Tu Bishvat is one of those lesser-known holidays that’s actually filled with great activities for kids. It’s also called the new year of the trees, meaning that according to Jewish tradition, on Tu Bishvat every tree turns one year older. Since it’s sort of the Jewish Arbor Day, it easily adapts to all sorts of fruit and nature-based activities. Of course, the fact that it takes place in January can put a damper on things in cold weather climates, but we’ve managed to come up with some fun ways to celebrate anyway.
Because it gives a great overview of the holiday in rhyming verse, our favorite board book is It’s Tu B’shevat by Edie Stoltz Zolkower. It also teaches your kids to take care of trees and the planet. Simple, classic, and fun to read.
Debbie Friedman really is the original queen of Jewish music. This whole CD is filled with great holiday songs for kids, but one of our favorites is "Plant a Tree for Tu B’shevat." The refrain, "Trees are blowing in the wind—whoosh!" is singable by even the littlest voices (because how much fun is it to say "whoosh"?) and it’s easy to make up some hand motions to go with the song while your kids sing it. Oh, and the song teaches you how to take care of trees.
For Tu Bishvat, crafting and eating go hand in hand. Since the holiday is based on trees, and trees grow fruit, it makes sense to do an edible fruit project. Try this make-your-own mandala on for size. And if that activity didn’t get your hands dirty enough, try this one on for size! You’ll be decorating a flowerpot in which you will plant parsley. With some sunshine, water, and care, by Passover you’ll have grown your own parsley for the seder plate!
People sometimes mark Tu Bishvat by eating certain foods, specifically the seven species of the land of Israel, which include figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, wheat, and barley. Even if that list doesn’t seem incredibly appetizing on its own, try this delicious combination: fig and goat cheese sandwiches with stuffed dates and pomegranate syrup.