Neon Trees for Tu B’Shevat Using Art Materials From Around the Home

One of my favorite art subjects to paint are trees. I love Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt and I used that curvy, linear tree he depicted to influence these three simple trees my two year old and I made this morning using materials found around the home.

For these trees I used Crayola neon tempera paint, cotton balls, white card stock, a toilet paper roll, a Sharpie marker, and a household sponge.

To start I drew simple curvy, linear trees using Sharpie marker on 9″ x 11″ card stock. I copied the tree 3 times. Permanent marker is a must as it won’t smear when paint is applied on top.

For the first tree I used a cardboard toilet paper roll and cut slits all the way around using scissors, folding the ends outward to create a brush. Then my son dipped his brush into the paint which I laid out on a plastic lid. Then he stamped the tree with it.

For the next painting he used cotton balls to “dot” paint onto the trees and for the third a piece I cut from household sponge. It’s important to dampen the sponge before painting with it.

We did these paintings in conjunction with the Jewish birthday of the trees-Tu B’Shevat. The boys have been learning about this holiday in school. I like to support their learning with books and crafts at home.

Tu B’Shevat is January 30th this year, and it’s the first of several Jewish springtime holidays. In Israel it is celebrated as also a day of ecological awareness.

Going along with that theme of caring for our planet, incorporating the concept of recycling in art, we used simple household materials for these projects. Whether you’re a mom on a budget or an art teacher trying to create an art program on limited funds-art can be an affordable, meaningful activity. You don’t need expensive materials to have fun and be creative!

Family Travel Journal: Israel 2017 Photos


For the last two years my family has travelled to Israel to celebrate the Jewish High Holidays.  The High Holidays are four holidays separated by a week that start off the Jewish New Year every year.  My husband is originally from a small village in the north of Israel near Haifa.  While we go and visit his family we also travel around the country to visit friends and get a little vacation in.  This year we visitedTel Aviv for four blissful beach days, Jerusalem, En Acre Nature Preserve, and Akko.  My favorite places to visit on this trip this year were Tel Aviv and Akko.  

In Tel Aviv you have the big city, similar to LA with a beach vibe.  Lots of pubs, boutiques, cafés, and art galleries. In Akko you see ancient architecture, the sea, and the souk.  I love visiting markets and we actually visited one of the oldest markets in Jerusalem, that my great great grandfather lives near when he immigrated to Israel at the turn of the century-Maheneh Yehuda.  I recommend if you go there to purchase and sample some of the halva for sale.  It’s incredible!

As we traveled through Israel I got to sample some of my favorite is really cuisine: bourekas, shakshuka, and pita with zaatar.  Bourekas at savory pastries filled with cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, or meet. They are served with hard-boiled eggs and pickles. Shakshuka is a dish made of eggs basted in a spices tomato sauce-this year I tried “purple” shakshuka that was made with beets. It was accompanied by tahini, fresh bread, and vegetables. Zaatar is a spice blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. In Israel they mix the spices with olive oil and then brush it on to peters, roasting the pitas.

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Marking Our Milestone

 

Ok, he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a toddler.  In the Jewish tradition you are not supposed to cut your son’s hair until 3.  At the 3 year old birthday mark on the Hebrew calendar (it’s a lunar and much older calendar than the Christian calendar) the boy has his haircut and there is a party to honor him coming into more spiritual awareness.  Prior to cutting Ben’s hair we met with my dear friend Maritza Nolasco to get photos of him done.  It was extra special having Maritza take these photos as she and I experienced pregnancy for the first time together down to a couple of days difference!  She has been a great supporter on my path to and through motherhood.  We started with some outdoor photos  in her yard and then followed to the pool to get some photos of his gorgeous hair as he swam!  milestoneIMG_0191IMG_0194IMG_0206IMG_0293IMG_0294

Even Adam got in on the photo fun and we have some incredible shots of the boys together.  If you live in Las Vegas and are looking for a professional photographer, who’s great with kids and very patient I suggest looking up Maritza on Instagram or Facebook!

These photos will mean so much to me in years to come.  It will remind me of this special time I am having with m boys, it marks a change in my firstborn from being a baby to a child.  I love his long waves, wheat blond from time spent in the Israeli never-ending summer sun, but I will love his short hair too.  He will look handsome and more grown up.  No more tangles and knots as I comb through it and no more “she’s so pretty” in the grocery store.  He will be a BIG BOY at last!

