Hebrew Prayer Curriculum Options for Grades 4-6
As we all know, there is no single magic bullet to ensure our students connect to the language of their tradition.
It would be easy if the only choice of Hebrew approach were one-size-fits-all. But there’s no single way.
Our job as educators is to provide learners with real opportunities to use Hebrew in a way that aligns with the community's goals.
For some communities, the goal of Hebrew is to develop prayer skills and meaning - being comfortable participants in and leaders of Hebrew-based rituals and worship with an understanding of the meaning and value of prayer.
If this is your program's goal, as you're thinking about your Hebrew program for the upcoming year, we're highlighting some of our tried and true Hebrew prayer materials for grades 4-6. These high quality materials have been created by experienced master Hebrew educators, based on sound pedgagogy, and can be customized for your needs: Pay for just what you need and supplement with whatever you want. PLUS, there are robust teacher and supplemental resources to support you and your learners.
Hebrew in Harmony focuses on learning prayer through music. This groundbreaking, multi-modal curriculum combines music, art, videos, and games - plus lots of contemporary music, of course - to help students practice prayer and create meaning from it.
Developed over five years, the curriculum was designed to be flexible and reach across denominations and various learning environments – whether at home, in person, or a combination. Twenty-two prayers are available as separate modules, and you only teach the ones you want, in any order you choose. Use it as a three-year curriculum or with just a single class - you decide what works best for your program.
“Our Hebrew program has excelled this year in many ways because of Hebrew in Harmony. The curriculum works really well," says David Scott, director of lifelong learning at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, which uses the program for grades 4-6.
All components of the curriculum - student booklets for each prayer, lesson plans, companion app - are available separately.
Hineni is a classic for a reason. This three-volume curriculum focuses on prayer skills and literacy from the Shabbat evening and morning services to blessings and songs for home holiday observances, with a dash of Hebrew roots.
It also covers the order of the prayer services, and students learn to translate key prayer words, identify important Hebrew roots, prefixes, and suffixes, and participate comfortably in any prayer service.
Hineni also includes variations in liturgy for Reform and Conservative services, and some Reconstructionist variations are also available.
The curriculum is deeply resourced, with teacher guides, word cards, supplemental workbooks, script writing, and family companions all available for additional support.
While it's important to study the words and mechanics of the prayer, in many ways it's even more important to guide students toward finding the intention that gives meaning to the prayers.
Making T'filah Meaningful is a series that aims to bridge the gap between prayer literacy and personal connection.
Designed as a pick-and-choose series, Making T'filah Meaningful focuses on students in grades five through seven because this is a crucial time in the development of a child’s Jewish identity.
Each of the 12 booklets focuses on a single prayer or set of related prayers, and is filled with activities, stories, and questions to help students connect these ancient words with their modern-day lives.
In Bar'chu, for example, an activity called "Focus in Daily Life" explores the concept of attention and concentration. Students to are asked to name three things they do to help them focus on various activities, such as playing a sport or reading a book. That can open up a discussion about the notion of kavanah, concentrating and focusing one's heart and mind on prayer.
The series is flexible, both in format and content, designed for use as a supplement to any Hebrew program, to add meaning to t'filah time, or to enhance family program. Choose only the prayers you want - each package includes five booklets of the same prayer. The prayers (or prayer excerpts) are provided in both Hebrew and English and the booklets and lessons do not teach Hebrew or even presuppose Hebrew reading competency.
Strong Hebrew programs have a clear rationale, a reason for doing what you're doing. Knowing your end goal provides you the necessary filter and foundation upon which to structure learning experiences, create effective lessons, choose appropriate materials, and develop benchmarks. Download the Consider Your Goals guide.
This guide - plus more! - is available on the Behrman House website, under the Plan section.
Many of the Hebrew materials are also available with online turn-page access for easy access during remote learning. Learn more about our turn-page materials here.