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Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

  Rated by 13 users   |   Viewed 48705 times since 5/10/07   |   16 Comments
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5/10/07

Dear Readers:

I am very pleased to present to you a PDF prepublication sample of the “Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook”. The purpose of this booklet is to assist educators and parents in their quest to help their children become independent learners by teaching them language and grammar skills in a thoughtful, educationally sound manner.

The outstanding rebbeim who worked on this booklet, Rabbis Yosef Rawicki and Yoisef Kitay and I will be presenting this booklet to educators from across North America at the upcoming Torah Umesorah Convention this Friday.

There are six components of this sample workbook, which consists of the first ten pesukim in Parshas Lech Lecha; translation sheets, three types of worksheets, ‘pasuk cards’, and shoresh flashcards.

1) “Chumash Translation Sheets” – For easy reading/learning, each pasuk is formatted on a separate page. All verbs are shaded in black and nouns are shaded in gray. In these ten pesukim, the six basic prefixes are introduced.

2) “Shoresh Recognition Worksheets” introduce children to the various shoroshim (root words)

3) “Color the Prefix Worksheets” teach the six basic prefixes by having children shade them with various colors.

4) “Match the Shoresh Worksheets” have children match the shoresh to the corresponding word being learned in the pasuk.

5) “Pasuk Cards” specially created cards for use in the classroom. They can be utilized in a variety of applications – as flash cards or visual aids.

6) “Shoresh Flashcards” are to be removed and used as a reinforcement drill tool by students, both in and out of class. Each flashcard has a shoresh from the perek, with the definition on the reverse side of the card.

We expect to go to print in a matter of weeks and are planning to release the first Chumash booklet, which will contain the entire first half of Parshas Lech Lecha in the summer of 2007. Please help us maximize the effectiveness of this workbook by sharing your input with us.

Please post a comment at the bottom of this column with any suggestions for improving the format of this workbook. Here are some questions that we had when producing this booklet. Your feedback responding to these questions, or any other questions/comments would be most appreciated:

  1. Should the printing of the translation sheets and/or worksheets be on one side of the page only or double sided?
  2. On page 4 of the booklet, there are 3 icons on the bottom of the page to direct the reader to the 3 worksheets that correspond with that particular pasuk. Do you find that to be helpful? Do you have another suggestion for cross-referencing the pages?
  3. Should the 3 worksheets follow each pasuk or should they be in a separate section (as we currently have it in the booklet)?
  4. Do you have any suggestions regarding the formatting, pagination or design that you would like to share with us?
  5. Do you have any suggestions regarding the content (shorashim, words used to translate the Hebrew text, etc.) that you would like to share with us?

Once again, on behalf of Rabbis Rawicki and Kitay, please accept our thanks for your participation with this project. It is our hope that this booklet will help all our children develop the Chumash skills that will last them a lifetime.

Click here for the Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Menahel, Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey
Director, Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S.

P.S. Here are links to several articles recently published in Mishpacha on the importance of teaching skills to our children:

It Doesn’t Start in Tenth Grade, Training Wheels and Exit Interviews

To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.



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1. Quality Work     5/10/07 - 9:08 PM
Anonymous - Brooklyn

As a parent of school age children who several have passed 1st grade, I must say that these sheets are a masterpiece. Although my children attend a Litvish type yeshiva/bais yaakov, they still translate using yiddish (which I wish they didn't). In the girls school the teacher has them use a highlighter when learning the posuk to highlight the shorush in the possuk and then in yiddish and then in English. Very similar to what your sheets already have this helps to reinforce the shorush each time they see it. I personally like having the review pages right after the possuk, I find that when studying for a test with my kids, the review pages are right there and it helps with continuity. The way you have it, it may take longer in the classroom for the kids to turn to the right page but I am not sure if that is a valid concern or not for a teacher. The font size is also makes the reading much easier. I hope that all schools adopt these chumish books and the ones that still use yiddish to make a new column and add the yiddish explanation next to the English words.


