Saturday, 31 December 2016

Miketz- Full of Feelings.

I have always loved Miketz; the action, hashagachat prati, and the ultimate cliffhanger.  Three years ago we enjoyed reading this perasha at Thanksgiving time, with my family here.  Five years ago was this really cool project.  Because it has been so long since I actively taught my girls perasha, the younger children really do not what happens in the Torah.

We have been making our way through the 'Yosef story'. On Shabbat afternoon, I tell them the story of the coming week's perasha. Sometime we act it out.  This time Cohava (who knows it all and then some), was with us.  I told the story until the brothers come back from Egypt the first time, then we acted out the perasha, with the children choosing their roles.  Cohava was Yosef, Ruti was Binyamin, Tova was Yaakov, and I was the other brothers. Cohava went into the kitchen and loaded school bags with granola bars and crackers to give to the hungry brothers.  Cohava stopped Ruti and I as we carried our bags, accusing us of stealing a very special cup.  Ruti said, "Oh no! There was a theif! Thieves are bad. But we are not thieves." When she discovered Abba's kiddush cup in her bag she balled! I don't mean cried, I mean flung herself to the floor and was inconsolable for 10 minutes.  I had a variety of emotions as I consoled her.  One of them was my awe at the raw emotions of the Torah that we often become jaded towards as we read it each year. One of the countless reasons I love teaching preschool is observing the emotions, newness, and wonderment of children gaining knowledge.

I planned to make granola, like the grains in the storehouses, but because the cup was so pivotal to Ruti, we decorated special wine cups.

With beads, wine, and permanent markers we made our wine glasses extraordinary.

 May each sip of Torah be fresh, meaningful, and impactful for you.  

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Vayeshev- Bleeding Striped Tunics

My girls were riveted by the story of brothers and jealousy in this week's perasha. I love it too, as I blogged about here and here. Tova was particularly fascinated by them putting sheep's blood on Yosef's kutonet pasim, striped tunic.

Our project involved sharpies on T shirts, which is what I did here four years ago. But this time, with Tova's interest in the blood, we made our shirts 'bleed'.

Step one:
Place a hard surface inside a white t-shirt. We used our metal art trays.

 Step two:
Use sharpies to add colored lines. Cover all sides of the shirt.

Step 3:
Add alcohol to the colored stripes.  This causes the colors to bleed. They are more beautiful this way, and (sort of) add to the whole sheep blood thing.
 We have denatured alcohol and water in a spray bottle near the sink all the time. This cleaning item was great to use for ease and to strengthen hand muscles.


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Vayishlach, Repeat but never duplicated

For Perasha Vayishlach, we did the same thing we did three years ago, here. At the time, I said I wanted to do it with the younger children as well. Tonight we did.

Vayetzei Brides and Food!

After a hiatus of perasha projects and blogging, I am attempting to return. On Motzei Shabbat my husband takes the 'big' girls to Avot U'Banim and the 'littles' and I learn perasha and do a project. I will try to share it each week.

Vayetzei covers a lot of plot and action, almost too much for a child to take in, so somewhere has to be the focus point. Four years ago, we did this and focused on Yaakov's dream. Three years ago we looked more at Lavan and Yaakov's relationship along with reviewing.

New girls, new focus. They loved Leah and Rachel marrying Yaakov.
First the girls set of to create their own wells, to recreate where the love all began. Ruti used a brown paper bag, Tova some toys.

 Then we ready for the wedding. Using zip ties from the combo pack that were too small for anything else, the girls began beading. We've never beaded on zip ties before and they were surprisingly perfect.  When each section was full, a new tie was added. Eventually they
had a beaded circle.
 I hot glued white tulle to the beaded circles. Tada! Sisters ready to marry. Because Ruti's middle name is Leah, and she is older, she was happy to take that role in their pretend play.

Once a week at school, I do a project with 4th graders while their teacher plays music with my class. With them I focused on the ladder in Yaakov's dreams. We talked about how images in dreams can be meaningful or rubbish but obviously this was important because it is written in the Torah.  The students contemplated the nature of a ladder and how they are very important in elevating people, but hard to stay at the top for extended periods.

Then we explored how the ladder is analogous to our relationship with Tefillah and Hashem in general. The order of Tefillah take us up the ladder of spirituality and holiness, peaking in the Kedush (like the angels on the ladder) but Tefillah does not end there.  We move back down the ladder with Ashrei and Aleinu. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks expounds on this idea.

We cannot stay at the top of the ladder, completely concentrating on our relationship with Hashem. We would fall, run our of sutainance, and generally be unable to move our body around. We move up the ladder, revel in our closeness with Hashem, then descend the ladder so we are able to navigate through the mundane world. We carry the spiritual ladder with us so we can always climb again.

To make this heavy topic more fun, we made ladders out of grapes and pretzels, so we could carry them with us, in our stomachs.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Shemini- Bugging Out.

Parashat Shemini includes a variety of topics. Last year we looked at kosher animals. The year before I wrote an important article about behavior in synagogue
This year, with the junior girls I focused on insects in foods. 
First we looked at the pessukim related to this topic.

Vayikra 11

41And any creeping creature that creeps on the ground is an abomination; it shall not be eaten. מאוְכָל הַשֶּׁרֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵץ עַל הָאָרֶץ שֶׁקֶץ הוּא לֹא יֵאָכֵל:
42Any [creature] that goes on its belly, and any [creature] that walks on four [legs] to any [creature] that has many legs, among all creeping creatures that creep on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are an abomination. מבכֹּל הוֹלֵךְ עַל גָּחוֹן וְכֹל | הוֹלֵךְ עַל אַרְבַּע עַד כָּל מַרְבֵּה רַגְלַיִם לְכָל הַשֶּׁרֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵץ עַל הָאָרֶץ לֹא תֹאכְלוּם כִּי שֶׁקֶץ הֵם:
43You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping creature that creeps, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, that you should become unclean through them. מגאַל תְּשַׁקְּצוּ אֶת נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם בְּכָל הַשֶּׁרֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵץ וְלֹא תִטַּמְּאוּ בָּהֶם וְנִטְמֵתֶם בָּם:

 I asked the girls if they would want to eat an insect.  "Eww! Of course not!" was the general reply.
"To be honest, my yetze hara sometimes encourages me to eat bugs," I told them. They were shocked and disgusted. "Shrimp and pork and lobster are never appealing for me.  But fruits and vegetables which might be infested with bugs are very tempting. Raspberries. Blackberries. Lettuce. Taking the time to check my food for infestation is something which requires concentration, kavanah, and overcoming my yetzer hara."
To help them (and me) stay inspired to check produce, we made 'bench-top bugs'.

 Using various pieces from the craft supply closet, the girls set out on their own creation.
We also looked at the most famous book on food infestations: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Shabbat Shalom!