Parsha for kids – got any leads?

Each year at Simchat Torah, we start reading the Torah from the beginning, once again. Of course, when I say “we” I’m not referring to myself. While learning, especially Torah learning, is probably the part of Judaism that’s the most spiritually meaningful to me, I haven’t incorporated Torah study, or even a little bit of table talk about the weekly parsha, into our lives. A few times during the year I think, oh, we’ll start next Simchat Torah. And then I forget.

Well, last week, I didn’t forget. But I did catch myself a bit unprepared. At my mother’s new apartment in Baltimore, where the books, including chumashim, are still taped up in floor-to-ceiling towers of boxes, I didn’t know where to turn to get some material to guide our first parsha talk. Fortunately, I had the URJ book Torah Alive with me, because I’m using it to help prepare for my Kindergarten teaching, so I drew from that to tell the stor(ies) of creation of the world and of Adam and Eve.
Now I’m looking for some resources to make a weekly parsha conversation really easy. A book I can open, or a website I can print out from. Sounds simple, right? Well, it appears I’m kind of high maintenance in this department. First of all, I need something that assumes no prior knowledge on the part of my kids. Second, I need material geared for a five year old with a five-year-old’s attention span. I want something true to the original text, not full of midrashim peppered in without explanation. And I definitely don’t want it full of cutesy won’t-kids-think-this-is-a-riot language. (Torah Tots, for example. starts this weeks parsha like this: 

How do we know that they played baseball during creation?

Because it says “In The ‘Big Inning’ Hashem created the heavens and the earth.”


Not my cup of tea, shall we say. Also, I don’t want a video or podcast, and I don’t need printable coloring pages, mazes or dot to dots. (Unless they are of leprosy. Those I want.)



So, dear, readers, what have you got for me? 

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pat nisenholz

posted October 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Lorraine Arcus the author of Torah Alive is a personal friend.. I suggest you contact her… she has tons of ideas.. she taught this in a ss day school. Also the www has a family link to Shabbat talk as well as parishot I believe…
hope this helps..
Shavua Tov

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Morah Mary

posted October 3, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Hi, Amy!
I’m not a big fan of the “cutsy” stuff either. Your reference to the URJ book triggered my memory: The URJ has a (now-archived) section called “Family Shabbat Table Talk,” with questions specifically geared to 3-5 year olds and separate questions for 6-8 year olds. Don’t know if this is enough of what you’re looking for, but it might be worth your while to glance at it. Here’s the link:
Let us know what you find, okay?

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Your Name

posted October 3, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Did you try the URJ (Reform)?
Try Family Shabbat Table Talk
I haven’t used this myself and would be curious to know what you think.
You might also look to Torah Aura and purchase some resources (mostly used in rel school).

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posted October 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Take a look at what we did for Bereshit. I have links to three different resources we like. My favorite for those just starting with little ones is Morah Morah Teach me Torah.

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Iris Koller

posted October 3, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Check out Torah Aura”s My Weekly Sedra. Their Being Torah text is also wonderful, but more appropriate for 3rd or 4th grade. I have used My Weekly Sedra as a home companion for families as well as a classroom piece, always with positive feedback and much conversation.

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posted October 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm

May I suggest Torah Talk: An Early Childhood Teaching Guide available through Behrman House.

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posted October 3, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Both Torah Talk and Torah Alive (and Being Torah) are not divided by parsha, and do not cover every parsha. So, they have many merits, but they aren’t quite what I’m looking for.

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Helen + ilana = Hi

posted October 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm

I used The Shabbat Book by Joyce Klein when my kids were wee. It bills itself as a weekly guide for the whole family. Stories, songs text and anecdotes. Perhaps not as comprehensive as you are seeking but organized by parsha. I found it to be a great jumping off place.

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posted October 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I am sorry to say it. It sounds, dear Amy, like you need to write such a thing…..

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Jennifer in MamaLand

posted October 4, 2010 at 12:14 am

You’re gonna hate me, but I looked and I looked… and I never found anything that came close except a resource that was online briefly called “Torat Imecha” that provided a very basic weekly parsha intro for very young kids using cute illustrations of real children in an Israeli family.
Torah Tots – no way. My First Parsha Reader is what I have used for the past 13 years, but it is FAR from perfect, even in a setting where all kids come from observant homes.
What I’ve resorted to doing is with my own 5-yo and 3-yo is
a) reading the parsha (my first parsha reader),
b) watching the appropriate G-dcast video (there are teachers’ guides, but they’re not helpful for this age)
c) writing a short, fun poem at my kids’ level to capture one theme,
d) doing crafts wherever possible (ChallahCrumbs is helpful!).
I also plan to
e) start introducing copywork where we try to look at one sentence directly from the “pshat.”
Hope at least some of that is helpful. If and when you find that perfect book or site, please let us know! It will have to be not too literal, still a bit lively, well-illustrated and fun (with none of those dumb “big-inning” puns!!!).
p.s. The best weekly toddler parsha I ever heard was by a preschool teacher who would do a short paraphrase in her own words, usually followed by a physical component (like crossing the red “sea” – a tablecloth spread on the floor, or dodging “hail” – soft balls tossed in the air). Make it physical, make it fun, and the kids WILL learn!

