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From the Field

Amy Martin (Cohort 10, a 3rd year teacher) is in her second year teaching 3rd grade at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Manhattan.  Both of the ideas listed below can easily be adapted for older students. Thank you, Amy!


Amy started her year off in Torah asking her new 3rd graders what lessons they had learned from their previous Torah studies that would be important in their own lives. This connected to one of the school’s big ideas that Torah “should engage children deeply and continuously” and should be relevant to their lives.

Most of the students came up with great examples. (Amy felt that next time she would provide additional scaffolding since a few students had a hard time remembering the stories they had covered the previous year.) The lesson for the rest of us is to give the students the opportunity to reflect on what they take away from their Torah studies. 

Some of the responses (and the stories they gave as prooftexts) included:

‘You should always believe, dream and hope.’ (Sarah wanting a baby)

‘Don’t be mean to others.’ (God gave the Egyptians the 10 plagues because they were mean to the Jews.)

‘Your anger shouldn’t get in the way’ (when Moshe hit the rock).

‘Always listen to your parents and follow the rules’ ( when the Israelites built the tower of Babel and didn’t follow God’s rules, because they didn’t listen they ended up babbling).

Anchor activity

Amy has a shoresh tree in her room with three main branches. Next to the tree are a pile of leaf- shaped pieces of paper. At the bottom of each main branch is a root word with a picture of what the verb means.  When students finish their work in Torah, they can look through the psukim they covered and find words using any of those roots. They then write the word on a leaf and put it on the tree. For those teaching older students, you could create many more trees and root letters.  Students could be encouraged to add words not only from their Torah studies but from  Rabbinics, Jewish life, tefilah and Hebrew. In fact, see A Students’ Vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew by George Landes which lists 27 verbs that occur over 500 times in the Bible. That could be a great way to choose your root words.