Friday, 17 April 2015

Shemini: Kosher Puppets

This morning on the way to school my daughter's expressed great jealousy towards my students. Some complaints were legitimate, while others were far-fetched. The most legitimate complaint was that since I returned to teacher I barely do parasha projects with them. I brought home for the girls the same project I did at school. 
Shemini has a lot in it; consecration of the Mishkan, the misdeeds of Nadav and Avihu, and laws of keeping Kosher. Whow! We focused only on kosher, specifically on animals. 
To be Kosher animals must 1)chew their cud 2) have split hooves. My girls can recite this parrot like, but understanding cud chewing needs further exploration. To make these two elements fun, we made cud chewing puppets.

One coloring page was split hooves and the other was an animal face. 
 The cow was from here. And the sheep here
  Then I got these split hooves to add to it. 

 Everyone enjoyed the coloring, cutting, and gluing onto a brown lunch bag. 
The result is a kosher puppet with split hooves, that chews its cud (opens and closes its mouth). 
I showed the girls this pig picture and we discussed how split hooves aren't enough. We couldn't make a pig puppet.
 But we made some lovely kosher puppets!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

I am a Seahawks Fan. I am a Jew.

Let me start with a confession: I am not a sports fan. The value of watching adults chase a ball is lost on me. However the value of the camaraderie between sports fan is something I hold in the highest esteem.  A fan shares great fervor with countless other fans at every win, and feels a shared sense of pain at a loss. The passion and devotion for each player is shared by each fan, regardless of socio-economic background, upbringing, or geographic location. Being a fan unites people who might otherwise have nothing in common.

Being a Seahawks fan is truly special. From everyone’s role as ‘the 12th man’, to being a team of winners, we have a special status. Last year an estimated 700,000 strangers joined together to welcome home the victorious Seahawks. Some fans wear their loyalty, in Seahawks colors and attire, while others carry the loyalty in their heart. Either way, the people of Seattle and Seahawks fans internationally share a special bond, a brotherhood.

How does this special bond compare to the bond of being Jewish? People often ask if Judaism is a religion, race, or ethnicity. It encompasses all of those and beyond. Let’s compare it to the camaraderie of Seahawks fans. Although the enthusiasm for Jewish holidays does not rival the excitement for the Super Bowl, the unity is still there. The thrill of a success and the pain or embarrassment of another Jew’s mistakes is felt within us. The same diversity in background exists in the Jewish community. A Jew is a Jew no matter where they come from or what they look like.  And even when we don’t realize it, we have a shared bond.

I recently heard a story about a congregant of SBH who was playing poker at a casino. He excused himself from the game by saying, “Sorry, I need to go pishar.” A stranger at the table looked up and said, “Did you just say ‘pishar’?” The man was flustered. “Sorry. I meant umm…” “Are you Sephardic?” the stranger continued,”That is the word I use for going to the bathroom! It is Ladino, but no one else…” The two men hugged and became firm friends.

We share a language, a culture, a history, a religion, a brotherhood. All the Seahawks fans who did not attend that massive rally are still fans, just as Jews who do not regularly attend synagogue are not less in their Jewish identity. Some Jews wear their devotion in their attire, like a Seahawks jersey, but many more carry their Judaism in their heart.

Football season ends very soon. Many will put away their jerseys and focus their energies on other commitments and interests until next year. But the Jewish calendar never ends, and we continue from one celebration to another. From Shabbat to Purim to Pesach, enjoy celebrating the camaraderie, the brotherhood of being Jewish.  The seating capacity at Sephardic Bikur Holim isn’t the same as CenturyLink Field, but we can help you find a good seat.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Plagues of Fun: Vaera

In Parashat Vaera we learn about seven of the ten plagues. I like to teach them as thoroughly as possible now, so when we learn about Pesach in a few months (I don't want to think about how soon that is going to be!) this part of the lesson is review.

Everyone makes frogs, and there are countless cute methods, by my plan was to try something else. We went for boils and hail!

Big Boils!
We mixed up a batch of red puff paint glue.

elmers glue
shaving cream
tempera paint

Pour a tablespoon of glue into a medium sized bowl. Add an equal amount of paint. Then add about half a cup of shaving cream. Stir really well. It looks like a dessert item and paints like a dream. When dry, the paint has a raised, puffy texture, sort of like a real boil!


Using Q-tips, we applied boils to a picture of Pharoh.

The children loved doing the project and kept saying, "Sorry Paroh!  Does that hurt? Maybe you should let Bnei Yisrael go free! Sorry Paroh!"

Tada! The students loved this painting experience so much they did it to a few other papers too.

Bouncy Ball Barad!
You can make your own bouncy balls. They do not work as well as store bought ones, but they are equally cool. 'Barad' is hail. Big balls of ice (or in this case, rubbery material) which fall from the sky. During the plagues the ice had fire within it as well, so we made red and white bouncy balls.


