Sunday, January 22, 2012


As a part of the prize package for the Homeschool Blog Awards, I received 3 educational and really awesome games from Simply Fun.

We got the following games:

As we opened and played each game, I became more and more impressed-
My kids LOVED each game and not only are they fun, but they are SO educational and so simple to play. I went to their website to check out their other products and I was blown away.

These 3 games (above) are brilliant, and if you are planning on investing in a game or 2 for your kiddos, these games are the way to go.

I emailed the company to tell them how impressed I was with their products and offered to review one of three specific games which I thought my kids would really enjoy.

Well, not only did they agree to send me ALL THREE games that I had mentioned, but they also tossed in a FOURTH game and told me that should I decide to have a giveaway, they would send ONE of the following games to 4 DIFFERENT winners! That means that FOUR of you will be the lucky winners of one of the following games:

This game is adorable. Its like pick up sticks for the new generation. This little hedgehog has his spikes and you need to insert sticks in a way that they don't fall down. So great for fine motor skills and so simple yet super fun to play.
Oh, this is so great to learn about world geography. Definitely for older kids (ages 8 and up) but very cool.

Similar to Lets Jet, but takes place in the USA on a road trip. Super fun and a great way to learn about the states, their capitals and scenic locations around the world.

This game helps kids understand number patterns - a preliminary step toward algebra and advanced math. My son LOVED the whole space theme going on here!
Here's how to enter:
In the comments section below, let me know what you did. #1 is mandatory. For every other comment you leave, it is another raffle entry. On Sunday, February 19th 2012, raffle will be drawn and winners will be announced . FOUR lucky winners will be picked and hopefully will be sent the game of their first choice!

1. Go to Simply Fun's Website, check out the four games above and let me know your first and second choice of those games to win.
2. Tweet about this giveaway
3. Post this giveaway as your Facebook Status
5. LIKE this blog post
6. Subscribe to A Jewish Homeschool Blog

Tell all your friends and Good Luck!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Parshas Va'eira- first few plagues

Some things we have been up to this week:

Super cute makkos (plague) puppets. I found these printables here, printed them out, laminated them, cut each one out and glued it to a Popsicle stick. One kiddo had the "let my people go" sign, and I had the "no". We acted out the whole scene of Moshe going to Paroah and each kid got a chance to hold up a new makka (plague) and describe what happened:

We then made 2 cups, one of water (for the Jews) and one of blood (for the Egyptians) using foam with a sticky back. I used a knife to carve out 2 cups and using colored sand, the kiddos did the rest. It's really great using this foam since their is no messy glue involved and the sand sticks to it really well:
I made a few printables which you can find here of the first 4 plagues, this is the first one of a Jew drinking and an Egyptian drinking. The kids can use paint, marker, crayons, stickers etc. to color the drinks of the Jews and the Egyptian:
We then went on to Frogs. I found this fabulous lesson plan on Frogs from this website which the kiddos LOVED. I cut out the pictures of the metamorphosis of a frog and made little puppets on Popsicle sticks (what can I do, my kids love puppets:) and this was a great way to learn about it:
Then using the same lesson plan, we made a little tad pole and watched how a tadpole turns into a frog. The kids painted the legs and tail, cut it out and attached it to our frogs body:
Just some frog math- behind each frog is a number and they stuck the correct amount of stickers on each frog. (Just numbers 1-10):
Classic Montessori counting:
This was just a very cool learning moment- the sun was streaming into the room and happened to hit our globe just so--- it was so clear to my little guy how the sun shines on one side of the world (day) while the other side is dark (night time)...
Will work on the rest of the makkos this week- its a 'fun' Parshah in regard to the different science experiments and projects to do. Click here to see what we have done in the past with the 10 plagues.

Wishing all a great week,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Parshas Shemos and Our Shabbat Box

My kids absolutely LOVE this Parshah. Actually, the entire Chumash Shemos is pretty great to learn since it is familiar to the kids, being that we learn about it on Pesach and Shavuot as well.

Here are a few things we have done in learning about this weeks Parshah, Parshas Shemos:

Here's the story of Baby Moshe in a sensory box. We used blue glass marbles for the water with little plastic fish inside. We had a little plastic baby in the basket as baby Moshe and used Mitzvah Kinder as Princess Basya (with a pipe cleaner attached to her as her "stretched out arm") and Miriam, watching her baby brother. I had these cool green fuzzy things we used as the river bank. My daughter LOVES sensory boxes. She actually plays out the entire story and loves holding, feeling and finding all the cool little things inside.

Here are some super easy puzzles I made for this Parshah. I downloaded and printed out 3 pictures of this weeks parshah from I made the sizes 5x7. I then laminated them and using a hot glue gun, glued large Popsicle sticks to the back of each picture. I then used a knife to cut along each stick to separate the pieces of the puzzle, and voila- super cool custom made puzzles for the parshah! Kids loved them. They even mixed all three puzzles together and put them back together again to make it more challenging.
Here, we used the movable Hebrew alphabet to make a few words. You can use those plastic magnetic Hebrew alphabet letters too. I just took the letters, spelled out the words on the actual copy machine and made a copy. I laminated it so it will last. The kids then found the correct letters and vowels and placed them on the matching one on the paper.

