Rosh ha-Shanah Projects

by Laurie Bellet

A New Year and our new students deserve a warm welcome. No matter what “big idea” you are teaching to welcome the year and your students, there is an art based learning activity destined to tantalize and excite everyone involved. The following is a brief snapshot into the “big ideas” you may be teaching this Rosh Hashanah:

Rosh ha-Shanah gives us a clean slate with which to begin the year.

Give each student a “clean slate” to decorate. Wood frame personal chalkboard slates are available at local craft stores and through Oriental Trading Company. Depending on your classroom age level, students can scroll the aleph-bet around the frame; they can write their Hebrew name on the frame, or they can apply gems, jewels, Jewish die cuts and wood shapes. Throughout the year, the slate provides a perfect way to practice lettering, writing and vocabulary skills without utilizing paper!

”Rosh Hashanah celebrates God’s creation of the world:”

Provide each student with a zip lock freezer weight baggie. In the baggie mix plaster of paris and water according to the proportions on the plaster box. As you teaching about the Creation, students can mush and manipulate the plaster and water to mix it completely. As it mixes, it will harden and eventually warm to the touch. Let it harden completely before peeling off the baggie. Each student will have created her or his own unique form to paint with tempera as desired. Reinforce that each of us is b’tzelem Elohim, a creator in the image of the Creator. (My thanks to my son Nathan, for generating this project!)

“We celebrate Rosh Hashanah with honey to wish everyone a sweet New Year:”

You can make a simple honey dish inexpensively by purchasing clay pots at the craft store. The 3” size is perfect. Decorate the pot with acrylic paint (yes it has staining potential) to make it rich with color and permanent. You can glue on gems or bee and hive cutouts if you like. Slip a plastic cup insert into the pot and add a small spoon. Oriental Trading Company sells bees with a wire twistee that you can put on the spoon!

“At Rosh Hashanah we make a commitment to behave better in the New Year,” or “At Rosh Hashanah we send good wishes/say we are sorry to people in our family and community:”

Give each child a blank Rosh Hashanah box to decorate. You can purchase inexpensive wood or paper maché boxes at your local craft store. Decorate these with paint, tissue or wrapping paper, and die cuts from Judaicrafts, stickers from Learning Plant or Benny’s. Fill them with student generated notes or pictures specific to your ‘big idea.’

“The Rosh Hashanah hallah is round to represent a circle of the year/crown of a king or queen. We want to grace this hallah with a special cover to start the year:”

For a simple quick round hallah cover for the pre-K and Kdg. set, purchase tulle circles. You will find these in the bridal department of your local craft store. Because glue will seep through this fabric, you can also purchase cake doilies, which are pretty but not too lacy, to place under the tulle. Decorate these with symbols of the Holy Days and some special gems and jewels.

Remember, neither the art project nor product is the true goal. The project is the learning activity to support your lesson and the product is the souvenir that keeps the learning alive!