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Talmud Torah - Aleph Class

We are excited to welcome our youngest students to the Aleph Class. Our Aleph class will learn Hebrew and Judaism through playful and fun activities. 

Groupings of students will be determined after registration

Education for Children - Youngest Ages
Developmental psychology has shown that young children especially have a love of learning. There are three standard learning modalities that all need to be engaged to help a child “learn how to learn”: auditory, written and kinesthetic. The children therefore need to experience diverse experiences to facilitate every area of their development. Play is a child’s work and a natural way to learn. Through play children learn about themselves, their world and develop to their full potential. The Pre-K/K teacher needs to be committed to provide a warm, supportive and nurturing environment, a natural bridge from home to preschool. More than ever at this age, there needs to be recognition that each child is unique and special. By developing a trusting relationship we can understand the individual needs and interests of each child.

Another component of successful Pre-K/K education is a strong partnership between the school, the parents and the community. If structured well, the integrated safe environment will inspire and nurture each child’s love of learning and enhance their level of education. Some examples of how we are going to actively pursue this is our Tot Shabbat programming on Friday between 10-12 open to our Pre-K & K children. We will also be participating in the PJ Library program which sends a free book home to the Pre-K/K students. Research is now showing that the more you link with parents, the greater the impact your teaching will have.

"Learning through Play"

The play-based program should:

1. Support the development of the whole child - socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually
2. Recognize each child’s unique learning style, abilities, and developmental level
3. Allow for hands on learning, where the curriculum can emerge from the children’s interests, needs and desires, making learning concrete and meaningful
4. Allow children to be surrounded by an environment that is safe, warm, loving and creative
5. Foster the development of each child’s individual capabilities, while promoting a sense of self-worth, self-esteem, self-awareness and self-directed.


Promoting a positive self-image through creative growth is another way to build confidence at this age.  Such a program:

1. Offers a variety of materials and open-ended techniques to encourage experimentation, individual expressiveness and creativity.
2. Includes a variety of activities designed to stimulate each child’s natural desire to explore and discover inside and out.
3. Supports a stimulating, fun, nurturing and healthy environment to allow children to feel good about themselves and their achievements.


  • Students will learn to write their Hebrew names
  • Students will learn to identify block Hebrew letters
  • Students will be able to pronounce Hebrew letters and simple words
  • Students will learn how to read the vowels
  • Students will learn how to count in Hebrew
  • Students will use Hebrew conversationally in everyday classroom interactions, i.e. at the beginning of each class Shalom שלום and Boker Tov בוקר טוב and are then encouraged to respond: Boker Or - בוקר אור and Shalom Morah - שלום מורה; students will take turns welcoming the class in Hebrew at the start of each day; teacher will use: בבקשה לקום, בבקשה לשבת; and for attendance: פה/לא פה. 
  • Blessings will be said before snack time learning
  • Playing of Hebrew games
  • Sing Hebrew songs & playing of Hebrew music
  • Labeling of classroom items with their Hebrew names and display of Hebrew posters
  • Reading of age appropriate Hebrew books.

It has yet to be determined whether or not we will be able to work out of these workbooks:
The main Hebrew workbooks that will be used for this class are:
1. Amye Rosenberg’s Sam the Detective’s Reading Readiness Book.  (+teaching guide) - the purpose of this book is to help children learn the Hebrew alphabet as the first step in developing reading skills.  This book provides materials to teach the shapes, the names and the sounds of Hebrew letters.  Vowels are not introduced nor are letters presented in combination at the readiness level.
2. JET’s Let’s Learn to Write Aleph-Bet — This book is great for learning how to write Hebrew letters. Even though they focus on script, the teacher can instruct the students to focus on the block letters.
3. BJL’s Pre-primer called, The Alef to Tav: Activity Book– Introducing the Hebrew Alphabet is also age appropriate.

Note for Teachers:  It is appropriate and halachically allowed to make copies of parts of the books for the purpose of education. As long as we never sell or charge for the copies used by the children, we are within the bounds set by the Shulchan Aruch, which is the basis of Jewish Law in this subject.


     · Using a globe, students will be able to find Israel

    · Students will know that Israel is a Jewish country

    · Students will be able to identify important cities

    · Students will be introduced to the sounds and tastes of Israeli music, food and dance

    · Students will participate in the Shuk Project led by the older children

Age appropriate books to discuss Israel are:

     1. Susan Topek’s Israel Is…

     2. Pictures of Israel from the large books in the library

     3. BJL: Israel

Judaic Studies
Judaic Studies for this age should be centered around an experiential process. This translates into the need for the teacher to be creative and sensitive in how they introduce the Jewish religion to these children since this will be their first impression. For parents who are interested, I would be happy to explain the pedagogical theory behind introducing the Creator to children of this age. We need to helping the student discover themselves in the Jewish story and the ongoing story of the Torah. Some suggestions are Parsha Plays where simple scripts are created and then acted out by the students.

It is also important for Pre-K/K students to discover and define for themselves basic Jewish terms such as: Jew, Torah, Prophet, Prayer, God. Asking the question, “What does this mean to you”, should be central to learning at this age. It is expected that definitions will change over time– that is actually the intention: one part of spiritual growth is actively observing how definitions change as you grow older.  

Introducing the basic elements of the Jewish religion, tradition and practices should be done with the intention of the children feeling pride in their heritage and excitement about being Jewish. Their core knowledge should encompass a familiarity with Shabbat, Holiday rituals and the idea that the Torah is meant to be studied and looked at.  Simple acts of Gemilut Hasadim - גמילות חסדים (acts of charity & loving kindness) such as bringing in some change for the Tzadakah Box, will help them start to understand that they can make a difference.

