Category Archives: Activity

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

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

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

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

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

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