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Tu B’shvat Seder for Young Children

  • 20 -30 minutes
  • Grades: N - K
  • Lesson Plan

Short Tu B’shvat seder for young children aged 3-5. Can be adapted for older children.

Introduction

The seder should be part of a larger Tu Bโ€™shvat unit that may involve talking about the uses of trees, planting seeds, discussing birthdays, etc. It can be used for 3 to 5 year old children. The seder can be led by one teacher or several can divide up the roles.

Lesson objectives

Children will be able to:

  • Explain that Tu B’shvat is the birthday of the trees.
  • Explain that trees grow a variety of fruit.
  • Give examples of ways trees help us.
  • Explain that it is good to help others.

Terms

Tu B’shvat

Resources & Equipment needed

  • Apple/banana cake shaped like a tree
    Candles
    Matches
    Variety of fresh and dried fruit
    Plates
    Cups
    Knives for cutting fruit
    Platters
    Paper
    Markers
    Grape juice
    Photos of demonstrating use of trees (i.e. fruit, wood, shade, etc.)
    Photos or poster of seven species/sheva minim
    โ€œHoni’s Circle of Treesโ€ by Phillis Gershator and/ or “Tu B’shvat Tale: Honi Comes Full Circle for the Jewish Birthday of the Trees” video by Bimbam

Procedure

All sing โ€œHinei Ma Tovโ€ย  and the teacher welcomes the students.

Explain to students that it is currently Winter in theย  USA but in Israel, it is spring: raining has stopped, trees are budding. If we were in Israel, we might plant a tree.

All sing: โ€œWhat do they do in Israel:โ€
Oh, what do they do in Israel
On the holiday of Tu B’Shvat?
Oh, they dig and they dig
And they plant and they plant
On the holiday of Tu B’Sevat.

Then, the teacher explains it is the treesโ€™ birthday. Take out a birthday cake and light the candles on the cake. Sing “Happy Birthday” or “Yom Huledet Sameach” and blow out the candles.

The teacher talks about varieties of fruit and displays various fruits on a platter and explains how each is constructed differently: seeds inside, seeds outside, big seeds, tiny seeds, hard skins, soft skins.

The teacher asks: What do trees give us? Encourage children to respond. With each response, show an appropriate photo or draw a picture.

Pour grape juice into small cups and hand them out to the children. Lead students in the brachah: ื‘ืจื•ืš ืืชื” ื™ื™ ืืœื™ื”ื ื• ืžืœืš ื”ืขื•ืœื, ื‘ื•ืจื ืคืจื™ ื”ื’ืคืŸ. Baruch ata Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam boray pri ha’gafen. This means: Praised are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Children then drink the grape juice.

Teachers collect cups and bring a plate of fruit and a small piece of cake to each child. Say the brachah for the cake: ื‘ืจื•ืš ืืชื” ื™ื™ ืืœื™ื”ื ื• ืžืœืš ื”ืขื•ืœื, ื‘ื•ืจื ืžื™ื ื™ ืžื–ื•ื ื•ืช. Baruch ata Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam boray meenay mezonote. This means: Praised are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who creates different kinds of nourishment. Say the brachah for the fruit: ื‘ืจื•ืš ืืชื” ื™ื™ ืืœื™ื”ื ื• ืžืœืš ื”ืขื•ืœื, ื‘ื•ืจื ืคืจื™ ื”ืขืฅ. Baruch ata Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam boray pri ha’eytz. This means: Praised are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the tree. Children eat.

Next, everyone should sing a version of โ€œThe Green Grass Grew All Around.โ€

There was a hole in the middle of the ground
The prettiest hole that you ever did see.
Well, the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around and around
And the green grass grew all around.

And in this hole, there was a seed
The prettiest seed that you ever did see
Well the seed in the hole
And the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around and around
And the green grass grew all around.

And from this seed, there grew a tree
The prettiest tree that you ever did see
Well the tree from the seed
And the seed in the hole
And the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around and around
And the green grass grew all around.

And on this tree, there was a branch…
The prettiest branch that you ever did see
Well the branch on the tree
And the tree from the seed
And the seed in the hole
And the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around and around
And the green grass grew all around.

And on this branch, there was a nest…
The prettiest nest that you ever did see
Well the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree from the seed
And the seed in the hole
And the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around and around
And the green grass grew all around.

And on this branch, there was a bird…
The prettiest bird that you ever did see
Well the bird on the branch
And the branch in the tree
And the tree from the seed
And the seed in the hole
And the hole in the ground
And the green grass grew all around and around
And the green grass grew all around.

Display photos or posters of the sheva minim (Seven Species): wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. If children have some of these fruits on their plates, point them out.

After the children finish eating, gather what is leftover on plates and place them into a bucket for composting. Explain how it will help plants grow. Focus on the theme of helping trees and plants for the future.

Bridge to the story of “Honi Ha-Maโ€™agel“. Read โ€œHoniโ€™s Circle of Treesโ€ by Phillis Gershaator (Jewish Publication Society, 1995). View the video โ€œTu B’shvat Tale: Honi Comes Full Circle for the Jewish Birthday of the Trees.” Using life-sized puppets and a rhyming script, the film retells stories of Honi Hamaagel, the Rainmaker, who plants a carob tree so later generations can benefit.

Other Tu Bโ€™Shvat songs:

This is the Way

This is the way we dig the ground,
Dig the ground, dig the ground,
This is the way we dig the ground,
And help the garden grow.
This is the way we plant the seeds,
Plant the seeds, plant the seeds,
This is the way we plant the seeds,
And watch for flowers to grow.
And, if we plant together with the seeds of Care and understanding,
They can grow into a tree of love.

You dig a Hole (Hokey Pokey tune)

You dig a hole right here,
You put a seed in here,
You put the dirt back in and you pack it to the ground.
You give it lots of sunshine and you water it with rain,
Tu B’ Shvat is for the trees.

Hashkediya

Hashkediya porachat
V’shemesh paz zorachat;
Tziporim merosh kol gag,
M’vasrot et bo hechag.
Tu bishevat higiya Chag ha’ilanot (2x)

The almond tree is growing,
A golden sun is glowing;
Birds sing out in joyous glee
From every roof and every tree.
Tu B’Shvat is here,
The Jewish Arbor Day
Hail the trees’ New Year, Happy holiday

Eretz Zavat Chalav

Eretz zavat chalav– chalav u-d’vash,
Eretz zavat chalav — chalav u-d’vash.
Eretz zavat chalav, zavat chalav u-d’vash
Eretz zavat chalav, zavat chalav u-d’vash.

A land flowing with milk and honey.
A land flowing with milk and honey.
A land flowing with milk and honey.
A land flowing with milk and honey.