful Big Book entitled The Vegetable Garden.  The children were able to identify the pictured vegetables. 
We looked at the pictures and noticed that some of the vegetables had soil surrounding them. But, other pictures showed fruits up in trees or beans hanging on a vine.  We decided to go out to our garden to see what we could find.

Pulling the tops of the plants provided a delightful surprise at the bottom.

Delight results in a carrot dance.
Assessing our harvest.
We took our harvest into the room to wash off the soil.  Now we are ready for snack time.
On a rainy day, we created the same experience indoors.  As you can see, the delight of discovery is still evident on their faces.

These Toddlers gained an understanding of how plants grow and of their structure.  They know that sometimes they eat roots - the bottom of a plant.  And, sometimes, they eat the tops.