Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans


Classroom teachers may download, print, and use KlezCalifornia Tam lesson plans in their own classrooms without restriction, including modification for their own purposes. Independent Jewish educators may also use the lesson plans, including in presentations to schools and camps for which they receive a fee, and including modification for their own purposes. Otherwise no one may copy or publish KlezCalifornia Tam lesson plans in any form without express permission. References to Tam lesson plans should cite “Tam: Tastes of Yiddish Culture for Kids & Teens, a program of KlezCalifornia,” and link to KlezCalifornia.org or KlezCalifornia.org/tam.

A. Acknowledgments

B. Strategies, Introduction, and Basic Content, for All Lesson Plans

C. How to Approach Schools about Tam and Build Partnerships

1. Intro to Yiddish Language & History (grades K-12)
What is Yiddish and where did it come from? Students listen to and learn a simple Yiddish song, a few Yiddish words and phrases and see how Jewish values are conveyed through songs. They learn a bit about 1,000 years of Jewish history that was lived in Yiddish.

2. Learn A Bisl Yiddish (grades K-12)
Yiddish words in English, simple Yiddish phrases, holiday names, how words in other languages made their way into Yiddish.

3. Why Yiddish Shares So Many Words With Other Languages (Every Language Does) (grades 7-12)
How and why all languages change.

4. Where in the World are Bobeh and Zeydeh? Jewish Geography and the Languages of Our Ancestors (grades K-12)
Students look at their roots, including where their ancestors came from, languages their ancestors spoke, and origins of their own family names and personal names.

5. Yiddish Customs in North American Jewish Life (grades K-12)
Yiddish words, phrases, and customs in American synagogue and home life.

6. Making Bobeh Proud: What Do You Know about Ashkenazi Jewish Food? (grades 5-12)
Discussion of what makes food Jewish (or Yiddish), followed by a cooking lesson with Shlishkes Recipe.

7. Yiddish Culture in North American Life (grades K-12)
Yiddish words in English, food, humor, American institutions created by Yiddish-speaking Jews, klezmer influences on jazz.

8. Overview of “Yid Lit:” Yiddish Literature Lesson Plans (grades K-12)
What can a Yiddish short story help us learn about Jewish life? We read (in English) a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Sholem Aleichem, or I.L. Peretz. We read a full story or a shortened version of some Sholem Aleichem stories prepared by Citizen Film. Ten separate lessons, with different stories and discussion questions:

  • “A Tale of Three Wishes” by Isaac Bashevis Singer (4 pp.) Why do we do mitsves and what do we “get” in return? (grades 3-6)
  • “Miracle of Hoshano Robo” by Sholem Aleichem (10 pp.) How does faith in God influence how we deal with life? (grades 10-12)
  • “If Not Higher” by I.L. Peretz (4 pp.) Gmiles khesed, acts of human kindness (grades 5-12)
  • “No More Kapores, Or, The Chickens Went On Strike” by Sholem Aleichem (number of pages depends on which book is used) What do we do with Jewish traditions that feel outdated? (grades 4-8)
  • “The Parakeet Named Dreidel” by Isaac Bashevis Singer (# pages depends on which book is used) How do Jews deal with loss of a possession? (grades K-3)
  • “If I Were Rothschild” by Sholem Aleichem (1 p. summary) The obligations of wealthy Jews. (grades 7-12)
  • “My Brother Elye’s Drink” from “Motl the Cantor’s Son” by Sholem Aleichem (1-1/2 p. summary) How to deal with poverty. (grades 7-12)
  • “The Pot” by Sholem Aleichem (1 p. summary) One traditional portrayal of Jewish women. (grades 7-12)
  • “On Account of a Hat” by Sholem Aleichem (1 p. summary) Do people judge you based on your appearance? (grades 7-12)
  • Conversation between Tevye, Chava, and Golde in “Chava” by Sholem Aleichem (3 p. summary) The challenges of growing up in the modern world. (grades 7-12)

9. Intro to Klezmer Music (grades K-12)
Klezmer was originally Jewish wedding music. It tells us about the lives and celebrations of many of our ancestors. Prepare to listen, learn, and maybe dance!

10. The Language Debates: What Languages “Should” Jews Speak? (grades 7-12)
What languages are you studying and why? We’ll explore these issues through historical Jewish debates about language.

11. Jewish Lives in Yiddish Song (grades K-12)
Listen to, sing, and discuss Yiddish songs on any of five themes to find out about the lives and history of Yiddish-speaking Jews:

  • Children’s Songs (grades K-3)
  • Songs about Shabes (grades 3-6)
  • Growing Up (grades 7-12)
  • Exploring a Repaired World (grades 9-12)
  • Yiddish and the Sounds of Protest (grades 9-12)

12. Yiddish Life in Painting & Photography (grades 7-12)
Explore paintings and photographs from or about Eastern Europe for clues to

  • Jewish history, and today’s customs and practices.
  • Artist & Image List
  • Artist Bios
  • Accompanying Images

13. Reaping in Song: The Weekend and Yiddish Protest Culture (grades 7-12).
The American fight for workers’ rights began in union halls and picket lines — in Yiddish! We’ll discuss, and sing about, how speakers of Yiddish, strikers, poets, and industrialists collaborated to give us the two-day weekend.