Bi-Cultural Day School in Stamford used the school’s new Makerspace Junior to give preschoolers (and up and coming preschoolers!) a hands-on, fun-filled introduction to the upcoming holiday of Tu B’Shevat – aka the “New Year of the Trees.” The first of its kind in Connecticut, the Makerspace Junior is similar to Bi-Cultural’s other STEAM-based Makerspace, launched two years ago for students in the upper grades – but is geared specifically to the interests and abilities of the littlest learners.
Open to the community, the Tu B’Shevat program, says Bi-Cultural Early Childhood Director Rachel Bahar, “talked about the importance of trees with a Jewish ethical perspective on nature, our environment, the land of Israel and our responsibility to tikkun olam, repairing our world. We talked about the early pioneers of Israel – the chalutzim –and sang many songs about Tu B’Shevat, trees, planting and the seven species mentioned in the Torah.”
Of course, the program wasn’t all talk. Created and coordinated by Bi-Cultural Judaic Studies teacher Yona Goldman, who conceived the school’s unique J-STEAM program – a program that takes the concept of STEAM and applies it to areas of Jewish learning – the preschool Tu B’Shevat program included a Makerspace Junior workshop in which children spend up different vegetables and fruits and studied their seeds, then replanted them using soil and pots.
“We planted cucumbers, strawberries and peppers,” says Bahar. “We read a book about how precious trees are to our world but particularly to Israel. We ended the program with Israeli folk dances. And, of course, we recited our bracha (blessing) and ate delicious fruits.”
Bi-Cultural Day School is a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.
CAP: Grace Angel (left) and Maytal Moreen (sitting on the lap of her grandmother) enjoyed planting fruits and vegetables at Bi-Cultural Day School’s community-wide Tu B’Shevat program held in the school’s Makerspace Junior.