Keli Teichman, affectionately known as Morah Keli, has been flying high with her speaker and props in tow—literally. Her music and movement business, known as Kreative Kidz, is racking up miles traveling across the country, sharing her love of her craft with children from coast to coast.
Kreative Kidz started over 15 years ago in North Jersey, as an offshoot of her popular Bugle Babies class, which was a mommy and me class originally created by her sister, Rebbetzin Jennifer Gibber of Boca Raton.
Morah Keli recalled, “My sister had the foresight to provide mothers and their babies a forum to meet, socialize and bond with their babies in a Jewish atmosphere with other mothers with shared values.”
What started as one class with 10 babies has grown to eight classes a week, serving 130 babies and their caregivers throughout New Jersey and New York.
When Kreative Kidz began, Morah Keli was teaching a dozen children music in Morah Carmella’s playgroup in Teaneck, and now her program is in eight of the largest schools in Northern New Jersey and New York City, and she teaches 55 classes a week, totalling roughly 1,000 children. She has also visited over 40 other schools in the area for special assemblies.
After the success of her local classes and programs, Morah Keli decided to take her show on the road, debuting her music tour in her hometown of Los Angeles, where she sang and danced to the happy and playful tunes of Chanukah. Her next stop will be Florida in January. When asked where the tour will go next, Morah Keli answered, “The sky’s the limit!” To Morah Keli, anything is possible.
When her tour started in December, Morah Keli taught an additional 920 students the magic of Chanukah. Whenever she visits a new school, she has the children mesmerized by her stories and songs. As one mother remarked, after observing her children watch Morah Keli’s videos on replay and hearing their requests for a “Morah Keli microphone” to wear on their waists, “Morah Keli is a frum Disney princess.”
Morah Keli has always loved music. From a young age, she remembers her mother playing piano and guitar and encouraging her four daughters to sing along. “Every day as we drove to school we had a ritual,” she recalled. “My mother would blast her favorite Elton John, Carly Simon or Beatles songs and insist that we memorize the lyrics. I realized that music is more than just enjoyable sounds. It has depth and meaning that can penetrate within.”
Morah Keli believes in teaching through music. As she previously shared with The Jewish Link, “Kids are not necessarily aware of what I am doing, but I have strategy behind the lessons. For example, many of my songs involve memory recall and verbal building. … If they are just singing songs, they don’t necessarily know what they are singing about, but once I bring in the props and they are actually touching them, it becomes a whole other level of comprehension.”
“When teaching preschool children,” she said, “I discuss the lyrics of each song and help them connect the dots between the song and curriculum at hand. My students become active participants in the lesson, whereby the songs are not only sung, but are internalized through connection and interpretation.”
Morah Keli consistently aims to build confidence in her students, something she learned from her father, a trial lawyer. “When I teach, I try to build the confidence of each child, because believing in yourself is the key to success. For kids who don’t excel in a classroom setting, this is another platform where they may succeed. A space where creativity is fostered and body expression is welcomed.” One of her goals is “to create happy kids. If children have positive experiences in a Jewish school, when they look back at their school years, they will think, ‘Wow that was really fun! I really liked school!’ and that will give them a positive association with Judaism.”
“Everything I do is geared towards helping kids think critically,” Morah Keli added. “When a kid thinks independently, there’s potential for infinite growth. When I see my students week after week, they are constantly asking me about previous lessons we’ve learned and at the same time eagerly waiting to see what the new lesson will be. These moments let me know I’m doing something right.”
Morah Keli has produced over 40 videos, which are currently running on Vimeo, and has started a YouTube channel with her new high-tech videos, bringing her lessons to life. When COVID sent the schools into lockdown, Morah Keli taught herself to film and edit videos for her students to watch from home. The positive feedback she received motivated her to continue producing video content for her students.
When asked what motivates her to dedicate her time and energy to her students, she responded, “Spreading happiness and love. Not only do I receive texts and other messages showing my students dancing and singing to my videos, along with children from around the world, but my granddaughter is singing and dancing to the videos as well! This is my legacy, for my students, grandchildren and, iyH, future generations.”
Morah Keli also uses the videos as a tutorial for new teachers. She has trained multiple teachers and is looking to hire more talent to help her build her client base. When asked what qualifications she’s looking for in new teachers, she remarked, “Females who are enthusiastic, creative, love kids and enjoy singing and dancing. … Kreative Kidz is a great opportunity to start a career, make your own hours and get paid for doing what you love!”
Kreative Kidz wants you to join the fun! Sign up for a Bugle Babies class, schedule a music program or enroll your toddler in the best camp ever! Camp Kreative Kidz runs for eight weeks and includes snack time, arts and crafts and water play, all supervised by professional morahs.
By Jewish Link Staff