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Gan HaYeled Curriculum

We know that preschool-aged children learn differently than older children and adults. They need to physically interact with their world, manipulate it, experience and observe it in order to learn. Through play at the Gan, children learn motor skills, social-emotional skills, science, technology, engineering, arts, math, language & literacy, and Judaics.

Social-Emotional Skills

Blocks: working as a group, negotiation, personal self-control
Dramatic play: taking turns, collaborating on projects, flexibility, responsibility, respect for materials
Classroom routine: patience
Puzzles: perseverance
Outdoor play: cooperation, following directions, sharing, coping
Art: sharing, being a good friend, non-verbal self-expression, flexibility
Reading (self- or teacher-guided): respect for property, cultivating attention, self-soothing, self-direction, positive interactions with adults, confidence

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math)

Our STEAM program is led by Daniel de los Reyes.

Blocks/construction: one to one correspondence, number sense, operation sense, computation, geometry, standard and


non- standard , weight vs. mass, developing symbolic thinking, exploring simple machines (ramps, pulleys, wheels, levers), architectural design, structural engineering, planning, building use, functionality and form.

Art: number sense, one to one correspondence, standard and non-standard measurement, geometry, symmetry, symbolic thinking, patterns, estimation
Dramatic play: number sense, one to one correspondence, standard and non-standard measurement, money, time
Music: properties of sound, properties and design of instruments
Outdoor play: properties of matter, life sciences, geology, taxonomy, simple machines, physics (gravity, motion)
Classroom routine: one-to-one correspondence (handing out cups, napkins); numeration (counting in line); number concepts (counting objects, seeing how many more one needs)
Writing: symbology, sorting, properties of matter, biology, astronomy

Language and Literacy

Reading and writing: occur throughout the entire curriculum.
Science: write predictions, data analysis, vocabulary
Blocks: writing to inform (creating signage), reading for information/research, vocabulary, recording theories and observations, telling stories, sequencing
Dramatic play: reenacting stories, comprehension, reading for meaning, vocabulary
Art: reinforce letters, reflection, storytelling, vocabulary, self-expression
Sensory: sequencing, conversation skills
Games: letter/word/number recognition, symbology, sequencing, following directions, conversation skills


Blocks: representing Jewish community structures, representing ritual items
Weekly Shabbat Sing: ritual, group dynamics
Dramatic Play: practice rituals, Judaic careers
Art: make ritual objects Hiddur Mitzvah (beautifying ritual)
Music: practice prayers, traditional songs
Cooking: explore cultural food
Outdoor play: Bal Taschit (using resources wisely)
Classroom routine: brachot (blessings), rituals
Educators: Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, Rabbi Aaron Alexander, Rabbi Kerrith Solomon and Cantor Arianne Brown



We have an exciting and thoughtful enrichment program in music, movement, and Judaism.  We also provide extended learning opportunities through dedicated time on our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) activities. 


Students spend time each day on the playground, going on hikes, and participating in other outdoor activities. The two-year-old classes love spending time in our dedicated gross-motor playroom, which is filled with toys that work young muscles.

Children also participate in a formal creative movement program once a week with Val Tomkins of Kids Moving Company, where they develop balance, coordination, rhythm, and body awareness.


Music is an important part of our program. Musical instruments are in every room and children regularly engage in a number of musical activities including singing, dancing and dramatics. The Gan is also proud to carry on two musical traditions:

Shabbat Sing: Every Friday the entire Gan community comes together for a special musical Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming Shabbat) program. Parents frequently join their children for this special celebration. Shabbat Sing is led by a dynamic rotating groups which includes Cantor Ari, Ariel Jacobson, Robyn Helzner, Caron Dale, and more! Click here to enjoy our Shabbat Sing CD!

Music with Robyn: Monthly music sessions with Robyn Helzner introduce children to songs in Hebrew, English, Yiddish and Ladino for Shabbat, holidays and year-round playtime singing.  Robyn blends music, movement, and fun into each lesson. She has released two widely acclaimed recordings for Jewish children, “Clap Your Hands” and “I Live in the City.” (Click here to listen to these CDs, which were recorded at Adas Israel with children from the Gan!)

