spinning caramel dreidel
Midweek-Hanukkah Dreidel boredom? I hear from grownups every year: “five minutes and they’re done with dreidel.”
Either I’m an infant or you guys aren’t playing right. You don’t have to play the dreidel game and only the dreidel game.
Upside-down launches, launch from a standing throw, dreidel wars, spin contests, instant battle arenas, glow-in-the-dark paint and so forth can sustain dreidel love for more than 5 minutes. It’s about the love of spin. Continue reading
Tortilla Torah, by 3rd grader
I wrote about kid-created instant edible Torah Scrolls years ago, back when I could get away with a lot more sugar in the classroom. And, I’ve already talked about the holiday and why an edible Torah Scroll can be a good enrichment activity for Simchat Torah. When kids explore a real sefer Torah as model and special guest, they understand what they are re-creating and why.
This post is a simpler version. Less candy, less time, but actually more fun. And, kids get to be a scribe / sofer with their own Torah scrolls by writing with food-safe ink. Continue reading
Apple and Honey practice
I was fiddling with a bunch of materials I’d collected—mostly recyclables—trying to come up with a craft my Sunday School classes could do in 25 minutes. Something connected to Rosh Hashanah, something meaningful, useful, decent-looking and 100% fun to make. I spent hours fine-tuning a “cute” craft we’ve all seen on Pinterest, but I just couldn’t make it kid-friendly enough so that even the Kindergarteners could do all the work themselves. And, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong. Continue reading
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
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
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
To bring to life the dead space between fall Jewish holidays and winter Jewish holidays: The Gingerbread Golem. Continue reading
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
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
Olive Crushing Installation
This year, instead of a Chanukah carnival, I envisioned something new, or rather, something very, very old. Our synagogue Religious School held a Chanukah “Oil Crush” program. In a nutshell, we made olive oil—shemen zayit—just like the Maccabees, with a commissioned replica of a Hellenistic-era olive crushing installation: crushing wheel, pivot pole (power shaft) and crushing basin. Students from Pre-K to 7th grade took turns pushing the pole to rotate the crushing wheel over fresh olives straight from the tree (ordered from California). Continue reading
The ol’ Pretzel Stick Menorah is a quick and easy activity for a class or party. It’s educational, it’s fun, and you can eat it.
Lighting the menorah in a window
I did this last year with K through 3rd grade, and everyone loved it, which is a boast I wish I could make about all my lesson plans. First, we turned off the lights and lit a real oil menorah, with blessings. This put everyone in a receptive mood and gave a heads-up that there are such things as menorah blessings. It also provided a real, working model of an object we were about to recreate with food, WHICH IS Continue reading
Folks are asking about the chocolate Ten Commandment tablets from my Lag BaOmer post. So easy, I promise. And won’t they look splendid atop Mt. Sinai muffins?
chocolate-esque candy bark
don’t eat these
I made plaster versions, too, for some of my little Israelites on our Lag baOmer Walk. They had to “receive” the Ten Commandments at the mountain, right? But I warn you Continue reading
Lag B’Omer! Here’s a quick glimpse at what we did…
I wanted my K – 3 classes to “embody” the connection between Passover and Shavuot via the Counting of the Omer, to use their bodies to travel from Passover—where the Israelites became a Free Nation, to Shavuot—where the Israelites became a Holy Nation.
view from the Sea of Reeds toward Lag b’Omer and Shavuot
First, we crossed the Sea of Reeds and became a Free Nation. On the floor were 49 steps toward Mt. Sinai on the opposite side of the room. See Mt. Sinai up there, far away? Continue reading
Edible fire for Lag Ba’Omer
Here’s a quick snack-tivity for Lag Ba’Omer, and believe me, I need quick. My Sunday classes are about 25 minutes each, including setup and cleanup, but this little project can bag one Lag Ba’Omer tradition in 5-10 minutes, tops. Continue reading
mini seder plate
Do we eat the foods on a real seder plate? Nope. But we can eat this seder plate snack—even the plate. Continue reading
You don’t have to make a seder plate in order to use the heck out of it as a fabulous, hands-on reference point to this fabulous, hands-on holiday of Passover. You just need a seder plate—any seder plate—and the stuff that goes on it.
The real objects depicted on a plate are weird and wonderful. Intentionally so. A horseradish root? How often does that show up on the kitchen table, and how often does a kid get to grate the thing? Charoset is weird, a naked bone is weird. A boiled egg is not so weird, but it can be if you scorch Continue reading
quick, easy and visible plant life-cycle activity
Here’s a supplementary indoor gardening project for Tu B’Shevat. I swear by the Eat a Fruit, Plant the Seed project, and my version of the traditional Plant Tu B’Shevat Parsley for Passover project, of course. Both are hands-on and at the heart of the holiday. But, if you can program additional growy activities with your favorite kids, try this one, too. The nearly instant gratification is a contrast to the slow and iffy germination rates of parsley and fruit seeds.
What: Kids grow a nearly-instant, indoor, mini “garden” in an eggshell.
Why: to connect with Tu B’Shevat; to demonstrate the everyday miracle of seed germination; to grow food for us, for wildlife and for the earth. Continue reading
Mmmmmmm, a menorah made of meat, in honor of the Shabbat during Hanukkah.
Actually, I made two:
1) a free-standing meatloaf menorah, and
2) a flat, branched meatloaf menorah (see below). Continue reading
tangram dreidel toast
A tangram toast dreidel may prove to be my least popular post, but as I tell my children, you gotta be you, even if no one wants to be around the you you gotta be. Continue reading
I give you an edible dreidel that actually spins. It shares the chief values of the marshmallow dreidel and my mini-marshmallow dreidels—values which lie in the building, the writing upon (with food-safe markers) and the eating. To these attractions, the caramel dreidel adds the bonus of spin. Continue reading