Earlier this year, several of us from the editorial staff for the Jewish Dayton Magazine were sitting around a table discussing potential covers for the upcoming Israel at 70 publication. I, along with Katie Lehner, Marketing Director and Alisa Thomas, Executive Assistant, wanted the cover to be more than just a run-of-the-mill map of Israel, like something available in a textbook or encyclopedia.

Katie had seen an art project the children in Early Childhood had been working on and she had a suggestion: have the children create a topographical map of Israel, and photograph it to create a one of a kind cover for the magazine. Agreement was unanimous, and everyone moved to make it happen.

I approached Early Childhood Director Audrey MacKenzie and Mishpacha Cheder Lead Teacher Katie Lagasse with our idea. They enthusiastically agreed to the project. A time was scheduled for myself and Katie Lehner to meet with the four-year-old class to plant the seeds of creativity and bring this project to life.

While the children learn about Israel throughout the course of the year, this experience was different because they were able to hear stories from someone who had been to Israel. Katie Lehner loaded her iPad with images from Israel that showed different landmarks and topography. We hoped the images would stir the children’s imagination for their map.

They were impressed with the desert, the Kotel (Wailing Wall), and the buildings of Tel Aviv, but they were most awestruck by the Dead Sea. They were amazed by images of clothing that was submerged in the Dead Sea by Israeli artist Sigalit Landau for a period of time and were transformed into white, floating statues coated in layers of salt. I felt our time with the children was terrific. They had thoughtful questions and I was amazed by the insightful observations that these four-year-olds had of Israel and its people.

The project took a total of three weeks to complete. The class was very resourceful in representing different aspects of Israel. The children paid attention not just to color, but texture as well; sand paper was used to symbolize the desert, and corrugated cardboard was used for the fortresses. Various colors of green and blue tissue paper were layered together to represent land and sea. It was exciting to watch the white foamcore outline of Israel transform and come to life. I think the final product is spectacular.

Recently, I asked Katie Lagasse how the project impacted her class. “Israel is always a big topic of conversation in our classroom, but physically making the landmarks and creating the textures of the different regions in Israel really brought the images to life for the children – it was truly a big picture moment for them,” she said.

Special thanks to the 2017 – 2018 Mishpacha Cheder Class: James Anthony, Joseph Davis, Jonah Dorf, Rolana Dorf, Kennedy Ford, Charlie Lyle, Madelyn MacKenzie, Evan Mowery, Rohan Nanda, Ella Ng, Lena O’Neill, Luke Rabb, Anna Roth, Sam Sierschula, Andrew Simpson, Sebastian Watts, and Samantha Woll and their teachers Katie Lagasse, Diane Blevens, and Kim Darner.

For more information on bringing Israel into the classroom, please contact Jodi Phares, Project Manager at (937) 610-5513 or jphares@jfgd.net.

Israel is always a big topic of conversation in our classroom, but physically making the landmarks and creating the textures of the different regions in Israel really brought the images to life for the children – it was truly a big picture moment for them.

~ Katie Lagasse
Mishpacha Cheder Lead Teacher

Israel is always a big topic of conversation in our classroom, but physically making the landmarks and creating the textures of the different regions in Israel really brought the images to life for the children – it was truly a big picture moment for them.

~ Katie Lagasse
Mishpacha Cheder Lead Teacher

Israel is always a big topic of conversation in our classroom, but physically making the landmarks and creating the textures of the different regions in Israel really brought the images to life for the children – it was truly a big picture moment for them.

~ Katie Lagasse
Mishpacha Cheder Lead Teacher

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