Author Archives: Joanna Brichetto

Wax seals: a pre-Yom Kippur demo

a stamp and shmear

a stamp and shmear

My Director emailed last night: “do you have anything that shows how something is sealed?”  I read between those brief lines and guessed she was planning something marvelous: to show our Hebrew School students really, real SEALING, as in sealed in the Book of Life, just a couple of days before Yom Kippur.  Fire and hot wax in the classroom, oh boy!

To seal is to close: the Hebrew verb is chatam.  Chatam is where we get one of the official Yom Kippur greetings: G’mar chatima tova (“a good final sealing”). Continue reading

Jonah and the Whale (origami storytelling props)

model closed

I told the story of Jonah and the Dag Gadol (a.k.a. the Whale) today using one simple origami prop: the paper boat that, with a sleight of hand, becomes a giant pair of jaws (the Whale).  Jonah was a pompom, which the sailors tossed into the sea (the floor), and which was then swallowed by the whale, only to be spewed later onto Dry Land.  I had SO much fun with this. Continue reading

Hack a dollar store Deely-Bopper for Rosh Hashanah

if you whip your head sideways really fast, you can dip the apple in the honey

if you whip your head sideways really fast, you can dip the apple in the honey

It’s erev Rosh Hashanah and I do not have time for this post, but I’m putting it out there anyway.  Because there is always time for thematic holiday headgear, especially when it involves hacking a Deely Bopper.  Priorities. Continue reading

Teaching the Shofar: horn vs. antler

shofar, so not

shofar, so not

In my shofar classes (Kindergarten—3rd) I mentioned why shofars are made from horns, not antlers. My K-3 explanation is that horns are hollow and antlers are solid. Horns Continue reading

Jewish Tangrams: Yom Kippur (printable Jonah and Whale)

This can be Jonah getting swallowed OR spewed

This can be Jonah getting swallowed OR spewed

I made more Jewish tangrams—this time for Yom Kippur.  You supply the story of Jonah and the Whale, and kids can mess around with tangrams to represent the Dag Gadol (big fish), Jonah’s boat, and Jonah.  Do them in order and you’ve got the whole story.
Narrative play!
I dare you to make the withered vine, too.

These patterns will get you started: puzzles and solutions.   Continue reading

Dollar Store Shofar Craft

party horn shofar craft

DIY shofar

Cheap, quick and irresistible to honk: the Party Horn Shofar.  I tweaked this classic to meet a specific goal: to produce a “realistic-looking” shofar that will not offend the sensibilities of a certain group of students who feel themselves too mature for stickers and glitter.  I also needed horns easy to “sound” (some brands are hard to blow), so that we’ll be able to practice the real shofar calls without getting unduly crabby. Continue reading

Origami Shofar

Origami shofar for placecard, toy or greeting card http://wp.me/pvKSY-2h0

paper shofar for placecard, toy, or greeting card

Kids can make an origami shofar to play with, to set on the table as a place-card or decoration, or to glue to the front of a Rosh Hashanah greeting card.  This pattern is taken directly from Florence Temko’s book Jewish Origami.

Ideally, of course, kids make a paper shofar in the presence of a real one, but if you don’t keep a ram’s horn in the china cabinet like I do, the Internet is full of Continue reading

Jewish Tangrams: Rosh Hashanah (printable)

click image to print

click image to print

Tangrams are “open-ended” materials, meaning they can be nearly anything a kid can imagine, just by re-arranging 7 puzzle pieces.  Oh, how I love them.

If you are new to tangrams, or to thinking about them Jewishly, see my intro Page for whys and hows, and a link to printable templates.  I also give tips about how to make the actual pieces irresistible.

In the intro I say how easy it is to “convert” traditional tangram patterns to Judaism by simply changing a name: pot to dreidel, fish to Dag Gadol, candles to nerot for Shabbat.  We convert a silhouette with our intention. Continue reading

Instant (free) Replacement Shades for Multi-Head Lamp, DIY

caption

soup shades

A post about repurposed soup containers as lampshades is not my usual fare.  Let’s pretend it is not glaringly unlike the Earnest Sunday School Teacher posts adjacent.  And let’s remember that up-cycled trash is part of my make-it-with-what-you’ve-got mantra.  And let’s also note that this (or any) up-cycle project bags at least 3 mitzvot (see below).  But the truth is, I have to post my discovery somewhere, and this is this my only somewhere.  Continue reading

Giant Torn-Paper Mosaic Map of Israel

tearing paper, kibbutzing

tearing paper, kibbutzing

First Grade needed an “Israel project” for Yom Ha’atzmaut this year, and as usual, it had to fit into a 30 minute class period.  So, we made a six-foot torn-paper mosaic map of Israel.  The map was a busy, hands-on work to introduce—in a nutshell—the shape, location, major cities, topography and neighbors of the state of Israel. Continue reading

