Joyful Jewish

Printable Purim banner

After I constructed my paper Purim banner, I scanned the letters so I could print them out again without having to worry about any cutting and sticking.  You can find the individual letters saved as .jpg files on the original post.

I saved all the letters at their original size into a PDF file – but the file was huge! I compressed the file, but this reduced the print quality.  It is probably OK if you want something large (to be seen across the room) but are not too worried about how it looks up close.  Purim banner – A4 size.compressed.

Next I saved them into a PDF file with each letter half as big: Purim banner – A5 size  This file has a better resolution and should print fine.

I also ended up, somewhat by accident, with a PDF file which gives two copies of each letter, but with four letters per page.  These are the perfect size for a couple of small banners for home or classroom – download it here: Purim banner – mini size

Print, cut out the rectangles, and sticky tape a piece of ribbon across the back.  Try and leave slightly more space between the words than I managed on my first effort!

Purim banner as backdrop

Happy Purim!

Letters for Purim banner

Purim is fast approaching, and I wanted to put something colourful on the pinboard in the hall we use for Hebrew school.   The easiest thing I could think of was a banner – or (time was running short) a bunch of letters arranged like a banner.  Or indeed just a bunch of letters pinned to the board.  [NB: the picture above is a not so great photo of the finished letters on the floor of my home.  They look much better on the pinboard!)

Happy - HHappy - A

Of course these letters needed to convey the joyful, party mood of Purim, so I decided to make them out of scrapbooking paper in a variety of colours and patterns.

Happy - P1Happy - P2

These are simple to make if you have access to a printer.  Make a template for the letters in Publisher or Word (or other text based software) by inserting a text box onto a blank page so that it fills almost the entire page.  (It’s easier in Publisher, but if using Word, you will probably need to specify narrow margins in the Page Layout tab). Set the font to something which is going to be easy enough to cut out when very large.  I used a font called Berlin Sans FB Demi, size 750pt. Into this box, type one letter.  Use the formatting tools to set Font fill to “no fill” but keep Font outline as black (or any other colour).

Happy - YPurim - P

Now you can print out this letter onto coloured paper.  I like to buy packs of fancy scrapbooking paper when they are on special.  I don’t actually scrapbook, I use the paper for papercuts, card making etc.  The paper tends to be square (unlike your printer), but it’s not difficult to fold each piece and cut it to fit your printer tray, or trace around a piece of cardboard the size you need (A4 in my case).  It doesn’t matter if the edges of these pieces are not perfect, because you will be cutting out the printed letter in the centre of the page.

Purim - UPurim - R

Once you have the letters you need, attach each of them to a contrasting backing sheet.  The letters I made would have looked fantastic on 12 inch square backing sheets, but I cut mine down to slightly smaller than A4 because I wanted to laminate them, and I only have A4 laminating pouches.

Purim - IPurim - M

Well that looks great, I hear you say, but I don’t have time to faff around making a template and cutting up bits of coloured paper.  No problem! After I made my letters, I scanned them.  You can download individual letters from this page, or PDF files from here - (almost) no cutting or sticking involved.

AlefBet - Bet AlefBet - Hey AlefBet - Vav AlefBet - Zayin

When I started teaching Hebrew alef-bet, I decided to make myself a set of tactile flashcards.  A teacher friend suggested cutting letter shapes out of sandpaper, but I wanted something more visually stimulating to complement the touchy-feely aspect.  Above you can see a few of the cards I’ve made. In actual fact my class has mostly used them visually, but occasionally I ask them to close their eyes and feel the shape of the letters with their fingers, just to involve another sensory pathway as they learn.

They are a little time consuming to make, but it’s a resource I can keep using for a long time so I think it has been worth the effort!

First I purchased a packet of pastel A5 card and laminated them, to make them more durable.

