They also loved books that introduced Hebrew vocabulary with pictures in a child-friendly way. My son also really enjoys learning words in Hebrew and has repeatedly requested to go through the colorful pages of our copy of My First Hebrew Word Book. We own it now but have previously checked it out from our local library. Introducing vocabulary in a second (third or fourth) language is a great asset to children. While previous schools of thought encouraged parents in bilingual/multi-lingual homes to focus on only one language, studies now show that in most cases of early childhood development, learning additional languages is a benefit to young children as they become verbal. While my husband and I are only fluent in English, we introduced words in American Sign Language, Spanish, Hebrew, Yiddish and Portuguese from the time our older son was a baby. He now knows a plethora of words in these languages and communicates quite effectively in English. He loves learning words in any language!
|Maps and Flags of Israel are hung at child level so my son can access them|
Come SEE Israel:
- Displaying souvenirs or artifacts, maps and flags, photographs and artwork at child level can draw in their natural sense of wonder and exploration
- A photograph of the Western Wall in a block area can inspire young architects to construct their own version
- Even pre-readers can benefit from an environment rich in written language. When you're learning about Israel, include some labels in Hebrew for popular household items/areas.
- Books about Israel and books in Hebrew are a wonderful material to include. Children also like to see greeting cards from Israel (that open backward!) and especially appreciate photographs or books that are specifically meaningful to their family. This can include photo albums from family trips, sefarim (holy books), travel pamphlets from trips or even mementos like food labels and wrappers, ticket stubs, currency, postcards, etc.
- It is common during Yom Ha'atzmaut both here and in Israel to wave Israeli flags in celebration. We had fun decorating and making our own this year!
When it's dry, I will laminate it and attach a long wooden dowel. You can also use a laminated flag as a playdough mat, as pictured below:
- We generally have the custom not to listen to recorded or live music during the Sefira period. We are more lenient with children, particularly for educational purposes. Israeli music and Israeli dance are a great way to hear the sounds of Israel right in your home, car, or community.
- Singing songs with and to your children can also introduce the theme of the holiday. My toddler especially likes singing this song I learned while teaching preschool (and unfortunately do not know whom to credit):
I Have a Lovely Degel [Hebrew: Flag]
(to the tune of "I Have a Little Dreidel")
I have a lovely degel
It comes from a special land
It's blue and white
And I hold it tight
As I wave it in my hand!
It says we have a homeland
A land we love so well,
I stand up proud and I shout out loud
I love Eretz Yisrael!
I stand up proud and I shout out loud,
I LOVE ERETZ YISRAEL!
- My toddler loves singing popular Hebrew songs for children. He also enjoys hearing popular American songs with Hebrew words. YouTube is a great FREE resource for this and one of his very favorite videos to watch is "Morah Shifra's Sing-along:"
He also loves the TuTiTu Language Learning English to Hebrew series. The adults in the house find it a little less entertaining but the toddler requests it whenever we offer screen time! He has, in fact, learned a great deal of Hebrew vocabulary words from this and taught them to me!
Come TOUCH Israel:
- Learning is very hands-on here and learning about Israel is no exception! Encourage fine-motor development with Israel themed activities like sticking Israeli flag toothpicks into floral foam, clay or playdough.
- Early writing comes into play when you create and keep a travel journal with your child(ren). Include what you already know, what you'd like to learn more about, pictures from your adventures, maybe even some correspondence with friends and family in Israel. My students always particularly enjoyed dictating questions for me to email to my cousin in Israel for her children to respond to. Pen-pal relationships are a great childhood asset!
- Early writers can write or dictate/draw prayers to stick inside the Western Wall. Bonus points if you get your little one's hands busy building their own Western Wall!
- Building and construction play is a great way to incorporate STEM activities into an Israel theme. Provide building prompts in the form of printed photographs of Israeli landmarks or books featuring photographs. You can experiment with a variety of building materials and mediums and even incorporate some dramatic play with construction themed props, tools, trucks and costumes.
- Sensory play is a great way to introduce some of the textures of Israel. Sand play is a great way to learn about the desert climate. Salt and saltwater can help teach about the Dead Sea. Incorporate some science into your experience by testing how objects sink or float in water versus salt water. This is a great way to demonstrate and experience the buoyancy of the Dead Sea!
- Fine motor skills are not the only ones that come into play when learning about Israel. Get the whole body involved in some themed gross motor activities by setting up your own Israeli Defense Force obstacle course or (if you have enough kids for humps) acting out the song "Alice the Camel:"
- Arts & Crafts are also a hands-on favorite for all ages. We love process art here. Last year, my son had a blast creating this painting in blue (and white) using cookie cutters shaped like a Star of David and his hands in blue paint and glitter. It still hangs above his chair at our table and he talks about it almost every day!
Come SMELL Israel:
- We loved making (and using) these "Jaffa Orange Scented Dead Sea Salts" earlier this year using Epsom salts and sweet orange essential oils
Come TASTE Israel:
- Make some of your favorite Israeli cuisine together and enjoy it as a family! Israeli salad, schawarma, falafel, couscous, and shakshuka are some of our favorites. My toddler also LOVES squeezing oranges for fresh juice like the type he might enjoy if he were to visit Jaffa!
|Learning about farm animals at a kibbutz through farm-themed play!|