Shavuot Activities for Kids

A revelation they'll beg for year after year.

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The desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom
abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. (Isaiah 35:1-2)

Collect wildflowers and other colorful flowers and fruit to make a centerpiece for your holiday meal, or take pictures of fruits and flowers and create a special Shavuot collage. You may wish to write (in English or Hebrew) one of the biblical quotations above on a large piece of paper, and then decorate the border with wildflowers, leaves, or juice from deep colored berries.

Fruit Ripening Contest

Many of us are not able to watch fruit ripen on a tree during this or any other time of the year. In honor of Shavuot gather a few friends, classmates, or family members and plan your own fruit ripening contest!

Pick or buy at least a dozen kinds of unripened fruit, such as pears, tomatoes, or bananas. Feel free to choose other local fruit according to what is available.

Put two of each kind in the following places:
-in a bowl with ripe fruit
-on a sunny windowsill
-in the refrigerator
-in a brown bag by itself
-in a brown bag with an apple
-a place of your choosing

First each person chooses which piece of fruit he or she thinks will ripen most quickly. Write this list down.

Check your ripening fruit every day for a week (or more). Which one ripened the quickest? Why do you think this happened?

Once you've declared the winner, consecrate the winning piece of fruit. Slice it up into fun shapes like a Star of David, or bake it into a fancy dish for your holiday.

What Does Quiet Sound Like?

Rabbi Abahu said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: `When God gave the Torah, no bird chirped, no fowl flew, no ox made a sound, angels did not fly, Seraphim did not say "Kadosh," the sea did not stir, no creature spoke. The world was utterly silent--and a voice was heard: "I am the Lord your God." (Midrash Shemot Rabbah, 29)

Gather a small group--it can be a class, your family, or simply a group of friends. Read the above midrash once through. Assign each person or small groups of people one of the "noises"--birds chirping, fowl flying, etc. Then, reread the midrash having everyone in the group add sound effects. Repeat this until everyone is making his or her noise as loud as possible. Finally, count to three, and enjoy a full minute of silence. How does that sound?

Ruth and Deeds of Kindness

"This scroll [of Ruth] tells nothing either of cleanliness or of uncleanliness, neither of prohibition or permission. For what purpose then was it written? To teach how great is the reward of those who do deeds of kindness." (Midrash Ruth Rabbah 2.13)

Even when tragedy struck, Ruth stuck by her mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi and Boaz also showed great kindness in this story.

For the weeks around Shavuot, nominate people in your class or among your family for "Ruth Awards." Or, each time someone does something nice, put a handful of barley into a jar. When the jar is full, cook the barley into a delicious meal and celebrate together.

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Sarah Chandler

Sarah Chandler is the Director of Jewish Family Learning & Life at West End Synagogue, A Reconstructionist Congregation in Manhattan. She has her M.A. in Jewish Education and Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary. She is also a senior editor of Jewschool.com and Director of Programming for Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture.