Shlenker PreK-3 teachers have an exciting way to teach math to young children!
The Numbers Plus Preschool Mathematics Curriculum is a set of small and large group early childhood mathematics activities, with ideas for extending learning throughout the program day. Adults use math every day and so do young children, even when we don’t realize it. We know math includes adding and subtracting, but did you realize children are doing math when they put together puzzles, select matching socks, separate the raisins from the Cheerios, and ask who is older or taller?
Aligned with the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Numbers Plus is divided into five content areas: number sense and operations, geometry, measurement, algebra, and data analysis. Each activity has a built-in progression so children of different developmental and ability levels can participate together and have a positive and meaningful learning experience. By actively engaging young children with materials and ideas, Numbers Plus builds on the latest knowledge from research and practice about early mathematics learning and how adults support it. Shlenker’s elementary math curriculum is also based on the NCTM standards, so students will have a seamless transition as they move into Kindergarten.
Teachers report a new level of depth related to problem-solving, reasoning, and questioning. We will be expanding the Numbers Plus curriculum into PreK-4 in the fall.
Throughout the year, I lead a d’var Torah with the elementary students. During the spring, when the weekly Torah portions fell in Leviticus, we began discussing holiness. We defined “holy” as something that is special and connected to God. We continued by asking questions: How does giving something away (a sacrifice) bring us closer to God? What are some holy actions? What is holy to the Jewish people?
Here at Shlenker, we have many answers to these questions. Our students are quick to answer that helping people is holy, that treating each other kindly is holy, and taking care of the earth is holy. They also know what is holy to the Jewish people: our Torah, Shabbat, our holidays, each other.
The students’ answers mirror our core values. The holy actions of which they speak reflect character and building community; taking care of the earth is tikkun olam. Treating each other kindly is a result of knowing that we are created b’tzelem elohim, in God’s image; celebrating our holy days is an essential aspect of our faith. Uniting all of these facets of holiness, though, is the understanding that we are all K’lal Yisrael, the Jewish family, and that we experience holiness through a particular Jewish lens.
During YomHashoah, our older students were privileged to hear Ruth Steinfeld, who survived the Holocaust as a hidden child in France, tell the story of her life. After hearing her speak, one fourth grader wrote to Ms. Steinfeld: “I hope you tell every Jew in the world so that they never forget what happened.” Another wrote: “I know it’s extremely important to my kids and the next generation to come to remember what happened at that horrible time.” Still another wrote: “One thing I learned in life matters very much, and that [is that] remembering is holy.” For our students, being a part of Jewish history and K’lal Yisrael is holy.
Just eight days later, we celebrated Yom Ha’atzma’ut, Israel Independence Day. Throughout the school, we wore blue and white, we sang Hatikvah, we learned about Eretz Yisrael Hayafah (beautiful Israel), and rejoiced, once again, in our deep connection to our land, our history, and our people.
Celebrating each of these events together as a member of K’lal Yisrael, the Jewish family, is a delight and a privilege. The experiences become far more than simple calendar dates. These days are truly “holy days” because they connect us to God.