Category Archives: Rosh Hashanah / Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur Scapegoat Activity

private mistakes are written underneath

private mistakes are written underneath

Boy, did I hesitate posting this one. “Scapegoat” seems to be one of those code words that bring out the religiously, um, fervent faster than you can say “proselytize.” Context and intention are everything. I just want to help introduce the bizarre concept of the Yom Kippur scapegoat to appropriately aged children and to tweak the idea to be a useful tool for teshuvah. (What’s teshuvah? My working definition is “turning” toward the right path and good behavior as we assess our deeds of the past year. The goal is to be the best [insert own name here] we can be.) Continue reading

Yom Kippur Mini Catapult

to practice "hitting the mark"

to practice “hitting the mark”

I’ve used craft stick catapults for Lag B’Omer, but this year I needed a quick, thematic craft for 2nd graders right before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur liturgy features archery imagery: missing the mark (“al chet,” which is the closest thing Hebrew has to the word “sin”) and hitting the mark. Torah is sometimes translated as “to take aim.” Continue reading

Bees for Rosh Hashanah

bee models for art, for honey, for disscussion

bee models for art, for honey, for disscussion

My dream is to bring a hive of bees to school for a pre-Rosh Hashanah exploration. Or even better, to bring the kids to a hive, especially to a hive nestled near an organic garden. Until then, I have to make do with dead bees, honeycomb and honey in the art room. Continue reading

Apple and Honey Practice and Taste Test

Apple and Honey practice

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

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

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

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

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

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur posts

polymer clay accoutrements for the HH

Whew.  Been sick,  getting better.  Just so you know I’m still alive, and that I used to expend energy pondering and puttering about the holidays, here are some earlier posts.

Shanah tova!

Make an apple bowl for Rosh Hashanah honey

Make a Pantyhose Challah Continue reading

Edible Whales for Yom Kippur

yonah and the dag gadol

yonah and the dag gadol

Yes, I know we don’t eat during Yom Kippur, but kids do, and my kid will be eating these.  As will all the children at my syagogue’s young family service, right after they crawl through the Belly of the Whale (a play tunnel). just published my post about repurposing a store-bought snack into an instant, Jewish holiday food.

I invite you to read it at Kveller: “A Whale of a Snack for Yom Kippur.”  And, if it passes muster (or mustard), can you “like” it there, please, so that Kveller will know someone is reading it?

Meanwhile, there is still time to buy a bag of Bugles for another “Jewish” snack: edible shofars. Continue reading

Yom Kippur: Jonah and the Whale crafts

use old toys to re-enact Jewish stories

use old toys to dramatize Jonah and the Whale

Looking for crafty things to do with kids to prepare for Yom Kippur?

One theme is Jonah and the Whale.  It’s the story we’re all going to hear on the afternoon of Yom Kippur, whether we are in the big sanctuary or in the kids’ service.  Jonah’s tale is supposed to make us think about all sorts of Jewish values/middot: obedience, faith, repentance and forgiveness, to name the biggees.  Yom Kippur is one heavy-duty holiday.

For little kids, I’m keeping the holiday simple. My ideal Jonah and the Whale take-home message is: Jonah screwed up, said he was sorry, and then did what he was supposed to do in the first place.  Loosely, this is teshuvah, or repentance.  But, still, the story is tricky.  Far easier to extrapolate is the scary take-home message: if you screw up, God lets a whale eat you.  Pretty creepy.  To nip that in the bud, Continue reading

Have a SUPER Rosh Hashanah!

polymer clay yemenite kudu shofar for the Man of Steel

Edible shofars….straight from the bag

Edible shofars straight from the bag

Edible shofars straight from the bag

Bugles snacks from General Mills are the perfect mini-shofars.

Please see this brief article at, in which I list the merits and uses of Bugle shofars and lament the recent loss of kosher status.  If you don’t keep strictly kosher, you are in luck!  You get teeny, tasty shofar snacks for Rosh Hashanah!

“I Need Store-Bought, Thematic Snacky-ness, and I Need it Now!”   (Raising Kvell post)

If you like the article, please mention it on the Kveller comments immediately below it.  I would love to hear from you.

Shana Tova, and bon appetit!


edible shofar

Miniatures for Rosh Hashanah (Lego and Playmobil): not a how-to, but a Why

Playmobil Rosh Hashanah: clay Yemenite kudu shofar,  ram shofar, round raisin challah, apple slices

Playmobil Rosh Hashanah: clay Yemenite kudu shofar, ram shofar, round raisin challah, apple slices

This site is about kids and parents spending Jewish time together making stuff that is fun, cute (kitschy counts as cute), cheap, and most of the time, functional.  I aim for kid-centric.  I like to help even toddlers participate in holiday prep.

But making Jewish holiday accoutrements for Lego and Playmobil figures out of polymer clay, I admit, comes close to crossing a line. My preschooler can do little more than make freeform shapes and blobby ovoids, and when presented with more than one color of clay will gleefully end up with gradations of grey.  Still, because scale and verisimilitude have not really occurred to him yet, he has a great time “making useful things” for his figurines.

Relativity: Playmobil, Duplo and Lego

Scale and verisimilitude is my dealie. Whilst the child next to me has fun rolling and smashing and pinching and blending, I get to make miniature accessories to outfit three communities of toys in our home: Duplo, Lego and Playmobil. And of course, they all celebrate the Jewish holidays.

One more note in my defense: this stuff is fun for older kids, too. Even surly preteens Continue reading