Category Archives: Activity

Spinning Origami Dreidel

Paul Jackson's "Dreidl" made by 3 generations

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

Burning Questions about DIY Candleholders

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

Happy Hanukkah (with Nanoblock Menorahs)

Nanoblock menorahs and LEGO minifigure

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

Star Wars PEZ Menorah with Candy Flame

PEZ candles, PEZ flames

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

Menorahs and other lessons through (literally) Jewish lenses

Stars are crisper in person, I promise. I held the glasses over my camera lens.

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.

Continue reading

Paper Chain Menorah, made by kids

Paper Chain Menorah

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

Schlemiel on a Wheel, Schmuck on a Truck, Schnorrer on a Menorah, etc.

Schlemiel on a Wheel (clumsy pushcart seller)

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

Jewish Tangrams: Hanukkah Dreidels (printable)

Tangram dreidels (click to print)

Tangram dreidels (click to print)

Two dreidel patterns for Hanukkah.  Fold the sheet to hide the solution if you wish. Continue reading

Sukkah Scrap Art (repurposed packaging)

Hadas Hanging

Hadas Hanging

Before Sukkot, our shul’s myrtle twigs shipped from Israel in gaudy Hebrewlicious plastic sleeves. The three branches per pack were destined to join the lulav for a week of shaking in the sukkah.  But what of the destiny of the now empty purple packets?  I could not imagine throwing them away.  The siddur font, the Mardi Gras magenta, Continue reading

Jewish Tangrams: Shabbat candles

Tangram Shabbat candles

Tangram Shabbat candles

Here’s another printable for Jewish tangrams: Shabbat candles. Fold the sheet to hide the solution or keep it flat for beginners. Click image to print pdf. Continue reading

K’NEX spinning Dreidel, DIY kits (home or school)

easy to make, easy to spin

easy to make, easy to spin

I’m hooked.  I’m not even a K’NEX fan, but it turns out that a K’NEX dreidel is absolutely irresistible to build and to play with.  These dreidels spin like mad, are easy to assemble and don’t fling themselves to bits, even when doing battle in a dreidel arena.  Imagine students building these at a Hanukkah Carnival . . . Continue reading

Gingerbread Golem coloring page

Color me alive, color me dead.

Gingerbread Golem coloring page.

First, the cookie, now the Coloring Page.
To demonstrate what happens when the letter aleph is removed: EMET (truth) becomes MET (death).  Continue reading

More Lulav Re-cycling Projects (after Sukkot)

four Lulav leaf weaving experiments

four Lulav leaf weaving experiments

I’m still playing with leftover lulav leaflets.  Consider this an in-progress Show and Tell.  Six different projects so far.  Scroll down to see some serious lulav love.  Continue reading

Kid-built mini sukkahs (LEGO, Lincoln Logs, MagNext and K’Nex)

Lincoln Log sukkah. With steps for Bubbe.

Lincoln Log sukkah. With steps for Bubbe.

Psssst: a kid-crafted mini sukkah made with construction toys is way, way easier on you, the adult, than say, with edibles or up-cycled boxes.  LEGO and Lincoln Logs and suchlike do not require you to run for the scissors and glue, to monitor frosting consumption, Continue reading

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  Continue reading

Jonah and the Whale (origami storytelling prop)

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