Dec 13 2012
Sometimes, while all four children are seated at the table, shoveling cheerios down their o-shaped mouths, I have tried to limit breakfast battles by reading a book.
It does not seem to matter what kind of book I read in the early hour; they all listen and concentrate on the tale at hand. With my children ranging from teen, tween and post-tot, it fascinates me that each child is able to enjoy the story, no matter what their reading level is. This has led me to think about the power of picture books and early reading comprehension. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 9 2012
I'd take museum over roller coaster any day.
So I’m hoping I’m not the “boring grandmother.”
My machatenista (Yiddish, your child’s mother-in-law) has three boys and, reliving a happy part of their youth, and hers, loudly cheers on our grandsons at their Little League games.
I couldn’t stand going to those games even when my sons played. It was hot, buggy, the kids looked miserable, and there was always at least one idiot father who acted like a 3-year-old, having a tantrum if the kids failed to live up to his expectations or the ref made a call he didn’t like. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 17 2012
This is why it’s wonderful to have so many unemployed art school grads working as babysitters. I came home to find this at home last night. My daughter dictated exactly what she wanted.
Aug 23 2011
Yarn art for Rosh Hashanah.
My 9-month-old son is way too young for real arts and crafts projects. He’s still at the point where everything goes into his mouth, and I don’t fully trust Crayola’s non-toxic claim.
But as a former first grade Hebrew school teacher, I’ve been doing Jewish crafts with young kids for years. Pillbox mezuzahs. Driedel mobiles. Stained glass kiddish cups. Graham cracker sukkahs. Been there, done that.
One of the most important things I tried to keep in mind when creating these crafts was connecting the activity with the object we’re making. Using crayons to color candlestick holders allows you to teach that wax makes up both crayons and the candles. Kveller’s apple-print placemat is a classic way to incorporate the sweet fruit eaten on Rosh Hashanah with the blessings used on the holiday.
But for me, it goes deeper– to the intention that lies with what we create with our children. You can glitter, bedazzle, and paint a wooden cup all you want. But if It never leaves the shelf (or pile of arts and crafts projects), how do you know it’s a kiddush cup? Conversely, if an old sippy cup gets some grape juice occasionally on a Friday night, is it not a kiddush cup? What about decorating it to incorporate the idea of hiddur mitzvah, making our observances beautiful?
Ritual objects are simply what their name suggests: objects that have a ritual associated with them. A challah cover is only as good as the bread beneath it. A kippah is only as attractive as the smile on the head under it.
Craft projects don’t need to be fancy and they don’t need to be made out of expensive supplies from Michael’s. And sometimes we color just for the sake of coloring.
But we’re doing something special when we create together with our children with a little intention. Doing with a purpose–that’s Judaism in a nutshell.
Nov 10 2010
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Here’s a version of the Bible that even your kids will understand.
Brendan Powell Smith, a musician and the son of a Christian Sunday School teacher, spent four years of his life (and, he estimates, over $10,000) putting together an exhaustive collection of Bible scenes–made exclusively out of Lego. His project, called the Brick Testament, begins with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and continues on to the Exodus, the legal sections of the Torah, the stories of the Prophets–and also the Christian Bible.
The Bible has more than a few “adult scenes,” and so does the Brick Testament, with everything from sexual discharges to the battles for the Land of Israel. Still, most of the dioramas are suitable for all ages, and also–dare we say?–cute.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Smith’s models are meant to be genuine or ironic, but it doesn’t matter–this is a labor of love, and it’s easy to tell how much Smith loves his material.
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