Making Birkat Hamazon a Fun and Exciting Part of the Day
post by Hillel Torah | Nov 19, 2020
Fourth grade general studies teacher Shainy Peysin saw an opportunity to increase student engagement during Birkat Hamazon and took it upon herself to make Birkat Hamazon a fun and engaging part of her students’ day. Here is her story:
When I first started working at Hillel Torah, one of my responsibilities was saying Birkat Hamazon with the students after lunch. At the time, they were using laminated birkonim which had to be distributed and collected and were frequently torn or misplaced. I also noticed that students weren’t always reading from the birkonim and were making some pronunciation errors.
I thought it was amazing that each classroom had a SmartBoard and wanted to make use of it. That’s how the “Birkat Hamazon slides” were born! I put the words from the birkon onto Google Slides and then started getting creative with the slides. I added images as backgrounds, and I chose many of them to reflect the meaning of the words being said. For example, I used a picture of the Beit Hamikdash when we say the bracha about rebuilding Yerushalayim. Or a picture of matza when we mention Yetziat Mitzrayim.
Over time, the slideshow developed and improved. Now I have created a number of different slide shows to use throughout the year, including a Back to School theme and slideshows that include pictures reflective of the season or upcoming chagim. I also began sharing the slides with other classes. This year, the slides have an additional benefit of eliminating the sharing of birkonim as well.
The slideshows have increased student engagement with benching and improved their Hebrew reading skills. With 34 slides each, the words are large enough to read properly, and students can also get the privilege of manning the presentation: reading along and changing the slide at the right time. The changing background pictures keep students engaged and bring awareness and excitement about the Hebrew month or seasons.
I am happy that I was able to make Birkat Hamazon a fun and engaging part of the day!