Shavuot Activities for Kids

A revelation they'll beg for year after year.

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The holiday of Shavuot tends to lack many of the kid-friendly themes that are part of the richness of other holidays. Here are a number of ways that we can connect our children and students to this special holiday.

Camp Out or Camp-In: Leil Shavuot

On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone forth from the land of Egypt, on that very day, they entered the wilderness of Sinai. Having journeyed from Rephidim, they entered the wilderness of Sinai and encamped in the wilderness. Israel encamped there in front of the mountain, and Moses went up to God. (Exodus 19:1-3)

Re-enact the Israelites camping at the foot of Sinai with your own camp out, weather permitting. Too cold or rainy? Pitch a tent indoors or building one with chairs and blankets. Invite friends for a sleepover, or sleep there with the whole family! Stay up late telling stories--from the giving of the Torah, to the book of Ruth, to memories of camping. Wake up to the sound of a shofar or other horn blasts.

Bikkurim: Grain & Fruit

Shavuot marks the end of the grain season and the beginning of the fruit season. It follows seven weeks of harvesting barley (or, in modern times, counting the omer).

camping kidsThe following five activities are connected to grain and fruit.

Shewbreads: A Celebration of Wheat

"You shall take choice flour and bake of it twelve loaves, two-tenths of a measure for each loaf. Place them on the pure table before the Lord in two rows, six to a row… He shall arrange them before the Lord regularly every sabbath day-- it is a commitment for all time on the part of the Israelites... They shall belong to Aaron and his sons, who shall eat them in the sacred precinct; for they are his as most holy things from the Lord’s offerings by fire, a due for all time." (Leviticus 24:5-9)

Preparing "holy" bread in honor of the Sabbath is a great mitzvah. In honor of the wheat season and the Shavuot holiday , why not bake your own challah? If you have time, purchase some whole wheat berries and grind them yourself, so you can see what the inside looks like. The shell is called the bran and the brown spec in the center is the germ. White flour is made by separating out the bran and the germ until you are left with only "choice flour." Make extras for neighbors, friends or your freezer.

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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.