Our Stories

Celebrating Learning in Early Elementary

February 21, 2024 by Elizabeth Zitelli (Faculty and Staff)

In January, each grade level in MILTON’s Early Elementary program on South Campus hosted a Chagigat Ha’Lomedim (Celebration of Learning) to share all that they’ve been working on together for the first semester of the year. We are so impressed by all that they’ve done. 


The overarching theme in PreK is “Identity.” In the first semester the children considered the visible aspects of themselves as well as their “invisible” parts by answering the questions, “What do you look like?” “What do you do?” “What do you love?” They created self-portraits using a wide variety of materials including ink, collage, Plastilina clay, pencil, and paint to show what they looked like from the outside. They learned how to draw a full body self-portrait which they added to the canvas along with representations showing things they love at home, school, and outside by using a variety of materials from the art studio. Finally, they went to the fabric store and chose a ribbon to use as a frame on the edge of the canvas.

At the Chagigat HaLomedim, each child unveiled their self-portrait to the families and pointed to one part of it which held significant meaning. They also shared written and artistic work which demonstrated their great growth throughout the semester and which showed that the children understood that they are more than just what other people see.

To highlight their learning in Judaic Studies, the children presented a collage they created out of mixed materials and performed a play based on the song “Ma bara hashem?” (What did hashem create?)  while wearing costumes they designed themselves. To highlight Ivrit (Hebrew) and the Mishpacha (family) unit they performed Eliezer ve’hagezer (Eliezer and the Carrot), the classic story about people and animals trying to pull a carrot out of the ground. They created beautiful representations of their mishpacha (families) made with small stones, and baytim (houses) decorated with the blessing of the home and art. The children wrapped up their time with the families by celebrating Shabbat together and having a blessing of the children under a tallis.


The overall theme of Kindergarten studies is “Community” and the first semester’s studies focuses on “Friendship.” Students compared and contrasted examples of friendship they found in literature, documented examples of friendship in their school community, and created original presentations about the important qualities of friendship and kindness. 

Gan Tmarim students created original scenery and props for their theatrical production, including a narrator booth, and a complex pulley system that allowed them to display signage indicating the five characteristics of true friendship that they had defined as a class. They performed their original play on the South Campus Community Theater Stage in the Kikar for their parents. 

Gan Anavim performed an original play in which a student was initially excluded by “cool kids” and then ultimately embraced by the rest of the class. The play even included a song and dance number! They performed their original play in the Kikar for their parents. 

Gan Rimonim created original videos depicting friends supporting each other at a restaurant. They crafted costumes and scenery to depict an ice cream shop, kitchen, currency, basketball hoop, jungle gym, concert stage with microphones, and a haunted house. They performed their original play on the South Campus Community Theater Stage in the Kikar for their parents. 

In Hebrew and Judaics, the students sang songs about animals and houses. They created miniature houses and presented their creations in Hebrew while detailing the items they put inside their houses and the color of each object. They played a game “the box of surprises” in which they named surprise objects in Hebrew as each one was revealed. 

Grade One

In first grade, students expand their horizons to consider the natural world. For the first half of this academic year, students focused upon the theme of “Water” and extended their exploration to encompass study of bridge construction, water art, and flora and fauna of major regional waterways. 

In their study of water and waterways in and around DC, first graders became engineers. Each class studied a bridge that goes over one of the following waterways: Potomac River, Anacostia River, and the C&O Canal. The students studied the following bridges corresponding to the waterways: Arlington Memorial Bridge, Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, and pedestrian bridges along the C&O Canal. Engineers went to the Sadnah to decide which materials they would need to create a model of their class’s bridge. They worked in teams of three to four students to create their model bridges. Once all three classes had completed their bridges, the Ulam became a bridge museum as first grade engineers took turns looking at other classes’ bridges.



After studying the model text “Water” by Frank Asch, students created watercolor pieces to explore different kinds of water and personal experiences on or near water. 

Students researched the flora and fauna of the waterways they had been assigned. After reading an article and creating a sketch, students used plastalina, an oil-based clay, to create their flora or fauna. 

To further explore the questions raised by their studies, each class continued their research projects by conducting further investigations. 

Tainim students, who had studied the C&O Canal, collaborated to answer the question “What makes a boat strong?” They created a boat, built a prototype, and tested how much weight it could carry.

Zaytim students, who had studied the Potomac River, conducted a filtration experiment using various materials to filter as much dirt out of the water as they could. 

Seorim students, who had studied the Anacostia River, became inspired to explore what makes each animal that lives around the Anacostia special. They used the multiple draft process to create scientific illustrations to accurately represent their animals. 

Each of these studies culminated in the following creations: 

  • Tainim’s Living Museum of the C&O Canal
  • Zatyim’s Graphic Novel about the Potomac River
  • Seorim’s Pollution Prototypes





Student presentations of learning are a hallmark of MILTON’s approach to early elementary education. Kol Hakavod to the students and teachers in grades Pre-K-1 for their curiosity, creativity, and collaboration.