Kinesthetic Program Palooza
By ISJL Education Fellow Carrie Bohn
Here in the Education Department at the ISJL it is no secret that we like to make our lessons as engaging and as kinesthetic as possible. We pride ourselves in thinking critically about the different types of learners, because even our own team members grasp information in unique ways. The three different approaches to education that we focus on at the ISJL are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-based learning, however more and more religious schools are trying to focus on more of a tactile approach to Jewish education. Education Fellows welcome the chance to create new and engaging programs based on the needs of religious school students and to adapt lessons to be more interactive.
As many readers are aware, the ISJL Education Department has a large body of fully-scripted, ready-to-send programs that are simply awaiting your request! Detailed below are a few of the most popular kinesthetic programs that have been developed by the ISJL Education Team throughout the years. If any of these programs are of interest to you or your congregation, please feel free to reach out to your fellow for more information!
A classic backyard BBQ favorite, giant Jenga® made its way into the ISJL Education Department Program Bank and is a crowd pleaser. Students are out of their seats while engaging with this fun, life-sized version of the time-honored toy. Each Jenga® block is numbered, allowing the program to be customized based on the big ideas of the lesson. Some of the notable themes that students learn as they create a tower are Jewish holidays, Hebrew, and Jewish מִצְווֹת (mitz’vot, commandments). Next time you are looking for a kinesthetic way to teach, consider giant Jenga®!
Chutes and Ladders®
Chutes and Ladders® with a Jewish twist is another fan favorite that will surely bring a smile to the faces of students. This life-sized board gives students the opportunity to be a game piece and move along the trail to victory. A few front-runner themes include Jewish values, Chanukah, and Israel. Like giant Jenga®, Chutes and Ladders® can be customized for unique lessons and has the potential to lead to some great, hands-on learning. Just do not forget to take your shoes off!
One of the more ‘meta’ programs that the ISJL offers, the labyrinth is sure to bring some intention to your community. Generously donated by the Linda Pinkus Memorial Fund, the ISJL Rabbinical Department Labyrinth is a nice addition to multi- age classrooms looking to add a bit more purpose into their space. The large, Magen David-shaped labyrinth encourages participants to move about the floor in a meditative way, inviting mindful thought and deep breathing. Reflective questions after the activity inspire students to think critically about what it means to be Jewish and the power of the imagery behind the Star of David.
Luckily, we are in an era where learning is seen as a full sensory experience, and the ISJL Education Department is here to listen and engage with community partners who are looking to adopt a more playful approach. There are many more programs to name that utilize a kinesthetic approach to learning. If there is ever a theme or program that you are looking to make more kinesthetic, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Education Fellow to try and make your ambitions a reality.