I recently invited Alex’s whole preschool class over for Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival. I’ve done a few of these lessons with his class before and I’ve learned a few things about what the kids can handle as far as crafting goes (answer: not much). Plus, it was going to be in our backyard, not at the school, since even my city-sized sukkah isn’t exactly portable. So I wanted to make sure it was simple, but held their attention long enough that they didn’t run amok in the yard.
I decided to have two stations: one with a sukkah coloring page that they could decorate with crayons and fruit and veggie stickers, and the other with a more complicated project where they would make their own “To-Go Sukkahs.”
The coloring went fine, as that’s something they are pretty good at and used to doing at this point. Plus, kids love stickers!
The To-Go Sukkahs were a little more challenging because it involved a few steps. I had already harvested some leaves from the yard and given them a quick rinse to get the really glaring dirt clods off.
The kids had to take the clean leaves and draw on them with metallic markers. I did an example where I drew on the veins of the leaves, but that seemed to much to ask of 2-4 year olds, so I told them they could draw whatever they wanted.
Then they had to write their names (or have the teacher write their names) on a little tag that would be attached, so we could tell which is which and so they could use these harvest-y stamps that I got at Michael’s. Kids love stamps! Here’s how my example turned out:
Obviously, the kids were a little less precise, but they got the general idea. Maybe because Alex saw me make the example, he really tried to follow the lines of the veins and did a pretty good job! Most of the other kids just scribbled, but they still looked nice in the end.
Then, while I taught the kids every variation of the horah that I know—one of the best moments of my life, incidentally—one of the teachers tied the appropriate name cards together with each kid’s decorated leaves. Now each preschooler had a little “sukkah” to take home with them and hold over their heads while they are eating at home. (Kind of like mistletoe, but Jewish, so obviously there’s eating involved.)
I’ve done a lot of these Jewish lessons over the last year, and I got by far the most feedback from this one from parents saying that their kids really loved it. I’m not sure if it was the to-go sukkahs, learning the horah or just getting to go on a field trip, but it really seemed to stick with them more than some of the other things I’ve done.
Alex’s to-go sukkah went right into our real sukkah, along with the kids artwork. It was a really fun and festive way to kick off the holiday!