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 →
Posted on05/09/2016|Comments Off on 3-D Clay Topographical Maps of Israel
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 →
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.
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.
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 →
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 →
Posted on12/04/2015|Comments Off on Menorah Free-Build (Duplo, candles, PVC), Temple Free-Build
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 →
Posted on11/29/2015|Comments Off on DIY Menorahs from Repurposed or Otherwise Interesting Materials
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 →
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 →
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 →
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.
From JOANNA BRICHETTO:
My goal is to help kids and grownups spend time together making Jewish things. I like stuff that is hands-on, attractive, non-fussy, cheap and real, and so fun no one realizes it's educational.
The value is in the doing, not just the being done, and in the conversations and questions that happen along the way. Every project comes with helpful and (hopefully) pleasant chatter, because my native compulsiveness and enthusiasm means that I’ve given the meaning, function, and possible permutations a lot of thought. You won’t need to do much planning, because I’ll have done it for you.
LEGO minifig Passover seder table
Defining the Terms
Balabusta, n. (bal-eh-boos’-teh)
Yiddish for female boss of the home,
a praiseworthy Jewish homemaker.
Bible Belt, n.
where I am, and where most Jews aren’t.
For details, see "Nu?"
It doesn’t matter if you don’t live in the Bible Belt. The geographical modifier is a flag to indicate that the author is used to being outnumbered, without resources, and thus able to do just about anything from scratch. Newbies welcome. I used to be one, long ago.