Early Childhood Music Education Songleading Uncategorized Yom Kippur

10 Yom Kippur-ish Songs for Early Childhood

10 Yom Kippur-ish Songs for Early Childhood

Yom Kippur is a tricky topic to explore with young children. “Repentance” is a cognitively complex and ethically complicated concept that your children can explore for the rest of their lives. I like to explore the big ideas of Yom Kippur including self-reflection, self-regulation, and repair after conflict. This collection of tunes is a diverse set that includes updated versions of some traditional tunes, simple fingerplays for babies, and story songs that help explain Jonah. Sing and share these songs at school, synagogue, or your home to make meaning and music in this season with the littles you love!

Listen to all these songs with my Yom Kippur-ish Songs for Early Childhood Spotify playlist!

1. Jonah and The Whale – Jeff Klepper

The simple chorus of this song makes it instantly singable, especially with the right visual props!

2. I’m Sorry for What I Did Wrong – Avinu Malkeinu

I don’t know the original source of the translation, I’ve heard it done a few ways, but I’ve adapted it to align with what I know to be true about apologies and young children.

I’m sorry for what I did wrong, 
I’m sorry for what I did wrong,
I’ll try to be caring, more loving and sharing,
Forgive me for what I did wrong.

I’ll try, I’ll try to be, the best that I can be,
I’ll try, I’ll try with all of my might, 
to do what I’m learning is right.

3. Building A Better World – Peter & Ellen Allard

This uplifting message is a call to action that is sweet, simple, and soulful.

4. Turn, Turn, Turn – The Byrds

The Byrds quoted the Book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet), which is typically read during Yom Kippur, in this pop song’s lyrics. 

In music classes, I distribute scarves to the children to help them practice their gross motor coordination by making big movements in their space. I’ll share this sweet video and we’ll literally turn, turn, turn as the music plays.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

5. I’m Not Perfect – The Laurie Berkner Band

An incredibly talented songwriter and inspiration, Laurie Berkner explains human nature quite brilliantly in this simple diddy:

We’re not perfect
No we’re not
We’re not perfect
But we’ve got what we’ve got
We do our very best
We do our very best
We do our very best each day
But we’re not perfect
And we hope you like us that way

6. Oh My Goodness, Look at this Mess – Sweet Honey from the Rock

This song has become a back-pocket tune for me, I use it generously throughout the year:

Oh my goodness, look at this mess!
I’m the one who made it, I do confess
Oh my goodness, look at this mess!
I think I better clean it up!

7. Turn It Around Birthday – Daniel Tiger

Daniel Tiger, whose neighborhood is based on Mr. Roger’s fictitious one we grew up with, provides an impressive explanation of the concept of teshuva

When something seems bad,
turn it around,
and find something good!

8. Overboard – Josh Nelson

This animated version of the story of Jonah is a great way to encourage kids to consider the biblical story.

I ask kids to try to identify the beginning, middle, and end of the story as they watch. Then I invite them to collaboratively retell the story to assess their learning.

9. Al Cheit – Joanie Leeds

I like to use the recording of this song as an auditory prompt during an arts activity. 

I’ll provide basic art supplies so kids can draw or journal about the things they want to do differently in the new year. Encouraging kids to actively listen to a song for clues will help them understand Yom Kippur while offering an opportunity…

10. Family Blessing Song – Miss Emily

This echo song is a great way to encourage participation from an intergenerational audience. I particularly like the connective tendencies of this tune, and it works for any time of year. 

A few years ago, I wrote a special verse for this High Holiday season:

It is the New Year
It will be sweet
We say Shana Tova
To people we greet
We’ll grow, learn and love
Try things that are new
Find time each day
For a thoughtful review:
Did I make good choices?
Did I make a mistake?
Could it be different next time?
What steps can I take?
Should I ask for help?
Or can I help out a friend?
Cause’ I’m learning and growing…
I can make amends.

The participants take turns in the verses, giving and receiving blessings from the ones they love. I highlight that this love swap is a way to address and repair rifts in a relationship.

Ask the adults to listen while the children sing, then have the children listen while the adults sing back to them. Then everyone comes together for a sweet finale!

P.S. I can’t share this song without kvelling a bit. Check out how sweet my babies are singing along to this tune.

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