Thursday, March 31, 2011

Homeschool Matzah Bakery… with friends!

Isn’t everything better with a friend or two???

matza 003

Yum!  Cream cheese on homemade matzah – the ones that didn’t burn to a crisp, that is…

 matza 004

Not perfect, but yummy.  And a few lessons learned for next time – over here on my bread blog!

Fun for Pesach “Snakes & Ladders” Game!

This was the cutest thing ever and super-easy to put together! 

I was looking for a simple printable Snakes & Ladders game board to supplement our math, and completely ran aground. 

I decided it couldn’t be THAT hard to make one… and why not build the Pesach theme right into it?  I’m very pleased with the way it turned out. 

In case you are concerned, this printable includes no images of snakes, if you are afraid of them or avoid non-kosher animal pictures!

  • Download this printable from my Limudei Kodesh printables page here (scroll down to “Yom Tov”).
  • For General Studies (English & Hebrew) printables, click here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Maudlin-Word Monday: GREENING


The word GREEN is tedious already; enough has been said elsewhere about just how OVER that word is… 

So how about… GREENING?

Are you up for a little GREENING?

We’re doing a little GREENING around here… yes, indeedy-o!)

Right now, I’m in the middle of starting (yup, procrastination will do that!) an article I swore I thought would be absolutely fascinating when I pitched it to my editor… but it turns out, it’s kind of dull.  And wholesome.  And green. 

The article is about an organization with the word “Greening” in its very TITLE… meaning I will undoubtedly have to use the word about fifty times in the next five hours it will take to extract this article, letter by painstaking letter, from the very depths of my miserable soul.


Here is the most dull “greening”-related material I could find, so I wanted to share it with you because I am expected to actually READ this document while the rest of you can merely glance at the cover and move on with your lives.


תַזְרִיעַ / Tazria Parsha Overview: Like Pinocchio, only with blotches.

וַיִּקְרָא / vayikra / Leviticus 12:1-13:59:  Read ithear it.

This is a basic overview of the parsha story in a format that can be adapted for a wide range of ages. Sources include parsha text, commentaries and midrash.  When introducing midrash or other non-pshat elements, I use the words “some people think” or similar.

Please see the Vayeishev overview for how we use these narratives  in our homeschool.  I also have copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha… enjoy!

image Do you remember the story of Pinocchio?

He was a little wooden marionette whose nose magically began to grow every time he lied.

Those changes weren’t permanent – when he finally told the truth, his nose shrank again.

Can you imagine what it would be like if everybody knew you’d been lying?

And what if there was a kind of bad speech that was even worse than lying?

This week’s parsha tells us about something like this – only it affected all of bnei Yisrael!


This week’s parsha, Tazria, talks mostly about what to do for a person with Tzara’as (צָרַעַת).

What is Tzara’as?  It was kind of like a disease, only not really.  How?

·         It WAS like a disease because it affected a person’s body – it made their skin white and blotchy.

·         But it was NOT like a disease because it was not caused by germs or injury or anything else in the person’s body.

It was a disease caused by the person’s middos – how they acted.


What kind of behaviour could cause Tzara’as?

Being stingy, not sharing; maybe even murder; but most importantly – how you spoke!

Just like Pinocchio, if you spoke badly about another person, you could wake up covered in white blotches!

How embarrassing!  Everybody would know you’d been speaking badly.

The kind of speaking that caused Tzara’as wasn’t lying, like with Pinocchio:  it was called lashon hora.


image Lashon Hora?  What’s that???

Let’s imagine your friend Shmuli tells you:  “I saw Clarence steal a chocolate bar last week!”

It’s true; Clarence really did steal a chocolate bar.  But it’s still lashon hora for Shmuli to tell you. 

Here’s why:

·         It’s true.  Unlike with Pinocchio, lashon hora is always true.  We can’t say it anyway.

·         It’s new.  You didn’t know this before.  Clarence didn’t tell you himself – probably because he was ashamed.

·         Can’t undo.  Maybe you really admired Clarence before.  Now, you may always think of Clarence as a thief.

We are not allowed to say lashon hora.  We are also not allowed to listen or believe it.  That can be very hard.


image Not every skin blotch was Tzara’as!

If something appeared on your skin, you’d have to take it to show a kohein.

There were three things that could happen:

·         If it was definitely Tzara’as, you would have to go out of the camp of bnei Yisrael until it healed.

·         If it was NOT Tzara’as, you could go about your regular things – or see a doctor about your skin blotch!

·         If the kohein was not sure, you’d have to stay by yourself for seven days and then go see him again.