 

 

Chagall Windows Lesson Plan

I am fortunate enough to have visited the Chagall Windows in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center twice.  Upon entering the room with the windows you are surrounded by radiant light illuminating Chagall’s masterpiece telling the story of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This lesson is a collage project that can be completed by children ages 7-10.

I have included in the resources a book from my favorite art historical book series Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists by Mike Venezia.  He combines cartoons and accurate art historical information in a way that can be used by students of all ages.  When reading his books I typically break them up into 2-3 readings depending the age group.  I have found his books through Amazon, my local library, most school libraries, and Barnes and Noble.Marc Chagall was a Russian Jewish artist who experienced life in the shtetl as a small boy.  A shtetl is a word used to describe  segregated, impoverished villages in Russia.  The shtetl often experienced raids from the Russian army and Chagall experienced anti-Semitism in his life there.  To create these windows in Jerusalem after Israel became a country, was a great honor for him.  He was very proud of his heritage and had great hope for his people.

 

Chagall Windows

Grades 2 – 5

Grouping:  Whole/Individual

Materials: 9″x11″ white paper, water cups, paint brushes, tissue paper, Elmer’s glue, pencils, rulers, and black permanet markers.

Resources: Artwork of Hadassah short film clip, Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Marc Chagall by Mike Venezia

Objectives:  Students will:

  • learn about the life and art of Marc Chagall
  • create an artwork based on the theme of peace
  • create a multi media work of art

Procedures:

  1. Students will view the teacher exemplar and discuss the project (steps, expectations, outcomes).
  2. Students will use their ruler and pencil to draw straight lines (5-6) on their white piece of paper to convey the lead piping that holds stained glass in place.
  3. Students will draw symbols of peace such as the peace sign, angels, doves, olive branches, etc inside the shapes their lines create.
  4. Students will trace everything they have drawn with black permanent marker.
  5. The class will listen to and discuss the book Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Marc Chagall by Mike Venezia.
  6. The class will view a demonstration by the teacher on how to collage pieces of tissue paper over the drawings to give the look of stained glass.
  7. Students will turn in their artwork for assessment.

Assessment:

  1. Student drew a picture using a ruler and showing peace symbols neatly and with detail.  2/5
  2. Student traced his drawing neatly with permanent marker.  1/5
  3. Student collaged using appropriate amounts of glue and tissue paper carefully.  2/5

If I wanted to do this project with a younger group, I would simply have them layer tissue paper on top of white paper to experience the fractals of light and color found in stained glass windows.  I have included a slideshow of my photos from Hadassah Medical Center.  They sell a very nice set of postcards depicting Marc Chagall’s designs in the gift shop.  That might be something worth contacting them for.

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Matboucha Recipe

matbouchaMatboucha is a warm tomato and bell pepper salad eaten commonly in Israeli and Moroccan cultures.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite foods.  Typically, in a Moroccan home the first course of a meal has several cooked and raw salads which are followed which a chicken/fish/beef course.  My husband’s grandmothers used to make 12 salads for the sabbath meal every week I’ve been told! That’s a lot of vegetables to chop!  I typically do four or five vegetable dishes for the sabbath dinner and this is one of the regulars.

Ingredients:

8 beefsteak tomatoes

1 c. of water

1 red and 1 green bell pepper

2 red chili peppers

6 cloves of garlic

1 onion

1 beef bouillon cube

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tbsn. cumin

Rinse all the tomatoes and cut and X into each one of them on the bottom. Fill a large pot with water and place of tomatoes in.

Boil the tomatoes about 30 minutes -you should see them peeled start to shrivel up on the tomatoes. Then place them into a bowl with ice to cold shock them. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to touch peel off the skinfrom the bottom where the x is.  Add 1 tbsp. of olive oil into a pan.  Dice both of the bell peppers. Dice half of the onion. Place the peppers and onion into a large pan and cover with one couple water. Allow the water to soften the peppers on medium high heat, partially covered.


