Rosh Hashanah, Sweet Swirls of Paint

Kids and honey. Honey and kids. Both are sticky, gooey, and amazingly good. Kids just flock to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, like Pooh Bear to honey. Oh, yes, apples are involved, too. It’s a day, or 49 hours, of sweetness! Here is a post to artfully prepare.

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Honey is the thing anyone with a sweet tooth recalls about the festival, but Rosh Hashanah is a whole sweet load of much, much more. It is so lush, so candied, that it is art. It marks a new year.

We light candles and enter into a holy kind of beauty, like warm, soft light from as a bride prepares to walk down the aisle. There is an entering in and a change in the atmosphere. There is a new sensitivity to learning about how we can either pain people or help. We can be a kind of honey, a salve, to this harried, often hurting world. It is a new dawn for helping those around us and flinging our heart open afresh to the goodness of G-d. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to take-part in a worldwide, Multicultural Kid Blog Rosh Hashanah blog fest!

I prepared to post a crafty, perfectly cut project. I was going to make a bee hive, with little baubly bees shaped from poofy, flocked pop-poms. I wanted beauty! I wanted cutesy and all kinds of flair. There were to be pipe cleaners and lovely bee stripes and oh, it was all centered around a paper lantern being the hive.

But, um…

Doing it, though? It’s not so much me, and what I thought my kids would get super duper excited over was just not what they cared about. I took a breath and I remembered something. I don’t need a perfect printout. My kids wanted to simply explore the bevy of materials, the aisle three and four and sixteen through twenty-one aisles of craft goods I had. It was all for them, anyway.

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They chose paint and crinkly cellophane paper. They chose gobs of glue and no flocked bees. And really, art needs to be theirs. “You may paint”, I said, carrying over two brushes for them.

They chose process and in doing so, reminded me of the vast benefits such open-ended art offers:

*Choosing materials to represent a holiday– help and offer choice materials, but like any good atelier, or studio, let the kiddos select what they’d really like to use. (Maybe you make a simple tray of materials you’re comfortable with them using, or offer lots from an art cart or shelf. Maybe you go on a treasure hunt after a brainstorming discussion. ex “You mentioned apples and honey. We won’t pout honey on your canvas, but how could we make something look or remind us of honey?”). Figure out with them how to make some part of what they’ve learned or remember about this part of the High Holy Day Season.

You’ll get to know what your child associates with the festival and how they’d seek to represent it. Cool, right?

*The thinking that happens while they manipulate materials. Authentic art uses both sides of the brain, especially as you engage, and create meaningful discussions during the process.

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*There’s not much to say while your child cuts and pastes an already created shark or boat, or hospital, say. But oh, the questions you want to ask while they create something out of NOTHING! While they create! This is the spark and the glory in parenting and teaching–asking good questions.

*While kids are relaxed and painting, gluing, cutting, layering, they will be so proud to speak with us and explain their thinking and decision making! They may speak of facts and history surrounding the holiday. *Maybe a chance to reteach or explain if you sense misunderstanding or lack of understanding. You can very naturally revisit and expand upon a previous conversation. They may also speak or allude to how it makes everyone feel. They may even make a suggestion to how you celebrate this year and continually. They may offer insight into how you can better teach or explore some facet. Keep asking those open-ended questions.

*You can record these conversations with simple dictation skills or ask your child to write a word, phrase, or sentence on or behind the piece of art. Hooray for this–more memories and proof of their thinking and literacy, not only for posterity, but to continue the overarching conversations and skills!

This is my daughter’s work and her explanation:

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“The yellow is a bee, a honey bee. The red and blue clear paper are the wings and it is red inside because that is an apple.”

She continued by painting a grid on the bee to represent both honey comb and a bee hive. She very thickly wrote her name front and center, which tells me she is proud of her work.

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This becomes a kind of assessment in terms of thinking, manipulating materials, but mostly, a look into their mind and spirit. Why is this special day for them? 

Younger brother definitely joined in and produced terrific art, even showing me new ways to use the crinkle paper and paint.

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If nothing else, mine (shown above) was relaxing to make. It is like a draft. Drafts don’t have to be perfect; I can’t sell it to a Jewish Hallmark company; my own Grandma may be little impressed, but, nevertheless. I thought about honey, symmetry and perfection of the things G-d designs (the hexagram, nectar from flowers, all of that, our relationships, the treasure of peace). I thought about the value of slowing down. I spent time with my kids, making. We buzzed around the coffee table like little bees.

I even thought about apples as I chose and then swirled that blushing circle of color. In art it’s okay to paint over it tomorrow. I can choose to change it as I reflect. I can go back and ask better questions with my kids.

Again, it is process we are after. Just choose what tones, colors, specific guiding materials you’d all like, and then go! You can listen to Rosh Hashanah music, like this version of the Avinu Malcheinu, our Father and King, (or Barbara Streisand’s version?) any classical music, anything that moves you in the background. Maybe take art and decoupage breaks to dip some more apples. Dig into the honey, scoop into the sweetness of family discovering just what makes this holiday beautiful to your kiddos.

I’m certainly not against organized craft– I just like to offer both, and recognize the educational, developmental benefits of open-ended art. Visit the first post in this delightful Jewish High Holidays For Kids blogging series, by Menucha, as she makes a really neat wall hanging with her kids. They even use organic materials from nature. We’ll definitely try it! She also provides links to some other neat Yom Teruah crafts. Also, just like in a recipe, you can choose when you want to deviate, and add your own umph and style.

See All Done Monkey’s Terrific spread on Children’s Books About Rosh Hashanah, and all of the engaging posts in the series!

Here’s to Rosh Hashanah! Here’s to making art.

Annabelle

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

PS Here are some pictures of optional materials. Maybe you create paintings with fabric glued on! Maybe it will made with liquid watercolor and chalk, or decoupaged sheet music or prayers for Rosh Hashanah. Maybe they’ll use the stickers that come on store-bought apples. Or perhaps, they’ll want to stick on some pom-pom honey bees. Enjoy the process. Enjoy your time.

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Canvas boards, paper, on anything

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Still wondering if I want to take this 100 yen lantern (call it a buck) and make it into some bee hive project. Worst thing that happens is I’m out a dollar. No problem. 🙂

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