Tu BiShvat, also called “New Year of the Trees,” falls on Wednesday, February 8, this year. During a recent educator trip to Israel with CJP’s Boston-Haifa Early Childhood Connection, we saw this great children’s activity that you can do at home to celebrate the holiday.

Tu BiShvat Recycled Planter
created at: 2012-01-30This activity that we saw in an Israeli classroom combines recycling and planting by using recycled plastic soda bottles (1 or 2 liters) as planters. Unlike in Israel where it’s beginning to feel like spring (“aviv” in Hebrew), it’s still winter here in Boston and we’re unable to plant outside, so we’re simply moving it indoors! To begin, lay the plastic bottles on their sides, with the caps still on. Then follow these steps for planting:

  1. Have an adult cut the bottle on the side, making a wide oval opening. Cover the cut plastic edges with tape to get rid of any sharp spots.
  2. Encourage your children to decorate the outsides of the bottles using stickers or markers.
  3. Place cotton balls inside the bottle through the newly cut opening, and then place a few raw chick peas and beans on the cotton.
  4. Wet the cotton balls and beans with a spray bottle. (Please note: It’s important to keep the cotton balls damp. For further conservation, save the leftover water from drinking cups and reuse from a jug for watering.)
  5. Place in a sunny area and observe the sprouting and growth. Children can record the changes by drawing pictures to go along with the plants.

We also suggest two wonderful books to read along with this activity:

Joshua’s Dream: A Journey to the Land of Israel” by Sheila F. Segal
Ages 4 and up. Personalized through the history of one family, this revised and newly illustrated full-color primary reader introduces children to the pioneering spirit that created the modern State of Israel.

Who Will Plant a Tree?” by Jerry Pallotta
Ages preschool and up. From the apple seeds stuck to the fur of a bear to the pine seed carried by an army of ants, Mother Nature is given a hand in dispersing seeds in this illustrated meditation on the interconnectedness of Earth’s creatures.

For more kid-friendly Tu BiShvat ideas, please click here.

By teachers Sharon Dadon and Amy Gilman and director Johanna Perlin from Temple Shalom Nursery School in Newton.