Experiences, School

Celebrating Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of Trees

Contributed by: Helen Schwartz & Adam Wilkinson, New England Jewish Academy, CT, https://neja.org/

Celebrating Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of Trees

In celebration of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of Trees, the first and second graders at New England Jewish Academy (NEJA), along with their Hebrew teacher, Mrs. Maya Schwartz, their Judaic Studies teacher, Mrs. Shifra Silver and the General Studies teacher, Mrs. Helen Schwartz, combined lessons to have the students celebrate the holiday by creating artwork with recycled materials to create 4 trees representing the four seasons and then programmed KIBO to work with the trees to help them.

The activity consisted of:
1) The history of the holiday, the Hebrew words for tree parts, customs and rituals were covered in Hebrew and Judaic Studies classes. The recycling and robotics focus was taught during science class.
2) Students the used recycled materials to create 4 trees to represent the four seasons – long and short cardboard tubes, packing material (that made great nests), an old white shirt that when cut up became great snow and eggs for the nests, as well as left over construction paper for leaves and fruit.
3) The students then programmed KIBO to approach each tree and share what it needed. For instance:
– when the light bulb was blue, it was “watering” the tree
– when the light bulb was white, it was snow for the tree
– when the light bulb was red, it was the sun
– when KIBO shook, it was either shaking down fruit or planting some seeds
– when KIBO turned in a circle, it was replicating playing in the leaves
– when KIBO sang it was making the trees happy

Some of the comments from the students:
“It was a creative idea and we worked well as a team. It was a fun experience making KIBO find the right things for each tree.”
“I liked working with kids from the rest of my pod that are not in my class.”
“I liked this activity because I like trees and plants.”
“It was fun making the trees.”
“We can also use these trees and KIBO for celebrating spring.”

The classes enjoyed this multi-day project and worked well in small and large groups as well as planning together for what they were going to do and what KIBO’s parts could represent.

To create your own activity, see the KIBO Lesson Plan, “New Year for the Trees”.


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