Tag Archives: trees

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

Nature work: a Mitzvah Birdbath

Mitzvah Project—The Tza’ar ba’aley Chayim Birdbath—a quick or slow nature project for home or school.

DSC01388

So subtle, I had to add an arrow

Until yesterday, my synagogue didn’t have a bird bath or any other water source for animals.  I haven’t seen one in the 20 years I’ve been a member. Our courtyard is a perfect place for informal birdwatching: surrounded by classroom windows on two sides, and the Internet Cafe and school entrance on the third. I’m a Volunteer Tennessee Naturalist. I think about this sort of thing alot.  It would have been so easy to buy and install a birdbath by myself in less than an hour, and bingo: water for wildlife.  Or, I could make it a Mitzvah Project in a slow way, a participatory way, a way that makes for several active lesson plans, and that can foster a student’s sense of investment, stewardship, community and empowerment. 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 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

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

Witnessing with wildflowers

Sometimes a dogwood is just a dogwood*

Sometimes a dogwood is just a dogwood*

I took a guided wildflower hike yesterday.  Unknown factors prevented all other registered participants from showing up, so I had the guide all to myself.  The walk is up, over, and down a steep ridge rich with overlapping ecosystems: it begins with meadow, orchard, and pond; strolls along a creekbed and drystone slave wall; takes a mini detour through a cedar glade, and then climbs from beech-maple to oak-hickory forest along a burped-up bit of the Highland Rim.  Continue reading