Category Archives: Crafts

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.

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Anatomical Heart Valentines for Passive-Aggressive Jewish Moms

anatomically correct heart valentine

I *anatomically-correct heart* U

Feeling snarky about Valentine’s Day at your kid’s secular school?

Or, are you just a bit bored with craft-foam hearts?

Or, do you worry you might damage yourself and others if you see one more Pinterest board full of cloyingly twee DIY Valentines?

Too bad. Your Jewish kid still has to cough up 18 sealed, unmarked Valentines to distribute at the class party. Continue reading

Torah is Sweet: Chocolate Alef Bet for Consecration

alef and tav represent the entire Torah

alef and tav represent the Torah

(DIY chocolate Hebrew letters and a drop of honey = a sweet start.)

Back in the day, a child started cheder (religious school) with a taste of Torah: by licking an aleph-bet slate dribbled with honey. The Hebrew letters symbolized the whole Torah, Continue reading

Upcycled Water Bottle Bird Feeder for Tu B’Shevat

bottle bird feeder

black oil sunflower seed, bamboo perch

Upcycled water bottles as birdfeeders are not new, so why am I sharing this?

Because this morning I sort of perfected them. My class of 2nd graders made a bunch and we had to be quick. So shall I: Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat Collaborative Leaf-Rubbing Banner

tree leaves for crayon rubbing at Tu B'Shevat

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

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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.

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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

LEGO menorah: Star Wars (flameless)

LEGO Star Wars minifig menorah

LEGO Return of the Jedi minifig menorah

Hanukkah and Star Wars. Both stories involve Rebels vs. an Imperial Army. Both stories incite argument about what is in the “canon” and what isn’t.* 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.

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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

Socket Menorah, instant DIY for the Jewish Garage

instant garage hanukkiyah

garage hanukkiyah in natural habitat

Sockets are instant candleholders.  And a socket holder is an instant Hanukkah menorah base. Thus, the Socket Menorah: instant ritual object for the handyperson or car nut. 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

Oil Menorahs, DIY or Buy

Oil menorah, cheap and visible

Oil menorah, cheap but visible

When I first started doing Jewish holidays I remember being baffled by the Hanukkah candles. Wasn’t the Hanukkah story all about oil? Most every kid’s book highlights the miraculous oil, we fry our latkes and sufganiyot in oil, but every year we (and all the Jews I knew) pull out boxes of multicolored candles to light in honor of the oil.  Shouldn’t we light oil to honor oil? Continue reading