We made a burning bush using real tree branches which the kids had a great time collecting from outside. We cut up flames from tissue paper and glued it all on to look like a burning bush.
It came out looking more like a tree in the fall, but to the kiddos its a bush on fire, so that's all that counts:)

We then spent a good chunk of time finding all the different ways to make pyramids. Here, we made one out of colored squares...

and Wedgits...

And here is a GREAT book about this weeks Parshah:

I also put something together today which I have been meaning to do for a LONG time...

I made Our Shabbat Box--- it's a special box (in our case, a medium size trunk we got from a friend that I have been trying to figure out what to put inside) and it is filled with books, toys and games that we only use on Shabbat. It gives the kids something to look forward to and they don't get bored with the things inside since they know they can only play with it one day a week.

You don't need to go out and buy stuff, just take some of the kids books, games and toys and put them aside (obviously make sure the games/toys/books are not electronic).

Here are some great books to fill your Shabbat Box up with:

Here are some great toys to fill up your Shabbat Box with:

Here are some great games to put in your Shabbat Box (appropriate for Shabbat):

Feel free to throw some ideas this way in regard to this weeks Parshah as well as fun stuff you have included in your Shabbat Box!

Wishing you all a great week,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

An interview with Jewish homeschooling mom, Mayim Bialik

Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows to watch was Blossom, which I am sure many of you 30 something moms have very fond memories of watching. Blossom was played by an adorable Jewish girl named Mayim Bialik.

Fast forward a decade and then some later, and Mayim is still a very talented and well known actor, but she has also received her B.S. in Neuroscience and Hebrew and Jewish Studies from UCLA and earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA. She is the celebrity spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network, a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting holistic and green parenting and living. You can click here for Mayim’s full bio.

She has just written a book called Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way which will be out in March and she writes weekly for, a Jewish parenting site.

Mayim is a fellow Jewish Homeschooling mom and has generously taken the time to answer some questions about her life as a Jewish Homeschooling family. I am sure many of you will relate to many of the things she says. Enjoy!


1. Can you tell us about yourself and your family.

We are a happily holistic homeschooling family. My husband and I met in college in calculus class and he stays home when I work. We have 2 boys, ages 6 and 3 and we are both 36. My husband has a masters in Political Science and I have a PhD in Neuroscience. I am an employed actress on The Big Bang Theory, but I also teach Neuroscience and piano in our homeschool community.

2. What type of Jewish education did you receive as a child?

I was raised in a traditional house that affiliated with the reform movement. My parents are both first generation Americans and taught in public schools for a combined 60 years. My mother also was the nursery school director at our shul when I was a kid. I attended Hebrew school once a week from age 4-10 and twice a week as well as 5 shabbatons a year from 10-19. I was Bat Mitzvah'd and confirmed and we observed holidays such as Pesach and Chanukah in the home, but we didn't have a halachic home for the most part.

We were kosher when I was a child but my parents stopped being kosher and I then took it on again in my early adolescence. My mother's parents were orthodox and so I learned a bit about orthodoxy from them, but it was a very specific kind of eastern European orthodoxy and was not the whole picture as I know now!

3. Why did you decide to homeschool your own children?

Many reasons. My husband and I enjoy the flexibility: travelling, scheduling outings and such on our time. We like our children not being held to some standard of what other kids are doing as their defining label. Both of our boys are very sensitive and gentle and developed "late" in terms of walking, talking and interacting. A public setting would not have allowed them to progress under our care and we like to keep our finger on the pulse of their development as organic and natural and normal.

Private education is very expensive and we really like the Waldorf philosophy (no media, natural toys, emphasis on non-academics for the first 7 years and after that, very child-led), but we also love being a part of our boys' learning and life. We like to know we can teach them all aspects of every subject and we love being part of a progressive community of people who are open to a lot of types of learning styles. there is also a lot of socialization that goes on in schools that I don't think would work for our boys or for us, nor do I think it's always best for communities. We love school and we want our boys to be able to go to college if they want to; we are not at all anti-school; we really believe all children deserve a better shot at developing to their unique potential than what school in many places looks like.

4. What method of homeschooling are you using with your kids?

We are unschoolers. Not radical unschoolers, but unschoolers. We never taught our boys shapes or colors or numbers of the alphabet until they started showing interest in them. We limit media (they don't watch TV or see movies) also because we like to see what they are ready for independent of the "peer" pressure of the media.

We are Waldorf-inspired but I don't think that fits us as a label.

5. Do you follow a specific curriculum? If yes, which one? (both Jewish and secular)

Our boys are still young but we have not used any curriculum and we don't even do workbooks yet. Our older son does a lot of learning with us: we did a basic animal science module (that's my word for how we learn) last year and we started geography. I teach him piano (but also allow him to take breaks when his world seems more about play which has been the past 8 months or so!) as well and my husband does math.

