May 14, 2014

Learn About Lag Ba'Omer with Books and Activities!

Lag Ba'Omer is an interesting and unique Jewish holiday that gives us an opportunity to step outside (literally!) and celebrate with bonfires, singing, picnics, and more. Lag Ba'Omer celebrates Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi, a sage and leading disciple of Rabbi Akiva, and the great wisdom he brought into the world.

Interested in learning more about Lag Ba'Omer? Check out Sadie's Lag Ba'Omer Mystery, the fifth book in the Sadie and Ori series by Adventure Rabbi Jamie Korngold. View the book trailer here, or get the book on the Kar-Ben website!

Below we've included activities for teaching children about Lag Ba'Omer and celebrating at home with family or at school.

Build a Bonfire!
One of the most well-known traditions on Lag Ba'Omer is the building of a bonfire. These bonfires symbolize spiritual light and the impact of Rabbi Shimon's teachings.Whatever the size, a campfire or bonfire is a great way to bring family together for the holiday, and provides a great place for singing songs and making s'mores.

Bake a Bonfire Cake (or Cupcakes)
These cute cupcakes use red and orange icing and pretzel sticks to create the illusion of a bonfire. This is a fun craft for kids with some help from parents - they'll need help with the baking, but they can ice the cupcakes themselves. If you're looking to go bigger, you can create a bonfire cake instead!

Build a Diorama
Teach the story of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi with an interactive diorama. Collecting materials for the diorama will get children outside, and after you put the diorama together you can use it to tell the story of Lag Ba'Omer together. Here's an example from Jewish Homeschool.

Paint a Watercolor
Many holidays have beautiful images or items associated with them, such as the shofar for Rosh Hashanah and the menorah for Hanukkah. These symbols help make holidays more meaningful by reminding us of past celebrations. Create a reminder of your Lag Ba'Omer celebration by painting a watercolor like these at Creative Jewish Mom.

Build a Popsicle Stick Bow
These easy-to-make bows (don't worry, they're not functional!) are a great craft for engaging children in Lag Ba'Omer. Children playing outside with mock bows and arrows is a Lag Ba'Omer tradition, arising from the belief that no rainbows were seen during Rabbi Shimon's lifetime because his good made up for all the bad in the world. From Creative Jewish Mom.

Or Just the Arrows!
If you don't want to bother with bows, these decorative arrows made out of skewers are a fun and lovely craft as well. Find the directions at Creative Jewish Mom.

Learn and Craft with this Activity Booklet
This free activity book from Jewish Homeschool teaches the stories of Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon, along with pictures for coloring and simple activities to reinforce the most important parts of the story.

Plan a School Field Day
If you want to get ambitious, you can plan a school or classroom field day. Lag Ba'Omer falls toward the end of the school year, so this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate spring and the anticipation of summer while also teaching about a holiday. Check out the Pre-School at Temple Emanuel's outline for a simple and collaborative day.

Pack a Picnic
If you don't have a space for a campfire or bonfire, pack a picnic instead and enjoy the outdoors. It is said that Rabbi Shimon and his son lived in a cave for twelve years, hiding from the Romans, and during this time they were nourished by a carob tree that grew at the cave's entrance. Celebrate the gifts of nature by spending the day outside. You can pick up a nature guide to learn more about the local vegetation and the different roles that plants play in our environment.

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