Sometimes my world brings surprises, and so it was today. I had another article ready to go and then my 2nd grade came in, scheduled today to experience the art of Mark Rothko. Named Markus Rothkowitz at birth in Russia in 1903, he became Mark Rothko later in life. Trained traditionally, Rothko became famous later in life, for his vast fields of color that seem to pulsate, float, recede and come towards the viewer. Similar in some ways to the efforts of Yakov Agam, Rothko sought to engage the viewer in the art itself. The art is about Kavannah and a spiritual journey. Can students as young as 2nd grade enter this world? Absolutely!
Unlike in recent years I opted for paints as opposed to bleeding tissue paper (the lesson plan for which can be found at www.lbellet.wordpress.com). As with any art experience you undertake with students of all ages, please do the activity before you teach it. More…
The other day, I gave a group of early childhood teachers a wonderful way to make charoset dishes for Pesach. It involves using clay flower pots. The artist turns the pot upside down and designs the surface with tiles. Since it is upside down, the lip of the rim catches any tiles that might slip. When dry, you place a plastic drinking cup as an insert to hold the charoset so the clay mosaic, itself, never will need washing. It’s a format I have used for years, in many age ranges, and it always results in a happy ending. Nevertheless, the charoset dish was not what I was really teaching. The true lesson came before…
Last week at Oakland Hebrew Day School, we celebrated one of the most charming rituals of our year – Chaggigat haSiddur – when the students in 1st grade receive their siddurim. The children’s anticipation is heightened because they know that their parents have been busily occupied with designing a siddur cover that is uniquely for them.
Weeks before the date of the ceremony, parents gathered in the Art Studio at OHDS for several hours of companionship, learning and creating. Even those who were “reluctant artists” found themselves up to the task.
At Oakland Hebrew Day School, no one ever needs to ask this question or even wonder. In every room, there is a student created mizrah plaque. Why do we need a mizrah? A mizrah (east) plaque makes it clear, for purposes of tefillah, which way we face in order to look towards Israel. (If you are reading this in Asia, the previous statement does not apply but, that is discussion for another day) A mizrah plaque is a beautiful addition to any classroom or home. It is another way to declare that ‘this’ space is Jewish. In the classroom, especially, it is a reminder that the room and its activities are ‘kodesh.’