 Each child had a cup with warm water and a tablespoon of borax (the safety concerns of Borax were addressed) and they stirred it with a popsicle stick.  While they stirred, I mixed one part corn starch to two parts elmers glue. They I added about a tablespoon of my mixture to each kids cup. They stirred and counted to ten and pulled out a stringy glob and rolled it into a ball. Meanwhile I added red and orange paint to the remaining glue compound (for the fire part of the hail). This was added to everyone's remaining borax water. Then the two globs were to be joined in one ball.                                                                      
When I tried it at home the students immediately began bouncing the balls around the room and throwing them onto the Pharoh doll. Everyone had a blast. When I did it at home, Tova spent a lot of time yelling, "Ball ball!" while her big sisters experimented about where the ball best bounces.

 The balls do go a bit flat if left out. They can easily be reshaped. Keeping them in the fridge minimizes this problem.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Festival of Lights

Someone recently asked me for suggestions for fun and creative Hannukah activities for use at home with their children.
Here is something I did in my classroom which could easily be modified for use at home.

In a physical, historical, and spiritual way, Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights. Google it if you want some deep insights on the topic. But here you can read about it for activities.

It is hard to appreciate light without darkness, so today my class celebrated light (ohr) and darkness (chosech).
I blacked out the classroom windows before the students arrived, and set up our 'brightest' activities.
 The light box with stacking tubes.
 The Lite Brite.
 Bubbles with glow-sticks solution inside.
 The students LOVED it.
 Here they took the flashlight (for shadow puppets) and were exploring their magna-tile creations.
 Loving the Lite Brite.
 Combined stacking tubes with magna-tiles on the light table
 Everyone got a glow-stick. Although this picture looks like a rave, they are actually a Channukiyah, with the shamash lighting each student/light and them holding their stick up high.
 Morah Racheli prepared snack in the dark, with the cutting board on the light box.
And we ate in the dark.

Did I mention I loved it? From a sensory point of view, the experience was phenomenal. The change in sensory input was marked and caused for more relaxed environment.

In your own home you can do anything. Every house has its own assortment of glow-in-the -dark and/or light-up toys.
The idea of shadow puppets was Cohava's. She said that was her favorite thing to do in the dark.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Experiencing Lech Lecha

Just as last week's classroom activities were connected to parashat Noach, this week we are connecting to Lech Lecha (this won't happen every week, as I will definitely not be doing korbanot). 

In parashat Lech Lecha, Hashem makes a number of beautiful promises. Two that we are looking at are: 

13:16And I will make your seed like the sand of the earth, so that if a man will be able to count the sand of the earth, so will your seed be counted.
15:5And He took him outside, and He said, "Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So will be your seed."

Rabbinic commentary states these two options aren't only given to innumerate Avraham's progeny. It is also to show the potential of each Jew's fate. We can stay on the ground and be the sand, or we can work to elevate ourselves to the greatest heights and truly shine. My goal is to help each of your children recognize their potential and help them work to be a star. 

To understand the stars and sand at school this week, we are touching, playing with, and writing in sand.

Stars are harder to get in the classroom in the middle of the day. For now, we are looking at other glowing and wonderful items.
Lite Brite! You had a lite-brite as a child, right? And you loved it? So did Pre-K!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Experiencing Noach

I don't have as much time to blog or do projects with my children because I am busy with my class.
Parashat Noach is wonderful to teach. My pedagogical approach is three tiered; experiential, creative, and scientific.

Here is the experiential component this year with my pre-K class.

Building the Teva. I guess this is more creative. We built out of blocks too, but it fell before I caught it on camera. 

Testing buoyancy and building in the water.

Locating the animals in their natural habitat.

Loading the animals onto the ark.
The children turned this into a show and enjoyed watching each other on the Teva.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Yom Kippur Yonah Project- So Much Fun!!!

Two years ago I posted Yom Kippur Crafts X 3, which is one of my most popular posts. It is about to get SOOO much better!

This year I had my class make the big fish for Jonah [Yonah] to hide in, just like I described in the aforementioned blog. 

In short: 
Cut a big fish twice for each student.
Let them finger-paint on one side. 
Place the other fish on top and let them pat t down. 
Peel off and marvel at mirror images.
Leave the fish to dry.

I had very thick paper towel tubes cut to fit between the fish pictures to hold a 3-D Yonah. 
Then I had a brilliant idea and found some balloons.
I stretched the balloons over one side of the tubes.
When the fish dried, I stapled them around the tube. 
Meanwhile the students fashioned Jonah out of pipe cleaners and added eyes to the fish. 
Do you understand the brilliance of this project yet?
As The Book of Jonah [Sefer Yonah] recounts, after three days in the fish's stomach, Yonah was spat out onto dry land. 
Place pipe cleaner Yonah inside the fish. 
Turn the tube mostly vertical. Count to three for the three days (optional). 
Pinch a small piece of the balloon, pull it back, and release. 
Yonah goes flying through the air (and onto dry land)!

This is incredibly entertaining for ALL ages. (It was hard for me to put my fish down so I could type this. My toddlers claps with glee every time Yonah goes whirling through the air).

Shana Tova! Techatevu V'Techatemu.