Salt Dough Map of Israel

vv

map o’ melach

In honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut this year, 2nd and 3rd graders collaborated on a salt dough map of Israel.  We did this as a hands-on introduction to Israel’s topography, place names and its location as regards the rest of the world.  Salt dough is cheap, fast, messy and, barring any sensory processing issues, super-fun to play with.  Salt dough maps are an oldie but a goodie, and need no cooking, no baking. Continue reading

Spew Jonah (with a Whale popper)

pull tail to launch Jonah

pull tail to launch Jonah

“Spewed.”  This is my favorite word in the Jonah story, and it’s legit: “The Lord commanded the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon dry land (JPS).”  Other translations say “vomited,” which is almost as amusing.  So, naturally, my Yom Kippur craft must be a whale that spews.

You know the popular coffee cup/balloon marshmallow popper?   Simple,  brilliant, irresistible.   I’ve repurposed it as a whale, a.k.a. “dag gadol” (big fish).*  The cup is the whale, the balloon is the tail and launcher.  The ammo is Jonah, and Jonah is . . . a pompom.

These whales can launch a pompom 15 feet easy and hit ceilings with a satisfying smack.  I dare anyone not to like launching Jonah. Continue reading

Alef Bet Sensory Activities (and Hebrew Letter Carnival)

Lite Brite shin

Lite Brite shin

Maybe it goes without saying that teachers of Hebrew letter formation can borrow the huge bag of tricks devised by teachers of English letter formation, but I’m saying it.  A quick online search reveals oodles of brilliant alphabet ideas, and all we have to do is modify for aleph-bet.  No need to reinvent the galgal.

A sensory activity can be as simple as you wish: simple in terms of content and in terms of prep.  Is isn’t that hard to throw a bunch of wooden coffee stirrers in a basket and ask a kid to arrange them to make a letter.   Continue reading

Quick Seder Plate for kids

the plate design is copyrighted, so I can't share it

printable sandwiched between 2 plates

Another 30-min.-or-less seder-centric project.  The goal: a seder plate kids create and then actually use.  These can get wet and wiped (but not submerged). Continue reading

Felt Matzah cover in 30 min. (classroom or home)

Beaded, felt matzah cover

Beaded, felt matzah cover

My Earnest Sunday School Teacher Hat is on again:
Here’s another less-then-30 min. Passover project for seder use.
Our art classes are 25 -30 min., which includes the giving of context and the cleaning of mess, so we gotta move FAST. Continue reading

Matzah holder (3 pockets) in 30 min.

quickie, but functional

quickie, but functional

Quick post for a quick project.
I only have 25 to 30 minutes with a class, but need to produce something functional and fun for Passover, so I choose carefully. Continue reading

Where has the Target Jew stuff gone?

Target seder plate 2012

Target seder plate 2012

You know those cute and cheap Target Passover dishes we’ve loved for the past few years?  Remember how happy we were to see them displayed in our favorite secular store?  Hebrew letters, right there on the endcap.  We were surprised and grateful and we whipped out the RED Cards and bought.

So, where’s the stuff this year?  Facebook and email friends report zilch.  Have you seen anything at your local store? Continue reading

Purim Carnival Stations

ninja at the Wheel of Purim

ninja at the Wheel of Purim

It’s the day after Purim, which means no one will need this info till eleven months from now, but I need to process and vent and share asap.  If you are in charge of all or part of a Purim Carnival AND you are obsessively detail-oriented, this post is for you. Continue reading

Purim Carnival Alternative, Miztvah-centric

Purim "scrip" that converts to real money after we calculate donations. Like non-digital bitcoin, but not really...

Purim “scrip” tickets become real money after tzedakah donations are calculated.

A Purim carnival without cheap, plastic prizes?  What if instead of winning crappy, non-recyclable tchotchkes, a kid at a Purim carnival wins tzedakah tickets—Mitzvah Money—from each game, and then stuffs them into a pushke for his or her favorite charity?  At least two synagogues are doing this already, and this year, mine will, too.
It’s just like Chuck E. Cheese, only instead of redeeming tickets for disposable clutter, kids donate tickets to help people less fortunate.
If the tzedakah-centric model sounds like carnival buzz-kill, read on.

(UPDATE: see pics and after-the-event update at next post, here) Continue reading

Tootsie Torahs (and how not to make them)

Tootsie Torah 2

I Googled “Tootsie Torahs” and came up nil, so I named this post to correct the Internet’s oversight.

Candy Torahs are a thing, I know, and can be ordered in bulk, kosher and trayfe, with personalized wrappers. They are party favors.

I don’t do party favors.  Or so I thought.  Yet, I ended up on my floor, alone, fiddling with hundreds of 3″ Tootsie Rolls.  Worse, no one (else) learned anything from this project, the Torahs are way less cute that they were in the Pinterest Board that lives in my head, and they are destined to be gobbled at a buffet that will again yield no educative outcome. Continue reading