At the end of Sukkot, another holiday pops up--Shemini Atzeret. On this little-known holiday, people customarily recite the tefilat geshem, a prayer asking for rain. Since Shemini Atzeret coincides with the start of the vital rainy season in Israel, it’s a wonderful opportunity to talk about water and water conservation with children. You can find some of our favorite hands-on activities to help children learn about rain, the water cycle, and conserving water below. Want to learn more about Shemini Atzeret? Check out the PJ Library book Maya Prays for Rain.
Shaving Cream Rain Clouds
image via One Little Project
This fun hands-on activity illustrates how rain comes from clouds. The shaving cream acts as a cloud and kids can watch in real time as the cloud becomes saturated with color and needs to “rain” into the jar below. This is a great sensory activity for little ones and a wonderful way to review colors with younger learners.
image via NurtureStore
Don your rain boots and slickers and get some fresh air while you make a collaborative painting with the rain! This activity is perfect for rainy days and provides a conversation starter for discussing the need for rain and water conservation. You can also pair this activity with a story like First Rain.
Cloud in a Jar
image via giftofcuriosity.com
Children love to look up at the sky at clouds. This activity lets children see how a cloud is actually formed. Older children may want to try (with adult supervision) the more complicated cloud in a bottle experiment from the video below:
Water Cycle in a Bag
You can also create a water cycle demo that shows water in its solid, liquid, and gas state but you’ll want to be sure that there’s a grownup on hand to supervise and pour the hot water.
DIY Rain Gauge
Measure the rain in your area with this simple activity. Since this project makes use of recycled materials it’s also a way to practice the Jewish value of bal taschit which means not destroying things needlessly. Whenever we recycle, reuse, or actively conserve resources like water, we’re practicing bal taschit. You can learn more in this episode of Shaboom!
BONUS: Recycled Rain Sticks
image via MyJewishBoston
MyJewishBoston walks through the steps to making a rain stick using recycled materials. You can also use these rainsticks as graggers on Purim!
Parents, would you like to learn more about Shemini Atzeret? Head over to MyJewishLearning.com for a deep dive into the history and customs of this holiday.
October 20, 2016