Early Childhood Holidays Leader's Guide Music Education Songleading Young Children

10 Tu Bishvat Songs for Early Childhood

This holiday marks the collective birthday of all Israeli trees. 

Tu BiShvat started less as a holiday and more as a harvest festival. A law in the Torah dictates the fruit of a tree planted in Israel isn’t available to the farmer until the tree has reached five years old (fruit from harvest 0-3 are forbidden fruit and year 4 were offered to the priests at THE temple). 

Kiddos (and people) enjoy songs that are highly relevant to their world. 

I lean towards selecting familiar songs with themes that relate to the holiday- and Tu B’shevat offers a host of secular songs that can be integrated into a Jewish music curriculum. As you introduce new tunes or re-sing favorites, make explicit connections to connected values of protecting the earth and fixing the world to this harvest festival. 

Start by explaining that Tu BiShevat is the “Birthday of The Trees”!

Young children typically exude great enthusiasm around birthday celebrations- using a familiar framework in a novel way helps learners engage. I ask children to share what they know about trees and wonder what a tree might want for a birthday present to provoke the interests of my singers.

The songs I curated reflect a hearty appreciation for trees that I hope inspires you and your learners to protect and love our trees and nurture the environment in their honor.

10 Tu Bishvat songs for kiddos

1) One Seed by Laurie Berkner

This outrageously engaging tune is always a big hit with kids and their grown ups. It features  a call & response chorus, a kid-friendly video with hand movements, and a Jew-is kiddie rocker (curious about her? Read “Queen of Kindie Rock” on Jewish Identity and Motherhood). I typically introduce this song by showing kids this video- most recognize Laurie Berkner (if you are unfamiliar, you need to go listen to her greatest hits, she is what Raffi was to my generation). After a few rounds of practicing this song, kiddos build familiarity and can take over as leaders for the chorus. PS I love to pair sharing this song with sharing the story of Honi the Circlemaker.

2) Inch by Inch by David Malett 

This is a classic kids tune so famous that it made it to The Muppets. Especially for those of us with some crunchy hippie influence in our musical identity. I share it using a David Mallet’s storybook, Inch By Inch, singing the lyrics instead of speaking them while sharing a readaloud. 

3) If I Were a Tree by Jason Mesches

Kids pretend play and imagine their experience if they were a tree. It matches movements with parts of the tree that offers a silly and simple way to learn serious stuff. 

4) Tree Animals Song by Emily Aronoff

Printable Prop

Kids love to identify animals and Tu B’shevat is a great time to focus on particular types of animals- the ones that live in trees! Visit my Super Silly Tree Animals Song Leader’s Guide for more content and context for sharing.

Chorus: OOOOOOH…..(critical component- sing it until everyone joins you to re-establish order after kids are excited from moving around after each verse)

Who do you know, who do you know who might live in a tree?

There are so many different kinds of tree home families!

Verses*:

This animal is a ___________ <kids identify animal- show picture, puppet, plush…

and it makes this kind of sound__________ <kids make sound

and when the  _____  <kids say name of animal again

moves, here is how they move around:____________ <—— kids identify/demonstrate motion

*this is a zipper song, so you can use any animal you like!*

5) For Trees by Ellen Allard

The gross motor movement Ellen suggests adds enormous delight and anticipation to this terrific tune. Pay close attention to how Ellen models using the entire body in a rhythmic way during the chorus. Crowd control can be a challenge with this song in a large group of children, so I make certain that we all sit, re-center and calm during each verse (which often means we need to pause and slow down our breathing because kids get amped up) to prevent the chorus from becoming unpleasantly chaotic. 

6) My Roots Go Down by Sarah Pirtle presented by Isaac Zones

I love the flexibility of this song. This catchy tune is great for connecting intergenerational audience as it is familiar to many and is a quick teach. When I sing this song in Jewish early childhood learning environments, I make it a zipper song- adapt the verses to meet and match your learner’s interests and needs. 

The original verses: 

I am a pine tree on a mountainside. (3x)….My roots go down.

I am a wild flower pushing through stones. (3x)…..My roots go down.

I am a willow swaying through the storm. (3x)….My roots go down.

But I make this a zipper song and simply sing…

I am a ~name a plant with roots~ growing at ~name a place~

For example:

I am an Eitz (Hebrew for tree) growing in Israel (3x)….My roots go down.

I am a Palm at the Boca JCC…(3x)….My roots go down.

I am a some parsley growing on a windowsill…(3x)….My roots go down.

7) And The Green Grass Grows All Around AKA There Was A Tree book by Rachel Isadora

I learned this song from Barney about a million years ago. It is a terrific tune that creates opportunities for children to practice sequencing.

I use the singable storybook There Was a Tree by Rachel Isadora with groups of all ages. When I share this song, I encourage my learners to take more and more leadership of the tune as we progress through the parts as they become more familiar…by the end, I’m allowing kids to ‘finish the line’ while I point to the last word of each line (even if the kids can’t yet read) in order to support and reinforce their developing literary skills. 

8) Happy Birthday, Trees! (tapping stick song) by Emily Aronoff

Highlight all the ways people rely on trees as you explore Tu Bishvat with kids. 

I point out that my guitar is made out of wood, and then we brainstorm what other objects we use often that are made from wood. I then point out that trees allow our entire classroom to become musicians, and pass out rhythm sticks so that the kids can play percussion with a tree! Check out the Happy Birthday, Trees! Songleader’s Guide for more tips and tricks to rock this tune.

9) The Tree Song by Josh Miller presented by Hazon

This song is pure fun and the gross motor movements are a real workout! 

10) Let’s Plant a Tree for Tu B’shevat by Debbie Friedman shared by Temple Rodef Shalom

When I share this song, I like to distribute green scarves and encourage kids to move like the branches of trees, moving our arms above our heads during the chorus to demonstrate what it might look like if we were indeed “trees blowing in the wind”.

Thank you so much for dedicating your precious time to find content and plan your songsessions with kiddos!

Your Tu B’shevat songs may have inspired your learners to go out and change their world! 

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