Havdalah requires participants to use all five senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. What better way for young children to use all five senses and learn about Havdalah than to incorporate more natural elements. Mixing elements traditionally used during the Havdalah ceremony with complementary materials will add another layer to the exploration.
Traditionally, the spice box is filled with dried spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Try offering fresh herbs in addition to dried spices for children to explore. Offer whole and ground spices so they can compare and contrast them. I love using whole nutmeg and cinnamon sticks and comparing it to the ground spices. Children and educators can discuss the entire process of herbs and spices: where the herbs come from, how it is grown, the process of drying and then crushing the spices.
Incorporating and discussing different spices and herbs into Havdalah offers opportunities to experience a sacred ceremony through multiple avenues. Just like we are supposed to use all 5 of our senses in the ceremony, we can use and explore different subject areas: math, science, art, social studies, technology and literacy to enhance the experience.
Here are some ways to incorporate different academic disciplines into your classroom exploration:
- Compare and contrast dried herbs to fresh herbs
- Categorize and sort herbs based on smells, tastes, color etc.
- Study the process of herbs and spices from growth to store
- Explore 5 senses
- Grow your own herbs in the class
- Draw using the herbs (nutmeg and cinnamon sticks can be used to make brown marks)
- Create a collage using herbs/spices
- Draw a still life
- Create a poem about how the children feel during Havdalah. What is smells like, looks like etc.
- Practice singing the prayers
- Use a postal and mortar to crush spices
- Use a magnifying glass to take a closer look
These pictures show how educators explored Havdalah spices during a professional development session. The session encouraged play and using materials in a different or unexpected way.