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2. for ease of use     5/10/07 - 9:21 PM
Ayelet - Flushing, NY - ayelet613@hotmail.com

I'd like to suggest that the workbook be in a binder rather than a bound book. In a binder, one-sided pages are ideal so that they could be fed easily into a machine. The advantage of the binder format is that it is easy to copy multiple pages at once. Also, when you do copy the page, it is easier to keep the page straight on the copy machine's glass rather than getting an unattractively slanted print. You could then include divider tabs for the three types of worksheets.

If you were to use a bound-book format, might I suggest using a spiral binding. This, again, facilitates neater copying with less of the shadows created by the books spine.

I like the idea of the icons to direct you quickly to the right spot but I feel like they are too big and distracting, besides being irrelevant information for the student who presumably will receive the sheet. Since the pages are each labeled by number of pasuk, I assume it would be fairly simple to turn to the correct page in each section. Pasuk "hay" will be the fifth page in each section.

Also, I notice that your worksheets are limited strictly to color by code and matching exercises. I wonder if there is sound educational basis for also including exercises that require the child to fill in blanks. These could be a word with pre/suffix missing that is presented with its translation. Alternatively, you could have a word with the translation that has the pre/suffix translation left blank. In this way, the student actually has to write out the correct answer which has the added kinesthetic input in conjunction with the visual and auditory input.

I would be very interested in hearing specific suggestions about having the children learn various nouns and verbs. The method with which my son has been taught is pure drill work with flashcards requiring him to develop an extensive chumash sight word vocabulary before even the first pasuk is taught.

Feel free to contact me with feedback.


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3. A little confusing     5/11/07 - 9:57 AM
Rivky - Lakewood - rivkyp@hotmail.com

I think that the way the shoresh is printed on the teitch pages is confusing. When a child is trying to read and translate the posuk, they will get confused and distracted by the shoresh. perhaps There should be a vertical column for shorashim just as there is between the english and hebrew. Also maybe the shorashim could be smaller or better yet printed on the other side of the english so it is clear they are not part of the posuk. My girls get very similar hand written sheets in second grade. Their sheets have the exercise (find the shoresh, etc) on the bottom of the sheet with the posuk. I think the icons are distracting.

The arrow design on the matching sheets I also found bothered the eye. I think that the sheets should have different graphics for each posuk to keep interest.

I have to say that my boys always got this type of sheets in first and second grade where they had to match or match by coloring. I do not see this as a great chiddush. I found that they enjoyed the sheets most when there was some chop to them. For example, if they had to match by letter instead of coloring, and the letters spelled out something.

Obviously when the sheets are printed professionally they do look nicer, make the teachers life easier, and having them bound helps the disorganized student.

Keep up the good work.


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4. Not particularly different from current workbooks     5/11/07 - 2:32 PM
DC - NY

Also, you are running into a problem of inserting Rashi and Midrash into the translation (translating "lecha" as "for your own sake") which I find to casue many problems down the line when kids cannot differentiate between peshat, drash, and even simple translation.

Another issue, when you isolate the noun "eretz" from "ha'aretz" you leave it as "aretz." This is gramatically incorrect. Part of teaching the complexities of biblical Hebrew is how both nouns and verbs are changed by prefixes, sufixes, where they appear in the sentence (pausal form, etc.)

Granted, this is difficult, but the key here is that if you start teaching kids young enough when their brains are still rapidly developing and they can establish an ear for a language, then most can develop a sense for the grammar and syntax. If you begin by teaching them rules you can forget it.


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5. A few more issues     5/11/07 - 3:10 PM
DC - NY

Looking through this a bit more, I suggest you not go to press in a few weeks and run this by someone who really knows their dikduk and can proofread it carefully. A few other questions - Why is the Shoresh of "va'ya'tek" missing? - It would be much less confusing to have the left collumn completely in english. Is there a problem with transliterating Avram? HaShem? Why can't mizbe'ach be translated? - Why are the names of directions either translated into hebrew equvalents, sometimes with and sometimes without english words? -Their is very little consistency on when you decide to highlight the noun and possesive suffix or just the noun (compare "ishto" and achiv") - "arza c'na'an" = to the land c'na'an"? what happened to "of"? if you want, you can have it in parentheses, but you cannot leave out a convention of the English language. - Why isn't the bet in "b'zetito" highlighted as a prefix? - Why are some phrases excluded from having the root highlighted? are these verbs not important, too hard? - the way some phrases are forced to be broken up leads to ridiculously sounding translations: "and Avram was five years old - and seventy years"

I don't think you need to or should have an expert in Biblical Hebrew teach kids chumash. But you do need their input (or at least someone who has taken the time to study it in and of itself and not simply rely on having picked it up along the way to becoming a 2nd grade rebbi )when designing educational materials.


