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Sacramento Area Jewish Educators


January 10, 2021

Show Yourself If

This is an ice-breaker to help participants who are meeting for the first time to connect with one another and see what things they have in common.


  1. The host begins by asking everyone to stop their video.

  2. The host then states a prompt that begins with “Show yourself if…” and can be followed by whatever you’d like. Ask participants to start their video if the prompt is true for them. Example prompts include:

    1. Show yourself if you have a pet

    2. Show yourself if you are you the oldest sibling

    3. Show yourself if you like ice cream

  3. Once the participants have shown themselves, pause a moment to allow all participants to take in everyone who has shown themselves. Then ask everyone to stop their videos again.

  4. Repeat for as many times as you’d like. Once you have done several rounds, you may choose to ask other participants to provide their own prompt. Feel free to give them the option to do so vocally, or to type their prompts in chat where you can then read the prompt out loud for them.

Word Ball

1. You may choose to have participants do this activity all together in the main session, or if you have a group larger than 10, you may choose to split them up into breakout rooms.

2. Assign a number to each of the participants and ask them to rename themselves by placing their number in front of their names. This creates an order -- essentially a “virtual circle”. We find it easiest if the host assigns number 1 to themselves.

3. The host holds an imaginary ball and “passes” the ball to the next person in sequential order by throwing the ball directly into the camera. When passing the ball, the host says a word.

4. The next person “catches” the ball, repeating the word that was passed to them by the previous person. They then pass the ball to the next person, saying the first word that comes to mind.

5. This continues until the last person catches the ball and then passes their new word ball to the first person. The cycle repeats for as many times as you wish.


Notes: This activity should be done quickly. When people play this game for the first time, they may want to spend a lot of time thinking of the “right” word. It’s helpful to remind them the right word is the first word that comes to mind and the objective is to be as quick and spontaneous as possible.

Story Spine                            

The Story Spine is an effective framework for telling an engaging, cohesive story. When used as an activity for students, it helps keep students focused and playfully co-creating, which in turn helps to establish a sense of community and trust. You can either keep the stories general or incorporate themes and content from class.


  1. Ask the students to rename themselves by placing a number in front of their name, from 1 to 9. It's also helpful to paste the Story Spine in chat so that students can easily follow along.

  2. The first person will start off with number 1, "Once upon a time" and finish the sentence with whatever they like.

  3. The rest of the students continue in order, each adding on a line from the Story Spine (Everyday..., But one day..., etc.) until they reach the last line of the story, number 9.


Story Spine:

  1. Once upon a time...

  2. Everyday...

  3. But one day...

  4. Because of that...

  5. Because of that...

  6. Because of that...

  7. Until finally...

  8. Ever since then...

  9. The morale of the story is...   



  • This activity can also be done in smaller groups, pairs, or even solo. 

  • You can easily adapt this exercise for Jewish learning content. You can choose to keep this openly based on a theme (Purim for example), or can seed the first line of the story (“Once upon a time there was a queen named Vashti who refused to dance for the king” for example). 

  • You can make the story as long as you want by adding more "Because of that..." lines in the middle of the story.

Group Drawing

The group will be drawing a picture together. Every student should have a piece of paper and a writing utensil available.


  1. Depending on the group:

    1. You can announce what the theme of this drawing will be (e.g. “A seder table”, “Crossing the Red Sea”, etc.)

    2. You can also solicit suggestions from the students as to the theme.

  2. In turn, students will specify an element to be added to the picture. When doing so, you will coach the students to specify the element to be added as well as the location in the drawing that the element ought to be drawn.

  3. Depending on the SIZE of the group:

    1. If the group is relatively large, the teacher may call on students in turn to contribute.

    2. If the group is relatively small (and/or you are doing this activity with adults), people may contribute at random, popcorn style.

  4. Once you are ready to end the activity, ask someone to name the drawing, and have everyone write the name of the drawing somewhere on their paper.

  5. Now it’s time to share what we’ve drawn! This can be done a couple ways. You might ask each person to share theirs, one person at a time. You might ask a small group of people to share theirs together at the same time so everyone has a chance to appreciate the similarities and the differences between each drawing (using Zoom to “spotlight” multiple people at the same time is great for this).

  6. At the very end, you can also ask everyone to hold their picture up to the camera and take a screenshot which you distribute to everyone after class.

Remember Our Trip?

Two students are going to recall an imaginary trip that they took with each other. 

The location of the trip can be set in either modern times or in the past. This exercise gives students an opportunity to imagine themselves in these locations and create a personal relationship with them in a fun, engaging way with others.

