As a school rooted in Quaker values, Moorestown Friends believes that there is “that of God” in every person. Our teachers strive to respect and honor the diverse traditions of our student body, in order to foster growth in an atmosphere of loving appreciation. For Paige Bloom’s Prekindergarten class, this means inviting guests to educate her students about different holidays around the world.
“We usually start our holiday unit by having an open conversation about what different winter holidays the children know about or celebrate,” said Paige. “Then I will choose a story or two to read and share with them about each different holiday — to give them an idea of what it is, how it is celebrated, and its history.”
Students engage in hands-on activities to help them understand and remember each holiday: crafts, special visitors, and cooperative games.
“We created our own weavings using Kwanzaa colors to represent the mkeka (woven placemat) used in Kwanzaa. We also learned how to play dreidel, and each child was given their very own to bring home,” said Paige. “If we have families who celebrate the holidays, we encourage them to come in and share their different traditions, to give the children a special memory to support their learning.”
After spending the morning on Christmas cookies and crafts, the Prekindergarteners were treated to a visit from Deb Galler on Thursday, December 11. In addition to her role as MFS English Department Chair, Deb is known to the Prekindergarten class as “Judah’s mommy.”
“I wanted the students to learn the traditions of Hanukkah and the story behind the holiday’s celebration of religious freedom,” said Deb, who read the class a book called Eight Candles to Light. “I wanted them to be familiar with the symbols of Hanukkah (like the menorah or the dreidel), but also with the meaning behind those symbols. I tried to teach a few Hebrew words as well, just for fun. It was great to hear the students’ questions about lighting the menorah and to hear them try out Hebrew words like ‘sufganiyot’ (the jelly doughnuts fried in oil that we eat during Hanukkah).”
On a personal note, Deb was excited to come to Judah’s class because it reminded her of a cherished family photo: her grandmother teaching a class about Hanukkah sixty years ago.
“I felt the richness of tradition when I got a chance to teach another generation about the holiday,” said Deb. “And I definitely felt her spirit in the room.”
We hope your family has a wonderful holiday season, whatever traditions you celebrate.