Waiting seven days was like a warning – you could figure out your bad habits, and start to fix them.

Even outside the camp, a person with Tzara’as could do teshuvah and their Tzara’as would heal quickly.


Do we have Tzara’as in our times?

In English, in some versions of the Chumash, Tzara’as is sometimes translated as “leprosy.”  This is a mistake!

There is a disease called “leprosy” in English, which can cause blotchy skin, but it’s caused by tiny germs – bacteria.

Because it’s caused by germs, even good people can get it, but it can be healed with medicine.

In our time, without the Mishkan and kohanim working in it, there is no real Tzara’as anymore.


image But we still have to avoid lashon hora!

Our lives are very different from bnei Yisrael in the midbar or in ancient times in eretz Yisrael.

·         We were not slaves in Mitzrayim, so we didn’t see the amazing things Hashem did to bring us out.

·         We have no Mishkan or korbanos, so we use tefillah (davening) instead to be close with Hashem

·         We have no Tzara’as, so it’s easy to think Hashem doesn’t notice how we choose our words.


Tzara’as was a warning that a person needed to change their behaviour.  It didn’t just come on skin:  it could come on clothes or houses as well.  As we will see in next week’s parsha, each type of Tzara’as was a different kind of warning…!

A book I’d forgotten

(but now I remember – thank you, Internet!)


The Elephant and the Bad Babyby Elfrida Vipont 

Here’s a review I wrote of it on Amazon almost ten years ago:

This is one of our perennial read-aloud favourites. As a previous reviewer points out, it IS a little strange; in our house, that's what makes it stand out from the run of the mill. You never know exactly WHY the baby is called a "bad baby" even before the story begins -- but that makes it even more intriguing for kids.

And of course, the art does look dated and peculiar, and the words ("crisps," "sweet shop") are all kind of funny to my kids. Also, because we're Jewish, when I read it, I say "meat store man" instead of "pork butcher," so as not to offend my kids' kosher sensibilities! But all of these quirks just make it more fun to read and -- judging from their reactions -- all the more fun to listen to.

The story is straightforward and fun -- a baby and its kleptomaniac elephant friend go out for a romp on the town, a romp which culminates when the elephant decides that the baby is not polite enough and must be brought home for pancakes. That's the basic plot, but it is thrillingly executed in a classic style.

We have been taking this book out of the library regularly for years, and my only fear is that we and other fans of this book will eventually wear out their single copy -- leaving us without this one-of-a-kind gem!!!

It’s very Britishy, and very weird, but tons of fun.  My favourite part of the story is that it never tells WHY the baby is considered “a Bad Baby,” leaving it totally to your kids’ imagination!

I happened to have found the text online, so here’s a taste…

Once upon a time there was an Elephant.

And one day the Elephant went for a walk and he met a Bad Baby. And the Elephant said to the Bad Baby, “Would you like a ride?”And the Bad Baby said, “Yes.”

So the Elephant stretched out his trunk, and picked the Bad Baby and put him on his back, and they went rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta, all down the road.

Very soon they met an ice-cream man. And the Elephant said to the Bad Baby, “Would you like an ice-cream?” And the Bad Baby said, “Yes.” So the Elephant stretched out his trunk, and took an ice-cream for himself and an ice-cream for the Bad Baby, and they went rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta, all down the road with the ice-cream man running after.

imageWell, eventually, everybody’s running after them, the Bad Baby gets a lesson in manners, and everybody (including the elephant) goes inside for pancakes.  Like with the story of Little Black Sambo / Little Babaji, you’ve got to love a book that ends with pancakes and bedtime.


Jolly good!

(can you spot the shoplifting elephant in this picture?)

A (Printable) Poem Every Month: March


Searching for a very light poetry curriculum for young kids that a) included real poetry, and b) gave a little information about authors, just as our music and art studies do, I kept coming up empty-handed. 

(if you know of one, let me know)

I did find a copy of an old public-domain book called Three Years With the Poets and started adapting its suggested poetry – formatting it nicely, including “Victorian” clip art and writing a little blurb about one author a month.

imageThe result is a loose curriculum called “A Poem Every Month.”  As the original book suggests, each month includes a short main selection along with three “elective” poems.  These can be used for memorization, but so far, we’re just reading the main one together a couple of times a week. 

My kids have been fascinated by the brief biography of Robert Louis Stevenson for March.  It’s always nice to be able to put a name and a few facts together with a poem, and there are some truly great authors included in this series.

Read the March poem below or download a booklet of poems from March to June (including biographies of Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Browning, William Shakespeare, and Anonymous ;-)).