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posted October 4, 2010 at 1:57 am

I was kind of hoping *you* would, Rachel.

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Ruth Abrams

posted October 4, 2010 at 8:07 am

It’s not perfect–it doesn’t cover every parasha, and may not be at the right place for day school kids–but I liked Penina Adelman’s The Bible from Alef to Tav. My son really liked it in kindergarten and first grade and even asked for it when he was getting ready to go back to Hebrew school for second grade. I seem to remember that in the kindergarten year he had me read the whole book chapter by chapter several times through, trying to fix the alef-bet in his head. He’s methodical that way. I used the book for a child-focused Passover seder two years ago also–the stories had the right tone for an intergenerational group.

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posted October 4, 2010 at 10:21 am

There’s a good resource I’ve used when I was teaching the younger grades, on the URJ website – Family Shabbat Table Talk. There are some archives you can go to for the parshot and ways to discuss them with little ones.

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Mary Ellen

posted October 4, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Please let us know what you find. I’ve found several sites (mostly what you’ve mentioned) that are OK for younger kids. I’m really trying to find something that will keep my 10 year old son interested. He goes to religious school under protest (like many his age??) but admits he “doesn’t mind the stories.” He isn’t ready for adult commentaries, and is too old for coloring pages. I wish I could find a short, readable summary of each parshah.

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posted October 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm

yes, I was also going to suggest the URJ’s website for it’s Family Table Talk. I think it’s really good. I agree, this is a really hard one. Let’s put our heads together and write the book!!!! :-) I’m game…i have a maternity leave coming up, i won’t be busy, right?! 😉
but seriously, it would be really fun to collaborate. i have a name all picked out for the book, i’ve had it in my head for a while, kinda like what jenifer in mamaland does – a combo deal for parents who want to teach torah to their kids – a short read-aloud, then an activity, a food, a game, a song, a poem, etc…someone’s gotta do it, why not us? :-)

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Your Name Betty Ann Ross

posted October 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I’m a big fan of relating Torah to the lives we live. BettyAnnsBestBets is geared to adults, ParshaKids to middle-school and high school age.
I hope you find them useful:

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Abba Mechanech

posted October 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I’ve also looked for this type of parasha resources, without much success. My 8yr old daughter goes to a “community” day school where text study is not a high priority. So I’ve been trying to supplement with family Torah study at home.
Though I haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for – some things I do like:
1) Our family really likes g-dcast as a trigger, especially when it is one of the songs and not some monotone narrator
2) I like the EKS series that gives original Torah text with translation plus amazing Carol Racklin-Siegel illustrations – see for example –
3) Schecter’s MATOK curriculum has full color materials that can be purchased from the USCJ Book Service –
4) Some might also like the Tal Am materials –

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Jennifer in MamaLand

posted October 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

In response to Abba, above, good luck getting Tal Am to sell you a single copy of ANYTHING. My kids used some of their books in school but they wouldn’t sell to me as a homeschooling parent.
Just wanted to put in a plug: since July, I have been writing weekly Parsha Poems and posting them to my blog.
These are not at ALL comprehensive; usually, it’s just a “riff” on one kid-appropriate theme from the parsha. Since I’m a homeschooler, I also sometimes include an activity to go along with the poem.
Just thought I’d put this out there… why not, right?

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Iris Koller

posted October 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Amy, I agree with you about Being Torah not being divided by parshiot. Did you look at My Weekly Sedra?
Shabbat shalom,

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posted October 17, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I taught the first grade Tal Am curriculum, and while i like many things about it, I didn’t care for the parsha stuff.

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Jennifer in MamaLand

posted October 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm

How about a surprise late entry that we found in the library?
It’s called The Shabbat Book (short ISBN #9657047021, because there are a lot of similar titles out there…)
It features the same type of Claymation characters as The Animated Haggadah, if you’ve seen that book. Very short (1-3 paragraph) story or summary (for some of the non-story-like parshiyot) from the weekly parsha, plus a short discussion at the bottom of the page of one Jewish value based on the weekly parsha.
It may be out of press, but probably not too hard to find.
Here’s a sample page:
Don’t know if I love this yet, but thought of you when the kids brought it home!

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Parsha To Go

posted December 26, 2010 at 11:00 am


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posted November 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I strongly recommend Parsha to go. It has all the portions explained in full detail with summaries and explanations.

Easy to use iPhone ap. Free & Simple

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Adam in Boston

posted November 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm

I used Parsha Togo iPhone app to Daven Shacharit in the airport. Very helpful

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posted July 18, 2012 at 5:27 am

My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right.
This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

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Eileen Goldwyn

posted June 27, 2014 at 2:53 am

I am looking for what seems to be exactly what you are. I thought this would be easier as well, and I am having a lot of trouble finding good resources. I am starting a Tot Shabbat at my temple the first weekend in August, and I am both unprepared and nervous.

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