Feb 25, 2014

Perfect Purim Crafts and Activities!

Purim is a wonderful holiday to celebrate with children. Costumes, groggers, and hamantaschen afford many opportunities for creativity, imagination, and fun. Below we have some fun takes on these traditional activities, as well as some new crafts to celebrate at home or in the classroom!

Make Some Noise with Sammy Spider
This simple grogger is made using a paper plate, and is the same one in one of our favorite Purim books - Sammy Spider's First Purim! Get ready for the Megillah reading with this fun and easy craft for all ages. Instructions here.

Find a New Favorite Flavor of Hamantaschen
In addition to old favorites, give one of these unique recipes a try! Lemon? White chocolate and cherry? Sounds tasty! Check out these 10 new hamantaschen recipes and spice up the table with something new!

From Joy of Kosher.

Easy Purim Masks Complement Any Costume
With a little help, any kid can create their own costume using this simple DIY Purim mask! A perfect Purim craft for the classroom, or to accent an almost-complete costume, this masks allows kids to add their own artistic flair. Instructions here.

From Here We Are Together.

Beaded Crowns for Older Kids
If you kids are a little old for paper masks, or would enjoy more of a challenge, try these beaded crowns! They'll also last longer than paper masks, so could potentially be used in years to come. Different colors of beads can be used to complement different costumes, and instructions include both a "Queen's Crown" and a "King's Crown." Instructions here.

From Chadis Crafts Fun Pages.

Put on a Purim Puppet Show
Make your own puppets to put on a Purim play! These instructions and templates from JewishKids.org make it a fun and simple way to let everyone participate in telling the story of Purim. Instructions here

Test How Much You Really Know!
This fun and interactive Jeopardy-style quiz lets two people compete to answer Purim questions. Test your knowledge on your own, challenge a friend, or set up a family or classroom-sized competition to see who knows the most! Take the quiz here.

From Quia.com.

Make Your Own Megillah Scroll
Color the pictures on this page, then cut them out into two strips. Tape the strips together and tape the end to an empty paper towel roll cut to size. Roll up your Megillah and fasten with a ribbon or rubber band. Now you have your very own Megillah scroll that tells the story of Purim!

Make Your Own Haman Puzzle
Color this picture of the evil Haman, then cut along the lines to make a puzzle! Great for the classroom or at home.

Learn More About Purim with a Good Book!
Children's books about Purim are a great way to enrich the holiday celebration. From learning all about Purim traditions with Sammy Spider to animals putting on a Purim play, these stories offer fun and interesting additions to any Purim celebration. These and other Purim books available on the Kar-Ben website!

Barnyard Purim
Purim is a topsy-turvy time, even on the farm. The animals decide to stage a Purim play, and Chicken assigns the parts. Blushing Duck is Queen Esther, Silly Horse is Ahashuerus, and Bearded Goat is Mordechai. But when they try to transform Shy Little Sheep into mean-looking Haman, something unexpected happens.

Sammy Spider's First Purim
Sammy Spider wants to help Josh get ready for Purim. Instead, he gets stuck inside a grogger. How will he escape?

The Queen Who Saved Her People
The Purim story has never been more fun! This lavishly rhyming tale is a wonderful read-aloud book, and its color-coded dialogue is perfect for Reader's Theater performances.

The Purim Superhero
Nate loves aliens and he really wants to wear an alien costume for Purim, but his friends are all dressing as superheroes and he wants to fit in. What will he do? With the help of his two dads he makes a surprising decision.

Feb 17, 2014

Celebrating Shabbat with Author Tracy Newman

In this week's guest blog post, Tracy Newman, author of Shabbat is Coming! talks about preparing for Shabbat and developing traditions with her family.

Find Shabbat is Coming! on the Kar-Ben website.
Shabbat is Coming:
On Fridays, my family knows that something is special is coming.

“Is today Shabbat?” my little one asks, a smile on her face.

“Yes, Shabbat begins tonight,” I answer.

“Yay!” She cheers and does a happy dance.

And so we prepare. We buy flowers for the kitchen table. I cook their favorite dinner (chicken cutlets—just like my grandmother used to make). The kids add candles to the candle sticks, fill the Kiddush cup and lay a fresh, sweet challah on the challah board.