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6. Thanks, all     5/11/07 - 4:47 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Anon, Rivky, Ayelet and DC:

Thank you very much for taking the time to review and post your comments.

I would ask those who post comments to kindly consider including your email addresses so the 2 rebbeim can contact you directly.

The 3 of us developed this idea of posting a pre-publication sample to generate discussion and valuable feedback.

I type these lines in a car returning from the Torah Umesorah Convention where the 2 rebbeim presented on the topic of teaching skills. They also distributed copies of this booklet and there was lots of input after their (excellent) presentation.

I will ask them to comment to the specific points raised next week when they return from the Convention (they are there for Shabbos).

My quick comments:

1) Many shorashim were left un'marked' due to the fact that we did not want to swamp our children with TMI; too much info. 2) Translation, especially for 6-year-olds is very tricky. DC; in your example, how else should one translate 'lecha'-- "[go] to you??"

3)DC, again, you point with midrashim is an excellent one. I always note this when I am quoting a midrash in a speech, for example.

Please keep commenting.

Gut Shabbos

Yakov


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7. The Winder method     5/12/07 - 10:58 PM
Anonymous

Isn't this almost identical to the method developed by Rabbi Winder and already in use in many schools (especially in Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island where this is used very successfully). If you want input from people who already do this and do it well you should contact the yeshiva and try to speak to the second grade rebbi Rabbi Fayazi, who is a master of dikduk and a generally outstanding rebbi (I know because my son is in his class and I am amazed at the skills that he has learned).


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8.     5/13/07 - 8:48 AM
Anonymous

I like the format, it's easy to see the hours of preparation that went into this workbook.

The shorshim in the Translation booklet should be standardized. You make Eretz with a sofit but not any shoresh ending with a chaf.


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9. Rabbi Winder     5/13/07 - 7:02 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Thanks for commenting about the excellent dikduk series by Rabbi Winder.

That program is different from this workbook as it teaches the critical language and dikduk skills -- but as a stand-alone subject.

Our workbook is designed to teach these skills WHILE teaching chumash. It is not meant to replace Rabbi Winder's series, rather to offer parents and educators another educational tool.

Please keep commenting. We are carefully reading all of them.

YH


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10. questioning a shoresh     5/13/07 - 7:45 PM
MorahT - Baltimore - tovtar@gmail.com

I was always under the impression that the shoresh of Lech is hay lamed chof. That is the way we teach it in BY where I teach and I've never seen it any other way. I did not study it enough to comment more.


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11. YKLI     5/13/07 - 8:44 PM
Anonymous

I know that the Winder workbooks are not chumash teaching workbooks, but in the yeshiva he used to teach at (Yeshiva Ketana of LI) they DID apply it to chumash and already have workbooks on chumash that are almost identical to yours. You should really contact Rabbi Fayazi so that you can pool resources and ideas and maybe develop the idea further rather than repeating much of the same work. Hatzlacha Rabba!


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12. prefixes     5/14/07 - 6:15 PM
MG - mlgerber@gmail.com

