Winchevsky Shule In Your Living Room!
March 22 - Storytelling I
As you may remember, a few weeks ago we all made and decorated individual mini Mitzvah jars to take home, along with little beads to add as Mitzvot. We hope that you are filling these up with your kids' mitzvahs. If you need a refresher on the concept, this PJ Library guide has suggestions of books and discussion questions aimed at little ones.
If you've lost you Mitzvah Jar or weren't with us the week that we made them, you can easily make you own using a glass jar or cup, adding beads, beans, backyard pebbles, or other small household items in. When we're all back together again, you can bring in you at-home Mitavah Jars and we'll add them to our class collection.
In the mean time, we invite you to relish in the enormous list of resources the UJA has assembled for learning at home and practice some of our songs.
1) Select a Jewish history story that we have learned about so far this year. These include:
a) Seven Days of Creation
b) The Story of the Maccabees
c) Abraham and Sarah
d) Jacob and Joseph
e) The Heroes of Purim
*Alternately, choose a Jewish holiday that we have leaned about this year. These include:
a) Rosh Hashanah
b) Yom Kippur
Once selected, we challenge the students to find materials in their house to build sets out of. Then, gather their favourites toys (stuffies, dolls, action figures, lego...) to play the different characters in the story, or, if they have chosen a holiday, to play different members of their family celebrating that holiday. Then, they should plan their mini "play," either telling a tale of Jewish history, or enacting what traditions they take part in when celebrating a holiday. When they are ready, use a phone to make a picture collage of various scenes from the story, or if they choose, film the story (and they can even include voiceovers if they'd like)! These stories can be featured on Winchevsky's social media for the world to see!
Here are a couple of online videos that we have watched in class for story refreshers (if there is a story/holiday that the child selects and you cannot find an e-book or video on the topic, please let me know and I will research for you!):
By the end of this lesson, the students will have exercised building a story using basic storytelling tools: a hero, a problem, and a solution. The students will have also contemplated the virtue of being resourceful, particularly in difficult times. Finally, they will have contemplated the importance of storytelling, in particular in the Jewish context, and what is “a Jewish story”.
The goal of this lesson is threefold: to enhance the student’s natural talent of storytelling through exercise, to deepen the students’ familiarity with jewish culture writ large, and to substitute for the “Mitzva Jar”, allowing a moment of self-reflection on solidarity.
Below you will find a Mitzva Blog in which your peers are helping out in the house while school is out. I will invite the kids to create their own post with a photo and a caption documenting themselves helping out while having inventive fun throughout the COVID-19 emergency.
Building and telling a story:
The students will create their own stories and will share them with others.
how are stories built?
what are the purposes of storytelling?
can stories help at difficult times? how?
what does a Jewish identity bring to stories and storytelling?
Take a look at the MItzva Blog’s first post
Do you help out while school is out? how?
Do you find new ways to have fun when staying at home? Which?
By the end of this lesson you will be making your own post.
Part 1 - Reading and Watching 2 Jewish Stories about Making Something out of Nothing
Read the chapter “Dusting is fun” in “All-of-a-Kind Family”. Watch the video “Joseph had a little overcoat”.
Who is the hero in each story? (is it a bit more complicated to answer in the case of “All-of-a-Kind-Family”?)
What problem does the hero have in each story?
What solution does the hero find for the problem in each story?
Both stories talk about making something out of nothing. This idea repeats in a lot of Jewish stories. Can you think why?
Part 2 - Building Your Story
Prepare a Mitzva Blog Post of your own: share a moment in which you are either helping out or entertain yourself in a new way during school closure. When you prepare the post, try to include these three ingredients in the story you are telling: a hero, a problem, a solution.
You can make the post on paper, adding beautiful pictures, or you can use photos and a computer.
Good luck and enjoy yourself! I can’t wait to see the result!
Part 3 - Reflection
Why do we tell stories? Try to think of as many reasons as you can
Can stories help us at difficult times? How?
How does a hero being Jewish change the story or make it special? To help with this question, try to think if your blog post reflects your being Jewish and how.
I hope life is going okay for you and you are all keeping yourselves entertained and interested in things during this time of social distancing! I want to send out this email to let you know I am thinking about all of you and I miss you! While we are unable to have class together, I put together an at home lesson that I hope you can participate in which we will all check in about again later.
During the great depression and in the early years of world war two, many people across the world were facing times of economic hardship. The loss of hope that came with more physical consequences of a worldwide economic collapse and deprivation brought about a yearning amongst many for characters that would symbolize strength and resilience and all the things that people wanted and needed to cultivate in themselves at the time. It was this era of struggle that brought about the creation of comic book superheros who saved the day and lifted people's spirits. here is a short article highlighting this moment in history which you can read if you want:
Other things that people do in a time of hardship is create humour- turning tragedy into comedy is one way to tolerate a tough reality! And create other kinds of stories that take you to mystical world outside your own. Maybe this includes magic or mythical creatures, sometimes this might include horror stories that take you to other concerns and bring in a little bit of fantasy to stress or suffering.
Since we are all dealing with a very strange reality that our world's pandemic is putting on us- not going to school and worrying about each other, I thought it could be fun to create our own stories inspired by Jewish mythical and supernatural beings.
While we are away from each other, your job will be to choose a creature from this article on stranger Judaism
file:///Users/irisbenedikt/Downloads/Stranger%20Judaism.pdf and create a story that centres the creature/ spirit of your choice as the main character/villian/problem etc in your story.
Story outline: To develop your story, make sure your story establishes a setting (where does the story take place), a time period (when in history? Present? Past? Future? No-time time?) characters your story will include, what the problem of the story is, and how that problem is solved. The solution doesn't have to be a "good" solution. For example, you can have a story of a character wanting to pull pickles out of a jar and the solution is that they decide to give up and cry. Make sure you also have a story arc and climax which will be the most suspenseful part of your story just before things start winding down for the end.
Once you've written your story outline (answer questions above) you can write your story! I think it would be fun if you created acomic strip of your story and separated each "scene" with squares or frames of your comic. You can use words to show sound effects like "KABLAM!" or "BOING!". You may also wish to record yourself telling the story and use sound effects from your house. Like crumpling paper to make the sound of crunching leaves or a maraca to make the sound of rain.
Visual art option: If you want you may also (or instead) create a work of art of your own made up mythical Jewish being inspired by the characters from the article. You might want to do this by folding up a piece of paper into zig zags and getting your family to draw different parts of the creature- its head, neck, body, legs etc and then making up powers about that creature and redrawing or painting it. You also might want to just create your own creature using inspiration from one or two of the characters from the article.
If you are doing art you can either use pencil crayon, paint, create a tissue paper collage, sculpt or collage your creature using cut up pieces from a magazine and your own drawing add ons.
I hope we can take this lesson and reflect on our creative work together some time soon but more updates to come about how that might go!
Take care of yourselves everyone 🙂
Over the next two weeks you are invited to read the remarkable story of Anne Frank!
You can also find plenty of online resources to dig a bit deeper into her life: the Anne Frank House site has plenty to offer by way of background and context, along with educational activities about human rights, discrimination and citizenship.
The Holocaust Encyclopedia has some background information and photographs.
Every time you put down the book, write a little reflection on what you've just read. You can do this by starting a new paper diary or just starting a new e-note on your phones, whatever you prefer. When we come back together you will be invited to share thoughts from this "diary"
In the meantime, please continue to research your projects and if your tzedaka/creative component does not involve gathering with people in large groups, please keep working on it.