carob pods, seeds and chips
Carob pods and carob chips for a taste (and smell and sound and sight and touch) of Tu B’Shevat.
Carob is a biggie for Tu B’Shevat. It’s a tree fruit native to the Land of Israel, it’s de rigeur at a Tu B’Shevat seder, and it’s part of the story about Honi the circle-maker lots of us read aloud on Tu B’Shevat. Continue reading
“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
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. Continue reading
Mitzvah Project—The Tza’ar ba’aley Chayim Birdbath—a quick or slow nature project for home or school.
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
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
Here’s a quick list of links to my earlier posts for Tu B’Shevat. New ones coming soon…
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.
Find out why the go-to Tu B’Shevat planting activity is not about planting trees. Continue reading
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…
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 a melon-baller, and the only trick is not to get too energetic and pierce the peel from the inside. Kids can even prepare the fruit for the thematic contents using double-handled apple slicer/corer combos and Montessori-style slicing tools. Continue reading
- earliest spring 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
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