private mistakes are written underneath
Boy, did I hesitate posting this one. “Scapegoat” seems to be one of those code words that bring out the religiously, um, fervent faster than you can say “proselytize.” Context and intention are everything. I just want to help introduce the bizarre concept of the Yom Kippur scapegoat to appropriately aged children and to tweak the idea to be a useful tool for teshuvah. (What’s teshuvah? My working definition is “turning” toward the right path and good behavior as we assess our deeds of the past year. The goal is to be the best [insert own name here] we can be.) Continue reading
to practice “hitting the mark”
I’ve used craft stick catapults for Lag B’Omer, but this year I needed a quick, thematic craft for 2nd graders right before Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur liturgy features archery imagery: missing the mark (“al chet,” which is the closest thing Hebrew has to the word “sin”) and hitting the mark. Torah is sometimes translated as “to take aim.” Continue reading
bee models for art, for honey, for disscussion
My dream is to bring a hive of bees to school for a pre-Rosh Hashanah exploration. Or even better, to bring the kids to a hive, especially to a hive nestled near an organic garden. Until then, I have to make do with dead bees, honeycomb and honey in the art room. Continue reading
Apple and Honey practice
I was fiddling with a bunch of materials I’d collected—mostly recyclables—trying to come up with a craft my Sunday School classes could do in 25 minutes. Something connected to Rosh Hashanah, something meaningful, useful, decent-looking and 100% fun to make. I spent hours fine-tuning a “cute” craft we’ve all seen on Pinterest, but I just couldn’t make it kid-friendly enough so that even the Kindergarteners could do all the work themselves. And, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong. Continue reading
diluted acrylic paint
Did you know you can (sort of) make fabric dye with acrylic paint? This trick turns even ancient acrylic into gorgeous tie-dye for free. I found out by accident.
Bottom line: I used old paint to “squeeze-bottle tie-dye” challah covers with kids while we stood over a sink. It was easy, it was gorgeous, tidy, and it was free.
“do not dink or you will die”
In conjunction with our big, ongoing Marker Mitzvah program—where we collect the school’s dead markers and ship them for conversion into diesel fuel—we keep some dry markers for use in the art room.
What do we do with dead markers? We make mezuzah cases (which I’ve written about here) and we make FREE, gorgeous liquid watercolors. Even the driest of dry marker will leach plenty of color into a bottle of water. Continue reading
Marker Mitzvah display at school program
Here’s an easy mitzvah project I started with our 3rd graders, and it benefits the entire school. The mitzvah is B’al Tashcheet—”do not destroy”—and what we are trying to “not destroy” is the Earth: we’re saving oodles of markers from the landfill. Continue reading
roadkill or wax-soaked lint?
[Making flammable treasure from trash, with kids.] Continue reading
swim noodle omer
Count the omer with swim noodles! I needed a BIG omer counter for a classroom (and maybe the school entrance, too), and this is it. I love abacus-style omer counters because it is a pleasure to slide something across something: I feel like I’ve counted, I’ve moved, I’ve gone from here to there. All the more so with swim noodle “cookies” and my beloved PVC pipe. The two materials create just enough friction. Continue reading
Rainbow loom omer bracelet: one rubber band per day
I made this today just to feel what it would be like to count the omer via Rainbow Loom. It felt fiddly, but worthwhile. Mindful. I had to pay attention and I had to make decisions about color coding. Some kids will like this, some kids will flee in the opposite direction. My own child preferred to watch Pokemon rather than experiment with me, but hey, Pokemon. Continue reading
LEGO omer counter: from Passover to Shavuot
LEGO omer counters. I couldn’t find any, so I made some up. LEGO is ideal for an omer counter because it is inherently irresistible and in any decent-sized LEGO bin at home are bound to be 49 somethings with which to mark each day of the count. Continue reading
from Pesach to Shavuot
I have post-seder ennui—worse than the usual Passover prep hangover—and I need a new challenge: an omer counter. I’m looking for a design that is group-friendly, and that doesn’t require us to buy any materials. Ideally, I want BARLEY in it: real barley groats, real barley stalks to remind us of the omer origins. I already have both. But kids aren’t going to be pushing each other out of the way for the chance to open a matchbox to grab . . . a groat. Continue reading
Roast a beitzah (egg) to take home for your seder plate
Why let kids dangle boiled eggs over fire?
To candle-roast an egg is a quick, hands-on connection to what the seder plate egg symbolizes. It’s weird, it’s memorable and it is a kid magnet.
Seder step stations
I nearly called this post “Passover Carnival,” but was afraid you’d get the wrong idea. The wrong idea is a spree with lice races, chocolate matzah painting, origami frogs, and crafts. Continue reading
Open the [LEGO] door for Elijah
At our school’s Walk Through the Seder Steps
program, two toy tableaux sat at the Hallel station. Hallel is the step where, appropriately enough, we sing Hallel and other songs of praise, and also when we open the door for Elijah. Continue reading
As part of the Maggid Station at our school’s interactive Seder Steps program, I wanted kids to consider the Passover story and put to scenes in narrative sequence. I didn’t want flat pictures or flannel boards—I wanted 3-D—so I used toys, Continue reading
Fake blood! Fake house! Fake Death! Real lesson.
PassOver house before the 10th plague (still clean)
small lulav leaf brushes for bedikat and biur chametz
This quick DIY takes longer to explain than to make. It’s a wee brush for the night and morning before Passover: a riff on the traditional repurpose of using Sukkot’s lulav for the pre-Passover Search and Destroy mission. Continue reading
Afikomen bag materials (spelling guide, bag, labels, yarn). The purple one is finished.
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. Continue reading
Hula Hoop Seder Plate (scrap art)
A seder plate the size of a hula hoop—because it is a hula hoop—makes an unforgettable project and display. Kids can learn or review the symbolic foods and traditional placement thereof; work individually or in small groups; and create a teaching prop that gets noticed even in cavernous synagogue social halls. Continue reading