Category Archives: Tu B’Shevat

Tu B’Shevat Almond Tree art: eat, glue, learn

to see and eat during art

“every almond used to be a pink blossom”

I wouldn’t ordinarily write about a holiday project that’s been done (and done, and done), but I’m posting this to prove a point: that with just a smidge of “extra”—just a few props to provide context—even a quick, conventional activity can be more meaningful and memorable. Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat Tree Products Display & Activities

TreeProducts1214

A Tree Products Display for Tu B’Shevat can be an easy, effective way to show All The Things That Trees Give Us.*  The display in our school lobby is a magnet: grownups and kids can’t help but fiddle with the hanukkah gelt, glue sticks and pinecones and such.  Creating a display can be as quick or as protracted an activity as you wish.  You learn, the kid working with you learns, and whomever sees your collection learns.

TreeProductdisplay

half “natural,” half “processed”

WHY collect a bunch of stuff that comes from trees?  It’s an active, hands-on way to honor trees for Tu B’Shevat, to explore how important trees are to our daily lives, and to instill a desire to protect trees and grow new ones.   Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat almond “Sow and Tell,” home or school

faith in a seed

faith in a seed

For Tu B’Shevat with my First Grade class, I wanted something hands-on, but not paper-based. Something thematic that links the Land of Israel with our own community,  something the kids could make or do to gain a concrete reference point to a Jewish Spring holiday in the midst of a Nashville Winter.  We’d already done nearly instant-gratification Tu B’Shevat gardening (eggshell garden), and I didn’t think they’d mind a project that required patience and uncertainty. Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat garden-in-an-eggshell

lentils starting to put down roots...

lentils starting to put down roots…

Here’s a supplementary indoor gardening project for Tu B’Shevat.  I swear by the Eat a Fruit, Plant the Seed project, and my version of the traditional Plant Tu B’Shevat Parsley for Passover project, of course.  Both are hands-on and at the heart of the holiday.  But, if you can program additional growy activities with your favorite kids, try this one, too.  The nearly instant gratification is a contrast to the slow and iffy germination rates of parsley and fruit seeds.

What: Kids grow a nearly-instant, indoor, mini “garden” in an eggshell.
Why: to connect with Tu B’Shevat; to demonstrate the everyday miracle of seed germination; to grow food for us, for wildlife and for the earth. Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat stuff: indoor gardening, edible bowls, sugar overload and birdfeeders

Here’s a quick list of links to my earlier posts for Tu B’Shevat.  New ones coming soon…

pear seedlings from our snack

pear seedlings from our snack

Eat a Fruit, Plant the Seeds:  So easy.  Cut open a fruit with your kid. Eat it, plant the seed.  Of course, I mention a few Jewish-y choices of trees, but the important take-away is that THIS is where trees come from. Can’t get more thematic.

How (and Why) to Let Kids Plant Tu B’Shevat Parsley.  Detailed how-tos here. I’ve a method that works without compromising hands-on learning or enthusiasm. Continue reading

Seedling update

see the seedling emerging?

Pear seedlings from our snack

See the teeny seedlings emerging?  Two weeks ago, at the family Tu B’Shevat program I helped plan, we ate fruit and planted the seeds.  Yesterday, one pear seed sprouted, and today, another.  Baby trees!

For the program, I made little flags  so each kid would remember which fruit seeds they chose:
I planted a ______ tree for Tu B’Shevat.
The child’s name goes on the popsicle stick above the dirt line. (We used colored pencils, which are made from trees. No Sharpies that day.)

I wrote about this activity in the post Eat a Fruit, Plant its Seeds for Tu B’Shevat. I know, I know, the resulting seedlings may not grow into fertile adults, what with commercial fruit propagation techniques and whatnot.
The important thing is for a kid to eat a fruit, plant the seeds, watch them sprout, and take care of them.  So far, so good…

Edible Bowl for Tu B’Shevat Fruit (100% tree fruit outside and in)

coconut topping, tree nuts, fruit fresh and dried

Last fall, I wrote about the kid-version of edible apple bowls used as a Rosh Hashanah honey dish. Apple bowls are easy to adapt for Tu B’Shevat. You and your child can hollow an apple—the paradigmatic tree fruit—and fill it with tree fruit salad. It’s easy with Continue reading

Mini-Bird-Feeder for Playmobil Environmentalists

Erev Shabbat Shira, no doubt

And here’s the Playmobil version of the Tu B’Shevat Pine-Cone Birdfeeder.

Our model is shown holding a hemlock cone with a soy-butter shmear and a coating of millet.  This hemlock, by the way, is not the poisonous herbaceous plant that clocked poor Socrates, but the lovely and benign conifer tree. Hemlocks also come in handy for decorating tabletop sukkot: the leaflets look like mini pine boughs for schach.

