For Purim, we call it a gragger, but the generic and rather wicked-sounding term is “ratchet instrument.” Jews hardly have a monopoly on this thing. Throughout the world it’s been a child’s toy, a police call, a poison-gas alert, a football (soccer) noisemaker, a percussion instrument, a scarecrow and a lure for corncrakes. And now, finally, it’s Lego.
World, I give you Lego graggers. They spin, they make noise, and although they aren’t exactly deafening, will help drown out Haman’s name at the Megillah reading come Purim. May they inspire kids and geeky AFOL (adult fans of Lego) to fiddle about and make more with their own boxes of bricks.
When I saw Aish.com’s Lego Purim video last year—the whole megillah re-enacted with Lego minifigs and filmed with narration—I assumed that I’d find a Lego gragger online, too: a tutorial or random Flickr feed or at least a reference to a craft activity at someone’s JCC Purimpalooza. I wanted to see what other people had done before I started building my own.
But there was no Lego gragger. I stretched my Google Advanced Search skills with terms vague and specific, English and not, and with various spellings and transliterations. Nil. No Lego gragger reference anywhere, not even at GeekDad.
So, I devised some of my own. Let me tell you, it was fun. Deadlines, dinner and laundry all went to hell because I was in the zone, the Lego flow. If kids have half this much fun trying to build a gragger, they are set. What I mean is, to even begin to equate Jewish education with the word “fun” is a huge deal. When activities use materials that are intrinsically irresistible, that beg to be touched, we offer the idea that being Jewish and having fun can be mutually inclusive. As a parent and teacher, I am crazy about materials that are hands-on and, to borrow a phrase from Ann Wiseman, “urgently interesting.” This is why I invented the PEZ-uzah (a mezuzah made out of a PEZ dispenser), why I write about building with candy (holiday snack-tivities), and why I believe the intersection of Jewyness and Lego is total win.
Do check back for technical info, more pics and the inevitable, enthusiastic tangents. I am not done with these graggers just yet.
UPDATE: See next post: LEGO Gragger: a DIY Verson for step-by-steps for one model.