We also started learning the Aleph-Beis and we do Parsha together. We also study middos with the Baruch Chait books about the middos pirates, and this year I intend to start teaching davening more formally. A wonderful woman in our community does a Hebrew school-style playgroup that our boys love, and they are the only non-kippah wearing kids in the group, but it's working out great! We also have used and I think our older son may be ready for some more classes through that great site.

6. What are some benefits you find in homeschooling?

Time with our kids, getting to see every shift and change in their ability, interest and wonder. Allowing their neshama to come through every day because the world is so open to them in terms of what they love, what they want and how they love to just be joyful and play and explore.

7. What are some personal challenges you find in homeschooling and how do you overcome them?

Time with our kids (lol). We don't really get a break. I don't work full days at all so I experience it too, but since we don't use nannies or anything, we sometimes get overwhelmed! Our boys are wonderful and we love them infinitely, but they are often needing more of us than we think we can give! Outings are important, outside play is very important, and having toys that keep them engaged for longer periods of time is great. We don't use a TV for breaks but I for sure can see why people do!!!

8. How do you incorporate Judaism into your homeschool curriculum?

As I mentioned we do Parsha and we study holidays on all levels. Every moment is an opportunity to teach about the wonders of the universe and to instill a sense of gratitude and I think that is a very Jewish thing to do! we host homeschool families for all of the Jewish holidays so that our boys get to see what welcoming people in for holidays looks like, and I keep them very involved in preparing and learning about halachos as well as much as I can. And everything stops on Shabbos, and that's a great reminder to them of the rhythm of the Jewish week!

9. Do you have any Jewish resources you would like to share with the Jewish homeschooling community? I mentioned; I also love the natural Jewish parenting group run by Yael Resnick. We have a Jewish homeschoolers community here in la that is fantastic and I hope other communities have it too...middos series books I mentioned are fantastic for all ages (we modify for the little one since the concepts and words are sometimes geared for older kids)

We make sure to have a lot of Jewish books always around and we take them out several weeks before each holiday to get the concepts solidified. I also love the Artscroll books and siddurs for young people; I can't wait until we are ready for those!

10. Do you have any words of advice/encouragement for Jewish moms who are new to homeschooling and want to make sure their kids get a well-rounded Jewish education?

I am not as religious as many Jewish homeschoolers I know and I have seen incredible diversity in approach and great outcomes. Some people hire Ravs, some people don't; some use a curriculum, some don't, but the beauty of being home with your kids (especially as a mom) is that the heart of the Jewish home is constantly available to them. They get to see a lot of the intricacies of how the Jewish house runs and prays and breathes, and that is not to be taken lightly. Also, the internet resources and discussion groups available make help and support and education a click away and I think the benefits are tremendously rewarding if you have faith, find like-minded people, and trust yourself!

Thank you Mayim for your great insights and for your time!

Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Parshas Vayechi

I can confidently say that we are very proud supporters of Costco's Kirkland Baby-wipes and Kitchen wipes. I came across another mom blog out there and she brilliantly used the caps of these wipes to make a calendar for her kids.

Now a big goal of mine, being a Jewish homeschooling mom, is taking these awesome idea's and giving them a Jewish twist. So I started saving all the caps of all the wipes but just couldn't come up with a good idea of how to use them in a Jewish way.

Until.... this weeks parshah, where Yakov is blessing his 12 sons. I figured we could tie it all together and give each Shevet the color of their stone on the Kohen Gadols Choshen (High Priests Breast Plate) and then we could use this in a few weeks time again when we learn about the garments of the Kohanim and Kohen Gadol.

So here is how it went:

We hot glued a piece of felt to a card board box cover (one of those office boxes from Office Max). We then hot glued the caps of the wipes onto the felt like this:
Then each munchkin got 6 cards to color specific colors (the color of each Shevets stone)

We then glued the cards onto the tops of the caps and wrote each Shevets name on the correct color card, in order:
I then made a copy of the cover of My Parsah Reader- Sefer Bereishis and laminated it. We cut each one out and stuck a little Velcro sticker behind each one. Each picture depicts the blessing that Yakov gave each son:
HOW AWESOME IS THAT?? The kids LOVE using it and we talk about the different blessings and who got what and where it goes. Just looking at it is so enjoyable. And it was super easy.

Here is a cute little Menashe and Efraim project we made:

That's Yakov in the middle. We acted out the story of Yakov blessing them and switching his hands. That's Efraim on the left, my son made him "special" clothes since he got the first bracha.
Here's another one we did- I just drew the outline of 2 men and the kiddos each colored and glued and stuck whatever they wanted on each man. The Alef is for Efraim and the Mem is for Menashe.
They then traced their hands and we were able to switch the hands to show how Yakov switched his hands.

And here's a really great Alef Beis project that my daughter LOVED. Just cut out colored strips, long and short but make sure they are all the same size. Use one long one and one short one to make templates of the Hebrew Alphabet and have the kids glue on the correct sticks to each letter.

And that's what we've been up to. Have a great week!
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