And of course, the string is cotton, so when squirrels instantly steal the cone, the rest of the string can biodegrade properly in situ. Let us avoid the fluttering spiral of polyester day-glo curling ribbon still tied to a bough years after the proferred cone was consumed.  Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat Birdfeeder Materials List (annotations for the overkeen)

again with the pinecone

again with the pinecone

Oh my gosh, I just can’t help myself.  I am on fire with the pine-cones, people.

The simple How-To for the Tu B’Shevat Pine-Cone Birdfeeder is at the end of my previous post. It’s the reward for wading through the Ecology and the Rabbinics.

This late-night post about the Materials is a bonus. Lucky you. Below, I present annotations so obsessive that even I edited them out the first time.

Notes from an overkeen Sunday School teacher:

Pine-cone. I’m trying to restrain myself here. I want to urge everyone to get a tree field guide and run out to the woods. Cones come in range of sizes, prickliness, and stickiness. (If you find a White Pine, watch out for sticky pitch that I guarantee will never, ever come out of your child’s LLBean parka, not even with lye soap.) Continue reading

Why We Give Gifts to Birds on Tu B’Shevat

Heaven forbid I come across as the Earnest Craft Lady. Is that what’s happening? I fear so, especially when the best bits of my articles are removed in the editorial process.  By best bits I mean midrashim, ecological interplay, words like insectivorous and other goodies. Alas, what remains are earnest how-tos peppered with exclamation marks. I am grateful any of my work is accepted for publication anywhere, truly, but it is a relief to know I have an outlet here. The beauty (and the horror) of a blog is that the blogger is editor.  And here, forthwith, is the uncut version of the Tu B’Shevat Pine-Cone Bird-feeder, best bits and all. Continue reading

Candy Tu B’Shevat

Hadassah Barbie, Tefillin Barbie’s Bubbe,  circa 1958

Please read the full article: Tu Bishvat in Candy Land at Kveller.com.

At Kveller, I shared my take on Edible Dirt for Tu B’Shevat, plus some ideas on how to use fruit-shaped candies.

Runts and Nitwitz are colorful, fake-fruit sugar bombs that my kids like to play with more than they like to eat.  And they are quite fetching as proportionally-sized tree fruits for Playmobil and Barbie festivities.

Fruit Shakers are bigger (see the picture), and are actually gumballs filled with tiny, rattling, candy “seeds.” Of course, I plant these seeds in the Edible Dirt…  But you’ll see all that in the article. This post is just an excuse Continue reading

Eat a fruit, plant its seeds for Tu B’Shevat

our apple tree at 2 years, earliest leaves emerging now

In How (and Why) to Let Kids Plant Parsley on Tu B’Shevat, I nattered on about the meaning behind growing parsley on the Birthday of the Trees. Because, really, isn’t it weird that a parsley project is the go-to activity for a holiday about trees? But in a nutshell, the big idea is this: to germinate parsley on Tu B’Shevat links the earliest of Spring holidays—when the sap/lifeforce begins to wake after winter—and Passover, the paradigmatic Spring holiday.  Parsley is Spring on a seder plate.  It is the most common representation of the karpas category, without which a seder can’t happen.  Makes perfect sense, this link and its timing, but still, tree it ain’t.  (Well, a curly parsley stalk does rather look like a miniature tree.)

Better we should grow a tree on the Birthday of the Trees, yes?  And what if the tree could be an olive or date or fig or pomegranate: four of the Seven Species of the Land of Israel (Deut. 8:8), the rock stars at a Tu B’Shevat seder?  How brilliant to grow an olive tree especially, whose fruit could give us oil to light Hanukkah menorahs. Or a an almond tree, the early bloomer celebrated in Israel on Tu B’Shevat. Or a citron tree to grow an etrog for Sukkot.  Or a palm or willow or myrtle to harvest for our own lulav.  Chills. Continue reading

How (and why) to Let Kids plant Tu B’Shevat Parsley

Tu B'Shevat parsley for Pesach karpas

Tu B’Shevat parsley for Pesach karpas

Tu B’Shevat is the New Year and/or Birthday of the Trees, but the classic Tu B’Shevat planting activity doesn’t really have much to do with trees. We plant parsley.  All over America, little Jewish kids plant parsley seeds on Tu B’Shevat.  Sounds like Sunday School in Chelm, right?  But it does make sense.  To germinate parsley seeds and use the plant two holidays later as the karpas on a Passover seder plate connects our earliest Spring holiday to our main Spring holiday, and it lets kids get their fingers dirty fostering green life from dormant seeds. Tu B’Shevat is the official start of the agricultural year, when tree sap (and all lifeforce by extension) begins to rise after winter rest.

Parsley, though, is not a tree. It’s easier, folks say, easier than Continue reading