By: Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Staff
Every summer we’re faced with the same dilemma: how do we keep the kids entertained while also staying true to the somber and introspective mood of the 9 Days?
Believe it or not, you can do both!
Whether you’re a mom, an aunt, or a camp counselor, try out these kids activities that are both fun and fitting for the 9 Days.
1. Make a middos movie
Appeal to your kids’ natural love of theatrics by tasking them to create their very own homemade film.
First, assign a 9 Days-appropriate theme for the movie, such a friendship, judging someone favorably, or Kamtza and Bar Kamtza.
Then, depending on the kids’ ages and level of self-sufficiency, direct them on how to create a storyboard, a script, and how to find or build props for their story.
Using a simple video editing app (check out 5 Best Video Editing Apps for Kids), kids can film and edit their own movie.
Kids will surely beam with pride at the final result. Finally, don’t forget to share the film with family and friends!
2. Appreciate Jewish history and tradition at a museum
On the lookout for a perfect blend of education and engagement? A Jewish museum is the answer — just make sure you choose the right one.
Little kids will love the hands-on exhibits at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn.
Families can experience Jewish history in a real way at the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn (by appointment only) or The Tenement Museum in NYC.
For adults and mature teenagers, a Holocaust museum such as the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, is a fitting activity for these days of mourning.
For a Jewish museum near you, see this list of Jewish Museums in the United States.
3. Make a charity bake sale
Put your little pastry chefs to work for a good cause!
Whip up batches of delicious cupcakes for a neighborhood bake sale. You’ll have a fantastic time in the kitchen, spread the love through sweet treats, and allow your kids to choose the charity to which they’d like to donate the proceeds. The ultimate win-win-win.
Some seasonally delightful cupcake recipes to get you started:
- Charles Sayegh’s Lemon Cupcakes
- Nechama Fiddle’s Pink Lemonade Cupcakes and Blueberry Pie Cupcakes
- TB’s Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes
4. Get hands-on with crafts
Embrace sensory learning with a Beit Hamikdash project. Whether it’s a coloring page or a Rebuilding the Beit Hamikdash Recycling Craft, a Jerusalem-inspired craft is sure to infuse this week of mourning with meaning.
5. Make a mitzvah chart
Who doesn’t love charts and checklists?
Create a mitzvah checklist for each child that includes a variety of creative chessed opportunities — large and small — to keep kids excited and motivated.
Examples: make your brother’s bed; leave change inside a vending machine; hide a little toy in your local playground for a lucky child to find.
For more ideas, see 50 Summer Activities for Kids That Will Make an Impact.
6. Make time for generational bonding
Take your kids to spend a few hours with older family members, such as their grandparents or even great-grandparents.
Depending on your kids’ ages and personalities, you can have them help out their elderly relatives with any household chores or errands, ask questions about family history, or reminisce by looking at old photo albums together.
7. Write a letter to an Israeli soldier
Thank Israeli Soldiers gives you an easy way to send thank-you notes to our soldiers. You can do it through an online form, but an even better way is to write a real snail mail letter.
This simple act of service will enlighten your children about hakarat hatov, love for the Holy Land, and wonder of wonders — how to send an actual, physical letter!
8. Cook a meal for someone in need
Cook a weekday dinner, Shabbat meal, or break-the-fast meal for someone in your community. If you don’t know of anyone, contact Bikur Cholim or your local chessed organization to find out if there are any ill, homebound, or kimpeturins who can use your help.
This is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about the Beit Hamikdash being destroyed because of sinat chinam, or baseless hatred. What better way to counteract that than doing this kindness for someone you don’t know? It is ahavat chinam, loving others freely, at its best!