Yom Ha’atzmaut

by Laurie Bellet

Yom Ha’atzmaut passes so quickly, but opportunities always abound to engage in entertaining art experiences based on the flag of Israel. Before embarking on your journey into flag creation, be certain that your students appreciate the significance of the flag motif, can compare it to a tallit and can explain why a flag is so important to the country it represents. It is important that a student’s knowledge is solid before presenting imaginative extensions.

Most, if not all, Jewish students fashion the flag of Israel at some point in their education. However, when the project consists of gluing two blue stripes and a blue star onto a piece of white paper, the product is quickly discarded. The students move on, without integrating themselves into the lesson. A successful art process, incorporating the flag of Israel, is one in which the student has immersed an element of his or her own identity into the endeavor.

(Each of these projects is worked on 9×12, sulphite construction paper unless otherwise stipulated. If you plan to mount the student’s work, cut the base paper down to 8×11 before commencing the project.)

For the Stripes
Weave: Prepare a piece of construction paper by carefully making 1 inch cuts along the ‘stripe’ lines of your flag. Leave enough of a top and bottom margin so that your cuts do not tear through to the edge. Offer students strips of blue patterned wallpaper or a variety of blue yarns to weave through the stripes. Older students can make the cuts themselves, experimenting with different width stripes and more than 2 stripes.
Wallpaper: Wallpaper stripes offer students options of blue tones and patterns that are subtle, wild, pastel or bold.
‘Masking’: Use masking tape or artist’s tape (easier to peel) to make the stripes on your paper. After you paint the flag, you can remove the tape to display the stripes. Consider painting with whites and silvers on blue paper for this technique.
Fingerprints: Students make thumbprints along the ‘stripe’ lines
Newspaper: Cut stripes out of an Israeli newspaper. Students can paint them with watercolors or decorate them with markers, identifying Hebrew letters along the way.
Wrapping Paper: Dig out your Hanukkah and birthday wrapping paper. It is, after all, Israel’s birthday!

For the Star
It is very difficult to make a symmetrical Star of David and the result can frustrate young artists. If you cut your own tracing stencils prior to the lesson, you will have happier participants. Wallpaper, Israeli Newspaper, or wrapping paper, as noted above, make interesting alternatives to construction paper. Here are some “star alternatives”:
Handprints: Especially nice with thumbprint stripes, you can also turn the handprint into a happy face.
Wallpaper, newspaper and wrapping paper: Offer various triangles so students can stylize their own unique star.
Hearts: Each student can write a message on the heart.
Maps: A small map of Israel gives the lesson extra meaning.
Photo: A photo of the student in a hand drawn frame truly puts that student “in the picture.”
Hebrew lettering: Words such as Yisraeil, shalom, ahavah give your students extra writing and language practice and add another layer of significance to the flag.
Pictures from travel brochures or postcards: Cut the picture in half. Have your student-artist complete the other half.
Birthday card: Make a miniature birthday card to put in the center of the flag.

Background fun
Personalizing the background is especially fun and easy. Be certain you are using paper that is at least an 80lb. weight. Lighter weight paper will curl or rip. Any of these backgrounds can combine with your selected stripes and star motif. (remember – always dry your paintings flat!)
Draw to music: The artist Wassily Kandinsky painted to music. Offer your students a variety of watercolor markers and play selected Israeli music. Then ‘paint’ over the design with water. The paint will spread and feather out gently.
Tissue paper: Lay pieces of art tissue (the kind that bleeds) on your paper. ‘Paint’ or lightly spray it with water. Let the colors bleed through.
Salt: This is a terrific way to introduce learning about the Dead Sea. Paint the paper with thin watercolors. While wet, sprinkle with salt (table salt or rock salt). When dry, brush off the salt and enjoy the crystal patterns that remain. You might even locate Lot’s wife!
Dance!: Lay the paper in a box. Add several teaspoons of tempera paint and 1 or 2 marbles. Put on your Israeli dance music and let the marbles roll around as the artist dances.
Marbelize: Pour a thin layer of liquid laundry starch in a shallow pan. Add several drops of tempera paint. Gently swirl the paint with an old comb or a craft stick. When you are pleased with the design, float your paper on top. Carefully lift the paper and let it dry.

As always, do the project yourself first to work out any kinks. Plan for a gallery display that truly celebrates Israel’s birthday!