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Israel Unit Study

I really enjoy writing a column for the Old Schoolhouse magazine called the International Schoolhouse.  In the article, I get the chance to share with you about the landscape, the history and the culture of the highlighted country, in this case Israel.  However, there is so much to tell that simply overflows a 1500 word article that I have decided to compile the remainder of the information as a unit study for you. 

If you do not subscribe to the Old Schoolhouse magazine, you can read a sample issue here -  Or better yet, subscribe here - The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC - and get the winter issue this month with the Israel article that I have written, plus many, many more wonderful articles of encouragement from other inspirational authors.  It is their best issue yet.  Oh, and did I mention that you get a bunch of free gifts with your new subscription.

Okay, so now that you have read the article, it's time to dive in for some hands-on learning to cement your student's growing knowledge of this pivotal Middle Eastern country.

Unit Study:

1.  READING SELECTIONS - Let's start with some extra reading.  Listed below are some great books about Israel, or set in the Middle Eastern country of Israel, that will provide many hours of enjoyable reading.  The links below will take you to for more information, but you can find these at your local library.  Read for pleasure alone, or have your kids write a book report on one of these selections.


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The first book listed here is for younger children, approximately kindergarten through 2nd grade.  The next three are for older children, approximately 3rd grade up through 8th.

If you are looking for a couple of books for older students - middle and high school students - you might be interested to take a look at these novels set in Israel during 1967 and then in 1992 for the sequel.


Note: I have not read these books, but they have come highly recommended to me.  I have read other books by this author - Lynne Reid Banks - and I can attest to her engaging and suspenseful writing style.  As with all books, it is always best to preview them before handing them over to your child.

2. HISTORY & TIMELINES - Learn more about Israel by compiling historical facts and events from its long and eventful history and adding them to your timeline.  If you do not have a timeline on the go, you can construct one by following these directions - How to Make a Timeline Easily.  Here is a link to a wonderful resource for timeline entries about Israel -  Here is another one that you may enjoy perusing or using for dates & events -

PLEASE NOTE - We do not endorse these sites nor have we critically scrutinized each date that is included on these timelines.  Biblical dates (any date preceding 1200BC for that matter) are often under vigorous debate.  If you disagree about a date because of a resource that you rely heavily upon or because of your own personal research, that is fine.  Just mark in the date that you are most comfortable with.  

3. MAPWORK - A unit study would not be complete without taking a good look at the lay of the land.  Click here for both a labeled and unlabeled map of Israel.  Have your students mark some of the major cities, the neighboring countries, and the sea to the west, at the least.  For older students, have them use your teacher's map and fill in the rest!

4. RECIPES - This is my favorite part - the food from the land! Typical foods of the Middle East include flat bread, lentils, fresh fruit and nuts, raw vegetables, lamb, beef, and dairy products, including goat cheese and many types of yogurt. Some dishes feature grilled meats and fish, stuffed vegetables, and traditional spicy Mediterranean salads and spreads, such as fava bean spread. Typical dishes are stews, schnitzel (veal, chicken, or turkey cutlets), cheese-filled crepes (blintzes), matzo balls (dumplings eaten with chicken soup), and latkes (potato pancakes). Israel was called the "land of milk and honey" in the Bible. Sweets, such as candy made from honey and sesame seeds, are favorites among school children.

Fava Bean Spread


  • One can of fava beans, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper (more if you like pepper)
  • Pita bread, torn or cut into triangles


  1. Drain the can of beans, and empty the beans into a saucepan.
  2. Heat over low heat, mashing the beans against the side of the saucepan with a wooden spoon as they heat.
  3. Continue mashing until the beans have become thick, pasty, and warm.
  4. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature with triangles of pita bread.


Note: This recipe involves hot oil. Adult supervision is required. Many grocery stores now sell prepared felafel in the deli section.


  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, well-drained
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅔ cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • Oil for deep frying, enough to fill the pot about 3 inches
  • Pita bread


  1. Mash the chickpeas in a large bowl.
  2. Cut the garlic into tiny pieces. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs to the chickpeas. Mix the ingredients together.
  3. Add the eggs and oil to the mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. Heat oil in the pot until little bubbles rise to the surface.
  5. Shape the mixture into 16 balls, each about 1-inch across.
  6. With the mixing spoon, gently place a few of the balls in the oil—do not drop them in because the hot oil may splash.
  7. Fry a few at a time until they are golden brown—about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the felafel with the slotted spoon. Drain them on a plate covered with paper towels.
  9. To serve, cut pita bread in half to make pockets.
  10. Put two or three felafel balls into each pocket and drizzle with tahini sauce (see recipe).

Serves 6 to 8.

Tahini Sauce

Some grocery stores stock tahini sauce, already prepared, or packaged tahini mix.


  • ¾ cup tahini (sesame seed paste; can be purchased in stores that sell Middle Eastern foods)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup water


  1. Mix tahini, lemon juice, and garlic powder in bowl until you have a smooth sauce.
  2. Add the water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until sauce is thin enough to pour.
  3. Pour tahini sauce over pita sandwiches; can also be used as a dip for raw vegetables.


2/3 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup pulp-free orange juice

1 cup white flour

1 cup wheat flour – no substitutes

2 tsp baking powder



Beat butter and sugar thoroughly.  Add egg and mix until well combined.  Add the orange juice and mix again, until well combined.  Add flour, ½ c at a time, alternating white and wheat, blending thoroughly between each addition.  Add baking powder with last addition of flour.  Refrigerate until chilled thoroughly – a few hours or overnight. 


Roll dough as thin as possible without tearing (you may want to roll it between two sheets of flour-dusted wax paper).  Cut out 3-4 in [7.6 – 10 cm]circles.  Put a dollop of jam in the middle of each circle and fold up sides to make a triangle, overlapping as much as possible so only a small amount of jam shows in the center.  Pinch corners to seal.  Bake at 350 F [176 C] for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.

Sesame Candy


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 24 ounces honey
  • 24 ounces sesame seeds
  • Juice squeezed from one orange (or ½ cup orange juice)
  • Grated rind of orange
  • Peanut oil


  1. Measure honey and sugar into a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture boils vigorously.
  2. Lower the heat just enough to keep the mixture bubbling. Add the sesame seeds, orange juice, and rind.
  3. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking sheet with peanut oil.
  5. Pour candy mixture onto it and press down on the surface with a wooden spoon to flatten it.
  6. Set baking sheet on a cooling rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Cut into rectangles or diamond shapes.
  7. Allow to cool completely. Wrap pieces in wax paper to store.



The people of Israel create some amazing and exquisite craft items that they use and sell to make a living.  Here are a few fun projects that you can do with your children. 

Hebrew Calligraphy - Learn to write like a Sofer using these handy tutorials! Before long, you'll be drawing like a pro. Here's the link -

Make your own dreidle - Chanukah Dreidels (spinning tops) are a tradition going back to the beginning of Judaism.  Here's the link -

God bless your educational endeavors!



Terri Johnson

Knowledge Quest, Inc.



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