Jewish challah bread is traditionally covered before the meal.
Festive Jewish meals usually include loaves of braided bread known as challah. Traditionally, these loaves are covered with a decorative cloth. Making a simplified challah cover with your youngsters from cloth or paper is a creative way to teach about Jewish tradition. If you prepare for this arts and crafts session in advance, you can reduce the mess, keep the little ones interested in the activity and keep your frustrations to a minimum. It is possible to produce some attractive challah covers that will actually enhance your festive table.
1Prepare the work area by spreading plastic sheets on the floor or on a large table. Disposable table cloths work well and make cleanup easy. Cut a large, rectangular sheet of while paper about 16 by 20 inches for the challah cover or use a sturdy fabric such as white canvas of the same size if you prefer a longer-lasting finished product. Decide which method you'll be using and then prepare pots of finger paints in a variety of colors or large pots of water colored with a lot of food coloring.
2Toddlers will enjoy creating their own designs using this finger paint method. Cover the children in aprons, roll up their sleeves and allow your little ones to get creative. They will enjoy creating their own free style, or you can guide them to make distinct palmprints all round the cloth or paper. You might want to stencil some relevant words, such as "Shabbat Shalom" onto the cloth or paper before your little ones begin. You will then have to guide them to avoid the area of the letters when they do their creative part. The end result will be more attractive, but the kids will probably enjoy the process less. Your children will love seeing the finished cover adorning your table after the paint dries.
3You can easily achieve some beautiful effects by having your little ones participate in an afternoon of tie-dyeing with you. Grab a section of the rectangular cloth in your fist and tie the bundle in place with large rubber bands. Your little ones will enjoy following your lead and making subsequent bundles. Some preschoolers who have exceptional fine motor control might be able to secure the rubber bands themselves, but be careful -- snapped bands can sting and the fun project might result in tears instead of smiles. Dip the bundles into the colored water or allow the kids to do their own dipping. Once the cloth is dry, your little ones will delight in seeing the special effects they helped create.
4The simplest method of all is to give your little artists a box of crayons and let them create their own designs. Older children can be given suggestions to draw pictures of the challah or wine cup, but even toddlers will enjoy scribbling whatever comes to their mind on the paper. You can make the finished cover look more professional by cutting "fringes" around the edges. Use a sharp scissors and make cuts about 2 inches deep, spaced about 1/8 inch apart. Your little ones are certain to get excited when they see their artwork enhanced in this simple way. Of course, using their covers on the dining table will be the most thrilling part of the project for them.