By DJ Schneider-Jensen
Director, Early Childhood Services
Macks Center for Jewish Education
It’s true that The REMida project offers wonderful reusable materials, but did you know that it also inspires teachers with ideas for hands-on learning for the children too?
For example, with Chanukah coming in just a few weeks, it may be tempting to go to Pinterest or other websites for a great idea. Or maybe replicate the same project you’ve done for years. But imagine how a child might feel if he or she was able to design and create his or her own working Chanukiah (menorah) from scratch?
How might that work?
- Spend some time now allowing children to explore and master the use of mosaics, hardware, small tiles, buttons, stones, etc. You can do this by introducing a few of the materials at a time, along with materials they already know, like crayons, construction paper, popsicle sticks or chenille stems. Have them create whatever they want. No gluing allowed! This means the process can go on and on without the expectation of a finished product. This way, children don’t feel any pressure to “make something to take home.” In time, you will find they love exploring the new materials.
- As you share books about Chanukah, ask the children questions for comprehension. ‘What do you think will happen?’ ‘How would you feel?’ ‘What do you think about when you see the lights?’ ‘If Judah was your best friend, what would you tell him?’ Let the children process their ideas in their own time. Don’t rush this activity, because the learning happens in reflection and creation.
- As you get closer to the holiday, bring the children different types of recycled materials that will work as a Chanukiah, such as tiles, (we have lots!), nuts, bolts, baby food jars, buttons and stones. Let them figure out how they would construct it. If they go outside the materials you are providing and select flammable items, explain the reason why it could be dangerous. Then listen.
- Ask them to draw out their plan. For children four and older, drawing out their plan is an ideal pre-writing and executive functioning skills.
- Once they have a plan, supply them with the materials and add support, where needed. 6. Voila! Celebrate the holiday and their inspiration. These children created their own Chanukiot! Chag Sameach!
Sign up for our REmida classes such as “Pulp Non-Fiction” and “Metal Magic.” at cjebaltimore.org/remida-classes.