Sunday, May 25, 2014

Torah Study by the TBS Kindergarten Enrichment Kids

Torah web: Over the course of the year, we have been following the Kindergartners' interest into a deeper investigation of Torah. We have learned the reasoning behind each cover of our five Torah's kept in the sanctuary's ark, we have read stories from the Torah, and have explored our own classroom Torah. On Friday, the kindergartners made a web of all of their ideas they know or think they know about Torah and what they are wondering about. In the web, the children's thoughts are written in orange and their questions are written in purple. Below are some of their ideas and questions. Children's Ideas about Torah: 
It has lots of Stories like Noah's Ark, Passover Story, and Adam and Eve.
It lives in the Ark and on the doors there is a picture of fire and hebrew letters.
The torah has lot of different parts. There is a cover and it is made of special paper that they think comes from animal skin.
You can't touch the words, but can use something to point at the words.
Rabbi Jay took a Torah to London for a party. It was a Torah that almost got destroyed.
The Torah has all Hebrew words.
If you drop a Torah you can't eat for 40 days.
I have a small Torah at home.

Questions about Torah:
Why is the Torah so special?
Can we make a Torah?
Who makes a Torah?
How do you make a Torah's cover?
Why is it called "torah"?
Where did the Torah come from?

It is amazing how much the children already know about Torah and how much they want to learn.

Scientists of the Torah: After creating a web of our many ideas and questions about Torah, Brett S., Brett E., and Adam headed to the sanctuary to conduct some close-up observations. They carefully worked together to open the Ark revealing Temple Beth Shalom's five beautiful Torahs. They observed each Torah cover. You can notice the detail in Adam's observational drawing of the five Torahs above. As they worked, Brett S. exclaimed, "We are like scientists of the Torah!"

While observing, we recalled which story each cover represented and have learned about. (from left to right) The first Torah displays an image of Shabbat Candles and a Kiddush cup which reminds us of Shabbat and when God created the world on the 7th day God rested. The second Torah shows the parting of the seas, a spectacular moment from the story of Passover. The torah in the middle shows the burning bush which is when God spoke to Moses. The next torah shows a tent and part of the rainbow from the story of Noah's ark. The last Torah (far right) illustrates the olive branch and rainbow from Noah's ark. Each cover represents moments of stories from the Torah in which God was present.

The Beginning of Our Torah: Together, we decided to create our very own Torah. The children are working in pairs or small groups to represent different stories we have learned about from the Torah. Brett S. and Zack are working together to paint the creation story. They are using seven canvases to represent each day of creation. Above, you can see Brett S. painting the first day when there was darkness and God created light. Together, the painted the second day when got created the sea and the sky. You can also see the painting Zack made to represent the day God made the land, grass, plants, and trees. Through creativity and interpretation, Zack and Brett are creating the the creation story! 

Torah with Emily: This past Friday, the sanctuary was being used so we met with Emily in the community room. Upon entering the community room, we were surprised to find a surprise waiting for us. The Torah was waiting covered by two tallit. We sang prayers and songs and then discovered something new about the Torah. All year, we have been discussing the Torah covers of our five Torahs at Temple Beth Shalom, but Emily was about to teach us something new! We knew that this particular torah cover (shown above) had candles and a kiddish cup which we believed represented Shabbat from the creation story, but Emily drew our attention to the brown strips of fabric behind the candle and cup. The children noticed that the brown illustrated something tall and began guessing what it could be. Together they determined it was a mountain and that maybe it was Mount. Sinai. They were exactly right! What a wonderful discovery! We know that the Torah covers represent stories from the Torah in which God was present. Mount Sinai is when God gave moses the Torah! After learning this, the children decided we would have to include this story in the Torah we were making as a class. 

Sculpting a mountain: After learning that Mount Sinai was represented on the Torah covers, the kindergartners insisted we include this story in the Torah we were creating. Adam decided he would begin work on representing this story. He followed a recipe to create three batches of play dough. Each batch was a slightly different shade of brown and gold. He is planning to use the play dough to sculpt Mount Sinai. We will continue our study of Shavuot and how Moses received the Torah from God upon Mount Sinai next week. It is amazing to see how each kindergartener is working to interpret and represent these stories from the Torah in their own unique way.

by Jesse Tobin, Kindergarten Enrichment Teacher

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