Author Archives: Joanna Brichetto

Swim Noodle Omer Counter

Omer counter PVC swim noodle

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

Yom means Day, ha means the, Shoah means Holocaust

2nd grade artwork

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 Counter

Rainbow loom omer bracelet: one rubber band per day

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 Counters, DIY

LEGO omer counter

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

Omer Counters for Kids, a Roundup (please add yours)

from Pesach to Shavuot

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 the Seder Plate Egg (kids)

Roast a beitzah (egg) to take home for your seder plate

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.

Continue reading

Seder-Step Program for School Families

Seder step stations

Seder step stations

I nearly called this post “Passover Carnival,” but was afraid you’d get the wrong idea. The wrong idea is a spree with lice races, chocolate matzah painting, origami frogs, and crafts. Continue reading

Open the [LEGO] Door for Elijah

Open the [LEGO] door for Elijah

Open the [LEGO] door for Elijah

At our school’s Walk Through the Seder Steps program, two toy tableaux sat at the Hallel station. Hallel is the step where, appropriately enough, we sing Hallel and other songs of praise, and also when we open the door for Elijah. Continue reading

Passover Story with Toy Tableaux

passover sea of reedsAs part of the Maggid Station at our school’s interactive Seder Steps program, I wanted kids to consider the Passover story and put to scenes in narrative sequence. I didn’t want flat pictures or flannel boards—I wanted 3-D—so I used toys, Continue reading

Pass-Over House: fake blood, real lesson

Fake blood! Fake house! Fake Death! Real lesson.

Passover house before the 10th plague (still clean)

PassOver house before the 10th plague (still clean)

Continue reading

Tuna Can Seder Plate (instant upcycle)

fishy or fab?

fishy or fab?

Minimalist, instant, kinda pretty, and absolutely free: the Tuna Can Seder Plate. Continue reading

Snail Plate = Seder Plate (instant upcycle)

seder plate, kid-sized

seder plate, kid-sized

Instant upcycle for the miniscule percentage of folks for whom both statements apply:

  • need a seder plate
  • have an escargot plate

Continue reading

Lulav Brush for Passover (one more lulav re-cycle)

small lulav leaf brushes for bedikat and biur chametz

small lulav leaf brushes for bedikat and biur chametz

This quick DIY takes longer to explain than to make. It’s a wee brush for the night and morning before Passover: a riff on the traditional repurpose of using Sukkot’s lulav for the pre-Passover Search and Destroy mission. Continue reading

Afikomen bag in 30 minutes

Afikomen bag materials (spelling guide, bag, labels, yarn). The purple one is finished.

Afikomen bag materials (spelling guide, bag, labels, yarn). The purple one is finished.

Afikoman bag: a seder-centric craft for those of us with 30 minutes or less. It’s practical, decent-looking, durable, and fun for kids to make.  Continue reading

Hula Hoop Seder Plate: BIG Upcycle for Kids

Hula Hoop Seder Plate

Hula Hoop Seder Plate (scrap art)

A seder plate the size of a hula hoop—because it is a hula hoop—makes an unforgettable project and display. Kids can learn or review the symbolic foods and traditional placement thereof; work individually or in small groups; and create a teaching prop that gets noticed even in cavernous synagogue social halls. Continue reading

Seder Plate Symbols: Where They Go

what and where?

what and where?

Where should the seder plate symbols go? Every year I have to look it up, and every year I can’t seem to find a handy-dandy reference. I make seder plates with students—real plates and “enrichment” types with funky materials like LEGO or candy—so proper placement matters. I want to be consistent, and I like to know what tradition says and why. Store-bought seder plates Continue reading

Casting Lots for Purim: Knucklebones

polymer knucklebones for casting lots

two of my polymer knucklebones for casting lots

Happy Lots! Pur = lot, Purim = lots. That’s “lots” as in what Haman cast or threw to determine the date upon which to kill the kingdom’s Jews. In the Megillah, the lots indicated Adar 14, and thus we eat Haman’s hat / pocket / ear (depending on your translation) on that date ever after. Continue reading

Casting Lots for Purim: a Hands-On Display

games of chance

games of chance for casting lots

The name Purim means “lots,” which means absolutely nothing to my students. Lots? Lots of what? Continue reading

Mishloach Manot for free: origami upcycle DIY

mishloach manot bag

mishloach manot bag: ready to fill and send

First, tell me you’ve seen my original post—with quick video—about making these EASY origami mishloach manot bags. Because today’s upcycle is that very same pattern but with newspaper, which makes the bag even cheaper and greener.

Continue reading

The Jews and Their Toys (Playmobil Martin Luther accessories, unauthorized)

Playmobil's Martin Luther doll

(photo credit: Playmobil)

Playmobil’s new Martin Luther doll—”the fastest-selling toy of all time”—comes “complete with quill and Bible,” but I thought he needed another accessory to be truly complete.* Namely, a wee copy of his 1543 treatise On the Jews and Their Lies. Continue reading