Crafting a red heifer (or a parah adumah) seems like the most obvious idea from this week's parsha, especially after seeing Julie Seltzer's parah adumah challah! But, I couldn't imagine trying to explain the concepts of tumah and taharah as they relate to this ritual!
So, instead, we focused on another weird animal story in the parsha. Its short, so I will just quote the whole thing here:
And G-d sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit the nation, and many perished of the people of Israel. And the people came to Moshe, and they said, “we have sinned, because we spoke against G-d and against you; pray to G-d that He take away from us the snakes.” And Moshe prayed on behalf of the nation. And G-d said to Moshe, “make for yourself a snake and put it on a pole, and it will be that anyone bitten will see it, and live.” And Moshe made a copper snake (nachash nechoshet), and set it on a high pole, and it was that if a snake bit a man, and he stared at the copper snake, that he lived. Numbers 21:6-9
The most obviously problematic aspect of this passage is that the copper snake seems kinda idolatrous-y, no? Well, apparently, as long as the command to fashion objects out of precious metals comes directly from God - like the Keruvim - then it is not avodah zara.
So, it was snakes for us instead of cows. I found this VERY easy and fun way to make snakes. All you need is a cheap paper plate. My original plan was to make just the copper snake but that didn't go so well. First of all, I didn't have any copper-colored anything. So, I used the leftover gold glitter paint that we had (close enough). But, I was impatient and didn't wait for it to dry so it was a big mess but you can get the idea...
Then I decided that this project was so easy that we should just make a whole bunch of snakes, poisonous and all. I realized that the easiest thing to do is to use markers when the paper plate is still intact and THEN cut it in a spiral shape. The results are really cute:
We made and hung lots of snakes and they are still up in our dining room. And, now I have a package of paper plates that are great for puppets, masks, etc.
I was very excited to see another "mama" do this parsha project over at Adventures in Mama-Land - yay!