Peel the six cloves of garlic, dice the tomatoes and place them all into the pan along with the peppers and onion. Fill up a coffee cup halfway boiling hot water toss the bouillon cube, the salt and pepper with the cumin in to the cup. Break up the cube of bouillon with a fork, stir and blend the spices with the hot water and pour over the vegetables.  I use a vegetarian beef bouillon cube but you can use the real thing. Rinse  and add the two chili peppers, whole, with the salad. Allow everything to cook on medium heat partially covered. Use a potatoe masher to mash the vegetables down a little as you go.

Stir about every five minutes making sure nothing is burning on the bottom of the pan and then smooth over the mixture with the large spoon to see if there still liquid in the mixture. You’re looking to see that all the liquid evaporates out enjoy left with this sort of soft melange of vegetables and spices. Once all the liquid has evaporated turn the heat off and enjoy with a side of pita bread or challah bread. It’s delicious to make a sandwich with it with hummus or with hard-boiled eggs. I’ll be teaching you how to use it in a pizza in a future post.

Eight Posts for Hanukkah-Kinetic Kids Menorah

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I’m going to post this in both my blog under Hanukkah and Art Lessons for Educators and Homeschoolers which will link straight to Lesson Plans.  This time I’m not writing a full fledged lesson plan I am, however I am sharing everything you’ll need to write your own. I do have a full lesson plan on his Agamographs I will share as well.   The Kinetic Kids Menorah is based on the work of Israeli artist Yaacov Agam who founded the Kinetic art movement.  Kinetic literally mean “movement” and he is interested in creating art that looked as though it were moving.  He tricks the eye with color placement, different sizes of the same shape or object, and images that change based on where the viewer is standing.  He created Agamographs which are printed that almost look like they’re woven and depending on if you’re standing to the right or the left you’re seeing 2 different pictures.  He is highly celebrated in Israel.  He designed a fountain and a hotel in downtown Tel Aviv.  My photo of the hotel is below, but it was at night, so you can’t really see the colors clearly.

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To create the Kinetic Kids Menorah you’ll need:

*scissors

*cardstock in red, orange, gold, and two sheets of two shades of blue

*a hole puncher

*nylon filament

*glue (I used a glue gun, but Elmer’s Glue All would work too)

*a ruler

*a pencil (I used pen so you could see my work more clearly)

*optional-I had Ben free paint on white cardstock with red, orange, and yellow paint prior and used that painting for the flames.

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To start I measured out my candlesticks on the blue sheets of paper.  The piece with the slits were 2″ wide and 6″ tall with a 5″ slit.  I cut them out.  The pieces that fit inside the slits were 5″ tall.  This left a little space at the bottom for a hole to connect the candles later.

agamagam3I slid the 5″ pieces into their slits, securing with drops of glue.  Then I cut out 8 flames from Ben’s painting he had done the day before.  Side note: you can use glitter, glitter paint, regular cardstock if you want to add to the flames.  You are the artist, let your creativity shine!

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I traced around his flames onto orange cardstock 8 times and yellow 8 times.  I cut out all the flames.  The yellow ones are a bit larger to frame Ben’s and the orange ones.flame

I cut a tiny slit in each flame and the top of each candlestick, then slid the flame into the candlestick securing it with glue.

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I created a much larger flame with leftover scraps.  I punched holes in the tops of all my candlesticks and three holes in the bottom of my large flame.  I also punched one in the top of my large flame.  I strung the hook at the top of my large flame with nylon filament I picked up at Joann Fabrics and the candlesticks, alternating colors (some needed a hole punched at the bottom, but do that as you go).agam-1

This project took a couple of hours for me to create.  I would recommend it for middle aged school kids or if you’re doing one on one you could do it with a fourth or fifth grader.  I did most of the work, but Ben did contribute-so it can also be a fun decoration for the holiday including your younger child’s work.

Eight Posts for Hanukkah -Vintage Baby Block Driedels (Easy D.I.Y.)

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I picked up some vintage baby blocks when I was pregnant with Ben for a maternity shoot. It dawned on me while I was in the playroom the other day they could easily be turned into dreidels for Hanukkah and be repurposed.

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This is an easy, fun, 5 minute craft that yields great results.  I purchased the Mini Peg People at Joann Fabrics as well as the 1/4″ dowel.  I sawed off a 1″ piece from the dowel and attached it with my hot glue gun, then on the opposite end of the block I glued on a mini peg person.  Voila!  A driedel.  Ben enjoyed playing with it – a great little homemade toy or present!

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