building the PVC menorah at a carnival
All my DIY Hanukkah menorahs are made with repurposed materials, scrap or otherwise compelling components. Meatloaf? Easter eggs? Car parts? Marmite jars? Swim noodles? Plumbing supplies? LEGO, too, of course. And more. Irresistible materials attract builders. To build any menorah is far deeper learning experience than to simply color one on a sheet of paper. Our builders need to build because they are building themselves. Continue reading
upcycled scrap hanukkiyah
Scraptastic or simply crap?
Here’s why I vote for the former:
Orange juice lids are the exactly perfect right size for tealight candles. I dare you to not enjoy slipping a candle into the inner ring of an upturned Tropicana lid. Irresistible. Kids love it. (Teach them the word “frisson” while you’re at it.) Continue reading
A Menorah is a lamp. A lamp is a menorah.
A Hanukkah menorah is a hanukkiyah.
This little set up (above) is so easy to assemble, and its a great way to start a class about menorah structure, rules, and vocab. Continue reading
Tortilla Torah, by 3rd grader
I wrote about kid-created instant edible Torah Scrolls years ago, back when I could get away with a lot more sugar in the classroom. And, I’ve already talked about the holiday and why an edible Torah Scroll can be a good enrichment activity for Simchat Torah. When kids explore a real sefer Torah as model and special guest, they understand what they are re-creating and why.
This post is a simpler version. Less candy, less time, but actually more fun. And, kids get to be a scribe / sofer with their own Torah scrolls by writing with food-safe ink. Continue reading
Etrog half, peel and seed
We are lucky if we have an etrog. We are obscenely lucky if we have 15 of them. After Sukkot my 2nd and 3rd graders got to explore leftover congregational etrogim in class: boxes and boxes of glorious, weird, bumpy, fragrant, delicious and gorgeous etrogim.
Look at some of the neat things we are doing: Continue reading
buffet of sorted components, including real twigs
I’ve written about LEGO sukkahs (and a bunch of other kinds of kid-created tabletop versions), but I just realized I didn’t report about our classroom LEGO sukkah build last year. Continue reading
private mistakes are written underneath
Boy, did I hesitate posting this one. “Scapegoat” seems to be one of those code words that bring out the religiously, um, fervent faster than you can say “proselytize.” Context and intention are everything. I just want to help introduce the bizarre concept of the Yom Kippur scapegoat to appropriately aged children and to tweak the idea to be a useful tool for teshuvah. (What’s teshuvah? My working definition is “turning” toward the right path and good behavior as we assess our deeds of the past year. The goal is to be the best [insert own name here] we can be.) Continue reading
to practice “hitting the mark”
I’ve used craft stick catapults for Lag B’Omer, but this year I needed a quick, thematic craft for 2nd graders right before Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur liturgy features archery imagery: missing the mark (“al chet,” which is the closest thing Hebrew has to the word “sin”) and hitting the mark. Torah is sometimes translated as “to take aim.” Continue reading
bee models for art, for honey, for disscussion
My dream is to bring a hive of bees to school for a pre-Rosh Hashanah exploration. Or even better, to bring the kids to a hive, especially to a hive nestled near an organic garden. Until then, I have to make do with dead bees, honeycomb and honey in the art room. Continue reading
Apple and Honey practice
I was fiddling with a bunch of materials I’d collected—mostly recyclables—trying to come up with a craft my Sunday School classes could do in 25 minutes. Something connected to Rosh Hashanah, something meaningful, useful, decent-looking and 100% fun to make. I spent hours fine-tuning a “cute” craft we’ve all seen on Pinterest, but I just couldn’t make it kid-friendly enough so that even the Kindergarteners could do all the work themselves. And, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong. Continue reading
diluted acrylic paint
Did you know you can (sort of) make fabric dye with acrylic paint? This trick turns even ancient acrylic into gorgeous tie-dye for free. I found out by accident.
Bottom line: I used old paint to “squeeze-bottle tie-dye” challah covers with kids while we stood over a sink. It was easy, it was gorgeous, tidy, and it was free.
“do not dink or you will die”
In conjunction with our big, ongoing Marker Mitzvah program—where we collect the school’s dead markers and ship them for conversion into diesel fuel—we keep some dry markers for use in the art room.
What do we do with dead markers? We make mezuzah cases (which I’ve written about here) and we make FREE, gorgeous liquid watercolors. Even the driest of dry marker will leach plenty of color into a bottle of water. Continue reading
Marker Mitzvah display at school program
Here’s an easy mitzvah project I started with our 3rd graders, and it benefits the entire school. The mitzvah is B’al Tashcheet—”do not destroy”—and what we are trying to “not destroy” is the Earth: we’re saving oodles of markers from the landfill. Continue reading
roadkill or wax-soaked lint?
[Making flammable treasure from trash, with kids.] Continue reading
swim noodle omer
Count the omer with swim noodles! I needed a BIG omer counter for a classroom (and maybe the school entrance, too), and this is it. I love abacus-style omer counters because it is a pleasure to slide something across something: I feel like I’ve counted, I’ve moved, I’ve gone from here to there. All the more so with swim noodle “cookies” and my beloved PVC pipe. The two materials create just enough friction. Continue reading
2nd grade artwork
The email said that today’s Hebrew School would start with a meeting to explain to the kids why there would be no outdoor play for awhile—because on Monday someone fired a bullet into our synagogue—and would end with candle-lighting for Yom HaShoah. My kid had not heard of either: the bullet or the Holocaust. So, today, Continue reading
Rainbow loom omer bracelet: one rubber band per day
I made this today just to feel what it would be like to count the omer via Rainbow Loom. It felt fiddly, but worthwhile. Mindful. I had to pay attention and I had to make decisions about color coding. Some kids will like this, some kids will flee in the opposite direction. My own child preferred to watch Pokemon rather than experiment with me, but hey, Pokemon. Continue reading
LEGO omer counter: from Passover to Shavuot
LEGO omer counters. I couldn’t find any, so I made some up. LEGO is ideal for an omer counter because it is inherently irresistible and in any decent-sized LEGO bin at home are bound to be 49 somethings with which to mark each day of the count. Continue reading
from Pesach to Shavuot
I have post-seder ennui—worse than the usual Passover prep hangover—and I need a new challenge: an omer counter. I’m looking for a design that is group-friendly, and that doesn’t require us to buy any materials. Ideally, I want BARLEY in it: real barley groats, real barley stalks to remind us of the omer origins. I already have both. But kids aren’t going to be pushing each other out of the way for the chance to open a matchbox to grab . . . a groat. Continue reading
Roast a beitzah (egg) to take home for your seder plate
Why let kids dangle boiled eggs over fire?
To candle-roast an egg is a quick, hands-on connection to what the seder plate egg symbolizes. It’s weird, it’s memorable and it is a kid magnet.