Practically, I think a few small points should be considered and clarified in case they have not already been addressed: 1. Each worksheet has a space for a worksheet number in the upper left hand corner. It is not clear to me what this is or what it could be used for. 2. Particularly if you decide to use the large icon guides, and even if you don't, I think it's important that all of the pages have page numbers. The worksheets do not currently seem to have page numbers. Numbering the pages of the worksheets will help students/teachers/parents stay organized. 3. As acknowledged in the translation pages, some prefixes are translated with two english words. 'buh' with may mean in or with, but 'bah' or 'boh' may mean 'in the' or 'with the'. How would you expect children to color this on the color the prefix worksheets? The slight confusion may prove a challenging hurdle for young children. 4. If you are considering any additions, I would suggest a worksheet relevant to recognizing what is a noun and what is a verb. I do not know if children have trouble with this, but as a baalas tshuvah who has learned Hebrew as an adult, I can say that this tool was somewhat difficult to acquire, and yet important in understanding Chumash and Rashi. 5. I like the way you display the shoreshes with the 'sometimes there'/'sometimes not' letters in gray. I would hope that parents and teachers could provide some insight into students on why this is and how it fits into the general Hebrew grammar. This type of thing would make sense for inclusion in the notes of a teacher's edition of the book. 6. I agree with the above comment regarding binding. When I took Hebrew, our teacher first instructed us to take our workbook (which included both instructional portions and exercises) to the copy place to have the binding cut off and the resulting pages 3-hole punched. This made it easier to keep track of our prgoress through the book, and in particular, to hand the pages in to the teacher for grading or looking over. (We kept them in a binder.)

Hatzlacha rabba in your endeavor.


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13. Another fantastic idea     5/15/07 - 1:43 PM
N - nechamashine@yahoo.com

Your workbook is great, and I've got a suggestion for how you can improve it still further! This suggestion is originally from Mrs R Rowe, of London and is directed at children who find a whole page of text very intimidating. I hope you don't mind that it's an entirely new idea, when you are ready to come to press, but it is not so hard to implement.

The tip is as follows. You give them a page of Chumash text, preferably without Rashi or Targum on a page, just the text written out. When I did it, I downloaded a few Perakim from the Internet, and the site included commas within the Pesukim, helping readability for kids who feel lost without these. Then, with a page of text in front of us, I and the child selected a crayon, and looked for all instances of a certain name, like Avraham. We drew a box round this name. Then we selected another colour and drew a box round all instances of another name, like Hashem. The child chose the colours, and felt involved, however, I participated in doing one of the colours so that the results should be speedy (a greatly needed need for this child).

After doing all the names, we coloured all instances of the word Omar, including all the versions, such as Va'yomer. We actually coloured over the word. I can't describe the joy this child had as the page suddenly seemed to have meaning, although it was still quite unintelligible. We left it at that for that page, but the next day, we did the same thing on the next page. However, on the second day, we also underlined in each person's colour, the words that he said. Now this was starting to make sense!!! On a third day, we underlined what it was that each person said in their chosen colour. On a fourth day, and for a different page of text, we also coloured over the words describing the actions that each person did, for example if it said "vayelech", we coloured that word in the colour of the person who went.

The joy, the happiness in the breakthrough made all this hard work worth it, boruch Hashem. I did not need to continue the program indefinetely, since it wasn't needed after just a few days. I do think it is worth redoing sporadically.

I think the secrets to success were starting slowly only needing to search for a few things - and the child never knew it would become more difficult (nor did I, I invented part of it as I went along). Helping the child readily when I could see they knew what was needed, but it was becoming tedious. The child understood much of the Hebrew but not all the details, and felt drowning due to the apparent uniformity of the block of text. The child was able to make choices in colours. We added an informal key at the top of each page, showing each colour - and the name assoicated with it. I though a stroke showing the colour next to the person's name would be adequate, but nope, the child needed to see the person's name surrounded by the coloured box, as in the text. Another useful tip is that it was adaptable to specific difficulties a child has. On one page we coloured all the wells of Yitzchok in the same colour, for easy reference.

I hope this helps, I hope parents of kids with difficulty in Chumash will try it, and Be'ezras Hashem have much Hatzlocho.


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14. halach or yalach     5/16/07 - 2:15 PM
mordecai - ny - kippahs@aol.com

I asked someone who knows and the shoresh is with a hay not a yud but in tsivuie the hay drops out and the yud comes in In the pasuk the word lech is a tzivuie and would be yelech but the shorech is with a HAY I like the book and wonder who is distributing it. What pashiot will be available?


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15. great     6/5/07 - 9:44 AM
Anonymous

is this the same sefer that you wrote in the front page is "your" new chumash book!?


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16.     7/1/10 - 12:10 PM
Dan - Cleveland

Awesome. I hope my kids will use this.

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