In my home, our celebrations aren’t fancy, and the kids are sometimes restless and tired by sunset, but we do make an effort to mark the start of Shabbat as a special occasion. We honor our heritage and feel proud to continue the traditions of the Jewish people.

As the sky grows dark, we:

Light candles and say blessings.

Drink the fruit of the vine (in our case, lots and lots of grape juice).

Say a blessing for the children and give them an extra kiss on the forehead, and

Break off pieces of sweet and delicious challah for each member of our family to eat.

But we also tailor our celebration to fit our unique family, namely a mother who can’t seem to bake a light and airy challah. My home-baked challah is braided with love and filled with a mother’s goodness, but it is also uncomfortably doorstop-like.

I have taken challah-baking class, twice, to learn the art of making fluffy challah. I have tested the temperature of the water on my wrist to see if it will activate the yeast. I have warmed the dough in an oven to help it rise. I have tried recipes in Jewish cookbooks, off the internet, handed out at my children’s camp.

And, still, no matter what, my challahs remain leaden.

So, to save their mother the disappointment that comes from taking a hockey puck out of the oven, and to save my family the chipped teeth that come from eating their mother’s challah, we have adopted a different tradition.

We enjoy the challah from our local bakery. Sweet, braided, light and fluffy. Like no challah I could ever bake.

For your family, I encourage you to explore your own traditions to create a meaningful Shabbat. It is this sense that I hope to convey in Shabbat Is Coming.

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate this joyous day, I hope that you savor the anticipation of preparing for Shabbat every week. May you and your children have fun reading about and celebrating this day.

Shabbat Shalom!
Learn more about Tracy and her books on her website, tracynewmanbooks.com


Feb 4, 2014

Mazel Tov to the Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners!

Kar-Ben Publishing is thrilled to announce that the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee has named three Kar-Ben titles as either 2014 Honor Books or Notable Books for Younger Readers! Mazel tov to our hardworking authors and illustrators!

Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries since 1968, the Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books that authentically portray the Jewish experience. In addition to gold medals awarded in each of three categories, two Honor Books are awarded silver medals and Notable Books are named in each category.

You can find these and other Sydney Taylor Award Winners on the Kar-Ben website! Through the end of February, receive 20% off these 2014 Sydney Taylor winners!

2014 Sydney Taylor Honor Books for Younger Readers

Stones for Grandpa
Renee Londner
illustrated by Martha Aviles

It’s not easy for a child to cope with the death of any family member, especially a beloved grandparent. In Stones for Grandpa, a little boy and his family gather at the cemetery for the unveiling of his grandpa’s gravestone, bringing stones to place on the grave, as is the Jewish custom. They tell stories that help the boy deal with his loss, reminding him of the wonderful memories he has of his grandpa.

Rifka Takes a Bow
Betty Rosenberg Perlov
illustrated by Cosei Kawa
Rifka’s parents are actors in the Yiddish Theater in New York, but one day Rifka finds herself center stage in a special role!  A slice of immigrant life on New York’s Second Avenue, Rifka Takes a Bow, new from Kar-Ben, is a unique book about a vanished time and a place – the Yiddish theater in the early 20th century -- made real through the telling of the true life story of the 96-year-old author as a little girl.

2014 Sydney Taylor Notable Books for Younger Readers

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street
Ann Redisch Stempler
illustrated by Francesca Carabelli
In The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street, Tel-Aviv is full of cats of every color and size, and Mr. Modiano—a grumpy fishmonger—has no time for them! His neighbor, Mrs. Spiegel, loves cats, taking care of her little grey cat with a pink collar and feeding a fluffy white stray cat. Mrs. Spiegel wants to be friends with Mr. Modiano and invites him to tea but he always says “lo, lo, lo, no, no, no.”

But one night when Mrs. Spiegel’s cat goes missing, it is Mr. Modiano who heroically takes off in search of the furry feline. When he finds her cat, Mrs. Spiegel is overjoyed. But what about Mr. Modiano? Has he finally had a change of heart and learned the value of companionship?

With its glimpse into a colorful and diverse Israeli neighborhood, this lovely story about friendship also nicely portrays Tel-Aviv’s beach, markets and other features of Israeli life.