Music with Sally: Our older classes also enjoy sessions with Sally Heckelman. For over twenty years, Sally has been sharing her joyful music throughout the Washington area. In addition to performing, Sally teaches music throughout the region in preschools, Sunday schools and overnight camps. Sally often works with teachers, providing guidance on integrating music into their classrooms. Teaching and connecting with children through music is Sally's passion. Learn more about Sally here!


Judaism is infused in our curriculum. From saying a short blessing before we eat snacks and meals, to Hebrew language in our classrooms, to our weekly school-wide gathering at Shabbat Sing - Jewish values and traditions permeate our daily life at the Gan. We introduce Judaics to the children through learning (Torah), celebrations (avodah/religious observance), and tzedakah (gimilut chasidim/acts of kindness).

Holidays: Students participate in classroom and community-wide holiday celebrations and learning. The entire Gan community comes together throughout the year to mark significant moments - we gather to hear Rabbi Feinberg blow the shofar, for a reading of the Purim megillah, and for the school-wide Pesach seder. On Fridays, we welcome Shabbat with our musical Shabbat Sing.

Tzedakah: Helping others is a very important part of Jewish teaching and tradition. We believe that even our youngest children can participate in meaningful ways. Children can donate money, help make sandwiches for Martha’s Table, select towels and toys to donate to poor or sick children, and help make boxes with toiletries and winter clothing for children in need.

Talking Torah with Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt:  Every other week Rabbi Lauren meets with our children to teach the weekly Torah portion. These lessons highlight a particular story, value, or ritual in the Torah.  We study through conversation, books, and songs.


Tzedakah Projects

The Gan is committed to infusing early childhood education with Jewish traditions and values. Tzedakah is one such value that is visible throughout our program and community. From collections of items for those in need, to hands-on projects that involve children and parents, the Gan helps our children understand that helping others and the world we live in is not just a privilege -- it’s an obligation.

Tzedakah Money Collection (Every Friday)

Gan children (with their parents) take turns collecting monetary donations to support a number of charities in the community. Please see below for a list of the charities the Gan supports. 


November/December: Coat Drive
January/ February: SOME (So Others Might Eat) - New Socks and Underwear
March / April: Ezra's Pantry - Canned Foods and Tzingo 
May: Martha's Table - Towel Brigade 
June/ July/ August: Backpacks for Fall

Diaper Collection (Ongoing)

A collection bin is located in the GPA Parent's Lounge in the Gan for the collection of diapers to be donated to the DC Diaper Bank. Click here for an article by the diaper bank about talking to young children about what a diaper bank is and poverty. In the first 2 weeks of this program the Gan donated approximately 900 diapers to the DC Diaper Bank! 


Charities We Support

Brandon Heschel Leach Fund
To promote research and education for the diagnosis, treatment, and cure of mitochondrial disorders and to provide support to affected individuals and families.

Hope for Henry Foundation
Hope for Henry (HFH) improves the lives of children with cancer and other serious illnesses by providing carefully-chosen gifts and specially-designed programs to entertain and promote comfort, care and recovery. 

Jewish Women International
Our innovative programs, advocacy and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength.

Martha's Table
Martha's Table transforms lives by engaging the community in developing sustainable solutions to poverty. We meet core needs of our clients with education, nutrition, clothing, and family support programs that prepare young people, from infancy through adulthood, for a promising future. 

Founded in 1985, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a national nonprofit organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel.

Youth Renewal Fund- Educating Disadvantaged Israeli Children
Through supplemental classes for students, single subject learning centers and a professional development program for teachers, YRF helps disadvantaged Israeli children discover and harness the power of education as a means to improve quality of life for themselves, their communities and their country.


Gan HaYeled has completed the rigorous re-accreditation program of the NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Early childhood programs accredited by NAEYC's National Academy of Early Childhood Programs have voluntarily participated in a comprehensive process of internal self-study, invited external professional review to verify compliance with the criteria for High-Quality Early Childhood Programs, and been found to be in substantial compliance with the criteria. Gan HaYeled has been NAEYC accredited since 1994. A copy of the criteria can be obtained from NAEYC.  

Also in its history, Gan HaYeled has been commended by the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning (z”l) and by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. 

The Mildred and Jess Fisher Early Childhood Center - Gan HaYeled Preschool |Adas Israel 2850 Quebec Street, NW Washington, DC 20008 | p: 202.362.4491 | f: 202.363.7236

Wed, October 28 2020 10 Cheshvan 5781