Each spring, the Strelitz Early Childhood Center students take a trip to Israel. Well, they sort of take a trip. They pack their bags, get on a plane, have their passport stamped and travel all over the country in one morning. Of course, the “trip” is pretend, but the excitement and learning the students experience are very real. The Israel unit is full of sensory experiences that reach students academically and emotionally.
Each class prepares for Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s independence day, by studying a different area of Israel. Children work on map awareness and become familiar with the shape of the land and its regions such as the Negev Desert, major cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the Kibbutzim of the northern areas. Each class from Gan Alef (two-year-olds) to Gan Gimel (four-year-olds) create bulletin boards that represent places or sites in Israel. They listen to songs such as Craig Taubman’s Big Trip about planning a trip to Israel and stories, such as Sammy Spider’s First Trip to Israel.
The culmination is the pretend trip. This year it took place in the Strelitz Early Childhood wing on Thursday, April 23. As the students carried passports they created in class, they visited the Kotel (Western Wall) and put prayers in the cracks of the wall. They saw camels traversing the Negev and visited the beach and the aqueduct of Caesarea. The class in charge of the station for the Ramat Gan Zoo in Tel Aviv, played with puppets to 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 sat 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.
Hebrew Academy of Tidewater is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.