Next I made paper templates of the letters using the font Gisha at size 600pt.  I chose Gisha because of its simplicity – I thought it would be too difficult cutting thick material like corrugated cardboard if I used a more ornate font. Also I figure it’s good for the kids to learn to recognise letters in a variety of fonts.

Lastly I used a selection of tactile materials to make the final product, which I attached using double sided adhesive tape.

Felt comes in many colours, is easy to cut and doesn’t fray.

felt (samech)

Ribbon is pretty, and this velvet ribbon feels amazing – but it’s not so easy to make it curve neatly, and you need to take care of the ends so they don’t fray.  (I folded mine under.)

Velvet ribbon (vet)

Textured paper is easy to cut but quite delicate, and not as rewardingly tactile as some materials.

textured paper (lamed)

Corrugated cardboard, on the other hand, feels fabulous but can be a bit of pain to cut.

corrugated cardboard (mem)

Thin foam sheets are easy to cut out and work with, and give a good raised edge even if they are fairly bland to touch.

foam sheet (ayin)

Glitterboard looks fabulous, feels good and is moderately easy to work with, but will shed some glitter. It is also a great way to blunt cutting machine blades (not that I used a cutting machine for these cards.)

glitterboard (chaf)

I’m not sure what this sort of material is called – I had a small piece I salvaged from around a boxed floral arrangement.  It looks great and is certainly quite different from the other materials, but the kids cannot help themselves and are constantly pulling it apart!  I wouldn’t use it again for that reason alone.

strange paper (yud)

Here I used a smooth paper but edged it (alas, not especially neatly) with a thin line of glitter glue, which dries to a lovely hard ridge and gives a 3-D feel quite different to just the paper by itself.

glitter glue border (alef)

The kids learn “Bet has a belly button” and my Bet card has a button too.

IMG_5368

They also learn to distinguish Chaf from Kaf with “Kaf catches” (hard k sound) so my Kaf caught a ball.

Kaf catches a ball

For me, the joy of making my own cards is ending up with an useful resource that I like the look of (and feel of) and feel inspired to use!!

 

Rosh Hashanah skirt

Last year I decorated a t-shirt for my daughter for Rosh Hashanah.   She was very happy with it, but it didn’t match anything she already owned.  So I promised her that this year I would make her a matching skirt.

Let’s just say that the last 12 months has gone really fast! Rosh Hashanah was looming on the horizon and I still hadn’t gone shopping for a skirt pattern.  So I took advantage of the fact that (a) my daughter is young enough to appreciate anything I sew for her  (b) I have a stash of groovy fabric (as seen in my Rosh Hashanah challah cover) and (c) the internet is full of useful sewing blogs explaining how even people like me – with very limited sewing skills – can still easily rustle up a fun skirt.

Rosh Hashanah skirt on model

It’s loud, it’s proud, and my daughter loves it.  Maybe next year I should make my husband a matching kippah?

 

Cork apples with paint

Card made by T (aged 7)

Rosh Hashanah cards 2014

Cards made by Mum

Looking for a fun and easy Rosh Hashanah card craft? This is a variation on an activity I saw on the Challah Crumbs website.  Basically it involves printing apples using the usefully circular nature of the end of a cork.  This may be easier said than done if you don’t drink wine – or even if you do, given how much less common wine bottles with corks are these days.  It might be time to pop that bottle of champagne you’ve been saving for the right occasion. :-)

Fortunately for me, I saved a bunch of corks some years ago with the plan of making an entire pinboard out of recycled corks.  The pinboard never eventuated, but the corks were still hanging around. (Yes, I am that sort of person who finds it hard to throw things away, how did you guess?)

Rather than keeping the corks completely round, I used a cutting blade to take out two small chunks to mimic the dimples at the top and base of an apple.  The stems are just added in pen afterwards.

Cork apple stamps

Not that you can see it clearly, but I’ve carved two dimples into each “apple”.

