I decided I needed a table runner with a chanukah theme, so after a little bit of searching on the internet, I found this pattern for making a dreidel quilt block. I adapted the pattern slightly and enlarged it. I’d never done paper piecing before, but it was easier than I expected, and these are a couple of my finished blocks. The actual table runner is a real work in progress, because I am making the pattern up as I go and even I don’t know exactly what it will look like when it is finished!
My daughter Talia attends a public kindergarten for 4-5 year olds. Parents take turns helping out for a couple of hours, and my husband and I were “on duty” last Thursday. A week earlier, I asked the teacher what she had planned for us to do, and she invited us to talk to the class about Chanukah. So we did! It was really nice to share our traditions with a group who, apart from our daughter, knew nothing about them.
Talia helped me make this collage to show what we do to celebrate. It’s a mix of printed out images, decorated cardboard, holographic contact paper and the wrappers from some chanukah gelt (because as Talia and I agreed, there wasn’t much point attaching chocolate to the picture when we could eat it instead.)
We talked about lighting candles for 8 nights (I took in several chanukiot and we counted the number of places to put candles, and the kids figured out how many to put in each night), eating latkes and doughnuts, and playing with dreidels. I read them the book “Hanukkah Lights” which is really just a baby book but has cute pictures and covers all the things I had just talked about, and my husband and I sang them “Maoz Tsur.”
We took in a stack of little dreidels for the kids to try spinning, which they loved, and (having just learned the alphabet this year) they were fascinated by the Hebrew characters on them. We also dished out some chocolate gelt, because frankly that was easier and less mess than making latkes!
I will definitely volunteer to talk to Talia’s future classes about this and other festivals in future, and hopefully next year we can get the whole class doing some Hanukkah themed craft to display next to all their Christmas decorations.
These are the home-made cards I’m sending out to some of my friends and family. I love making cards and these are simple but pretty – an embossed stamp on two colours of paper, one of which is sparkly. And who can resist sparkliness?
Trying to talk about Israel to children who are only vaguely aware of their own country (or even the concept of what a country might be) is always going to be a bit hit and miss, but that’s no reason not to try. Here’s a way to make it a bit more interactive as a group activity for young children learning about Israel.
I printed off a bunch of little Israel-themed pictures, and cut them out. On the back of each I wrote a question or a fact. Then when I met up with my group of Shabbat Tot kids and their parents, I let the children choose some pictures and their parents read out the question/fact (and contributed to the answer/discussion.) Quite a few of the parents have spent time in Israel, either on kibbutz or as tourists, so it was great to hear them share their memories. Older children would of course be able to read the text by themselves.
Here is a sample of the pictures/questions.
Picture – question
Map of Israel – Where is Israel? I took a globe and we found where we live, where Israel is, and the countries we had all been born in/visited recently.
Jerusalem/Western Wall – What is the capital of Israel? What is in this picture?
Alef-bet – What languages to people speak and write? We talked about Hebrew being written right-to-left. (This lead into our craft activity)
Israeli foods – What do people eat in Israel?
Israeli flag – What is on the Israeli flag? We compared it to a tallis with blue stripes.
Israeli coins – What is Israeli money called? We passed around a selection of Israeli coins.
Man floating in the Dead Sea – What is something unusual you can do in Israel? Lots of parental reminiscing at this one!
Workers on a kibbutz – What is something different about farming in Israel?
Israeli dancers – Let’s learn an Israeli dance together. This was loads of fun.
I heart Israel – Why is Israel special? You can think up as many reasons as you like.
My daughter knows quite a few Hebrew blessings, but has had very little exposure to written Hebrew so far, other than the characters on her dreidel collection. Knowing that her name was one of the first things she recognised when she learned the English alphabet, I thought it would be good to put her name in Hebrew up on display in her bedroom. I printed it out onto card, and she decorated the border with a selection of stickers, confetti etc.
I wanted to share the template, but I created it in Microsoft Publisher 2007 and the file can’t be uploaded to this website, for technical reasons beyond my understanding. However if you want to duplicate what I’ve done, I used the following fonts:
First line – Tempus Sans ITC 36pt
Second line (Hebrew) – Narkisim 100pt
Third line – Tempus Sans ITC 60pt
If you’ve never typed in Hebrew before, it’s not hard, and if your Hebrew recognition is not great, trust me it improves really quickly! At the top of your Publisher screen, click on Insert, then Symbol. In the box that pops up, make sure the Subset box says Hebrew. Then double click on each character to type them in, one after another. (If you just choose one and click Insert, it’s a much slower process.)
If you’d prefer to write names in by hand, here’s a .pdf version of My Hebrew Name template
This past week, I designed a little Jewish card game/board game for my daughter (aged 4). In it, you need to match 3 pictures to each of a selection of Jewish holidays.
For example, Shabbat is represented by candles, a kiddush cup and challah; Chanukah has a menorah, dreidel and latkes; Pesach has a seder plate, the plagues and matzah; and Yom Ha’atzmaut has an Israeli flag, a map of Israel and some Israeli dancers.
I found this game to be a fun way to review a lot of the festivals, identify some key symbols and talk about what we do, what we eat and so forth. Please feel free to use it yourself. The instructions are included on the pdf. I suggested putting the pieces into boxes or bags during the game, but I’ve thought of another way to do it (especially for older children) – put all the pieces face down in the middle, and turn over two at a time as you would if playing Memory. If either matches your card, move them to your card. If not, turn face down again and let the next person take their turn.
I have a terrible memory, so I decided to make a 5 year Sukkot journal/guestbook so we can remember all the fun we had each year. Do you like it? (Please ignore the manufacturing company’s watermark in the middle of the page). I have just ordered a hard copy and am really looking forward to receiving it.
For each year, I have included space to write a little bit about each of the following: where our sukkah was located; who put it together; what it was constructed from; and what the decorations included.
Then there are pages where I can write the date, the weather and highlights of the day, plus pages which are largely blank so that our visitors can also add their personal messages.
The book also includes general information about Sukkot and some photos I took this year. Every page is completely different, and I’ve probably used waaaaay too many embellishments… (digital scrapbooking is very addictive!) but it was loads of fun, and that’s what Sukkot is all about!