Joyful Jewish

Archive for the ‘Craft for kids’ Category

Rosh Hashanah in plasticine

My daughter, now aged 6, is really enjoying creating little items out of plasticine.   This is her recent Rosh Hashanah still life, comprising apples, a pot of honey, three round challot, a black shofar and and orange and white Torah.

She had so much fun, she then produced a hamantaschen, a very wonky sukkah with table and chair and a lulav and etrog, among other things!  I was very proud of her efforts and finished products, which were 100% her own work.  My only input was encouragement and supply of the storage container.

Plasticine is really easy for little fingers to work with, comes in a range of colours and stays soft indefinitely.  It’s great!

Rosh Hashanah models and the artist


We’re between festivals this month, so I decided to focus on some Hebrew words and phrases with the kids in my Shabbat Tot class.   “Lailah tov” means “Good night”. For a craft activity, we’re making a collage quilt using squares of fabric. You could also do this activity with squares of paper if you didn’t have any spare fabric.
As a bonus, my fabric represents a number of Jewish festivals, either intentionally or via a process of creative reimagining!

This is the (very simple) backing picture prior to the fabric squares being glued on.

Lailah tov

And this is what it looks like with the completed quilt.

Lailah tov complete

Can you spot: matzah for Passover, apples for Rosh Hashanah, a candle holder for Hanukah? How about: party hats for Purim, flowers for Shavuot, a plague of insects and another of darkness for Passover, water that parted at the Red Sea, and a selection of stars of David?  If you can suggest what my plain square of orange (ignoring the glue stain) might represent, please leave me a comment!

Purim is just around the corner, and I wanted a gragger project with a difference.  May I present (drumroll please!) the “I Spy” gragger!

Rice and treasures

The I Spy Gragger!

This craft activity combines two great ideas – 1. something to make noise when Haman’s name is mentioned during the reading of Megillat Esther at Purim, and 2. the I Spy bag (or in this case bottle).  If you’ve never seen an I Spy bag, they are great: a collection of random (or not so random) small interesting objects hiding in a sea of small pellets, awaiting your discovery.  I bought one for my daughter when she was younger, and I think I enjoyed finding the items in it even more than she did!

The gragger part is easy – an empty plastic bottle containing some rice.  You could also use uncooked pasta, dried lentils etc, but rice is relatively quiet when shaken, plus you can easily dye it lovely colours by putting rice, a squirt of food colouring and a teaspoon of white vinegar into a ziplock bag and shaking/rubbing until the rice is evenly coloured.  My daughter enjoyed helping with that!  I used a cup of rice per 600ml bottle but go with what looks good to you.

Deciding what items to include for the “I Spy” component can be fun too.  I  thought of a few myself, then called on the lovely Joanna B from Bible Belt Balabusta for some more inspiration.  Here’s our combined list of potential items for inclusion:

Gragger contents

A few good ideas, but you can invent more!

– Alphabet beads for the inital letters of the names of the main characters.  (I threaded a piece of gold pipecleaner through the A for King Ahashverosh.)
– a plastic jewel for Queen Ester
– a gold coin, or a gold or silver crown (to be cut out of shiny cardboard or trimmed from a piece of foil lasagne pan) for King Ahashverosh
– a heart to represent the good Mordechai
– a triangle for Haman’s hat
– mini Hamantaschen made from modelling clay
– a tiny horse, to represent the one that Haman had to lead Mordechai around on
– Ahashverosh’s sceptre, which he extends to Esther when she visits uninvited, maybe made from a shortened, painted toothpick with a bead glued on the end
– food for the banquet
– a tiny book or scroll that King Ahashverosh checks when he can’t sleep, finds Mordecai’s deed within.
– dice: to represent the “lots” (“Purim”) that Haman threw to select the date to destroy the Jews
– mini masks (cut from cardboard or perhaps found as confetti)
– magen david confetti

Gragger labelI used the items I could get hold of (or make) most easily, but it would have been fun to use all these ideas.  (Thank you Joanna!)  The children I was making the graggers with are quite young – 2-3 years old, so I made a list of the items and laminated it so it could be tied to the neck of the bottle as a reminder of who is in the story and what could be found if you looked.

