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.
had a beaded circle.
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.