Shabbat Resources

Browse and download free Shabbat resources for kids, prepared by Gateways' experienced special education teachers: Shabbat blessings with visual supports, Shabbat file folder activities, and books and social stories for Shabbat.  We'd love to hear your feedback!

The Gateways Shabbat Family Companion

The Gateways Shabbat Family Companion »

The newly-released Gateways Shabbat Family Companion is an excellent addition to any Shabbat celebration. This beautiful book, rich with Mayer-Johnson picture symbols, explanations and photos offers a deeper look into Shabbat blessings and rituals to help participants understand what they're doing and saying and why. Use the Shabbat Family Companion at your dinner table or in a synangogue or school setting. »»»

Shabbat Blessings with Visual Supports

Blessings with visual supports were created to help make Shabbat blessings simple, accessible, and understandable for students with a variety of disabilities. In these files, each Hebrew phrase is illustrated by a simple symbol (we use Mayer-Johnson picture symbols). Students with disabilities can follow along with each blessing and learn to understand its meaning based on the associated picture symbols. Assemble these blessings into a Shabbat prayer book, or use them to create file folder activities.

Shabbat candle blessing in picture symbols

Shabbat Candle Blessing

Blessing over Shabbat candles with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.


Kiddush in picture symbols


Kiddush with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.


Motzi in picture symbols


Motzi with Hebrew transliteration, simplified English translation and visual supports.


Shabbat File Folder Activities

File folder activities can help children review ideas and familiarize them with Jewish objects. Since they are inexpensive and relatively easy to make, you can accumulate a large stack of file folder activities in no time! The visual nature of file folder activities takes advantage of the visual strengths of children with autism and many other developmental disabilities. Click here for the Gateways Guide to Making File Folder Activities.

The Shabbat File Folder Guide for Parents gives parents four tips about how they can use Shabbat file folder activities at home to help their children participate in welcoming Shabbat.

The File Folder Guide for Teachers gives teachers specific tips for using file folder activities in the classroom. It also gives special instructions for helping students to make their own file folder activities, and tips for storing and organizing your classroom file folder activity library.

Completed color match blessing Shabbat candles activity

Color Match Blessing Shabbat Candles

Match the ladies blessing Shabbat candles by the colors of their dresses. This activity familiarizes students with the idea that we light candles on Shabbat and that we cover our eyes while we say blessings over the Shabbat candles.


Completed color match challah covers activity

Color Match Challah Covers

Match the challahs based on the colors of their challah covers. This activity will familiarize students with challah and the idea that challahs are covered with a cloth on Friday night.


Completed color match candle sticks activity

Color Match Shabbat Candle Sticks

There is one candlestick missing from each pair! Students can find each candlestick's mate by matching the color. This activity helps reinforce the idea that we light two candles on Shabbat.


Completed match associated Shabbat objects activity

Match Associated Shabbat Objects

What Shabbat objects go together? Wine and a kiddush cup, a Torah and a yad. In this activity, students match Shabbat objects that are associated with each other. Each pair of objects has the same background color, which provides students with an additional visual cue about which objects go together. This cue also will help students to correct themselves if they make an error.


Match large Shabbat objects activity

Match Large Shabbat Objects

This file folder activity involves matching large photographs of Shabbat objects. Prior to recognizing line drawings of objects, some children are better able to understand photographic representations. In addition to trying this file folder, we recommend taking photographs of the actual objects you use in your home which would lend familiarity to this task for your child. For a child with fine motor challenges, consider mounting the photographs on chunky blocks of foam, or built up cardboard.


Photo match Kiddush cups activity

Photo Match Kiddush Cups

The kiddush cup you use at home is not the only example of a kiddush cup. Students with disabilities may have difficulty understanding that kiddush cups can be different colors or shapes and still all be kiddush cups. By using photographs of a wide variety of kiddush cups, this activity will help students to generalize the idea of a kiddush cup.


Symbol match candle blessing with Boardmaker symbols

Symbol Match Candle Blessing

Students gain familiarity with the blessing over the Shabbat candles and its meaning as they match the symbols representing the blessing.


completed sequence candle blessing activity

Sequence Candle Blessing

This file folder activity is for students who are already familiar with the blessing over the Shabbat candles. This activity lets students place the blessing symbols in the correct order. Colored targets on the file folder and a colored frame around each symbol provide students with a visual cue to help them find the correct answer. This visual cue will also help students to correct themselves in case they make an error. Once this activity is mastered, try removing the colored frames and targets for a more difficult task. Another next step would be to make one of our text-matching file folder activities.


Completed group Shabbat objects with Disney friends activity

Group Shabbat Objects with Disney Friends

Mickey, Minnie, and their Disney friends each need to have candles, a kiddush cup, and a challah before Shabbat starts! Different-shaped pieces help cue students to give the correct items to each character. The shapes also help students correct themselves independently if they make an error.


Books and Social Stories for Shabbat

Children with disabilities can feel anxious about unfamiliar situations and events. Books and social stories can set them up for success by showing children what to expect.

Page from Jake's Shabbat book, I cover my eyes.

Jake's Shabbat Book

Celebrate Shabbat with Jake! One of our Gateways students demonstrates how he celebrates Shabbat on Friday night with the help of his teen volunteer. This book can help familiarize your children with Shabbat rituals. It also includes symbol prayers to help your children follow along as you recite each blessing.  Download the template to make your own Shabbat book below.


Girl putting candles into candle sticks with text underneath

Zoe's Shabbat Book

Celebrate Shabbat with Zoe! One of our Gateways students demonstrates how she celebrates Shabbat on Friday night with the help of her teen volunteer. This book can help familiarize your children with Shabbat rituals. It also includes symbol prayers to help your children follow along as you recite each blessing.  You can create your own book just like this one using the template below!


Template page for My Shabbat Book

My Shabbat Book Template

Make your child the star of his or her very own Shabbat book! Take photos of your child as you celebrate Shabbat and insert them into this Shabbat book template. The template includes the text of the Shabbat book as well as the prayers. Children just love looking at pictures of themselves as they go through the steps of welcoming Shabbat.  View samples of completed Shabbat books above.


The Temple Book cover with picture of synagogue

The Temple Book

Let's go to temple! This story helps prepare children for a trip to temple by telling them what events to expect, naming the people and items they will see, and explaining what behavior is expected of them. When children know what will happen in temple they will be less anxious and more likely to have a successful day.