Sunday, May 30, 2010


Menorah Shapes and Game

Exciting news for those of you who would actually like to USE the ideas that I post here but are frustrated because they are always posted only AFTER the week's Parsha crafts will now be available on a new website called "Challah Crumbs!" This website was recently created by a friend of mine who lives in Israel and she asked me to contribute my Parsha craft ideas. I am thrilled to do this but the only catch is that I have to get them to her a week IN ADVANCE - challenging for me since my ideas have typically been brainstormed the night before or the morning of... So now, I I will just continuously be teaching my kids the parsha for the upcoming week (they don't know the difference!) So, check out the website and you can already see NEXT week's project...amazing. You will still have to look at this blog if you want to hear my parental and educational musings and photos of my cute kids.

Parshat Behaalotcha is chock-full of good stuff but I decided to focus on the first few verses which describe the commandment for Aaron to light up the Menorah in the Mishkan. The Menorah seemed like an obvious choice for a project. I immediately started googling images of the Menorah but realized that I wouldn't be able to use any of them for the "Challah Crumbs" website because of copyright issues. So, I a proud to say that I just went ahead and designed my own in a word document using auto-shapes. I think it came out pretty darn good for someone who is not a graphic designer!

My idea was to make the Menorah using basic shapes like circles and triangles and let the girls cut out and glue these shapes onto the Menorah to fill it in.

Maya was able to do this but Avital was happy just coloring in the picture...

Then, we were ready to play the game - "Pin the flame on the Menorah!" Since we did this project on a Sunday morning, it was a family affair...

Sunday, May 16, 2010



It feels good to start a new sefer! I feel relieved and re-energized by starting Sefer Bamidbar. This parsha has lots of lists and numbers but it also introduces us to the concept of the 12 tribes and the design of the encampment in the desert which is fun and interesting.

The girls were already familiar with the concept of the 12 sons from Parshat Vayetze so I now wanted to introduce them to the concept of the twelve tribes that ultimately descended from those original twelve. The word "tribe" was surprisingly tough to explain to Maya - I used lots of metaphors like family, group, etc. We looked at pictures of how the Machane (camp) was laid out. I mainly used this one that I found in the text of a dvar torah on Bar Ilan's website by Gabi Cohen:

Then, we moved onto flag making. I found these great little images of the tribes' symbols. We simply colored them in, cut them out, and attached them onto toothpicks.

This made for a great project but I also wanted to demonstrate where the tribes were situated. In a stroke of genius, I realized that muffin tins contain the magic number 12! I was going to make cupcakes with frosting but since we always have rotting bananas laying around, we made chocolate chip banana muffins instead (at least they sound healthier)

When the muffins were cool, we placed three muffins (we pretended they were tents!) to the North, three to the South, three to the West, and three to the East.

Finally, we put our flags into our muffin-tents.

I am not always thrilled with how our projects turn out, but this one was definitely a winner. As always, the best part of the project for the kids was EATING it!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010



Sometimes I think that I am learning more about Christianity working on these projects than Judaism. Let me explain.

In contrast to Parshat Tazria, when doing an Omer project would have been a cop-out, this week's parsha actually includes the mitzvah of counting the days between Pesach and Shavuot:

"And you shall count from the next day after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete; To the next day after the seventh sabbath shall you count fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal offering to the Lord."

So I decided that - although we were already more than half way through the Omer - better late than never to do an Omer project. The inspiration for this project came straight from the blog Homeshuling. After googling "chocolate omer advent calendar," Amy Meltzer found this Omer Counter on Jewschool.

I loved the Omer charts on Homeshuling and Jewschool but I didn't actually know what "advent" was. Enter Wikipedia. "Advent is the season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas." Basically, a month-long countdown to Christmas. Apparently, advent calendars are very popular, especially homemade crafty ones! I spent an hour looking at great advent calendars. Here are some of my favorites:

Dixie cups and tissue paper:

Mini-muffin tin:


But, as usual, my time and energy were limited so I didn't do anything this fancy. Instead, I bought a big bag of Hershey kisses and otherwise used recycled materials.

I printed two coloring pages - one for Pesach and one for Shavuot.

Then, I divided a piece of oak tag into 49 squares:

Then, I wrapped two Hershey's kisses (one for Avi, one for Maya) in red cellophane (leftover from Shmot) and gold ribbon (leftover from Terumah)MANY times. This was way too time-consuming and the girls couldn't do it themselves. Next time, I will use tins, or cups, or envelopes or something that they can fill easily themselves.

The idea of course is for us to happily and diligently count Omer together every night as a family and then eat chocolate. Although the chart hangs prominently on our front door, we STILL haven't been consistent! But, when we do, it is fun. Better next year.