The 12-Year-Olds Weigh In: Bnai Mitzvah Planning Can Be Fun

Arizona teacher Sandy Newman knows that kids love having opportunities for free expression.

“We don’t do it often enough,” she says. “And yet, research shows that having a creative outlet is important to their development.

With her pre-b’nai mitzvah students at Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale, Arizona, Newman has tried a new creative tack this year - in the form of Make This Journal: My Bar/Mat Mitzvah Year.

Pre-teens can open to any page and pick from a wide variety of funny, thought-provoking, and clever prompts that encourage them to draw, write, and create. Some of the prompts relate to their b’nai mitzvah preparations, and others take a snapshot of their lives.

Some sample prompts:

- Scribble WILDLY on this page when you are REALLY stressed out.
- Write a top 10 list called “Things I have done and am proud of.”
- Draw a ladder. Write on each rung something you would like to do before you are bar/bat mitzvah.

Newman gives each student a copy of the journal and spends about 15 minutes at the beginning of each session talking about the pages and doodling before they turned to learning about the weekly Torah portion. They were recently asked to share their thoughts about the creative and reflective experience.The school's education director, Stacy Rosenthal, said, "I wish you could have seen how seriously this kids took the opportunity to share their thoughts!"

Here's what some of the kids had to say: 

Play the video to see a finished Make This Journal! 

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