When I think of Rosh Hashanah and trying to convey the meaning and concepts to little kids it can be heavy and overwhelming for children: forgiveness, making amends, deep prayer and change. However, experiencing the New Year with your family can be a great opportunity to explore some great values and the future. As a preschool teacher and a parent of my now 6-year-old twins, I love using cooking and hands-on activities to encourage learning with little kids. In preparation for Rosh Hashanah, I want to share some great apple activities that can reinforce your children’s learning about the holiday. I hope these activities will be something you can enjoy together and inspire you to create and build on your own ideas.
New Beginnings: Kids can be sensitive about making mistakes or only hearing about the negative things they are doing. Rosh Hashanah is a great time to teach children that after a hard day, tomorrow is a brand new day and a fresh start. For little ones, a whole year can be hard to conceptualize but breaking it down to the next day can bring them a sense of awareness.
An easy way to do this is by having a conversation with your child(ren) about their day. “What did you like best?” “What was hard or did not go the way you liked?”
A fun way to enhance this discussion is by creating a family apple tree. Draw or create a tree with crepe paper, newspaper, leaves and sticks or whatever else your child may want to add. Explain how each branch represents one of your family members and help your child create an apple cut out or apple print to create little apples to put on the tree. Every time your child wants to share something great about their day, they can hang an apple with their accomplishment. Throughout the year, watch as your family’s apple tree fills with delicious and sweet apples.
Apple Pies and Making Amends: You know the saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade? How about turning rotten apples into apples pies? Rotten apples can represent the times we need to say we are sorry like when we hurt someone’s feelings or we get angry. Often, kids are forced to apologize and it doesn’t have any meaning for them. Instead, talk with your kids about how they could have handled the situation differently. Ask them, “what can we do to make the person you hurt feel better and show them you care?” Help them brainstorm some ideas on how they can show they that they are sorry.
For Rosh Hashanah, we can make sweet mini apple pies to share with our friends and family. This is a fun way to make something sweet out of those “rotten times” that we have not been nice to our friends and family. (See the recipe below). You can be creative and add any other fun ingredients, other fruits or sweeteners.
Different and the Same: Let’s get excited about the New Year. What will be the same about the things that we love? What were some of your children’s favorite places and who are their friends? What new experiences will we have this year? For the New Year, we can try new foods and make new friends.
To help highlight this, I love doing apple tasting with children to explore the idea of how being different can be a good thing. Taste red, green, yellow and even pink apple slices. What do you like about them? What surprised you? Talk about how people are like apples. We all have bodies like all apples have a core. Yet, we are all unique in how we look and our likes and dislikes. A great book that celebrates our differences is “Giraffes Can’t Dance.” The story has an important message on how words can hurt and discovering what makes all of us special.
Enjoy the sweetness and surprises of your year to come. Shana Tovah!
Apple Pie Tarts
1 21 oz. can apple pie filling
1/2 cup raisins
1 package ready crust tarts
Combine pie filling and raisins try adding brown sugar on top or make your own filling. Spoon about 1/3 c filling into each crust. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 min.
Sharon just moved to Lafayette and loves being closer to the mountains and enjoys the community. She is a mom in her 40’s of almost 6 year old twins who is going back to teaching preschool after being a stay at home. Her family loves finding ways to celebrate our Judaism in song, food and prayer with our family and friends.