  • Download this printable from my General Studies printables page here.  Scroll down to “Poetry”.
  • For Limudei Kodesh (Jewish Studies) printables, click here.



Robert Louis Stevenson


I saw you toss the kites on high

And blow the birds about the sky ;

And all around I heard you pass,

Like ladies' skirts across the grass—

O wind, a-blowing all day long,

O wind, that sings so loud a song !


I saw the different things you did.

But always you yourself you hid.

I felt you push, I heard you call,

I could not see yourself at all—

O wind, a-blowing all day long,

O wind, that sings so loud a song !


O you that are so strong and cold,

O blower, are you young or old ?

Are you a beast of field and tree.

Or just a stronger child than me ?

O wind, a-blowing all day long,

O wind, that sings so loud a song !

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: 22 Adar II, 5771

imageWhy the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Other “weekly challenges”:

We’re a Jewish family of 6 (2 parents, 4 kids) and all our meals are kosher.  Read my MPM intro here or just visit my big ol’ list of Everything We Eat.  We eat mostly vegetarian, with one vegan meal every single week – on Vegan Vursday, of course!

imageAaagh!  What is happening?  Why haven’t I done this in SO long???  Oh, well.  Let’s try getting back on track as our spring courses and programs ramp up this week (not to mention Pesach)… aaaah!!!

Sunday:  Falafel, Pizza etc takeout at Mommy’s

Monday (Ted off):  Chicken supper – what kind?  I dunno!  I want wings!!!

Tuesday:  Better lasagna than last week’s

Wednesday:  Perogies, salmon & side veg  (bread???)

Thursday (vegan vursday):  Stir-fry tofu over rice (Ted’s request)

ShabbosTurkey Meatloaf with Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze thanks to Amy at Homeshuling, who made it sound SO amazing!

And now I’m done!  That wasn’t so hard, was it?  Secretly, I planned the meals last night in Google calendar… today, all I had to do was copy them over into this post.  Still:  yay, me!

Pesach / Passover 5771 Homeschool Resources Roundup

image I will update this page as I create or find excellent Pesach resources!  And scroll down for my own special, ongoing personal Pesach project….

image To begin with, on my own site…

Videos of various kinds:

  • Fun free all-Hebrew Pesach video with Tom and his robot Moby (or is it the other way around?) from Brainpop.
  • Fun Matzah documentary – with puppets!
  • imageWatch Martha Stewart mispronounce Streit’s a million times and announce that Matzah comes from a Hebrew word meaning “matzah” in this amusing matzah factory tour.

Around the web – mostly printables:

  • Amy Scheinerman’s Haggadah – some Hebrew text with easy English explanations – looks like a good starting point!
  • Complete Ashkenazi Haggadah text – no English, but useful for copying and pasting into your own things (that’s what I’ve been doing all night!)
  • Very nicely laid out in DOC form all-Hebrew Haggadah.
  • Customs and Laws of Chodesh Nissan and Pesach – it’s only 12 pages, unlike some of the “booklets” (some are full haggadahs, upwards of 100 pages) – useful for a K/Gr 1-2 level.
  • More detailed Customs and Laws of Chodesh Nissan and Pesach – a bit longer (50 pages) – appropriate for Grade 1-3ish.
  • Introduction to Teaching Pesach seven simple lessons including sample scripts of the story if you’re new to teaching Pesach or just don’t know how to introduce it.
  • imageEasy attractive printable Omer Counter for kids to mark off days – squares look big enough to use a bingo marker.  Yay, we love bingo markers!
  • Several nice lapbook mini-book components, including Hebrews in Egypt and Birth of Moses.  (This is a Christian site, but these two resources look okay.)
  • Pesach “Taboo” game – clues in transliterated Hebrew, and some are weird, but I have printed these on cardstock and think it should liven up a Pesach meal here and there.  We like Taboo!  (warning:  fairly high-level… this is for the teeny-boppers, but there is a blank page you could print multiple copies of instead and make your own cards!)  (you can see where I’ve written in translations so my mother, sisters and Ted can hopefully play along)

 cards 008 cards 009

  • imageHow cute is this???  A FREE how-to-draw Pesach cartoons book from beloved (though not usually by me) illustrator David Sokoloff!  I think I will replace our Draw-Write-Now lessons for the next two weeks with some cute talking matzahs and kiddush cups!  There’s also a general Jewish Cartoons how-to-draw book, if you like this format.
  • Great big 20-page Pesach colouring book from Tzivos Hashem (aka Chabad)… the pictures are a bit dated, but it’s VERY comprehensive, with all-English explanatory text (here’s a link to the same colouring book in Hebrew).
  • More to come!!!

