Category Archives: Activity

Tu B’Shevat Collaborative Leaf-Rubbing Banner

arranging our pressed, fall leaves

arranging our pressed, fall leaves

A giant, collaborative leaf-rubbing print for Tu B’Shevat. We tried this in Kindergarten last Sunday and it worked. Gorgeous. And, we still had time to make individual leaf-rubbing prints to take home. The 9-foot banner will hang at the school entrance to welcome students and visitors at Tu B’Shevat. Continue reading

Hands-on Activities for Teaching “Kosher”

Things I did not anticipate at yesterday’s Kosher Grocery Quiz: 1) despite being Southern, our little Jewish kids had no idea what “pork rinds” were and did not think them hilarious, and 2) every single child assumed the “silver polish” was something ladies do to fingernails.

without exception, every child looked for the hecksher

without exception, every child looked for the hecksher

Continue reading

Carob for Tu B’Shevat Show and Tell

carob pods, seeds and chips

carob pods, seeds and chips

Carob pods and carob chips for a taste (and smell and sound and sight and touch) of Tu B’Shevat.

Carob is a biggie for Tu B’Shevat. It’s a tree fruit native to the Land of Israel, it’s de rigeur at a Tu B’Shevat seder, and it’s part of the story about Honi the circle-maker lots of us read aloud on Tu B’Shevat. Continue reading

Pigs in a Breastplate (parsha or Torah project)

painted breastplate black

Torah breastplate upcycle (from frozen food packaging)

When my husband brought home the wrong brand of kosher pigs-in-a-blanket, I opened the box, slid the frozen contents onto the formica, and nearly plotzed.

It doesn’t take much, I can hear you thinking.

But truly, look at the plastic tray. Albeit designed to keep mini franks from merging into one giant maxi frank, it is an instant and entirely unintentional Torah scroll / priestly breastplate. An accidental choshen.

Continue reading

Screw the Star of David (Jewish hardware in the art room)

screwdriver pokes in clay

screwdriver pokes

Torx screws are wee Stars of David. Have you seen them?  If you’ve peed at a urinal you have. Or if you’ve waited for your preschooler inside a public loo. (In both cases, the screws are at about eye level). Torx screws are part of most public bathroom installations because they are fabulously functional. Torx don’t “strip out” as easily as do Phillips or slotted screws, because the design resists torque. There’s more to grip and less room to slip.

This anti-slip head design just happens to be a 6-pointed star: the Mogen David.  Who knew the logo on the shield of an ancient king of Israel would be so darn practical?  Continue reading

K’Nex Dreidel Launcher

K'NEX dreidel and launcher

K’NEX dreidel and launcher

A K’NEX dreidel launcher. Because people tell me that dreidels can get boring. Continue reading

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