Spirituality

Jewish art for kids

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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wooden menorah kit
Kids Judaic art can become family treasures
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Bring your heritage to life with these Jewish art for kids crafts and projects

One of the best ways to get kids involved in their Jewish heritage is by making something with their own two hands. It doesn't matter whether its a painting, a sculpture or something to be used for a holiday. 

The very act of making something usable or displayable brings kids into the experience, makes them feel a part of something larger. But too many of the so-called art projects out there are either too complex or too lame to get kids really interested.

If you're looking for some new ideas for creative, Jewish art for kids, here are some suggestions to get you started. 

Start with the rituals

Letting kids create things that are used to celebrate Jewish holidays is a wonderful way to inspire pride and involvement. Skip the breakfast cereal menorahs or toilet paper roll mezuzah holders for all but the preschool set. Instead, look for kits that allow kids to create beautiful wooden Judaic menorahs, oven-set painted Passover plates or colorful embroidered Shabbat challah covers . 

Or head for your local pottery studio, and spend a few family nights handpainting Shabbat candlestick holders or Kiddush cups. Create a masterpiece together, then let each child paint their own Kiddush cup to make Shabbat dinners even more special.  Many of these studios carry ritual items around the holidays, too. My kids and I each painted a menorah one year -- you can just see their pride when they're unpacked and set out every Hanukkah!





Think about the old Masters

Quite a few of the painters now recognized as some of the greatest masters were Jewish. And many other painters created works that included classic Jewish scenes such as Noah's Ark,Moses receiving (or sharing) the Ten Commandments, or the parting of the sea. 

No one expects kids to paint like the greatest of all time, but there's no reason you can't bring those images into your home or classroom to inspire budding artists. 

Consider showing children different styles of art for a given parsha (Torah portion) to show them some of the ways the same story can be portrayed. Then set them loose with paints (buy the best paints and brushes you can), paper (or canvas for older kids) and see what they create from the same story. Odds are you'll be amazed by their creativity and talent. And they'll gain a greater appreciation for the story..and the process of creating art. 

It's not just jewelry

Judaic jewelry is another great idea if you're looking for Jewish art for kids to do. Many craft stores online sell beads printed with Hebrew letters, so small children can spell out their Hebrew names on bracelets or necklaces. Judaic charms are easy to find, so even kids who have outgrown the plastic bead stringing years can incorporate Jewish symbols into more artistic jewelry designs. 

Encourage kids to explore the wide variety of symbols associated with Judaism. It's not just a Star of David. The Tree of Life, hamsahs, and even certain gem stones have a long association with Jewish practice and history. By learning about the symbols used by Jews in different times and places, they'll be learning history as well as art. 

So why is this "not just jewelry?" When a child wears the jewelry they've created, they're expressing their pride in their creation..and their willingness to publicly express their Jewishness, too. You just don't get that kind of ownership with coloring pages or paper dreidels! 

Forget the crafts...let them do REAL art

No matter what kind of project you're considering, the goal should be for the kids to create something worth wearing, displaying, posting or sharing. Skip the copied pages, the paper plate projects and the tissue paper mosaics. Even kids deserve the chance to experience what creating a work of art feels like. 

Still not sure where to start with Jewish art projects? 

Take a look at the supplies and tools you already have, because the truth is that every type of art can become Jewish art, if the intent is there. 

Photography? Art. Working with images on PhotoShop?  Art. Sculpting in clay?  Art. Designing clothing? Art. Stained glass windows? Art. Wherever you look, everything from kenetic mobiles to scrapbooks can become art with the right mindset. 

Resources: 
Jewish Artists and their Biographies
Metropolitan Museum of Art Resources for Educators

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