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In this week’s parsha, Parshat Shoftim, we learn that during a war, it is prohibited to destroy any of the city’s fruit-bearing trees. Included in this commandment is the famous expression (Deut. 20:19) “Ki haadam etz hasadeh,” sometimes translated as “for the tree of the field is man’s life.”

This is a great opportunity to talk about environmental issues such as the importance of respecting nature. Start by asking your kids what are the similarities between trees and people (examples – both have limbs, grow and die, need water, give life, etc.) Explain that they are going to make a tree using their own bodies – arms, hands, and fingers.


Construction, cardstock, or butcher paper
Brown, green, yellow, orange paints


1)    Place brown paint on a piece of tin foil or aluminum tin. Have kids put their forearm in the brown paint and place their arm on the paper to make the bark. Wash forearm!

2)    Place brown or green paint on a paper plate. Have kids put their hands in the paints and then place their hands on the paper to make the tree’s branches. Wash hands!

3)    Place yellow and orange paints in bowls. Have kids dip their pointer finger into paints and place their fingers on the paper to make lots of colorful leaves.



1)    Use butcher paper and trace kids’ entire bodies in a tree pose. Then paint or decorate their body shape so that it looks like a tree.

2)    Use real leaves or flowers to decorate your painting.


Emily Shapiro Katz has been a community Jewish educator for over ten years in Jerusalem, Atlanta, and San Francisco. She lives in Beer Sheva with her husband, Andy, and their four children. Her contributions to this website reflect her interest in teaching Tanach, doing craft projects, and entertaining her kids. Emily blogs about her Parsha Projects at