Joyful Jewish

Posts Tagged ‘Shavuot

Last Tu Bishvat, I organised a snack activity to tie in with the theme of the Seven Species, “shivat haMinim”.  These are the grains and fruits listed in the Torah as being special products of Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel: “a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and (date) honey”.

Seven species biscuit

It’s not so easy to combine all these species into one child-friendly snack, so I cheated slightly by replacing olives with almonds (as almond trees blossom in Israel around the time of Tu Bishvat) and gluing the lot together with chocolate icing.  It was delicious!!   (We also offered the kids bread with olive oil for dipping, so no species was missed out.)

All you need is a packet of Malt biscuits (which contain both wheat and barley)

Malt biscuit

and some chopped up fruit (specifically: dates, dried figs, pomegranate seeds and sultanas) and slivered almonds

Date, fig, pomegranate, sultana & almonds

and a quantity of home-made chocolate icing (or something similar) to hold the fruit and nuts in place.

Spread the biscuit with chocolate icing, load up with date, fig, pomegranate, sultanas and almonds – some of the kids even made little pictures out of their toppings – and eat!  This was so quick and easy to organise, and so popular, I can guarantee we’ll be doing it again.

This was very popular with my Shabbat Tot group of 3 to 5 year olds this month, because it needed minimum adult intervention!

1. Glue a small coloured patty pan (cupcake liner) to the centre of a small paper doily.

2. Sticky tape a drinking straw to the back.

3. Decorate with stickers or textas if you’re in the mood.

4. Insert into vases.  To make an easy vase – decorate a small glass bottle with adhesive foam shapes.  I buy apricot nectar in six-packs of 125ml bottles (apricot chicken, mmmmmm) and saved them up over the year.  They are the perfect size to hold 3 paper flowers.


You can read my version of the 10 Commandments, rewritten for children, here.  We did the same craft activity again this year, but I revised the printout (download it here) so that the numbers are against the text of the commandments rather than next to the names of the hebrew letters. Personally I think it looks a bit better – the kids probably didn’t mind either way.

In other news: dabbing a (wet but not too soggy) teabag onto paper gives better results than wiping it over; and foam cutout stickers (something I only recently discovered) are awesome!

Look what I made!

Exhibit A: not my cup of tea

I’ve been wanting a stuffed toy Torah for a while now, but they are not available locally, postage from overseas is expensive, and frankly I wanted something that looked more like a scroll and less like a multicoloured cartoon alien (see exhibit A).  With Shavuot approaching, I decided to take the plunge and make my own.  Thankfully at least one talented person has been smart enough to design their own toy Torah, and kind enough to put the instructions online.  Thank you Sweet&Crunchy!!

Days are like scrolls; write on them what you will.

Following her tutorial, I didn’t have too much trouble putting my own home-made sewn-and-stuffed toy Torah together.  I used calico (approx 30cm wide x 85cm long) for the scroll, felt for the handles (approx 8.5cm diameter for the circles), a ribbon for the belt, and some leftover fancy fabric (with scalloped edge) for the cover.  I only had to unpick one major blooper, so I’m feeling quite pleased with myself!

My daughter is very happy and already making plans to carry it around shul for Simchat Torah!  I am hoping to make a breastplate, yad and possibly even rimonim, but the technicalities of all that will be revealed in the fullness of time (ie after I figure it out for myself!)

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.

Jewish calendar game for website

Last year we made our own “tablets of stone” for Shavuot.  I printed them, the children coloured them in, then we wiped them over with a wet teabag to give a mottled, old appearance before adding some flowers and stickers.  (Above is my daughter’s artwork.)

As a learning exercise, I included the first 10 letters of the Hebrew alef-bet ( this is how the commandments are represented in our synagogue) with the number associated with that letter, and the pronunciation of the letter.

My daughter was only 3 when I did this activity.  She a sweet little soul and I was (and still am) happy to wait until she is older before I introduce the concepts of murder, adultery and so forth, so I also re-wrote the commandments in child-friendly language, as follows:

1. There is only one God.
2. We should not make pretend gods.
3. God’s name is special.
4. Remember Shabbat is a day to rest and say thank you.
5. Listen to your parents and take care of them.
6. Do not hurt other people.
7. Love and look after everyone in your family.
8. Do not take things that belong to other people.
9. Do not say things that are not true.
10. Be happy with the things that you have.

Here’s a copy of Tablet 1  and Tablet 2, or if it’s easier, here are both on one A4 page: All 10 commandments

This project combines colouring, cutting and sticking – the tried and true favourites of small children everywhere!

What I used:
– piece of light card for the background.  You can print out text like mine using this file: Shavuot craft backing sheet
– paper in a contrasting colour for Mt Sinai (or you could just draw a mountain shape on your background)
– white paper for people and something to colour it with (instructions below)
– some cotton wool for clouds
– flower confetti (but you could draw flowers, use stickers etc – whatever your craft stash will allow!) to decorate Mt Sinai

To make the figures, cut a strip of paper (mine was 1/4 the height of an A4 page) and colour it in.
Then fold in half (coloured side in) and then in thirds.
Now draw the outline of a person so that their arms reach the sides, and cut around it. (Some parental help will be required for this step.)

Unfold and you will have 6 people “holding hands”.  I used 5 to represent the Israelites waiting at the base of Mt Sinai, and cut off one to become Moses.  He gets to hold the traditional stone tablets containing the 10 commandments.  I used a picture I found on the internet but you could draw your own.


Now grab your gluestick and assemble your picture – Mt Sinai with clouds at the top, decked with flowers and Moses bringing down the tablets of the law to the Israelites assembled at the bottom.  Have fun and chag sameach!

Shavuot is just around the corner, so Talia and I have been making some easy paper flowers.

We made three types of paper flower – one from concentric cardboard circles, one from patty pans and paper doilies, and one from crepe paper – and they look pretty good all in a vase together (better than my photo might lead you to believe!)

Cardboard flowers

You will need:
– coloured lightweight cardboard or stiff paper (or paint up some white card/paper)
– pipe cleaners
– small beads (large enough for the pipe cleaner to thread through)
– drinking straws with the bendy bit

Cut out concentric circles from the cardboard. For best effect, use different colours and cut the edges with different types of scissors eg pinking shears, or scallop or fringe the edges of the circles).  Stack the circles and pierce the centre.
Cut the pipe cleaners into quarter lengths.  Thread a bead into the middle of each length, then twist ends together.  Poke this through the stacked circles
Cut  the short end of the bendy straw so it is just long enough for the twisted bit of pipecleaner to fit.  (Use the cut off bits for straw bead necklace!)

Talia (aged 4) enjoyed helping put these together, but it really needed an adult to twist the pipecleaner and poke it through the cardboard (let alone putting the original hole in the stacked circles) so we decided to make something so easy she could do it all herself.

Patty pan (cupcake liner) flowers

You will need:
– patty pans (cupcake liners) in 2 sizes and various colours
– straws

This works best with patty pans which are coloured both inside and out, but if yours are white on the inside, flatten the wrapper and reverse them so that the coloured side is on the inside.  Glue the smaller one to the centre of the larger one, and draw a spot in the centre (or use a coloured dot sticker).
Use sticky tape to attach to a straw.

And there you have it – so easy even a 4 year old can construct them.

For an elegant variation, use a small paper doily as the back of the flower.  I got a packet of these from a craft shop.



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.