Project 1) the Parasha opens with Hashem commanding a census in the form of a half-shekel donation. The Torah explains the currency and benefits to the people for giving. Sadly, we no longer have this ancient currency, but we do have interesting modern coins. In Australia I loved the coins and enjoyed learning all about them at the mint. My favorite was the 50 cent piece, which was a dodecahedron. Instead of notes for $1 or $2, a gold coin is used. If I were in Australia, the girls would be intentionally giving gold dollar coins for tzedaka (after counting them). In Israel we would use the nifty bicolored 10 shekel coin. Here in the good old USA, I got some dollar coins.
The girls and I had a lesson about currency and math. What each coin looks like, its worth (it is a whole new system here), and how many of them make a dollar.
Project 2) Next the Parasha discusses construction of the laver, the special sink used by the Kohanim in the Mishkan. This sink is one of the primary origins for washing hands, Netilat Yadayim. The Kohanim washed in a special way to purify their bodies, cleaning themselves spiritually. We are not Kohanim, but we have the same opportunity for spiritual elevation each morning (and other times). This is not the same as washing hands for bread, a common misconception. The whole washing process is different.
I decided it was time to really teach the girls about Netilat Yadayim [negal vasser for my Ashkenazi readership]. It is something they are meant to do each morning, but I rarely have time to supervise or remind them, so this is an opportunity for reinforcement and re-education into a pre-existing process.
I searched for a chart with instructions for how it is done. I found one! It was in Yiddish. So I made a chart.
Then I changed it a little, removed the color and Tefillah and printed it again.
The girls and I reviewed the pictures and instructions. Then they got to work with a pack of colored pencils. Feel free to print these out and use them at home/school.
With a review of what to do, it was time to make the mitzvah mehudar (even more special and beautiful) by decorating our own washing cups.
I looked at buying plastic washing cups [natlanim] and only found bulk purchasing available.
So I bought handled sippy cups instead. A washing cup should have handles, no spout (sorry little teapot), and larger than three ounces.
I think this smaller size is better for children, as it is less unwieldy to use with small hands.
For a time, it seemed that many of my parasha projects involved coloring on things with permanent markers. I decided that would not be the same here.
Instead we are decoupaging. I bought special decoupage glue, but you can just mix equal parts elmers glue and water.
On the computer I made/collected some different samples of the words "al netilat yadayim" and images related to them.
I gave Cohava and Gabi stickers, construction paper, scissors, and these images.
The big girls were enjoying themselves, but Ruti wanted a piece of the action. I retrieved the very plain white plastic natlan from my bathroom and Ruti(and I) got to work.
It was so much fun! When the cups were finished, I took them outside and put on a few coats of sealant.
Gabi was so excited about the new chart and cups that she cleaned the bathroom to make it nice for them (Gabi! Cleaned! Unprompted! That alone makes this project worthwhile).