Last week Gan Israel preschool and day school created a new program for their Shavuot celebration. This year a highly memorable day was created for the 180 kids aged two to five. With a nod to the Reggio Emilia teaching style, which focuses on community and creativity, the teachers devised a wholesome new format party.
In the morning, the children showed up for school carrying one of the original species of fruit that were found in Israel. A variety of basket designs were then created by each child to carry their olives, dates, grapes and pomegranates. The little pilgrims used recyclable materials to build a Har Sinai with flowers, a redesigned trash can with the Ten Commandments and paper towel rolls were reconfigured in beautifully creative ways. The reenactment of the journey to Jerusalem that was customary before Shavuot was then recreated in the playground. With the teachers dressed in white, the children donned crowns and the youngsters marched proudly around the yard while the school’s pianist played Salenu Al Ktefenu. Just like Israel, the delightful event was followed by delicious ice creams from Trader Joe’s.
This was the first year the school created an event that combined the spiritual with the environment, the historical with the cultural. Chanie Teitelbaum, a teacher at the school, said, “The children were engrossed in the event because they participated in the art, the nature and the performance. Gan Israel prides itself on teaching traditional Jewish values while including contemporary learning styles. It was fun to give the kids a very personal and hands-on experience.”