Some essential questions for Torah learning that can be grasped at this age is how the story of Torah is different and similar from other stories that they may read. Students should come away knowing that Torah means “the teaching” in Hebrew, that it is a special gift that God gave the Jewish people. It teaches us how to be good and how to make the world a better place. When we study Torah we get closer to God. The children should go with the teacher into the Synagogue and look at where the Torah is kept and with the Rabbi, take it out and explore what a Torah is. 

The following are questions that the students can relate to: How would you feel if you were a character in a Biblical story? At this age, they should know the following Biblical stories: Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebecca, Jacob & Esau. 

The story of Adam and Eve can be brought to this class in a creative way by taking them outside and asking them why it would have been great to live in a garden all your life and pick fruit from the trees. The story of Noah can be a great time to have all the kids bring in their stuffed animals. Going over the Hebrew names of the animals that they bring in will help reinforce their learning. 

This part of the curriculum is very conducive for story time. Sitting and reading a story of the Bible to little children has been part of our culture for thousands of years.

Age Appropriate Books for Torah Study:

1. Eisenberg, Ann. Bible Heroes I Can Be.—A great simple story that allows kids to relate to the characters of the Bible.

2. Hollender, Betty. Bible Stories for Little Children.  

3. Greengard, Alison. In the Beginning.

4. BJL: The Torah.

5. Williams, M. Joseph and his Magnificent Coat of Many Colors.


This is the first class that will utilize the BJL: Beginnings Curriculum. This curriculum is designed specifically for this age group. The topical folders for all of the holidays are to be read aloud to the students. There are two or three “paper and pencil” activities in each folder which require the teacher to make photocopies of beforehand. When appropriate, there are discussion questions, but it is very understandable if these discussion questions need to wait till next year. 

There are some great parts of this curriculum that can be sent home with the kids to help with parent education. Parents should be encouraged to read them with their children, reviewing what was learned in class and revisiting the discussion questions as family activities.

Sample of a BJL: Beginnings Lesson (examples are for the Rosh HaShannah Lesson):

1. Set induction: An activity that sets the theme, basic elements, and motivation for a lesson.— The teacher or the Rabbi shows off the shofar and then sounds a long blast.  The shofar is used to introduce Rosh HaShannah.  You can read the “shofar” paragraph on the bottom of the first page.  It says, “the    Shofar is a special horn we sound on Rosh HaShannah and at the end of Yom Kippur.”  This is your lead to talk about Rosh HaShanah.

2. Instruction: The introduction of new information or ways of thinking– Using a variety of techniques:  showing props, using questions and answers, reading pieces out of the folder, the teacher should present the following:

    a. Rosh HaShannah means “new year”
    b. Rosh HaShannah is the Birthday of the Universe
    c. Rosh HaShannah is a day with special family meals and services.
    d. On Rosh HaShanah we send greeting cards to our friends and family
    e. On Rosh HaShannah we eat apples and honey and a round hallah as symbols of the new year.  (Honey is sweet. The round Hallah symbolizes the ability to start over.
    f. L’Shanah Tovah is the way we wish each other a happy New Year
    g. The shofar makes four calls: Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah and Tekiah Gedolah

3. Hebrew Instruction: The teacher should connect the Shofar to the letter ש.  Using the “paper and pencil” exercise on the top right of the third page, the shape of the letter ש should be reinforced. Review the name and sound of the letter ש and review the word Shofar.

4. Drill or Application: This is the reinforcement of the “new learning” that has taken place. This can include either direct review or the utilization of learned elements in a new task.—The teacher should now do a series of activities to deepen and reinforce the learning objectives.  For example:

    a. Making Shanah Tova cards
    b. Eating or even baking a round Hallah
    c. Eating apples and honey
    d. Learning the four Shofar calls
    e. Using the Find the Shofar exercise on the last page of the folder.

5. Closure: This is a concluding of the lesson that usually includes a specific review of the elements that have been mastered.  It is a drawing together and organizing of those elements.
    a. The definition of Rosh HaShanah
    b. Review of the basic customs of Rosh HaShanah
    c. Review of the key word, Shofar (including the four shofar calls)
    d. Review the letter ש, the Hebrew letter of the week
    e. Reestablish the “family connection,” directing students to bring home the folder and read it over with their parents.

There is a tan box on the bottom left of the third page of this folder.  There is one on almost every lesson. It says, “What do we… hear, eat, send… on Rosh HaShanah?”  It is designed to be a review tool.  It is a good place to start going over the elements of the lesson.

Objectives for Holiday Learning:
    · Students will be able to celebrate each major holiday as it occurs in the Jewish year
    · Students will describe the purpose of, or recall an observance associated with all the holidays
    · Students will recite one of the four questions.
    · Students will become familiar with the following symbols: mezuzah, apples and honey, shofar, lulav, etrog, chanukiah, shamash, dreidle, nun, gimmel, hey, shin, hamentaschen, gragger, Megillah, four cups of wine.

Shalom Sesame
It is a blessing that we have the entire video selection of Shalom Sesame. Each holiday themed video comes with a teaching guide full of useful tools, songs and more. The back of each guide has games and other activities for the classroom.

PicturePictureAge Appropriate Books and Material for Teaching the Holidays:

1. BJL: Beginnings Curriculum on the Holidays—please make copies of the sections you need and not use the originals.

2. Kolatch, A.J. A Child’s First Book of Jewish Holidays.

3. Fisher, A. My Jewish Year: Celebrating our Holidays. (+ Teacher Guide)

4. Adler, D.A. Jewish Holiday Fun.

5. Kahn, K.J. Let’s Build a Sukkah.

6. Paluch, B. Braid the Challah.

7. Gellman, E. It’s Rosh HaShanah.

8. Schanzer, R. Where is the Afikomen?

Thu, July 25 2024 19 Tammuz 5784