Corks are not uniformly flat, especially once you’ve impaled them with a corkscrew, but this adds to their charm in my opinion. I initially tested my cork stamps with ink pads, and I really liked the result.  The handwritten Hebrew letters are less of a feature, but I was making this in a rush as a demonstration model for a class of children who were not going to be critical (thankfully!)  I gave them some Hebrew alef-bet stencils and they enjoyed finding the right letters for their own cards.

Cork apples with ink

We don’t have colourful inkpads at cheder, so there we used paint.  It worked fine, but if you are doing this activity with kids then I recommend you have a scrap sheet of paper or cardboard where kids can stamp first to lose some excess paint prior to stamping their Rosh Hashanah card.  This is because if you have too much paint on the end of your cork, you end up with a blob which looks less like an apple and more like somebody stepped on a paint bug and squished it to the page.

More cork apples

The advantage of paint is that you can end up with mixed colours which look fabulous, as my daughter demonstrates above.

Cork apples

Rosh Hashanah is in less than two weeks, so I foresee more cork stamping at home this weekend!

Update: I made cards for family on the other side of the country using ink, with a stamped greeting in the middle.  I was pretty happy with how they turned out.  It’s not so obvious from this photo, but the metallic gold apples looked great.

Rosh Hashanah inked card

 

YK Quiz

I was teaching a group of children aged 6-9 about Yom Kippur facts and customs recently, and I decided to do it in the form of a group quiz.  I printed out my questions and laminated them, then my class took turns pulling a question out of a bag and reading it aloud.  That was good because even the ones who were reluctant to venture an answer still contributed to the activity. Nearly half the questions are “True or False?” which the kids seemed to enjoy.  My 7 year-old daughters says this is because you have a 50% chance of getting it right!  I was not fussed if they already knew the answer or not, I wanted them to think about it and then I helped fill in the gaps in their knowledge.

You are welcome to use these questions yourself. This link should open up a .pdf file: Yom Kippur Quiz

Some questions ask for basic knowledge: “What is the traditional colour to wear on Yom Kippur?” Some test understanding of vocabulary: “True or false? Yom Kippur is called a fast day because it goes really fast.” Other questions are more subtle: “True or false? Yom Kippur is a day for asking other people to forgive us.”

And there are a bunch of other questions as well, involving goats, shoes, chickens, eating, and the festivals on either side of Yom Kippur, among other things.  As much fun as you are likely to have learning about this very serious festival!

Be warned: I am not providing the answers!  You may need to do a little revision.  :-)  It also allows for some variations on answers to suit your own practices.  Plus you may find the kids come up with more than you expect.  In response to a question about goats,  I had only planned to talk about scapegoats, but a boy in my class immediately pointed out the obvious connection between goats and the shofar.

May we all be inscribed for a year of learning!

 

Bar Mitzvah card

I’ve made a few Bar and Bat Mitzvah cards over the years, but I don’t always remember to scan or photograph them before I give them away.

They often feature this lovely stamp of a tallit (prayer shawl) which I purchased along with the text (which says Bar Mitzvah in Hebrew) online from Zum Gali Gali.  I like to use embossing powder and a craft heat gun for a shiny finish.  Not so many years ago I would melt embossing powder over a toaster, resulting in burned crumbs and often burned fingers as well. Thankfully those days are behind me. :-)

If you want to make a card like this, it is very simple.

1. Stamp your design on a plain piece of card (and emboss if desired)

2. Cut one or more pieces of paper just a few millimetres wider and longer than your central piece of card, and attach the layers together with double-sided adhesive tape.  A metallic paper gives a classic finish.

3. Attach to your card.  I decorated plain blue card by stamping it with Mazel Tov (congratulations).  This stamp is one of a lovely collection I bought from Papertrey Ink a few years back. I used another design from the same set on these Chanukah cards. It’s a little bit wonky but I’m hoping that adds to the charm of a hand-made card.

 

 

 

Fun crafts and activities for Jewish families with young children

A resource site for anyone who wants to share the joy of being Jewish with the children in their life.

Enjoy!

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