Home / Contact Us / Site Map /   / Current Moon Phase:

Shomrei Adamah Curriculum Guide

All curriculum at the Teva Learning Center is taught through: (1) hands-on exploration of the natural world, (2) study and discussion of Jewish texts and practice as it relates to the natural world, and (3) non-competitive group-building activities, projects and games.

The Shomrei Adamah program, created primarily for 6th graders, is the longest running Teva program. The goal of the program, to instill a strong Jewish environmental ethic, is the heart of Teva's purpose.

A. The Natural World

The following is an overview of the main ecology concepts that students will be introduced to during their time at Teva. With each ecology concept they will also learn the environmental problems that are associated. In other words, as students learn the elements of a healthy ecosystem, they also understand what can make an unhealthy system.

Please note that the initial sentence(s) of each concept is a summary in the manner in which students will be learning the concept. For the teacher's reference we have the ecological and environmental terminology listed as well.

  1. Energy Flow: Sunlight is the source of energy for all life. It is absorbed by producers and transferred in decreasing amounts to consumers and decomposers.

    Main concepts: photosynthesis, food chains, trophic levels, entropy, and vegetarianism.

  2. Cycles: As these organisms grow, they use, in addition to sunlight energy, materials which are essential for their survival. These materials are found in reservoirs in the earth's air, soil, and water. They are used and returned in an endless cycle.

    Main concepts: decomposition, plant and animal respiration, condensation, precipitation, evaporation, and filtration; global warming, pesticide use, erosion, run-off, dioxins and PCBs.

  3. Interconnectedness: In meeting their needs, organisms interact with one another and their habitats in complex ways. Groups of plants and animals that live together in specific areas create communities.

    Main concepts: food webs, predator/prey relationships, habitats, competition, and mutualism.

  4. Diversity: The abundance of clean water, rich soil and pure air has permitted an extraordinary number of organisms to evolve and inhabit earth.

    Main concepts: niches, adaptations, and biodiversity; deforestation, habitat loss and urban sprawl.

B. Current Environmental Issues

Human beings have impacted the natural world in profound ways. Teva students learn about environmental issues that affect them most directly. They also learn what they can do to live more sustainable lives. Natural science and Jewish ethics provide the foundation for our moral imperative of literal Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Main concepts: Generally - pollution and over-consumption; Specifically - recycling, re-using, and reducing consumption, organics, energy and water efficiency, etc.

C. Judaica

It is Teva's goal to a) renew the ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism and b) to allow students to experience Jewish learning and living in a new, vibrant way. Throughout their stay, students in their kvutzot are challenged through study and discussion of Jewish texts, concepts, laws and values. In addition to text study, Teva recognizes the power of tefila (prayers), hitbodedut (meditation), journaling, and singing to create meaningful Jewish outdoor nature experiences for children. While it is impossible to list every Jewish concept or text your students may discuss the following is an overview of our core curriculum:

Tefilot and Brachot (Prayers and Blessings):

  • Brachot ha'ne'he'nin and Brachot HaHodaot
  • Maariv Aravim
  • Brachot ha'Shachar
  • Amidah
  • Tehillim
  • Tfilat Geshem v'Tal
  • Shema
  • Birkat Hamazon and Hamotzi
  • Radical Amazement, as discussed by Rabbi A. J. Heschel and Brachot as a means of pausing to notice the miracles of the world
  • Tanach:

  • Breishit (Genesis 1 and 2) - This is the most central text that we reference. For a more detailed description of what we teach from Breishit, please contact us.
  • Jacob's dream (Genesis 28)
  • Biblical concept of "brit" and important britot in the Torah
  • Wandering in the Midbar (wilderness)
  • Prophetic warnings of Isaiah and Jeremiah
  • Revelation at Sinai

    Mitzvot and Halachot (Jewish laws):

  • Bal Tash'chit
  • Tikkun Olam
  • Tza'ar Ba'aley Chaim
  • Pikoo-ach Nefesh and Shmirat Ha'Goof
  • Shabbat
  • Shiloo-ah ha-ken
  • Shmita
  • Peah, Orlah, and Leket
  • Yovel

    Chaggim (Holidays), Jewish Life Cycles, and Rituals:

  • Shalosh Regalim - Passover (and counting of the Omer), Shavuot, and Sukkot - especially the agricultural and spiritual implications of the holidays
  • Becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah
  • Shabbat and Havdalah
  • Chanukah
  • Rosh Chodesh and Kiddush Levanah

    Figures in Jewish history with close connections to nature, their stories and writings:

  • Patriarchs and Matriarchs
  • Miriam and Moses
  • King David, Job and the Prophets
  • Honi Ha-M'agal
  • Rabbi Akiva
  • Rambam
  • Baal Shem Tov
  • Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav
  • Rachel and A.D. Gordon
  • Rav A. I. Kook
  • Rabbi A. J. Heschel and Rabbi L. Kushner

    D. Group Building Activities

    Students are presented with a wide variety of physical and mental challenges that need to be solved as a group. Some activities occur on an outdoor Challenge Course; others are as basic as deciding which trail to pursue or how to divide an extra sandwich.

    E. Teva Beads

    Teva beads are a motivational tool that the Teva Learning Center employs to encourage and engage students. While at Teva, students have an opportunity to earn four different beads, corresponding to the major Teva themes of Awareness, Ecology, Responsibility, and Togetherness (please see the Thematic Overview above for details). The beads provide:

    • A tool to define and outline the structure and flow of the units
    • Incentive to learn while at Teva
    • An element of fun
    • A way to instill pride in students accomplishments and their new level of learning
    • A tangible symbol of what Teva stands for once they leave Teva; We have heard from kids who have worn their Teva beads every day for a year after their Teva session
    • Continued incentive to work on their personal commitments upon leaving Teva

    To help the students remember our themes, the beads correspond to the acronym T.E.V.A.

    • Togetherness
    • Ecology
    • (V)Bal Tashchit - we have chosen this mitzvah to represent our Responsibility curriculum
    • Awareness

    In addition, six weeks after their Teva program, students have the opportunity to earn a fifth bead, in the design of the earth. Once students have made an emotional and sensory connection with the forest and have learned about the relationships that govern life on earth, they are ready to examine their responsibility to sustain Creation. The Bal Tashchit unit serves the dual purpose of introducing students to basic environmental problems and empowering them to make earth-sustaining changes in their personal lives, schools and communities.

    At the end of the Teva week, each student makes a personal commitment to help the planet, called a Brit Adamah (Covenant with the Earth). These commitments are changes in their daily life that affect the health of the planet. When students have completed their task and maintained the change for at least six weeks, they have the opportunity to send in a postcard to Teva informing us of their accomplishment. These students receive the special fifth "earth bead." Wearing their completed necklace is a constant reminder of their ongoing relationship with the earth. For further explanation, please refer to p.8 of the enclosed student manual and the enclosed Brit Adamah postcard.

     For More Information:
      -  General Information
      -  Curricular Overview
      -  Thematic Overview
      -  Sample Schedule
      -  Sample Menu
     Select a Program:

    receive tikkun tips
    Tikkun Tips is an informative bi-weekly email that features one simple change or action that you can take to reduce your impact on the environment. Sign up today, and see how easy it is to do your part in Tikkun Olam, healing the world.

    Email Address: