Duck! Rabbit! Teaches about Studying Torah
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Duck! Rabbit! Teaches about Studying Torah

Book Title: Duck! Rabbit!

Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld

Jewish Value: Study Torah

Book Summary:

Duck! Rabbit! is about perception and how we see things. This tale offers a unique take on the how we all have different viewpoints and when to stop arguing. Duck! Rabbit! asks the reader, “Is it a duck or is it a rabbit?” and addresses the answer to this question whimsically, while also sharing the profound message to children that everything is based in perspective.

Enduring Understandings:

  • Studying Torah encourages us to embrace new ideas as we pay special attention to the wide variety of opinions. 
  • To argue and challenge the text is part of our learning about our Judaism. 
  • The ability to discuss perceptions and perspectives with respect and a willingness to consider other points of view is part of effective communication.

Essential Questions:

  1. Can there be more than one answer to a question?  
  2. What are the benefits of having multiple viewpoints? 
  3. Are there times when there is no “right” or “wrong” answer? 
  4. Why does Judaism encourage us to question and challenge

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

In Jewish tradition, Torah not only is a scroll that contains the narrative of the Jewish people, and it not only is a collection of ideas, teachings, and traditions, but Torah encompasses all of Jewish thought. As such, Torah represents a blueprint for living Jewishly and presents guidelines that allow us to live out Jewish values. As Pirke Avot 1:2 says, “The entire world stands on three things: Torah, Avodah (Worship), and G’milut Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness). By engaging in the study of Torah, one is engaging in discovering the wisdom of Judaism.

The study of Torah, Talmud Torah is a lifelong ideal; one is commanded to continue to study until one dies (Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Study of Torah, 1:8-10). One should totally immerse him or herself in Torah. Through study, we are “doing Torah;” we are studying Torah so that it may shape our lives and guide our actions.

“Torah” literally means “teaching.” One of the greatest lessons the study of Torah teaches us is that there are many interpretations and understandings of what is taught. If Torah shapes our lives and guides our actions, we must realize that each of us experiences Torah differently. There are a variety of commentaries within Jewish tradition that present different viewpoints of the same text. Some commentaries focus specifically on the grammar of a biblical verse or law, while others focus on the historical context by which the verse or law was written. The important thing to remember is that no interpretation is right or wrong; it is simply an interpretation.

Judaism stresses that in anything we do, we should constantly be asking questions and explore answers from different vantage points. When we responsibly work together and examine something through different lenses, we are able to do our best as answering our questions.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Why is the study of Torah important for living out a Jewish life? 
  2. How has the study of Torah impacted how you live a Jewish life?  
  3. How can various opinions and understandings of something help you make better decisions? 
  4. How can you incorporate the concept of Talmud Torah in the classroom?

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Each week, review with the class the weekly Torah portion. Divide the class into groups and have them write about, illustrate, or act out scenes that are not included in the portion, but may supplement it. For example, a group could act out a scene from the perspective of a different character, or write about what could happen next. The goal of this activity is for students to fill in the missing pieces of a story and share the variety of interpretations that exist.

Materials and resourcesmore


Copy of Duck! Rabbit!


For possible approaches to Torah study and teaching young children, see:
For other approaches to building “Talmud Torah” classroom, see:

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Encourage students to study the cover of Duck! Rabbit! What do they see? Is it a duck? Is it a rabbit? Ask students to vote on what they believe the animal to be by writing on a piece of paper either the word “duck” or “rabbit.” Create a class graph to illustrate responses as to which type of animal they believe is pictured in the book.

Debate the issue and determine whether any of the students changed their minds. Discuss whether or not the debate was valuable to them.

  • Ask students what feelings they notice when their community disagrees. 
  • Ask students to describe what types of feelings they notice in other scenarios where disagreement takes place, exploring the factors of each situation.
  • Ask students to look again at the cover of the book. This time, do they see something differently? Are they able to understand their friend’s perspective with their 2nd look?

Reading The Story

Engage students in a Choral Reading of Duck! Rabbit! Display Text so that it is easily read by the entire group- if you have a large group provide multiple books or project the book pages. Assign or allow students to choose which individual’s perspective to read, so that there are two groups of students “conversing” while they read the lyrics.

After The Story

Discuss the following types of questions:

  • Do we know for certain what type of animal it is? Are there times when there is no “right” or “wrong” answer? 
  • Did the individuals in the book discussing the duck/rabbit speak to each other with respect? What makes you believe this? 
  • When you and your friends disagree, how do you resolve your differences? 
  • When is it okay to disagree? Do we always have to reach the same conclusions? Can we still be friends and disagree? 
  • What advice would you give other children your age who are having a disagreement about something? 
Create and display the “Rules for Disagreeing” that students believe will foster respectful discussion when disagreements occur, and refer back to it when students begin to fight.

