The children will give thanks to Hashem for the beautiful, interesting and useful things in nature and make a “Thankful Tree.” They will also sample the fruits of the seven species of Israel and other traditional Tu B’Shevat fruits.
Tu B’Shevat and Nature Discussion
Instructors tell the children that the holiday of Tu B’Shevat is coming.. Explain that Tu B’Shevat is the “New Year of the Trees” so it is a good time to talk about nature and the things in nature that we appreciate that G-d gives us.
Show pictures of nature (see Nature Images and/or cut out pictures from a nature magazine like National Geographic) or take a “Nature Walk” outdoors and ask the children what things they like and find beautiful in nature. Encourage children to see colors, shapes and use their five senses when appreciating nature.
Ask the children to say what they are grateful for about nature. Give a few examples for children to follow (i.e. I like the smell of the brown falling leaves. Acorns so squirrels have food to eat. The beautiful white and gray clouds that give us rain.) Write down the children’s ideas (with names) on a chalk board, white board or chart paper to refer back to later. Children can practice reading the ideas after they are written.
Creating Your Tree
Depending on the age and ability of the children, either trace or have them trace their own (or a friend’s) hand onto multi-colored construction paper. Cut out the hand and write (or have the children copy) their thankful ideas onto the hand. Use one idea per hand.
Draw or paint a tree trunk with branches onto mural paper or poster board. Attach “leaves” to the tree. Depending on the size of the tree and the number of children, you may need more than one per child.
Another option is to have children collect leaves on their “Nature Walk” to use in making crayon leaf rubbings (see instructions from Earth911.com). Children (or adults) cut out their rubbings in the shape of the actual leaves and then write their ideas on these “leaves.” Make sure to use light crayon colors for the rubbings so the written ideas can be seen. If the weather does not permit a group “Nature Walk,” instructors can bring leaves into the classroom to use in the rubbings and children select the ones they like.
When you put the tree together, put a message on the trunk of the tree that says “Thank you Hashem for beautiful nature” or something similar, based on your comfort level. Display this tree somewhere prominent in your community, for example in the synagogue or JCC lobby. Now everyone in the community sees how much our children appreciate nature!
Tu B’Shevat Fruit Sampling
Conclude with treats! Discuss the seven species of Israel and traditional Tu B’Shvat fruits and have children sample the fruits. Children say brachot on the fruits and say a Shehechiyanu on any new fruits. (Explain when saying Shehechiyanu is appropriate.) It is customary on Tu B’Shvat to eat a new fruit so try to provide a few exotic fruits for the children to sample. Click here for the actual bracha in Hebrew, English and transliterated Hebrew. You may want to print out this bracha so the children can read it when they say it.
Help the children understand that fruits are just as delicious as candy and they come straight from nature.
Thanks to Stephanie Frumkin for preparing this program for Canfei Nesharim.