By Lorna Orleans, Strelitz Early Childhood Center Director
Each spring, the Strelitz Early Childhood Center students take a trip to Israel! They pack their bags, get on a plane, get their passport stamped and travel all over the country visiting all over the country in one morning. Of course, our “trip” is pretend, but the excitement and learning the students experience are very real. Our Israel unit is full of sensory experiences that reach our students academically and emotionally.
Each class prepares for Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s independence day) by studying a different area of Israel. The children worked on map awareness and becoming familiar with the shape of the land and its regions like the Negev Desert, major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the Kibbutzim of the northern areas. In preparation for the school trip to Israel, each class from Gan Alef (2’s) to Gan Gimel(4’s) created bulletin boards that represent places or sites in Israel. They listened to songs like Craig Taubman’s Big Trip about planning a trip to Israel and stories like Sammy Spider’s First Trip to Israel.
The culmination of preparing to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut is a pretend trip to Israel. This year it took place right here in the Strelitz Early Childhood wing on Thursday, April 23. As the students carried the passports they created in class, they visited the Kotel (Western Wall) and put prayers in the cracks of the wall. They saw camels with familiar riders traversing the Negev and visited the beach and the aqueduct of Caesarea. One class was in charge of the station for the Ramat Gan Zoo in Tel Aviv. So the children played with puppets that represent animals they would see there. Another class represented the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, and pretended to float in the buoyant waters. Students were able to sit in anti-gravity chairs to experience what it would be like to be unsinkable! The port of Haifa and the Marine Observatory Park of Eilat were also represented and students discussed the various colors and shapes of fish swimming in the aquarium.
At each stop along their virtual journey to interesting places in Israel they received a sticker to place in their passports. Although not the real thing, it was the next to best thing to visiting and learning to appreciate the unique and beautiful land of Israel whose independence we celebrate every Yom Ha’atzmaut!