Author Archives: Joanna Brichetto

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

Gyotaku Fish-Printing in Adar (for Purim)

who can forget?

a blue Bluegill

Fish is a symbol of the Jewish month of Adar, the month in which we 1) celebrate Purim and 2) freak out that Passover is so close.  Why fish?  From the astrological sign, Pisces.  I’ve always thought it seemed a bit fishy that astrology gives us a kosher Jewish symbol, but Pisces is right there on the calendar.  It’s legit.   Continue reading

Havdalah Besamim Activities

Havdalah spices Smell Test prepared by 2nd graders

Havdalah spice Smell Test prepared by 2nd graders

This post focuses on the spicy part of Havdalah.  Besamim work is a rich, smelly, hands-on opportunity to create memorable links to Shabbat (and to being Jewish).  You choose: make a garden, a pot, a sachet, an herb buffet, an etrog pomander, a “Smell Test,” or besamim containers simple and fancy.   Continue reading

Making Rolled Beeswax Candles for Havdalah

rolled beeswax sheets, twisted or braided by students

rolled beeswax sheets, twisted or braided by students

My Making Havdalah Candles with Kids Intro has the general whats and whys.  I’ve also got posts about how to dip beeswax Havdalah candles and how to repurpose cruddy Hanukkah candles for Havdalah.

To roll Havdalah candles out of beeswax sheets is a zillion times easier than to dip tapers.  Especially if you’ve procured soft sheets of wax: sheets that are pliable, supple, biddable.  The good wax. Continue reading

Mini Havdalah candle (twisted Hanukkah candles)

quick, cheap DIY

quick, cheap DIY

What if you want kids to make Havdalah candles and you don’t have the time and materials (or inclination) for nice, beeswax versions?  I’m the first to admit that candles from scratch can be a big to-do—even just the simple, rolled sheets.
Rejoice: all you really need are leftover Hanukkah candles, a bowl and a teakettle.
Just twist two warmed Hanukkah candles to create one mini Havdalah candle.  It’s an easy, cheap DIY that can make any Havdalah lesson hands-on and memorable. Continue reading

Making Dipped Beeswax Tapers for Havdalah

First, please read my Intro post for making Havdalah candles with kids.  I’ve also got one coming for Rolled Beeswax Havdalah candles and one for the E-Z version using repurposed Hannukah candles.  This one is just about dipped beeswax… 

worth the work, I swear

worth the work, I swear (click pic to enlarge)

To make candles with kids could be a straightforward project.  But then again, to make candles with kids could also be my biggest teaching challenge heretofore, and in fact could be a Kafkaesque labyrinth in which I stagger from one surreal complication to the next.  Who knew that to melt a bit of beeswax and dip a string could be so dramatic? Continue reading

Making Havdalah Candles with kids

more than one wick = fire / eish = kosher

more than one wick = fire / eish = kosher

This will be my short Havdalah candle post.  I shall simply tell the whys and whats.  The hows, I’ll save for three additional posts: one for rolled beeswax sheets, one for dipped beeswax tapers, and one for a repurposed Hanukkah candle version.  Four posts just might be enough room to wax lyrical about the ups and downs and sideways of a seemingly simple process.  I feel compelled to record my experiences so that others may skip the labyrinthine bits and get right to the part where everything turns out well. Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat Almond Tree art: eat, glue, learn

to see and eat during art

“every almond used to be a pink blossom”

I wouldn’t ordinarily write about a holiday project that’s been done (and done, and done), but I’m posting this to prove a point: that with just a smidge of “extra”—just a few props to provide context—even a quick, conventional activity can be more meaningful and memorable. Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat Tree Products Display & Activities

TreeProducts1214

A Tree Products Display for Tu B’Shevat can be an easy, effective way to show All The Things That Trees Give Us.*  The display in our school lobby is a magnet: grownups and kids can’t help but fiddle with the hanukkah gelt, glue sticks and pinecones and such.  Creating a display can be as quick or as protracted an activity as you wish.  You learn, the kid working with you learns, and whomever sees your collection learns.

TreeProductdisplay

half “natural,” half “processed”

WHY collect a bunch of stuff that comes from trees?  It’s an active, hands-on way to honor trees for Tu B’Shevat, to explore how important trees are to our daily lives, and to instill a desire to protect trees and grow new ones.   Continue reading