Real Hebrew Bathtub Letters This Time

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my five-year-old son is learning Hebrew, using the materials from Sarah and David. Part of his learning process was to re-shape his English bathtub letters into Hebrew ones, as noted and pictured here. Now (thanks, Diana!) he has real ones:


And he’s pretty happy about them, too:

Son with Letters

More updates on our Hebrew learning adventures soon!

My five-year-old son reviews: The Hebrew Language

Okay, so he’s not really reviewing the Hebrew language, but he is learning it. Wanting to spend more time with my kids this summer, and seeing a voracious appetite for learning in my five-year-old son, I offered to help him learn a language. I told him I could offer Hebrew (of the biblical variety), Greek (koine/New Testament), and Spanish.

He opted for Hebrew. Thinking about demographic trends in the U.S. these next few decades, I gently pushed back: How about Spanish? No. Hebrew. He wanted to learn Hebrew. So we’ve begun.

We’ve been using materials from Sarah and David, a publishing company that specializes in Hebrew language materials for children. The materials are organized in stages, with learning the letters first, then a focus on reading, then finally speaking Hebrew. Here’s a curriculum overview in their own words:

Aleph Bet Story setThe Sarah and David curriculum was built backwards from Bar/Bat Mitzvah with the goal of addressing reading difficulties students continue to have with accuracy and fluency in the upper grades.  Beginning with The Aleph Bet Story and through to The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Book, both teachers and students have a consistent approach to use from year to year to reinforce letters, vowels and reading skills. 

Using the curriculum, schools have found that they can introduce the reading process early, teachers learn instructional cues to guide the learning and students practice skills that can be applied to any reading exercise or text. Used in religious schools across the county, the reading program has also proven to be helpful to resource room teachers, special needs and late-start students, and adult learners.

The very friendly folks at Sarah and David sent us most of the Part One materials for review (and set us up with a Web account, which you can purchase here). My five-year-old and I have had just over two weeks so far with The Aleph Bet StoryThe Aleph Bet Story Activity Book, The Aleph Bet Story WorkbookThe Sarah and David Read Hebrew Primer (from Part Two of the curriculum), and The Aleph Bet Story Audio CD.

We’ll offer a multi-part review as we continue to work our way through the materials. For now, I offer praise for the effectiveness of the learning system. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Or in the bathtub letters, in this case. After less than a week with the materials, my five-year-old son had used bath time to make this:

shin and sin

From right to left (how you read Hebrew), that’s shin and sin, which look like this:

shin and sin print

Cool, huh? I never would have thought to do that.

My five-year-old loves these materials. Nearly every morning on his drive with me to pre-K, we listen to the CD. Nearly every night when I ask him to pick a book to read, he picks one of the Sarah and David books. And he often reads them on his own, or practices the writing and other exercises in the activity book and workbook. I don’t want to be *that dad* who makes his kids learn biblical languages before they can even read Captain Underpants, so I haven’t pushed much at all. He’s really enjoyed learning Hebrew with very little prodding from me.

This has all been really fun for us lately, and Sarah and David has made the learning process smooth and enjoyable.

Thanks to Sarah and David for the books and Web account for the purposes of review. I promised them only honesty, so they have not expected anything of our review. Expect more this summer as we continue to review the materials and learn Hebrew together.

My five-year-old son reviews: Can You Count to a Googol?

can you count to a googol

“Can you count to a googol?”

“I can’t. I think it might take a hundred days to count to a googol. You think so, daddy?”

Thus inquired my 5-year-old son as we sat down to read Can You Count to a Googol? by Robert E. Wells.

As the book worked its way through various numbers leading up to googol, it asked, “What would YOU do with ONE BILLION dollars?” My son said, “Spend it for something that is one billion dollars… but one billion dollars is a lot!”

Here’s his review of the book, in his words:

This book tells you everything about a googol. A googol is a number: a really, really, really, really big number. It is 1 with a hundred zeros after it. And how about we write it to show you what it looks like?


In one picture, 10 monkeys are balancing 100 bananas, and some bananas are balancing each other! And there’s a girl clapping, and a boy raising his hands, and a wagon with a basket in it. The picture is trying to show us how many 100 is.

In another picture, there’s a big thing: there’s 100 eagles carrying two people and two monkeys. And 100 penguins–each have 10 ice creams.

There’s nothing that’s googol, not even all of the people in the whole universe. Stars aren’t googol. Asteroids aren’t googol, too.

This book might be good for 5-year-olds and up. So a little bit the best for 4-year-olds. And a LOT best for 5-year-olds.

[Dad’s editorial note: When the page appeared on which a monkey and some children were writing out a googol on a board, my 5-year-old stopped and counted every 0–there really were 100.]

Thanks to Albert Whitman & Company for the copy of the book to review. Its product page is here; at Amazon here.

Apocalyptic Dialogue with my 5-Year-Old Son

flaming plane

It went like this:

Me: These Duplos have eyes all over them. It’s like a creature from Revelation.

He: What’s Revelation?

Me: It’s a book in the Bible. There are all sorts of creatures in it. Dragons, too. It will be a great book for you to read sometime, maybe when you are older.

He: Why?

Me: It’s a little bit scary.

He: Is there a movie?

Well, yes, son, there is a movie. Quite a lot of them, in fact. But we’ll start with the book first.

He’s started on chapter books with us, though, so we’ve been able to begin tackling some fun stories, like this. Revelation, perhaps, later.

My 5-year-old son reviews The Friendly Beasts

The Friendly Beasts

This book tells the story of the friendly beasts. The friendly beasts are a cow, donkey, dove, and lamb. I don’t see another animal. But there’s baby Jesus! And there’s a camel in there. The camel brought him a gift. The donkey carried Jesus’ mama.

Jesus was a baby. (I knew that before I even had this book.) He was born in a manger.

I liked the CD [AKJ: that comes with the book–four tracks, including “The Friendly Beasts” by Rebecca St. James], because it was about Jesus. I liked the book because of the animals.

This book is good for 8-year-olds and 6-year-olds and 1-year-olds and 5-year-olds. This book would make people feel good.

Thanks to Zondervan/Zonderkidz for the review copy for my 5-year-old son to review with his honest impressions. Click on the image above to find out more about the book.

My 5-year-old son reviews Wild Kratts

My 4-year-old son is now my 5-year-old son. We thought it would be a good idea for him to review his new favorite show, Wild Kratts. Here he is:

I watched it on TV and then I noticed it on there, and it became my favorite movie to watch.

It’s about Martin and Chris, and they are the Wild Kratts. Their colors are blue and green. Chris is green; Martin is blue.

Aviva, Koki, and Jimmy are in Wild Kratts, too. Aviva makes motions, like materials to help the Wild Kratts. Koki writes stuff up and checks what’s happening around the world. Jimmy controls his controller and it gets the miniaturizer to do stuff. Like, he pushed the top level button and it just, like, gets the miniaturizer to get going.

People stand on it and turn it on, and when you turn it on, it goes shoop! and then you’re that small. One of them or the other of them or two of them [Chris and Martin] get small. When they get small they check out little creatures, like a worm. That was one of them that they did a miniaturizer for.

My favorite part about the show is seeing new animals, like: a spider, a hort-hog [AKJ: warthog, he means], and… a horse. I don’t know if they have a horse one.

The tortuga is a flying kind of turtle. They get in it and it helps them fly around. They fly to wherever the rescue needs to be. (They rescue creatures.)

It’s on at 3:30 on channel number 3, PBS Kids Go. All those kids movies are called PBS Kids Go.

My brother likes it. He really sings it a lot. Now I think he really likes that one.