Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days in Judaism. It’s celebrated for 25 hours after the ten holy days known as the Days of Awe. These days begin with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah and end with the holiday of Yom Kippur.
During the 25 hours of Yom Kippur, Jews ask God to forgive them for all past mistakes and be redeemed. Whether you follow the Jewish faith, or want to expose your students to different faiths and religious observances from around the world, this is a good place to start. While some children may be too young to understand the abstract idea behind this religious holiday, they can certainly understand what it means to ask for forgiveness, say sorry to friends and family, and try to be better.
Having this approach in mind, here are several activities and teaching resources for Yom Kippur for kids.
How to Teach Yom Kippur to Kids?
First things first, before we get into the details of developing a lesson plan for Yom Kippur, we should discuss how to explain to kids what Yom Kippur is.
Children are naturally curious and they’ll want to know what this holiday represents and why we celebrate it. But even so, children below 11 years old are developmentally not able to fully understand abstract concepts, so how would you explain this topic, and should you go into details?
The safest approach is to stick to the basics, use only age-appropriate worlds, and associate new words with concrete terms that are already familiar to kids. For example: “Yom Kippur is a holiday where we think about our actions and ask forgiveness for the mistakes that we’ve made, so we can be happy in the future.”
There’s no need to go into details, instead, use the activities listed below to teach kids about Yom Kippur in a fun way.
Activities and Teaching Resources for Yom Kippur
Teach Children Yom Kippur Greetings
When we celebrate New Year’s Eve, we say “Happy New Year”. When we celebrate Christmas, we say “Merry Christmas,” so what do we say when we want to greet someone who’s observing Yom Kippur?
Teaching children greetings for special holidays is one of the easiest things and it goes a long way in raising children’s awareness for all their classmates that are celebrating the holiday.
Teach children to say “Good Yuntif,” or “Yom Tov,” which in English means something along the lines of “Have a good holy day,” and is considered a proper greeting for those observing Yom Kippur.
Make Yom Kippur Greeting Cards
Another way for children to be kind to classmates, friends, and family members who are celebrating this holiday is to make them a greeting card.
The only things you need to bring to class for this activity are some colorful pieces of paper and color-markers or pencils. Kids will have a lot of fun. They’ll learn a bunch of Yom Kippur greetings, plus express themselves creatively.
Learn About the Holiday Through Interactive Worksheets
Thanks to our extensive worksheet bundle, learning about Yom Kippur can be fun and easy for the whole classroom.
On our website, you can find a 23-page Yom Kippur worksheet pack that you can utilize in the classroom or a home environment. Here, you can find everything you and your students need to know about Yom Kippur, from Yom Kippur Prayers crossword puzzle to traditional symbols visuals.
Write Forgiveness Letters
Yom Kippur is a time of the year when people ask for forgiveness and make amends. This is why a good way for kids to commemorate the holiday without being too overwhelmed with historical facts is to ask them to write an “I’m Sorry” letter to someone close.
You don’t have to go into the details, but simply explain to kids that “… because this is a special holiday where we ask for forgiveness and make amends, we’ll think about the people we’ve had an argument with and write them a letter to say we’re sorry.”
Read Books On Forgiveness
Finally, a more classical approach is to have children read age-appropriate stories that explain Yom Kippur in a simple way and then discuss them together in class. Here are some books we think are great for this occasion:
- Yom Kippur – For Children: Learning About Yom Kippur in a Fun Way by Ratchel Mintz
- On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Aladdin Picture Books) by Cathy Goldberg Fishman
- I Did It, I’m Sorry (Picture Puffin Books) by Caralyn Buehner
- The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story by Jacqueline Jules
- Goldie is mad by Margie Palatini
Before You Leave
Hopefully, you’ll find our list useful when planning your Yom Kippur lesson. We made sure to first, explain how to approach this topic when teaching young kids, and then include activities that are suitable for children as little as 4 years old, but still enjoyable for middle schoolers, too.
If you visit our website, you’ll find many more printable worksheets for teachers and homeschoolers to assist you in organizing perfect lessons throughout the whole year. Plus, in our blog, you’ll find a lot of advice in various fields concerning the education of young children.
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