Hebrew Learning Games Your Students Will Love
As teachers or parents, we want to make the process of learning Hebrew as fun as we can for our students and children. These five Hebrew learning games attempt to do just that. From practicing reading Hebrew with outdoor scavenger hunts to guessing the correct Hebrew letters in a game of Around the World, these Hebrew games for kids are sure to excite them.
Around the World Classroom Game
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Think back to the third grade when you were memorizing multiplication tables. Did your teacher play the game Around the World with the class? Mine sure did and it was one of my favorite memories of my education in elementary school. All you’ll need are some Jumbo Hebrew Flashcards or you can create your own to play this super fun Hebrew letters game.
How the Hebrew game is played:
The goal of the game is to get back to your original seat by calling out the correct Hebrew letter first. A student stands up behind another student who is sitting at his or her desk. The teacher flips over a flashcard with a Hebrew letter on the front of it. Whichever student properly names the Hebrew letter on the flashcard correctly, will then get to move on. The person who answered correctly will stand behind the new challenger — the next sitting student.
If the student who is sitting guesses the Hebrew letter correctly first, that student gets out of the chair and stands behind the new challenger. The standing student would then sit down in the sitting student’s chair.
If the standing student guesses the Hebrew letter correctly first, that student moves over and stands behind the next sitting student.
Play continues, with the winner moving on and the losers sitting down. This continues until one student makes it back to his or her original seat. That student is the winner of the game.
Prayer Scavenger Hunt
My go-to “last day of school game” has been a student favorite over the years so I’m excited to share it with you here. I play this game with my B’nai Mitzvah students in grades 4-6 who are learning the required prayers for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah. You can, however, switch up the game to suit your student’s needs. To play this game, you will need a computer, printer, a scissors, and some scotch tape.
How the Hebrew game is played:
Choose a line from a prayer that you have learned in class. For example, if your class had been working on the Haftarah Blessing, you could choose the line likdushah velimnucha lechavod ultifaret. Copy and paste that particular line onto a Word document or a Google Doc and increase the font so the Hebrew words are quite large. Print out a copy of the prayer and cut up the page so each word is its own individual piece. I’ve also used a sharpie and handwritten the Hebrew words onto computer paper as you can see in the photos above and below.
Hide each individual word either somewhere in your classroom or outdoors in a designated area. When you’re ready, tell the students to start looking for the hidden pieces. Once they find them all, the students can all work together and begin to unscramble the phrase by reading each Hebrew word that they find and trying to put the pieces in order.
If you choose a segment from a prayer that has more than five words, I highly encourage you to take photos on your phone of where you hid each word. There have been times when I can’t remember where I hid one of the pieces of paper!
I love to hide the pieces outside on the last day of school. It’s typically beautiful weather, and I can set boundaries for the area in which they will find the pieces and the students won’t tear apart the classroom.
If you are working with younger children, you could have them search for hidden Hebrew letters, and if you are teaching a conversational Hebrew class, you can hide Hebrew vocabulary words and have the student that finds each piece call out the meaning of the Hebrew word.
Hebrew Memory Game
A Hebrew matching game is a good way for your students to memorize the Hebrew letters or start to read basic Hebrew words. But, it can be a pretty pointless learning exercise if the kids are simply flipping over Hebrew letters and trying to match the shapes without actually learning the names of the letters. So, I encourage you to modify the game rules a bit. If the student successfully finds a match, he or she needs to also say the name of the Hebrew letter correctly or properly read the Hebrew word before putting the match into their pile. If not, the turn is over, and the other student can look for a match with quite a big advantage if that other student knows the correct answer.
There is an online version of the Hebrew memory matching game that I have played with my students during virtual tutoring sessions. You can play against the computer or play with two players.
How the Hebrew game is played:
Create a pack of cards with two sets of the same topic. For example, two cards with the letter Alef, two cards with the letter Bet, all the way down the Hebrew alphabet. Shuffle the cards and lay them face down on the table in rows. Player 1 turns over any two cards (one at a time) and keeps them if the cards match (for instance, two zayins). If the player successfully matches a pair they get to keep the cards, and that player gets another turn. When a player turns over two cards that do not match, those cards are turned face down again — in the same position — and it becomes the next player’s turn. The trick is to remember which cards are where. The student with the most pairs at the end of the game wins.
Hebrew Hangman is a great game because it is so versatile. It’s one of the few Hebrew learning games that you can play one-on-one with a student if you are doing private tutoring, and also with a classroom full of students. The game also tests the student’s memory because they have to recall Hebrew letters in order to guess the Hebrew letter to make the word.
How the Hebrew game is played:
The teacher or host chooses a secret word. The other players will need to guess your word letter by letter, so choose a word that you think will be difficult for the players to guess. Draw a blank line for each letter of the word. For example, if the word is avocado, the host would draw four to six blanks, one for each letter and vowel. Once the blank spaces have been drawn, players begin asking the host which letters are in the word. If the player guesses a letter correctly, the host fills the letter into the blank space where it occurs. If not, the host draws a part of the hangman. If the players guess the host’s word before the host completes the full drawing of the Hangman, then they win. You can adjust the difficulty of the game based on how detailed the completed hangman is. If your classroom’s hangman has facial features, then it will be an easier game versus a class that only allows the outline of a stick figure.
Hebrew Hangman works much better if its a Hebrew vocabulary game because you can use Hebrew words as the secret word. I do include vowels when I play Hebrew Hangman, so if a player guesses the Hebrew letter correctly, I also write the vowel associated with that letter underneath the letter or next to it.
I teach my students to read Hebrew, so I use English words to play Hebrew Hangman which makes the game a little bit trickier because Hebrew has different vowel sounds than English does. For example, you can’t exactly replicate the word pillowcase because there is no vowel in Hebrew that makes the same sound as the “i” in pill. There’s also no “w” equivalent. So, you have to think of words like avocado, where the letters and vowel sounds mimic each other both in Hebrew and in English.
In Hebrew, some of the letters have the same English sound. For example, Sin and Samech both make an “s” sound like snake. And with a word like avocado, there are actually three different times within the word where this occurs. You could write the initial “ah” syllable with both an Aleph or Ayin. You could write the second syllable “vo” with either a vet or a vav, and you could write the third syllable “ca” with either a koof or a kaf. So, if the student guesses either of the letters with the same sound, both would be correct. It is up to the student, however, not to guess the other letter with the same sound if the letter is already part of the word. Ex. If the player has already guessed vet for avocado and the teacher has written the vet above the second blank line, then vav would be a wrong answer for the rest of the game.
Whiteboard Hebrew Games for the Classroom
Get your students actively involved by having them come up to the whiteboard one at time. The rest of the class will have to practice reading the Hebrew word if they themselves want a chance to use the teacher’s Dry Erase marker and create their own Hebrew word for the class to guess.
How the game is played:
The teacher starts by putting up a Hebrew word on the whiteboard of the classroom. This can be an actual word in the Hebrew language or it can be a random collection of letters and vowels related to the class Hebrew lesson. Whichever student reads the “word” aloud correctly first, can then come up to the whiteboard and write their own “word” for the rest of the class to guess. This Hebrew reading game gets the students up and out of their seats — they are usually thrilled to be able to write on the whiteboard with a dry erase marker — and its a great way for students to practice reading Hebrew.
If the students aren’t comfortable drawing letters on their own, you can have them use a Hebrew workbook or prayer book to find the letter that they are looking for and copy exactly how to hand write the letter in Hebrew.
What fun Hebrew games do you play to help your students learn to read Hebrew? Are there any Hebrew games online that you recommend? Please let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out these other posts on the BMA blog!