The kids loved putting things into the bottle and shaking it all up.  We then had a great rendition of my Purim story for young children (ie the G-rated version) with accompanying Purim spoon puppets, and tested out some new hamantaschen recipes.  And now we’re all set for Purim!

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Cardboard latkes in pans

I came across this idea here, while looking for some pretend latkes to make.  It’s a cardboard latke attached to a cardboard frying pan.  Finally, mess-free frying!

You will need:
– small cardboard plates
– extra large popsticks (tongue-depressor size)
– sticky tape
– yellow cellophane, or anything else that can represent oil
– glue
– brown and/or cream cardboard
– something to decorate the cardboard to give an impression of latke-ness (I used brown spot stickers cut in half)
– string or wool

To make the frying pan, sticky tape the extra large popstick to the base of a small cardboard plate.
Add “oil” by sticking in a circle of yellow cellophane (or you could draw it in with yellow crayon etc).

Cardboard frypan

Cut out two latke shapes – if you use a combination of colours, it’s easier to see whether or not you flipped it over when you tossed it.  Stick together slightly offset, and decorate.

Cardboard latke

Punch a hole into both the frying pan and the latke, and tie a piece of string or wool to both, so that your latke is much harder to lose.

Practise your latke tossing skills! Flip them up and catch them again.  Flip them over.  Flip them into someone else’s pan. It’s not as easy as it looks when you’re tossing a flat cardboard latke – or maybe I just need a lot more practice!

Flip your latke

My 5 year old daughter can’t remember where she just put her shoes 10 minutes ago, but she has an impeccable memory when it comes to food.  Despite me not having even thought about it, as soon as Sukkot arrived she promptly reminded me of the need to purchase biscuits and lollies (a.k.a. cookies and candy) to make edible sukkot!

As you will see from a quick Image search for edible sukkot on Google, the possibilities are quite varied – sweet or savoury; simple or decorated; mostly healthy or dentist’s nightmare.  Most of them are stuck together with icing (frosting) but that’s too complicated and messy for really small kids who just want to build their own.

Last year our biggest challenge was getting the walls to stay upright.  As you can see here:

This year, I figured it out.  If the walls are thicker, they will stand up by themselves.  Thick, flat-sided wafer biscuits = success!  We used some that are almost square, but if you can only get smaller ones you might be able to stack them like bricks.  No more screams of anguish as yet another wall collapses before the roof can go on!

Unfortunately due to the last minute nature of my shopping, I was not able to track down any stick-like biscuits for the roof (pretzels here only seem to come in the curly variety not straight) but last year we used Pocky sticks, which I developed a taste for when I lived in Japan.  This year we used shortbread fingers, which gave our sukkot a rather solid look.  I’ll be back to something thinner next year.

Next year I wonder if I could thread some Froot Loops onto the Pocky sticks before putting them on the roof??  Hmmm, might need to test that theory out sooner than next Sukkot!

A couple of years ago, I purchased a bunch of Jewish cookie cutters.  They are great, and we now have a family tradition of making Torah shaped biscuits for Simchat Torah.

Last year we decorated our biscuits with sprinkles.

This year we tried a new thing – imprinting a magen david onto the dough before baking it.  I had never done this before but was very happy with how they looked, especially as the recipe I used didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped.  The good news is – they were still absolutely delicious!!

Last year I made some apple decorations to hang in my sukkah after Rosh Hashanah, based on an idea by Creative Jewish Mom.  Then I saved my plastic soda bottles all year so my Shabbat Tot group of kids could all make their own apple decoration for Rosh Hashanah.

To make this craft easy for very young children, I prepared a bunch of different pieces of paper or plastic that I had in my craft stash: printer paper, crepe paper, cellophane, florists’ paper etc – some shiny, some matt, some translucent.  These were all red apart from some gold cellophane to represent honey.  All the kids had to do was select some pieces and scrunch them up, then put them into the container – perfect fun and easy enough even for 2 year olds.  The “honey” went inside too.  To finish off the apple, the child taped on a cardboard leaf.

Fun crafts and activities for Jewish families with young children

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