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Email questions to BibleBeltBalabusta@ (gmail), or ask as a comment on the relevant post. I’ll see it and respond. I’m still here! Just busy with my naturalist work and writing at the moment.
black walnuts from the parking lot
We’ve got a mature black walnut tree in our parking lot at school. Last fall, when my Kindergarteners collected autumn leaves, they noticed the walnuts. The 2nd and 3rd graders with me an hour later (for Havdalah garden maintenance) noticed the walnuts. The walnuts were irresistible. Kids kicked, rolled, lobbed and, when I gave them a bucket, collected walnuts. When I showed them how to stomp the hulls off the inner hull, they stomped. Continue reading
DIY stamps and clay punches with Jewish Star pasta
Before I forget, here’s a thrifty way to convert Jewish star pasta into a punch to make impressions in clays and into a stamp for paints and inks. Continue reading
Making a 3-D map of The Land of Israel is a deep project. What takes time is the discussion. So many questions come up, so many connections: neighbors, borders, cities, terrain, history, Torah, politics. Continue reading
We did this Sunday and it was crazy and it was wonderful.
And so much more meaningful than making yet another tchotchke out of paper. Please allow your students to GET REAL. Let kids experience real things before you ask them to re-create real things out of paper and felt and whatnot. Continue reading
quick, cute, and no craft foam!
Sometimes, half an hour is all you have, yet kids need to make something useful for the seder table. So, let’s welcome the 30-minute Matzah Tray to the ranks of the 30-minute Afikomen Bag, the 30-minute Felt Matzah Cover, and the 30-minute Three-Pocket Matzah Holder. Continue reading
Photo from ChaiKids.com
Want to win the best Afikomen present ever? Moses and Pharoah Action Figures. ChaiKids is giving away 3 sets, and you won’t find them anywhere else. Continue reading
Native seed bomb (wrapped in wax paper and twine for delivery)
Seed Bombs can be a lovely native-habitat activity for class parties. Or just class.
I told the kids: “Regular bombs destroy the Earth, but native seed bombs can help save it.”
At the very least, they can help save a child from coming home with yet more never-to-biodegrade Craft Foam party creations. Continue reading
Do not try this at home. Or anywhere.
We burned a bush in Third Grade today. As in, the Burning Bush. My goal was to make the Torah story more personal, memorable. Goal met. My goal was not to make the entire school wonder if the building was on fire, or to make our police office hunt me down, but that happened, too.
kids learn to braid with kosher candy
Here’s when re-creating real things with edibles is legit: when you’ve already made the really real things.
Case in point: after our 2nd graders studied Havdalah for weeks, grew besamim and harvested it, made besamim containers, and dipped beeswax tapers to twist into Havdalah candles. Very real. But wait, there’s more: Continue reading
I wrote about repurposing discarded Christmas trees as backyard wildlife cover—and with a Tu B’Shevat connection—at my nature site: Look Around. Should you care to read about the time I snuck a Christmas tree into Hebrew School, or about an easy way to dispose of stolen Christmas trees once spring springs, or my fantasy Burning Bush lesson plan, do take a look.
traced letters, cotton napkin, paint tie-dye
I wrote about at-the-sink tie-dye challah covers with kids, using diluted acrylic paint in squeeze bottles. The paint was free, the dyeing was fast and easy, and the results were gorgeous.
Now, I’ve fixed my one regret: that I had to pencil the Hebrew letters on each cloth before class. I’d rather kids do as much of the work as possible, even if they don’t know Hebrew letters yet. Kids don’t learn when adults do the work. Continue reading
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
Manischewitz Tiki Torch oil Menorah
A new lamp for the concord of our souls at the festival of lights: the Manischewitz Tiki Torch Menorah.
Happy Hanukkah, friends. Continue reading
Builders at work
Once you’ve covered the basic rules of kosher menorah structure, practiced the sequences of adding candles and lighting them, and have worked on the blessings, it’s time for free build. The setup can’t be easier, but the rewards are big. Continue reading
building the PVC menorah at a carnival
All my DIY Hanukkah menorahs are made with repurposed materials, scrap or otherwise compelling components. Meatloaf? Easter eggs? Car parts? Marmite jars? Swim noodles? Plumbing supplies? LEGO, too, of course. And more. Irresistible materials attract builders. To build any menorah is a far deeper learning experience than to simply color one on a sheet of paper. Our builders need to build because they are building themselves. Continue reading
upcycled scrap hanukkiyah
Scraptastic or simply crap?
Here’s why I vote for the former:
Orange juice lids are the exactly perfect right size for tealight candles. I dare you to not enjoy slipping a candle into the inner ring of an upturned Tropicana lid. Irresistible. Kids love it. (Teach them the word “frisson” while you’re at it.) Continue reading
A Menorah is a lamp. A lamp is a menorah.
A Hanukkah menorah is a hanukkiyah.
This little set up (above) is so easy to assemble, and its a great way to start a class about menorah structure, rules, and vocab. 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
Etrog half, peel and seed
We are lucky if we have an etrog. We are obscenely lucky if we have 15 of them. After Sukkot my 2nd and 3rd graders got to explore leftover congregational etrogim in class: boxes and boxes of glorious, weird, bumpy, fragrant, delicious and gorgeous etrogim.
Look at some of the neat things we are doing: Continue reading