Incorporating the arts into lessons of history, environmental consciousness and Judaism

by | Dec 6, 2013 | Other News

Water Pirates teach lessons of water conservation and pollution prevention to HAT students.

Water Pirates teach lessons of water conservation and pollution prevention to HAT students.

On any day walking down the halls of Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, visitors will observe students fully engaged in the learning process. Whether they are being taught about ancient history or today’s current events—from general to Judaic studies—they are doing so by interacting with each other and their teachers in ways that are meaningful, relevant and entertaining. HAT students’ recent study of the Revolutionary War, water pollution and the Havdallah ceremony are examples of how well the curriculum incorporates the arts.

Hebrew Academy’s fifth graders just completed a unit on the Revolutionary War. After learning about the influences of different leaders, each student chose one and wrote a report. Adding a little creativity and drama to this history lesson, students designed images of their leader, using felt, paper, and hair and also performed a play about the Boston Tea Party.

“Our fifth graders exhibited a lot of imagination,” says Deb White, fifth grade general studies teacher. “It was an opportunity for them to bring to life the lessons they had learned and to teach those lessons to our younger students in a fun way. Everyone enjoyed the show!”

Also adding a little drama to the classroom was Tanya Conley, HAT science teacher. “Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) is an important value and topic we regularly incorporate into learning at HAT. One example is a performance, “Water Pirates of Neverland,” about water conservation and pollution that we held in October. Water Pirates from National Theatre for Children, and funded by a grant from the Virginia Beach Department of Utilities, amused and engaged our students in learning about significant water conservation tips. It was an effective program that the students really enjoyed.”

HAT teachers also bring family into Judaic lessons with Lunch and Learns, special programs students enjoy at school along with their parents. Each grade has a different learning component and project. Topics include the mezuzah, Havdallah, challah baking, and Passover Seder plate. First and second grade students and families enjoy the cherished annual traditions of Siddur and Chumash presentations in place of a Lunch and Learn.

After having lunch together, the third graders shared their knowledge of the Havdallah ceremony with their parents by performing a song and then getting artfully creative. Together they braided Havdallah candles, decorated Besamim (spice) jars, wine glasses, a plate to use during Havdallah and a candle holder. “It was a lot of fun making our own Havdallah kit,” says third grade parent Elliot Zaret. “Isaac really enjoyed having me come and be a part of his school day.” No doubt a sentiment shared by all the parents who enjoy making special memories with their children at a time of life that ultimately passes so quickly.

Hebrew Academy of Tidewater/Strelitz Early Childhood Center preschool is a constituent agency of the United Federation of Tidewater.

by Dee Dee Becker