Choose a story or fable that relates a moral message and ask the students to describe what the story has to teach them. Select those that reflects the interests and developmental level of your class. Include stories and folktales from Jewish tradition such as, It’s Too Crowded in Here,” or books such as Arnold Lobel’s Caldecott award winning, Fables. Another story to consider using is Six Blind Men, available here:

Have each child draw a picture of what they think can be learned from the story(or stories) shared. On the bottom of their picture, the child will write (or teacher will write down the child’s dictation) to finish the sentence “(Child’s name) thinks that the story (title of story) teaches us to __________________”

Tackling Texts
Introduce students to a story from the Torah to tackle the sacred task of Torah study within theie community. You can summarize the story and/or share the text of the story in a manner that reflects students’ level of knowledge and/or ask a community member (ie Rabbi or other Jewish leadership in the organization) to share the story. Here is one example based on Exodus 19.

The people of Israel had been traveling in the desert for three months since leaving Egypt (where the mean Pharaoh made the work all the time and was not fair). The Israelites camped out and Moses went up to the mountain where God told Moses that God would give special rules to the Jewish people, and if the people followed the rules they could be God’s special people. Moses told the people what God said and the people agreed to follow God’s rules. Moses told them to get ready, they washed their clothes and stayed at the bottom of the mountain, waiting. The mountain started to look stormy, with clouds and lightning and the people heard the loud call of the Shofar, Moses went up the mountain and the people were ready to hear and follow God’s rules.

Ask students:
  • Why do you think the people might have wanted God’s rules? 
  • Why do you think God gave the rules to the people this way? 
  • I wonder why Moses was chosen to be God’s helper…? 

Praise and encourage a variety of correct perspectives and compliment students as they chose kindness and respect, taking turns listening and sharing ideas. Reinforce this crucial Jewish approach to learning throughout the year and classroom, discussing and articulating with students what lesson can be learned from a wide variety of situations.


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

G-d Cast
G-d Cast is a relatively new media platform that offers playful apps for preschoolers, grade schoolers, and teens that correspond to specific folktales, Talmud passages, holidays, and Torah portions. In addition, G-d Cast offers 54 animated shorts connected with the Torah portion. They have categorized their content based on subject and age. This resource is a great springboard to class discussion and activities. Most of these videos are appropriate for all children, but some are geared towards children ages 9+ so make certain to screen a video in its’ entirety before showing it to your students.

Rabbi Ben Bag Bag

Play the song, “Rabbi Ben Bag-Bag” by Jeff Klepper: Jeff Klepper – Rabbi Ben Bag-Bag - Bonus Track
Play the song for students, encouraging them to move and spin with the beat.
Read the lyrics together. What do students think the song is about? Focus on the chorus of the song (see below). What do they think this means? Help them discover the reference to Torah and to the study of Torah.


Oh Rabbi Ben Bag Bag, he had a double name name
Cause his last name was the same same but I never heard him brag
So here s a little song song, it s kinda like a tribute
I hope you don t think that it s too cute, and I hope you ll sing along
"Turn it, turn it, turn it again", turn it around your mind
"Turn it, turn it, turn it again", you ll never know what secrets you might find
For Rabbi Ben Bag Bag there was always more to learn learn
Words of Torah he would turn turn all the night and all the day
And when the other Rabbis went to bed cause they were done done
"Bag" stayed late cause it was fun fun, he would turn to them and say
For Rabbi Ben Bag Bag the Torah was the be all
It also was the end all, and not a word was wrong
So thank you Rabbi Ben Bag Bag for your cool and pithy quote quote
It s the best in Pirkei Avot and now it s in a song! (chorus)
(Lyrics © Jeff Klepper)

Have students talk about why this song is a good example of why we continuously study Torah (e.g., searching to learn and discover new things, embracing the ideas of wonder and curiosity, etc.).

Visit the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and discuss one or more of the optical illusions on This is the kids’ page for the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. Have students discuss what they see.
  • Have them identify features that led them to this conclusion.
  • Did they follow their “Rules for Disagreeing”?
  • What would happen if everyone saw the pictures in the same way?
  • Why is it good to discuss differences in how we see things in life?

