BJEP provides a unique learning experience for all ages, but with our younger students especially, fun and hands-on learning are a priority. With our first and second graders we love to integrate Judaic concepts and Hebrew vocabulary practice into games and activities that blend the traditional Hebrew school curriculum with a summer camp-like classroom feel. Sunday school is for learning the alef-bet and holidays, but it’s also about planting the seeds for each student to develop a personal connection to Judaism through fun and memorable experiences that they are excited to share with their families.
In the spirit of Father’s Day, Pride Month and getting to spend extra time with our families this summer, I’d like to share one of our favorite at-home activities from BJEP’s first and second grade classroom: the etz mishpacha (family tree).
The etz mishpacha was a project we did leading up to Mother’s Day during the school year, and it’s a great way to practice writing and saying Hebrew words while celebrating all types of families.
- Construction paper or printer paper
- Any colorful writing utensil (we used markers)
- Post-it notes, notecards or smaller slips of paper
- Tape or glue
Our etz mishpacha project aims to get students more familiar with family-related Hebrew vocabulary words by applying them to their own families.
1. On your post-it notes, write down the names of all the family members you wish to include in your etz mishpacha and their corresponding titles in Hebrew. (We included these in both Hebrew and transliterated Hebrew to practice reading and saying the new words out loud). Here are some of the family members we included in our etz mishpacha:
- Mom: E-Ma – אִמָא
- Dad: Ah-Ba – אַבָּא
- Brother: Ahch – אָח
- Sister: Ahchot – אָחוֹת
- Grandma: Savta – סַבתָא
- Grandpa: Saba – סָבָּא
- Uncle: Dod (like dough-d) – דוֹד
- Aunt: Doda – דוֹדה
- Cousin (male): Ben dod – בֶּן דוֹד
- Cousin (female): Bat doda – בַּת דוֹדה
- Step ___ (male): _____ Choreg – חוֹרֶגֶ
- Step ___ (female): ____ Choreget – חוֹרֶגת
2. Once you have your family cards ready, draw or trace a big tree (etz) on your construction paper.
3. Arrange your family cards in the order of your family. Youngest family members go at the base of the tree with parents, grandparents, siblings, etc., making up the branches and leaves as you work your way up.
4. Decorate and share with your mishpacha (family)!
This is a great activity to learn and practice new Hebrew words and create something fun and educational to share with the whole mishpacha. Ask your student to teach the new words they learned as they share their etz!
Lauren Scott is a Brandeis University undergraduate teacher. Learn from the best and the brightest! Check out BJEP here.
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