  1. Firstly, choose a location for this imaginary trip. For example, let’s say the location is present-day Israel.

  2. In breakout rooms of 2 students each, one student will start. To make it easier to determine who goes first, you can specify that the person with the longer hair goes first or the person whose first name starts earlier (or later) in the alphabet goes first. The first student will start with “Remember our trip to Israel?” 

  3. The second student will respond with “Yes, and…” and finish the sentence with whatever they’d like.

  4. The first student responds to that with “Yes, and…” and finishes the sentence with whatever they’d like.

  5. The two go back and forth like this until the end of the breakout room session. 3-4 minutes tends to be a good amount of time for this activity.

  6. If at any point one of the students feels like the story has come to a close, they can say “Yes, and next time let’s remember to bring the rubber ducky” and that will end the story. They can then begin a new one if there is time. 

Gibberish Talk Show

We’re going to be hosting a talk show. One person will play the guest who only speaks in gibberish, one will play the translator, and another will play the host. The rest will be the studio audience.

  1. Before you begin, you may find it helpful to coach your students on what gibberish sounds like. gibberish sounds like you're speaking a language with a range of words and sounds. Gibberish doesn’t sound like “blah blah blah” or “dah dah dah dah dah”, where you’re simply repeating a sound over and over. Instead it may sound something more like “Gabbo sinklesi varolly hoom”. Everyone’s gibberish is going to sound different, which is great! It’s helpful to take about half a minute or so to have everyone practice their gibberish together as a group at the same time.

  2. Choose the character who will be the talk show guest. The character could be a person from biblical times or even more modern times. The character could even be an inanimate object or a concept (e.g. a mezuza, maror, Hanukkah, etc.). The teacher may predetermine who that character will be depending on the lesson they plan on teaching that day. If this activity will be done toward the end of class, or of a unit, the teacher might solicit suggestions for a character from the students based on what they have learned so far.

  3. The teacher will solicit students to play the talk show guest, the translator, as well as the host. For the first few times you do this activity, it’s helpful for the teacher to play the role of host. Once folks have had a chance to get a feel for this activity, the teacher might choose a student to play the host. This often feels like a treat for students!

  4. The host will start off the talk show something like this:

    1. “Welcome everyone to our talk show. We’re very excited to be speaking with our guest today. It turns out that our guest can only speak in gibberish. Fortunately they have brought their translator with them today who can help us translate between English and gibberish. Let’s give them a round of applause!”

  5. The host will then ask a number of questions to the guest. Try to be as playful as you can when asking these questions. We want to avoid making this feel like a test for the students. One of our goals is to have the students relate to the subject matter in a fun and engaging way. If the guest is a chanukiah, you might ask questions like “Where do you live right now?”, “How do you like the family that you’re living with?”, “The last night of Chanukah is coming up -- how do you feel about that?”

  6. The order of play:

    1. Host asks a question.

    2. Talk show guest answers question in gibberish.

    3. Translator translates answer to English. This process repeats.

  7. Once the host has asked a few questions, they might then solicit questions from the rest of the class. For instance, “Now, let’s take a few questions from our studio audience. Does anyone have a question they would like to ask our guest?”

  8. At the end of the questions, don’t forget to thank the guest and translator for appearing on the show: “That’s all the time we have for today -- I want to thank our guest and our translator for taking the time to be with us today. Let’s give them a round of applause!”


  1. Even if a student speaks another language fluently that the rest of the class doesn’t understand, encourage them that they still ought to speak in gibberish.

  2. You might coach the translator that they want to reflect both the tone and the physicality of the guest. Not only does it help the guest to feel that they are being heard and that their gibberish offers are being accepted by the translator, but it’s also very gratifying for the audience to see as well!


This is a great way to harvest information from the class at the end of a session. The goal is to have students reflect on what they learned that day, what they’re taking away from the time spent together, what they noticed, or something they appreciated about an activity or person(s) in class that day.


1. It’s helpful to start with a question for the group. For example: What is one new thing you learned today?

2. One person at a time will pretend to reach for a piece log next to them and will throw it towards the camera as if throwing it into a fire. 

3. While throwing the log, they will share a learning from class that day.

4. After each person shares, the whole class will rub their hands together as if warming them by a fire and say “ooo, ahhh”. This is important! It’s very gratifying and affirming to see and hear your contribution being acknowledged in this way.

5. This activity is usually done “popcorn style” so there isn’t a particular order students participate in, but rather jump in when they have a thought to share.

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