Afikoman bag: a seder-centric craft for those of us with 30 minutes or less. It’s practical, decent-looking, durable, and fun for kids to make.
I program this with Kindergarteners, but with tweaks it can work for other grades. Note that if you are working with just one or two kids, they can do all the work. If you have a group, there is no time for one-on-one assistance, which means you’ll make kits. Yes, a kit is rather “cookie-cutter,” but there are ways to offer choices.
Be sure to give a context for the bag: show a graphic of the steps of the seder, show a matzah holder with three real pieces of matzah, break the middle one (as per the seder step Yachatz) and show the larger half as the Afikoman. It’s just the larger half of a piece of matzah, but it is powerful: we can’t finish a seder without it! Mention that families have different traditions about hiding and finding it, but it must the last thing we eat on seder night. Afikomen is Greek for “dessert.”
To make a durable bag in 30 minutes takes lots of prep time for you, the grownup. When working with a group of kids, you’ll have to staple the pouch and punch the holes for sure, but I also sorted the letter stickers, photocopied the Hebrew labels, made spelling guides, cut the yarn and even taped one end to thread better. (A bag made of a piece of folded cardstock (rather than foam) will be fine for kids to staple and punch, but I didn’t want to use paper for this project.)
Quickest to Make (and least prep): Kids lace pouch edges (3 sides) and free-hand write Afikomen in English and Hebrew. (If using translucent, stuff interfacing as pouch, students can trace letters from a guide inside. Thanks to Catherine for this suggestion!)
Almost as Quick (with more prep): Kids lace pouch edges (3 sides) and apply foam letter stickers to spell in English and/or Hebrew. An alternative to foam letters is to provide photocopied labels on card stock. Elmer’s Glue All (not School Glue) will glue cardstock to craft foam. More letter choices: stencil, stamp, punch, paper stickers.
Material for bag: We used craft foam because I’m using up our ancient supply and have no intention of buying more. I love it, but I hate that it is “so bad for the Earth.”
You can use:
Felt, or stiffened felt (you’ll need felt glue, though)
Manilla folder, cut into 8.5 x 11 and folded in half (matzah colored!)
Vinyl folders (without pockets, cut in half, then folded)
Report covers, folded (clear or opaque)
Assemble basic bag before class: Staple bag at each of the four corners, then hole punch around three sides. Kids can do this if you have the time to supervise, but to hole punch through two layers of foam is difficult for small hands.
Yarn: How much per bag? To whip or run lace through three sides of a halved craft foam sheet takes at least 36″. I cut lengths of yarn, taped one end of each tightly (a homemade aglet), and laid them out of the floor so kids could see the colors and pick one. (What’s an aglet? Phineas and Ferb will tell you.)
Again, kids can cut and prepare the yarn if you have the time. I taped a 36″ piece of blue painter’s tape to the table so kids could roll out yarn to match the length and cut. No measuring, no guessing.
Spelling guides: I photocopied a finished bag so kids could use it as a spelling guide, and to be sure they began their initial letters far enough over to fit the whole word.
Afikoman vs. Afikomen = it’s a Greek word that has become Hebrew and is now spelled in English, which means that either transliteration is correct! Pick one.
My Hebrew foam stickers come from RiteLite. This year I had even less time with the class than usual, so I skipped the Hebrew stickers and provided photocopied Hebrew on card stock. I printed and trimmed (1/2 inch off each side) and then the kids glued with Elmer’s Glue-All onto the foam bag. It worked.
Here’s the Hebrew to print at just the right size: PDF or DOCX.
If seems like a lot of trouble, IT IS, but it’s the only way I could think of to produce a decent, re-usable bag in a 30 minute class. Suggestions welcome.
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