Mivneh Machneh Yisrael: Multiple Intelligences Unit on Bamidbar 1-2

  • 40 minutes
  • Grades: 6-8
  • Lesson Plan

by: Semadar Goldstein

Students study Bamidbar 1-2 in-depth before completing a creative MI project of their own choosing. Projects are then presented to the class.


This unit outline can be used as a model for other MI units. Bamidbar , 1-2 into thematic sections and then do in-depth text study to complete an MI project of their own choosing.

Lesson objectives

Listed below are some suggested objectives. The number and specific objectives covered will depend largely on the projects the students decide to complete.

The student will be able to:

1. Relate the storyline of Bamidbar 1-2.

2. Explain that the half a shekel coin was collected to count the Israelites.

3. List the ages of the men considered in the census and explain the significance of the system.

4. Understand that each tribe had a leader, flag/insignia, and a direction to travel and encamp.

5. Relate the various responsibilities of each tribe.

6. Explain the reasons for the various tribal locations.

7. Analyze ancient conflict resolution and compare it to contemporary conflict resolution.

8. Explore the character traits of arrogance and humility in ancient and modern times.

9. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of people having responsibilities at home, school, class or a community setting.


The student will be able to:

1. Read and understand the Biblical text.

2. Read and understand related commentary.

3. Analyze and extrapolate from the Biblical text.


The student will be able to:

1. Relate to the life of the Israelites in the desert.

2. Appreciate the rhythm and challenges of ancient desert life.

Resources & Equipment needed

Five copies of introductory skit (see appendix), copies of Bamidbar for each student, art supplies as needed (see below).


1. Planning the unit: review Bamidbar, 1-2. Divide the text into thematic sections. Mosttexts can be divided in a number of ways. Make sure that each division you make has an overarching theme. Suggested sections: 1) Israelite Census (1: 1-4) 2) Tribal Numbers (1: 5-47) 3) Levite Responsibilities (1: 48-54) 4) Tribal Orders & Total Numbers (2: 1-34) – can be divided into two.

2. Next, think of possible MI projects. Create a project outline worksheet outlining various tasks for group members (older students can decide this themselves) i.e. group leader, pasuk writer, interviewer, builder, sketcher, etc. Request that students write the pesukim that refer to the project with supporting commentary (this ensures careful reading of the text and drash).

Sample projects include: Outline of the intelligence: The student can… Linguistic How can I use the spoken or written word?

· Continue suggested skit and theme; add other tribes and conflicts.

·Write a skit based on pshat or drash.

·Write an interview, newspaper article , journal, or diary of from the point of view of a person mentioned in the text. Logical-Mathematical How can I integrate numbers, calculations, logic, classifications, or critical thinking into my unit?

· Chart the size of each tribe. Analyze why they were that size, discuss why tribes were chosen to lead or follow (i.e. Yehuda is largest tribe, he is first, the place of honor. Militarily, a large number should attack first. Yehuda is followed by Yissachar and Zevulun. Zevulun is larger than Yissachar – sandwich the smaller tribe in the middle for safety).

· Graph or build responsibilities of Levites and the Mishkan. Spatial How can I use visual aids, visualization, color, art, metaphor into my unit? · Draw, chart, build, recreate the camp setup or the Levite responsibilities, using one of the following; clay, play-dough, popsicle sticks, paint, etc. Musical How can I incorporate music or environmental sounds, or set key points in a rhythm or melody?

· Write a song about the camps’ departure including three of the following: tribal order when they marched out of camp; the mishkan; tasks of the Leviim; pillars of fire and clouds; use trumpet sounds that resemble the chatzotzrot).

· Find other music that appropriately dramatizes certain events; i.e. pidyon ha-ben – dramatic music, traveling and building of the mishkan – military or busy music, etc. Bodily-Kinesthetic How can I involve the whole body, or hands-on experience?

· Re-create the actual traveling of the Tribal camps. · Put on a puppet show describing Levite Responsibilities. · Charade or pantomime the pidyon ha-ben, Levite counting and reasons why. Interpersonal How can I engage students in peer sharing, cooperative learning or large-group simulation? The interpersonal student excels in group work. Appoint him the group leader (will probably ask to be one).

· Bring in props to simulate a Tribal Leader in the census, or a Levite assuming his responsibilities.

· Create a board game with questions about any boxed subject above. Intrapersonal How can I evoke personal feelings or memories, offer goal setting, or give students choices in this unit?

· Compare the Tribal Encampments to a part of the student’s life/other time in history. · Chart how bnei yisrael was preparing themselves for life as a nation (i.e. living according to their own schedules and structure as opposed to living in slavery, being their own leaders, but within an organized framework). How does this compare to student life –compare sleep away camp to school life? Natural How can I recreate the physical environment of the era?

· Recreate/build/draw/download/report on the natural elements of the period and discuss their purpose: desert life (animals, mountains, valleys); weather conditions (with and without the annanei ha-kavod v’amudei aish) · Build/draw a map including the natural elements of the period and discuss their purpose: desert life (animals, mountains, valleys); weather conditions (with and without the annanei ha-kavod v’amudei aish)

Be creative. Flexibility is also very important.

3. In class: Consider introducing the class with a three minute skit like the one in appendix 1. The sample skit uses the following intelligences: linguistic, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic and is based on the first nine verses in Sefer Bamidbar. Five volunteers are needed for reading the parts. How would performing a skit like this affect interest levels in your classroom?

4. Work together as a class or in groups to section off the text according to theme. Each section should be given a name. If you are working in Hebrew, provide a vocabulary list. Students’ results may differ from yours but that is fine. Flexibility is key.

5. Groups should choose a project that reflects the theme in their section. Each group (two-four students each) should choose a project/intelligence below to portray the events in Sefer Bamidbar, chapters 1-2.

6. Research is done during class. Depending on the subject, projects can be prepared in 1-3 classes; a presentation always follows. The more in-depth you’d like the students’ projects to be, the more time you must allow them to work. Allowing sufficient preparation time empowers the student with full knowledge of the subject, and provides confidence for his presentation.

7. Assist students by helping with research, delineating responsibility, and clarifying assignments. The teacher is the group leader, advisor and also, main resource. Encourage the students to turn to you for help in finding more information, touching up projects, and solving group conflicts.

8. Internet Tips: If you are in a wired classroom, use these resources:

Google images to narrow keywords and find artwork, sculptures, and archaeological artifacts on your subject.

Wikipedia is also valuable – but double check resources – because of the opensource nature of Wikipedia, you cannot rely on it without doing some fact checking.

Mechon Mamre has an English-Hebrew Tanakh.

9. Presentations or exhibits of completed projects should be scheduled into class time.