Shuk Exploration

Imagine yourself at Shuk Machane Yehuda, the market in Jerusalem. Think of the smells, sounds, and faces that surround you. The bustle of the marketplace on Friday morning before Shabbat. The many languages, vendors calling out their wares. It is a sensory buffet, a corner of the world overflowing with opportunities to notice, wonder, and appreciate the uniqueness of Israel and her people.

How can we bring a sense of this special place to our youngest learners? What might it mean to immerse them in such a specific Israeli experience? Here are a few ideas to get you started!


Set up a shuk (שוק), or market for your participants using spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, and videos or recorded sounds of the marketplace. The key here will be an immersive atmosphere that overloads their senses. Don’t be afraid to have bowls overflowing with materials they can reach their hands into, collect into their own containers, and experience in multiple ways.

Use this video to simulate walking through the market: you can project it on a wall behind where you have shuk stations set up, play it on an individual screen as children move through the space, or use it as an introduction to the shuk before you open the exploration.


Allow children to fully explore the space using all of their senses. They can collect spices and foods that appeal to them and move to individual spaces to investigate further, or simply walk through the area you have created, touching, observing, and smelling along the way.

Taste new foods. Bring in dates, dried fruits, sabra, and other Israeli fruits and vegetables for children to taste.

Watch the video of the shuk as a group, listening for the different sounds, words, and languages they can identify. Have them raise their hands when they hear a noise they recognize, or when they hear something they’ve never heard before!


Gather your own pictures to show the group some of the people you might see at the shuk.

  • Discuss what is different about them, and what is the same.
  • See if you can notice the various foods they are selling—what is familiar to you? What is something you’ve never seen before?
  • Who is shopping at the shuk? What do you think they are buying?


Challenge the group with these questions:

  • How many different colored foods can you spot in the shuk video?
  • How many variations of one color?
  • Can you make a rainbow on your plate of the food from our shuk?

Offer a variety of foods for the group to arrange in categories:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Peels and skin
  • Sort by color
  • New and familiar
  • Likes and dislikes

One at a time, ask each child to select something from the shuk:

  • A fruit
  • A vegetable
  • Something soft
  • Something hard
  • Something spicy, salty, sweet, etc.

Create graph with the group:

  • Vote on the group’s favorite food, spice, etc.
  • Illustrate how many things were brand new for each child
  • “What should we call this?” (this works well for unexplored fruit such as sabra, passionfruit, etc.)
  • Create signs with the group for your shuk. Depending on the age group, these can be written names of each food, pictures, prices, or other decorations.
  • Use Hebrew and English lettering to label areas of the shuk.