Parashat Re'eh begins with a clear directive from Moshe. "Re'eh [see] I put before you today a blessing and a curse." The blessing, it goes on to explain, is keeping the mitzvot. The curse is not following Hashem's commandments.
The opening of this parasha is wonderful for children, as they are not yet able to understand abstract thought. The world is pretty black and white to them, so blessings/mitzvot are good and curses are bad is simple for them to understand. They are not bogged down in the grey yet, and I think children understand this and are able to fear the potential consequence more than an adult.
With Elul approaching, we have been discussing moznayim [scales] and how mitzvot are weighed against averot. The opening message of Re'eh reinforces these themes.
Moshe goes on to explain that when the Jewish people enter Israel there will be some sort of mountaintop ceremony in relationship to those blessed and those cursed. On Har Gerizim the blessings will be given. On Har Eval (evil?) the curses will be dispensed. This connection between behavior and location also resonates with children. The good people are on the good mountain. The naughty ones are 'in time out' on the other one.
This week I attended an amazing educators' conference organized by the ZFA. The keynote speaker was Rav Benny Lau. He explained that there is no reason to explain the entire parasha, or even large sections to small children. A pasuk, a word, a single idea that they understand properly is far more important than getting caught up in stories and not internalizing much. They have a whole life ahead of them to learn the whole pshat, and later learn mefarshim and midrash. This is a major paradigm shift for me. I will be trying it out over the coming weeks.
Therefore all my girls learned about Re'eh was what I explained above. And Cohava was so excited about the shin in her hair, that we did something very similar this week. They each wore two 'mountains' on top of their head. You can ask them which mountain is which.
I guess Ruti read the end of the parasha about the shalosh regalim and walking to Jerusalem for them.She just started pulling herself up. She might be walking by Sukkot, but not all the way to Yerushalayim.