Tag Archives: toys

Purim Playmobil straight from the box

All Playmobil except the clay hamantaschen....

Playmobil says “Schultute,” I say Mishloach Manot

Yes, I go to great lengths to make tiny, Jewy accessories for my Playmobil and LEGO folk.  But you don’t have to make a single thing in order to make toys Jewish. Sometimes, all it takes is a name change.

Look at this little Playmobil set ripe for conversion: #4686 Child’s First Day at School.  See the parcels? Playmobil is German, and the set represents the German tradition of Schultute (school bags): big cones of goodies and school supplies for the first day of school.  When I saw the box at a local toy store, I didn’t think Schultute, I thought Mishloach Manot.  I saw two kids exchanging Mishloach Manot bags on Purim.  For $3.29, I got a Jewish holiday scene and a mitzvah tableau, even though Playmobil doesn’t “do” Jewish.* Continue reading

Have a SUPER Rosh Hashanah!

polymer clay yemenite kudu shofar for the Man of Steel


Making Toys Jewish

Dollhouse Purim teaparty

Kveller.com published my article on Converting Toys to Judaism.  Do please read it at Kveller.com and leave a comment if you have ideas to share.

What does converting toys mean, exactly?  It means we can use all the toys we already have, Jewishly.  From Lego to play kitchens to Barbies to bath toys.

Here are a few more ideas and pictures I couldn’t include in the article, plus a few quotes.

“A Jewish toy is a toy that can accessorize a Jewish story.”

Torah and Bible stories, midrashim, folktales, holiday stories and the latest PJ Library selection can all be re-enacted or embellished Continue reading

DIY Passover Plagues Toys

assemble your own kit

DIY plague toys

DIY Passover Plagues Box and Dramatic Re-enaction

Everything about the seder is designed to teach kids. Symbolic foods, the four questions, songs, Rabbinic lessons and the many discrepancies therein: eating yet more matzah for dessert (afikomen), leaning on pillows at the table, all that dipping? But usually, seders are so long and boring not much learning goes on, except learning that seders are long and boring.

Re-enacting the plagues can make seders more educational and fun. We are commanded to think of ourselves as slaves in Egypt: toys, props and simple costumes facilitate this leap of the imagination. Continue reading

Jewish Bedtime Rituals for families

Bedtime Sh’ma Coloring Book with your child’s photo

InterfaithFamily.com (which is a great site, by the way, full of info and ideas and community) just posted an article about making bedtime Jewish written by Chief Education Officer Karen Kushner, with a link to a free pdf booklet: “Goodnight, Sleep Tight: Jewish Rituals for Your Interfaith Family.”

I am delighted Jewish bedtime is getting attention. Transforming the nightly routine into something Jewish is easy: just add a new element or two–something that feels comfortable and genuine. Whether a family is interfaith or not: it doesn’t matter: what matters is that at least one parent is committed to making every day (and night) more Jewish.

Please see my Jewish Bedtime post for a detailed breakdown of every step of a typical bedtime progression, with plenty of suggestions about how to inject a bit of Jewishness. Continue reading

Hebrew blocks rock

 

No, I don't get a commission.  I'm kvelling, not selling.

No, I don't get a commission. I'm kvelling, not selling.

Consider the Omer counted.  Shavuot is over.  And now, stretching before us is a couple of calendar pages of sun, humidity, chiggers, and porch-sitting.  

    I’ve just cleaned my screened porch for summer, and we’ve transfered some rug toys out to the concrete: Thomas and Friends and their endless track, Duplos, and wooden blocks.  We are lucky to have Teenager’s old blocks: the thick, heavy kind we can really build with.  

    And, we are lucky to have some Alef Bet blocks, too.  We have two sorts: the small, cheap kind and the big, expensive kind.  I love both.  The small, cheap kind (around 5 bucks) are the same size as our aged alphabet blocks—about an inch and a quarter—good for teetery towers and for crafty projects like, say, a Hanukkah menorah using blocks that spell out your kid’s Hebrew name.  

    The big, expensive ones (around 30 bucks) are the type of toy I kvell about to every new Jewish parent at synagogue.  Why?  They are big and fat and heavy; a pleasure to hold.  They depict not just the Hebrew letters but pictures of animals as well, with the names in Hebrew.  All artwork is not merely printed on, but carved out.  Made by the Uncle Goose company, who make other fantastic specialty blocks like Braille, Russian, Chinese, and Hieroglyph.  

    We can’t get enough Hebrew stuff at our house.  It doesn’t matter that Toddler can’t read, yet.  He can sing the Aleph-Bet Song, which is a great start.  And he knows a shin when he sees one on a mezuzah.  I’m all for painless, natural learning, and it feels right to have blocks and posters and puzzles and books and placemats here and there: a sea of aleph-bet and alpha-bet ready for learning by osmosis.  

 

Sources:

 

The small ones are from JET (Jewish Educational Toys).  They have little pictures of holiday symbols and Jewish whatnots, too.  

 

The big ones from Uncle Goose.  At Amazon, OyToys, and the manufacturer. Made in USA out of basswood and child-safe inks. 

 

This third kind I don’t like, somehow, but they are 1.75 inches and come with vowels, too.  Something about the design bothers me.  I think because they are printed on flat wood: no variation in texture.

Balabusta busted

Plague. How many frogs does one girl need?

Plague. How many frogs does one girl need?

I never actually claimed to be a balabusta. I said it was a title to which I aspired. So I can admit the following:
Until yesterday, all the Passover stuff was STILL OUT. We’ve been stepping over frogs and matzah trays and Miriam cups and place cards every day for weeks. I did put the Passover dishes away on time, but the decorations just got shoved towards the attic door and stayed, dust bunnies eddying between the mounds of plague toys, cardboard pyramids, and Lego mummies. Continue reading

Jewish star pasta

 

Toddler's toy of choice today

Toddler's toy of choice today

     We’ve used these as bingo markers, “money” for dreidel games, decorations for art projects. We’ve dyed them (shaken in a ziploc bag with a drop of food coloring, dried whilst spread over a surprisingly vast expanse of newspaper. Yes, it’s a pain). We’ve used them as sorting objects, Montessori-style. We’ve used them as noise-makers inside of, well, noise-makers. We’ve done everything with these except cook and eat them.
     I keep two big jars at the ready, and have done for about 12 years. My toddler spied them today, way up on top of a filing cabinet, and he begged for “the Jewish stars.” Have I ever sat down and taught him what a Jewish star was? How does he know from Jewish star? I was so startled and pleased I got them right down. The jars are now half empty, with a large proportion gone to the dog’s digestive system. Meanwhile, Toddler has been so happy to distribute mogen Davids throughout his play kitchen, my real kitchen, the living room, and inside all reachable containers. The transfer of materials from one vessel to another is never dull.
     I offer this entry in the perpetual wonder that our kids absorb everything they see, hear, feel, taste, smell and intuit. I also offer it to all the moms in my virtual communities who continue to ask me how to make Jewishness a part of daily life.
     Pasta counts.