Tu B’shvat, literally meaning the 15th of Shevat, is a Jewish holiday often referred to as the “Birthday of the trees” or the “New Year of the trees.” This year, it took place from sunset on January 30th through sunset on January 31st. To mark the holiday, Ms. Gereboff’s 6th grade Judaic Studies classes participated in a hands-on, experiential learning in nature.
The students started off by discussing Tu B’shvat and how it went from a holiday of tithing to an agricultural holiday, which reinforced information the students had learned in advisory on Tu B’shvat. The class then took a walk in nature focused on using their sense of touch. Once we reached a clustering of trees, in partnerships, one student was given a blindfold and the other student led the former to a tree. The blindfolded student was then asked to use his/her sense of touch, smell and hearing to try to remember the tree. The student was then led back to the starting point, where the blindfold was removed. That student then tried to identify the tree to which s/he had been led. The partners then switched roles. Most students were successful in finding their tree. They mentioned using multiple senses, focusing on how the group felt, and paying attention to verbal instructions given by their partners as ways to help relocate the tree. After, we walked farther up the trail to where there were many low bushes. We repeated the activity and then compared the two experiences. Back in the classroom, the students reflected on the various activities and having class outside in nature.