A History of Multiple Perspectives:
Throughout history, the Jewish people have been known for debating all types of issues, both religious and nonreligious. Share the following examples:
  • Relate the story of Hanukkah and the debate between Hillel and Shammai (Talmud Shabbat 21b). Shammai and Hillel disagreed on how the Menorah should be lit. Shammai thought all eight candles of the Menorah should be lit on the first night and reduce the number of candles to be lit each succeeding night. Hillel said that the light should increase each night. In small groups, make a list of reasons why you think Shammai’s lighting of the Menorah is best and a list of reasons why you think Hillel’s idea is best. Share responses with the rest of the class.
  • Discuss the debate between Rashi and his grandson, Rabbenu Tam, concerning the placement of the mezuzah (Menachot 33a; Yoreh De’ah 289:6; Pitchei Teshuva 9; Aruch Hashulchan 289:17, 18). Rashi believed it should be placed vertically. His grandson thought it should be placed horizontally. In most communities, the custom is to put the mezuzah at a slant. 
  • Have students debate this, giving their own reasons for placing the mezuzah either vertically, horizontally, or at a slant.
  • Show the scene from the movie Fiddler on the Roof, concerning the debate, “Is it a horse, or is it a mule?” What do students think, “Is it a horse, or is it a mule?”
  • What other examples can the students think of, in history or in their lives, where people chronically disagree?

Music Connectionsmore

List of All Songs

Learning Torah
by Miss Emily Aronoff Teck

Inspiration Text

“Turn it, and turn it, for everything is in it. Reflect on it and grow old and gray with it. Don’t turn from it, for nothing is better than it.”-Rabbi Ben Bag Bag Mishnah Abot (v. 22, 23)
“Shammai would say: Make your Torah study a permanent fixture of your life. “ (Pirke Avot 1:15)


Compile a list of information and insight that the children learn from their Torah study, and add to it each week when you engage in Torah study. This way, the eternal nature of Torah learning can be displayed in your classroom. Consider what ways you can display information that will allow for constant addition of information (butcher paper rolls, digital documentation, or in a book form that allows for page additions, for example).


Learning Torah never ends
The lessons go on and on my friends
Learning Torah never ends
So lets turn and turn and learn

The Torah’s written on a scroll which means we turn to see
All the different stories, From Jewish History CHORUS

If I study Torah every day, with my community
I learn to treat other people the way I want them to treat me CHORUS

Study leads to actions, so if I learn, I will know to do
All the good deeds commanded, because I am a Jew CHORUS

The Torah gives us lessons, Tells us all good rules
So I understand how I should act at home, work, play and school CHORUS

Additional Music Connections

Evidence of Learningmore

Students will be able to role-play appropriate disagreement.
Students will be able to retell the story of Moses on Mount Sinai.
Students, with appropriate scaffolding, will be able to glean and articulate the lessons that can be learned from a variety of stories.


Send parents a note explaining that the class is learning about the importance of continuing learning, especially the importance of Torah study. Share with parents one or both of these excellent resources for Torah study with kids and families (or any other resource you find pertinent):
About G-dCast, from their website:
We meet kids and their parents with free and highly engaging content where they are: on the web and on their gadgets.

  • Playful apps for preschoolers, grade schoolers and teens
  • The Torah, told in 54 animated shorts
  • Dozens of animations about folktales, Talmud stories and the holidays From their website:
Studying Torah is for everyone! Find guides for bringing the stories of the Torah to life for younger children and grade-school kids.
Teens will enjoy commentaries, Jewish learning, questions, and practical suggestions to help them relate Torah to their daily lives.

literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
Shalom Salaam Peace Howard Bogot This unique and beautiful children's book is a poetic, evocative call for peace in the Middle East - and everywhere.
Just Look Tana Hoban Children view familiar objects through a peep hole and identify what they think they see. When they turn the page, they see the object from a different perspective and notice what they did not see through the peep hole.
The book is a great way to help children understand the importance of re-examining familiar materials, a great addition to learning about Torah study.
The Butter Battle Book Dr. SuessDr. SuessA feud between two different races, the Yooks and the Zooks, progressively develops to the degree that each attempts to supersede the other in the de-velopment of weaponry. The advancement of weaponry escalates from primitive slingshots to sophisticated weaponry that has the potential to destroy the world.
The Two Brothers: A Legend Of Jerusalem Neil Waldman King Solomon observes the love, kindness, and concern between two brothers. Each feels the other has a greater need and secretly gives his meager supplies to the other. As King Solomon watches the deeds of the two brothers, he announces that he will build a temple to immortalize their unselfishness.
Walter Wick's Optical Tricks Walter Wick This I-Spy book highlights the importance of looking carefully at objects, which can help students understand why Jewish people study the same stories each year as they read Torah again and again.

Wick uses photographs containing objects that appear to be one thing, but when turned upside down, something else appears. Other photographs use lighting and mirrors to challenge children to differentiate perceptions which are authentic and those that are illusions.
Seven Blind Mice Ed YoungEd YoungSeven tiny blind mice attempt to discover the “Something” they find by the pond. An argument ensues as each gives different reports of what it is. When the last mouse runs up and down the object in its entirety, they are able to identify the object.
* PJ library Books