Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Noisy Jewish Year Big Book

Swish, Swish! Stomp, Stomp! Tekiyah! 

This Early Childhood Big Book explores the Jewish holiday cycle in terms of sound. Delightful pictures accompany the descriptions of each holiday. 
Create your own early childhood Interactive Big Book with the graphics and text provided here.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Marvelous Mitzvot to Do All Summer Long


Extend Jewish learning and celebration all summer long by encouraging students to choose to do mitzvot.
Teachers may want to offer special prizes or treats for the students who bring in "proof of purchase" at the beginning of the new school year.

Many Marvelous Mitzvot
Tikkun Olam / Bal Taschit - (Not Destroying) "When in war against a city... you must not destroy its trees" (Deuteronomy 20:19)
  • Go to the Chicago Wilderness website and check out their list of volunteer opportunities around town.
  • Recycling is part of Bal Tashchit. Collect 7 recyclable objects and make a sculpture or useful object. 
  • Make sure your camp recycles. If not, volunteer to start a recycling campaign.
  • Go to JUF TOV Volunteer network website. Make a family commitment to help on a project.
  •  Plant a Biblical garden. Do a little research about the plants of Israel (visit the Marshall Center to look some books) and create a small patch in your home garden.

Shalom Bayit - (Peace in the Home) "Peace be within your walls and prosperity within your palaces." (Psalms 122:7)
  • Give the family cook the night off! Volunteer to make an easy picnic dinner for your family. Set up a blanket in the backyard and enjoy a picnic dinner under the stars. (Check out a cookbook at the Marshall Center).
  • Make a coupon book filled with household chores you will help with over the summer. On the first page, explain how this is related to shalom bayit. Give it to your mom or dad as a surprise present.
  • Read a Jewish story book to a younger sister or brother. Visit the Marshall Center for a wide range of books.


Shabbat - "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8)
  • Check out a book from the library on paper flower making. Create a beautiful bouquet for your Sabbath table. 
  • Take a family outing to a fruit orchard Gather fresh fruit and make a scrumptious dessert for Shabbat dinner.
  • Practice one of the brachot recited during Havdalah. Volunteer to lead the family in that part of the lovely, brief service.
  • Take a Shabbat nature walk with a friend or family member. Compose a blessing for some wonder in nature that is new - a windflower or bird you have never seen before, or a bug that is new and different. After Shabbat, put together a personal book with your special blessings.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Teacher's Guide: Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman


The Marshall Center offers many teacher's guides for Jewish picture books. Something from Nothing, a wonderful Jewish folktale by retold by Phoebe Gilman, tells the story of a grandfather who makes a blanket into a jacket, a button, and ultimately a story. The activity suggested in the teacher's guide is as charming as the book itself.

Materials Needed:
  • Book
  • Fabric square for each student
  • Fabric glue
Procedure:
  • Read the book aloud to the class. This is best done in a circle  or a special reading place. 
  • Ask students to describe what is happening in the book. Check for understanding.
  • Ask, "Why is it a good idea to make something from even the smallest scraps?"
  • Give each student a fabric square. This is their chance to make "something from nothing." Ideas include:
    • Sleeping bag sized for a doll or a mouse
    • Parachute
    • Rope
    • Dress for a doll
    • Bow
  • If students are struggling, suggest that they work with a buddy, though ultimately each student should complete his or her own work.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why do Jews Pray?


In this lesson for grades 7 - adult, students explore a variety of approaches to the essential question: Why Do Jews Pray? In small groups, students study a variety of short texts, both contemporary and traditional, that offer clues to the purposes of Jewish prayer. The lesson follows 4 steps, carefully described in the packet available HERE.
  1. Small groups sort the texts into categories.  
  2. The whole class shares and compares category labels
  3. The class explores the relationship between the categories.
  4. The class answers the essential question: Why Do Jews Pray??
 The packet available HERE includes instructions, text formatted to be cut and glued onto index cards for easy sorting, and all other materials needed for the complete lesson.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shavuot with Kids: The 10 Commandments



In this Shavuot project, each of the 10 fingers becomes a place holder for for one of the 10 Commandments. This project makes an attractive finished piece, helps students learn the 10 Commandments, and provides a jumping off point for discussion about the ways in which we hold mitzvot in our hands and our hearts.
  • For younger students, this may be a conversation about literal ways we fulfill the 10 Commandments with our hands - baking Shabbat challah, for example.  
  • For older students, study of text from Vahavta is fitting. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart....." "You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand...."

For younger children, the wording for the 10 Commandments should be carefully adapted to be age appropriate. Books including Ten Good Rules Counting Book by Susan Remick Topek and Tod Gohen inspire age-appropriate wording. This book is available to check out from the Marshall Center as are many other Shavuot books.

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