Speaking of which… can you guess from this series of pictures what my ongoing project is for this month???

image image image image image image image image image

(If you want a PDF of these pages, please email me)

My printables download links:

  • General Studies printables, in English and Hebrew, click here.
  • For Limudei Kodesh (Jewish Studies) printables, click here.

  • Sunday, March 27, 2011

    Six Word Saturday: 21 Adar II, 5771

    Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

    Other “weekly challenges” I participate in:

    It turned three in January, but now…

    Beloved blender; a billion shards… GONE.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Shabbos Food!

    Haven’t done one of these in a while, and that’s because my head  has been encased in a fog of apathy that may be winter or may be sleeplessness or may be something else entirely; I have no idea.

    But anyway, here’s the menu!  (*=Me, T=Ted, K=kid)  Lines through stuff that’s already done – which is (scarily) hardly anything, as of 4:44 pm.


    • * Challah
    • T – Soup w/ K – kneidlach
    • T – Shepherd’s Pie
    • K – stick-style carrots
    • * Corn
    • * Desserts


    • * Challah
    • T – Pareve Cholent
    • T – frozen blintzes (fried by Ted)
    • K* Cucumber Salad
    • * Tabouli (except tomatoes which will be added last-minute)
    • T – Lettuce Salad (to do on Shabbos)
    • K – cheese slices  (to plate on Shabbos)
    • K – orange jello w/cherries floating in it
    • * Desserts


    • Carrot cake (mix) with Tofutti cream cheese frosting (if Ted can get find the cream cheese!)
    • Hmm… something chocolatey, but what???  Blondies!!!

    Shalosh Seudos -

    Out at neighbourhood potluck!!!

    GREAT BIG Pesach Lapbook / Lapfolder – for Passover 5771/2011

    imageOnce again, I’m planning a Pesach lapbook this year… and I’m SELLING it, too!

    Although I have some resources that I have bought online, I’m finding that most of what I want to cover is not available… so I have once again painstakingly created several excellent resources to include in our lapbook.

    As with my Jewish Book of Centuries, I have to charge for this one, and I’ll email you the files directly as PDFs in one big ZIP file.  PayPal me something, say $4 or $5, I will email you all FOURTEEN components of this lapbook so far, PLUS anything else I create for our own lapbook between now and Pesach. 

    Read on for the fine print!

    Here’s what’s included:

    1. Erev Pesach Observances – Circle MiniBook
    2. Getting Ready for Pesach – 4-way Shutterfold
    3. Seder 15 Steps to Freedom – Staircase MiniBook
    4. Four Names of Pesach Four-Flap MiniBook
    5. Moshe Story “Passover Haggadah” MiniBook
    6. Mah Nishtanah 4-Tab MiniBook
    7. Pesach Foods Tab Flaps Quiz Book
    8. Pesach Numbers Pyramid MiniBook (plus Pesach Pyramid MiniBook Blanks if you want to create your own)
    9. Four Cups Four Words of Freedom MiniBook
    10. Seder Plate Project
    11. Three Matzahs Folding MiniBook
    12. Ten Plagues/Makkos Pentagon Accordion MiniBook
    13. Going Out Ourselves creative activity “in every generation”
    14. We Change Our Tefillah – 2 flap MiniBook with cover
    15. Setting the Seder Table – matchbook MiniBook
    16. Where in the World – shutterfold map MiniBook
    17. Ten Makkos Song – Mini Shape Book
    18. Pesach Lapbook Planner in Word format lets you add your own items and make sure nothing gets left out.

    The fine print!

    Because this is primarily for my daughter to use, I’m aiming it for a Grade 1 age level, but there is some flexibility to use it for kids a bit younger or older.

    What I won’t do:

    • I won’t tell you how to put your lapbook together (you can click here to see pics of how we’re putting ours together). 
    • I don’t provide any information about Judaism or Pesach.  Judaism 101 is a great site to start looking up that kind of stuff.  There are so many resources out there, but so few great printables; that’s where I come in.

    Here are previews.  You can also see pictures of our own lapbook in progress here.

    UPDATE:  To order Pay-What-You-Can products, click here or on the “Buy Printables” link at the top-right corner of the blog to get to my PayPal page.  While you’re there, check out my other PWYC lapbooks and printables!

    And you can always click here for TOTALLY free Jewish printables!

    image1 image2 image3 image4 image5 image6 image7 image8 image9 mamaland

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