Happy Birthday Trees

Resource Roundup

Happy Birthday Trees

By: Anita Meinbach  |

Tu Bi Sh'vat–Celebrating the Birthday of the Trees
This year, the “Birthday of the Trees” is celebrated on January 30, 2018 (at sunset), and ends on January 21, 2018, (at nightfall), which corresponds to the Hebrew date of the 15th of Shevat. Throughout the world, communities recognize this special day by planting and caring for trees and enjoying the fruits of the land of Israel, which include: olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates.

The Custom of Planting Trees on Tu Bi’Shvat: From its Beginnings to Today:
On Tu Bi’Shvat 1890, Rabbi Ze’ev Yavetz and his students planted trees in an agricultural colony approximately 22 miles from Haifa. This custom was adopted in 1908 by the Jewish Teachers Union and later by the Jewish National Fund. Today, the Jewish National Fund schedules many major tree-planting events to celebrate Tu Bi’Shvat and proves an opportunity for people all over the world to be part of their tree-planting effort. To date, since its founding in 2001, JNF has planted over 240 million trees for the benefit of people and the environment and maintains over 100,000 acres of natural woodland.
Today, in the United States, we plant trees (often through JNF) for so many occasions-many joyous, some sad. In planting trees we are protecting the continuity of life—trees provide us with the air we breathe, the shade under which we can sleep, the fruits we enjoy and so much more!

We hope the following stories (some new and exciting releases), songs, and videos will inspire your students to suggest special ways to celebrate TuBi'Shvat in their schools, home, and community: What might they do? What will they eat? What songs will they sing? What trees will they plant?

For our entire collection of resources, please visit our Tu Bi'Shvat Holiday Page

From Learning to Action: Activites, Books, Songs, Stories and Videos 
As you celebrate and learn about Tu Bi’Shvat, we hope you and your students will see it as a beginning and that it plants ideas of how your learning can spring into action.

Share: “Tu B'shvat Tale: Honi Comes Full Circle for the Jewish Birthday of the Trees”.

Discuss the Big Idea (i.e. things we do today will impact others for many years to come-from generation to generation)

Involve students in a Grand Conversation on the topic: “What lessons can your class compile to bring awareness to the importance of trees in our lives? What lessons can trees and the planting of trees give us in terms of how we live our own lives?
Allow the discussion to organically suggest ways in which students can create their own campaign to honor trees –and then implement one or more—in the classroom or school-wide.

Laurie Berkner's One Seed:

This song was not written (as far as we know) with the intention of being a Tu Bi'Shvat song- but it certainly is a terrific, interactive tune that addresses not only the importance of caring for our world so things can grow but also sharing the responsibility by passing it from one generation to the next (l'dor vador). This video can be a great way to introduce this song to children, but once they become familiar with it, the children can take turns being the 'songleader' by singing the chorus first and then allowing other children (or their parents) to do the echo.

Books for Tu Bi'Shvat 
Tall Tall Tree by Anthony Fredericks  (PreK-2)
The introductory letter by the Northern Spotted Owl invites readers to a special place—the great redwood tree! In each page, filled with rich language and a lyrical quality, readers discover the animals and hidden world of the tallest trees in the world, the redwood. The story is a call to action, encouraging each of us, even the youngest children, to protect these magnificent trees. STEAM activities enhance the message of this stunningly beautiful book.

A tribute to the remarkable forests we helped to save and the wildlife found there. This wonderfully illustrated book explores the beautiful and rarely seen world within the redwood forest, inspiring children and adults alike to discover and care for these tall, tall trees." Sam Hodder, President and CEO of Save the Redwoods League

Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You by Karin Ireland (K-5)
Encouraging children to learn from all the wonders of nature, the book is a metaphor inspiring readers to be their best selves. Furthermore, the book is a reminder of the wonder of all nature and the integral part each element plays in our own lives.
This book belongs in every home and classroom! From playing wholeheartedly like dolphins, to persevering like a lion on the hunt, to adapting to change like an emerging butterfly, this book opens our hearts and minds to the many lessons we can learn from nature. -Emily Morgan, author of Next Time You See book series and Picture-Perfect Science Lessons.

Happy Birthday Tree! A Tu B’Shevat Story by Madelyn Rosenberg (PreK-2)
Joni wants to celebrate Tu B’ Shevat, the Jewish "Birthday of the Trees"...She offers various gifts to the tree in her front yard: water, sun, a dirt "cupcake," but concludes that it needs a companion. Friends and family help her plant a sapling, and their gift is a promise to take care of the trees of the world. In a lovely conclusion, the rattling of leaves sounds "as if the trees were clapping.” Endpapers list "ways to help the Earth," including a suggestion to spread the word to friend….-Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FLα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (PreK-4)
Inspired by the High Line in New York City, The Curious Garden tells the story of “one boy’s quest for a greener world.” The story inspires readers to join Liam in his journey to make the world more beautiful.
Video Read Aloud of The Curious Garden
The Curious Garden Teaches To Protect Nature Lesson Plan

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (K-3)
Alice Rumphius wants to see the world and live her dreams. Many years later, after fulfilling her dreams, she realizes that there is one more thing she still must do. She must make the world a better place in return for all that it has given her.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry  (PreK-3)
The vital contributions of the trees of the rain forest to the survival of life on this planet is told through brilliant images and lyrical text.
In this breathtakingly beautiful picture book, Cherry combines illustrations that reveal a naturalist's reverence for beauty with a myth like story that explains the ecological importance of saving the rain forests. The text is not a didactic treatise, but a simply told story about a man who falls asleep while chopping down a kapok tree. The forest's inhabitants--snakes, butterflies, a jaguar, and finally a child--each whisper in his ear about the terrible consequences of living in "a world without trees" or beauty, about the interconnectedness of all living things. When the man awakens and sees all the extraordinary creatures around him, he leaves his ax and "walks out of the rain forest. A map showing the earth's endangered forests and the creatures that dwell within ends the book which, like the rain forests themselves, is "wondrous and rare." Library Journal
Great Kapok Tree Video 
Why Are Rainforest Important?  article with games, activities and more

Mr. Pot Cracked
A charming tale that demonstrates how each of us, in our own way, can protect and save nature.

From: Talking Treasures : Stories to Help Build Emotional Intelligence and Resilience in Young Children by Vered Hankin, Maurice J. Elias, Devorah Omer, and Amiram Raviv
Text of story

Some of our favorite songs for Tu Bi'Shvat (free spotify account required to access)

Enjoy this happy holiday! As always, please feel free to send any idea you would like us to share to [email protected]

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Tagged in Tu BiSh'vat