arranging our pressed, fall leaves
A giant, collaborative leaf-rubbing print for Tu B’Shevat. We tried this in Kindergarten last Sunday and it worked. Gorgeous. And, we still had time to make individual leaf-rubbing prints to take home. The 9-foot banner will hang at the school entrance to welcome students and visitors at Tu B’Shevat. Continue reading
Click to see larger PDF and to print
Print this chart to reframe ordinary actions and values Jewishly (and in Hebrew too, even if you don’t know from Hebrew). When you catch your kid doing something good, name it, frame it, praise it. I post a copy in the classroom.
The chart makes it so easy: it names the mitzvah (commandment), the transliteration, the Hebrew term, and “When You Can Refer to It.” I’ve reproduced it here with permission.*
For example: “Common Courtesy/Respect = Derekh Eretz = דֶרֶך אֶרֶץ = When children show respect for each other, as in letting a child get in line.” (Also, table manners, taking turns, not interrupting, etc. It literally means “way of the land,” and it assumes the land is a place where we are considerate of others.) Continue reading
Things I did not anticipate at yesterday’s Kosher Grocery Quiz: 1) despite being Southern, our little Jewish kids had no idea what “pork rinds” were and did not think them hilarious, and 2) every single child assumed the “silver polish” was something ladies do to fingernails.
without exception, every child looked for the hecksher
carob pods, seeds and chips
Carob pods and carob chips for a taste (and smell and sound and sight and touch) of Tu B’Shevat.
Carob is a biggie for Tu B’Shevat. It’s a tree fruit native to the Land of Israel, it’s de rigeur at a Tu B’Shevat seder, and it’s part of the story about Honi the circle-maker lots of us read aloud on Tu B’Shevat. Continue reading
Torah breastplate upcycle (from frozen food packaging)
When my husband brought home the wrong brand of kosher pigs-in-a-blanket, I opened the box, slid the frozen contents onto the formica, and nearly plotzed.
It doesn’t take much, I can hear you thinking.
But truly, look at the plastic tray. Albeit designed to keep mini franks from merging into one giant maxi frank, it is an instant and entirely unintentional Torah scroll / priestly breastplate. An accidental choshen.
Torx screws are wee Stars of David. Have you seen them? If you’ve peed at a urinal you have. Or if you’ve waited for your preschooler inside a public loo. (In both cases, the screws are at about eye level). Torx screws are part of most public bathroom installations because they are fabulously functional. Torx don’t “strip out” as easily as do Phillips or slotted screws, because the design resists torque. There’s more to grip and less room to slip.
This anti-slip head design just happens to be a 6-pointed star: the Mogen David. Who knew the logo on the shield of an ancient king of Israel would be so darn practical? Continue reading
When life gives you a breathalyzer, make a necklace:
punch a hole on the other side, add a ring and ball chain.
LEGO Return of the Jedi minifig menorah
Hanukkah and Star Wars. Both stories involve Rebels vs. an Imperial Army. Both stories incite argument about what is in the “canon” and what isn’t.* Continue reading
K’NEX dreidel and launcher
A K’NEX dreidel launcher. Because people tell me that dreidels can get boring. Continue reading
Spinning “Dreidl” models
A 3-D paper dreidel that spins can attract kids who normally run the other way when they see origami on offer. It moves. Continue reading
Motivated by news that a friend’s child-crafted Model Magic menorah caught fire last night, I offer some tips. Not in the superior tone of the irksome “You’re Doing It Wrong” trend, but as a fellow parent of children who come home from Sunday School clutching hand-made Judaica meant to contain naked flame. Continue reading
Nanoblock menorahs (w LEGO minifig for scale)
Happy first night of Hanukkah! I hope that by now, you have found a just-right menorah to light your holiday. Continue reading
PEZ candles, PEZ flames
PEZ Hanukkah menorahs have been a thing for awhile, which means I wasn’t interested in making one, but when my Mom came for a visit bearing a Star Wars Limited Edition PEZ Collector’s Set With 9 Star Wars PEZ Dispensers, what else could I do? Continue reading
Stars are far crisper in person. I held the glasses over my camera lens.
I don’t often tout a store-bought product, but I recently discovered that Jewish Star spectacles are back in production. The holographic lenses convert every focused light source into a Jewish star. Peep at a candle, a ceiling fixture, a lamp, and it becomes a Mogen David. Small light = small star, big light = big star. Imagine looking at a Hanukkah menorah on the 8th night.
Paper Chain Menorah at school entrance
I needed an oversize Hanukkah decoration for our school’s program on Sunday, big enough to be seen across a drab Social Hall. Yesterday, a random Pinterest pic reminded me of an oldie but goodie: a big, paper-chain hanukkiyah. If mounted low enough, it can do double duty as teaching tool: kids can “light” it and practice proper order and blessings. Continue reading
garage hanukkiyah in natural habitat
Sockets are instant candleholders. And a socket holder is an instant Hanukkah menorah base. Thus, the Socket Menorah: instant ritual object for the handyperson or car nut. Continue reading
Schlemiel on a Wheel (clumsy pushcart seller)
Mensch on a Bench and Maccabee on the Mantle are riffs on Elf on a Shelf. So, here’s my riff on the riffs: a trio of tiny Jews—Yiddish stock characters—on Things. All are cautionary tales. However, unlike the toy/book combos just mentioned, they are not surveillance tools for moral accountability. These guys don’t really care about you or your kids at all. Continue reading
Oil menorah, cheap but visible
When I first started doing Jewish holidays I remember being baffled by the Hanukkah candles. Wasn’t the Hanukkah story all about oil? Most every kid’s book highlights the miraculous oil, we fry our latkes and sufganiyot in oil, but every year we (and all the Jews I knew) pull out boxes of multicolored candles to light in honor of the oil. Shouldn’t we light oil to honor oil? Continue reading
Smalls are less than half the size of Altoids tins
Last year I made a “curiously tiny” menorah from an Altoids tin. I also made the claim that as menorahs go, you can’t get much smaller. I was wrong. Continue reading
Elephant Menorah with Martyr and Matches
Today’s menorah features Eleazar Maccabee (Judah’s little brother) and the elephant that was his downfall (because it fell down on him).
What else would I make with a ziploc bag of spent rifle casings?
With me, anything longer than it is wide is not automatically “Freudian,” it is a menorah component. Continue reading