Parsha Cakes

Parsha Cake, Parsha Cake, open the parsha and see what you bake!
a place to post pics of my parsha cakes for my nephews & nieces & how I keep my kids busy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Head over to Chinuch ENERGY!!!

Hello! This blog has been so much fun for home based learning projects. I have begun to post some of my materials from my class on my other blog - It will be a slow start, but hopefully I will add more stuff as the time allows. Check out my first new post that features a bunch of resources for teaching shorashim, chumash, ivrit and holidays. No reason all the fun has to stay at home.

-- Shira

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pop-Up Scale Model of the Mishkan - Parshios Terumah & Vayakhel

This Parsha project requires some preparation to be used at the Shabbos table. But it is fun and easy. If you like projects like this  - head over to

 I loved making a mishkan out of cake but it was a pain. Black fondant is hard to work with, and after all the work, I was only left with crumb. Last year, I set to work trying to figure out how to make a mishkan out of paper that was easy enough for  a third grader to do and could be transported home in a folder.. I came up with my prototype last year and this year made it digital.

PDF - Complete Instructions and Mishkan Model Using 3 sheets of legal size paper, a pair of scissors, and a bit of glue anyone can  create a scale model of the mishkan. The complete instructions are on  page 1 & 2 of the PDF

Step 1: Print off the first two pages double sided on legal paper & the second two pages each on its own legal paper.

Step 2: Color both sides of the pages according to the instructions. The parts that are labeled blue, red, purple, and gold are for the fabric made of 6 threads of red, 6 threads of blue, 6 threads of purple and 1 thread of gold.

Step 3: Cut out on the black lines,  and follow the directions for folding

Step 4: Glue 

Step 5: Sharpen creases and bend down the curtains.

Step 6: Add the three layers of the mishkan

To store: Put the three covering underneath the base, flatten the curtains and vessels and fold down flat

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Other parsha ideas

If you are coming here, you are either, based on my google stats, looking for a way to make goat cupcakes or want to make your Shabbos table fun. In either case, you have come to the right place.

There are a ton of resources out there with ideas from people who share the passion that the Shabbos meal should be marked by fun and camaraderie. Kids should feel like they can partner with their parents to create the Torah learning and Torah discussions at the table.

So stolen from a list of resources to help make the Shabbos table F-U-N.*

Parsha projects: crafts and snacks
Challah crumbs: A little bit of everything
Adventures in Mama-Land: Parsha worksheets and ideas
Jewish Homeschool: worksheets, parsha crafts
Double portion: some other recipes and insights
Themed thinking: Geared to families and even adults, here is another recipe blog on the parsha
Parsha activities: exactly what it sounds like

If you have any other suggestions, please  add them to the comments!

And if I have any more brilliant ideas, I will post them here if you promise to post yours!


* if this feels unconventional and non traditional to you, feel free to stick with the standard Shabbos meal format of "Sit still. Wait for kiddush. Stop grabbing. Hands off the challahs. If I told your brother that means you too. Stop playing with the silverware. ..We'll get to dessert soon. Can you please help your father sing shalom aleichem. Now stand up so I can ask you your parsha sheet questions. Shmulkie, do you have a dvar Torah to read. Go ahead. Pay attention to your brother reading please. Sit still. Candy for whoever stays quiet during parsha. You are all excused. Can you believe the Rabbi said that? Come back to the table Bentching time! Off to bed. Good Shabbos!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's been a while . . .

So . . . it has really been a while since I have last updated this blog.

Lest anyone thinks parsha cakes have stopped being produced in our family, they haven't . They've just gone from being Renaissance art to being a more modern interpretation of the parsha. Some weeks, the desserts are so simple I don't take a picture. Some weeks, the kids design the cake at the table. We are learning what designs we can do on Shabbos and what we can't. That itself is a good lesson. So no more awesome pictures.

I tried to let parsha cakes die because my Fridays became overbooked when I started working. Then . . . one day, after a long, hard day, my poor six year old started crying. After detailing all his other woes, he finished off by saying the worst part of his young, miserable life was that our cakes on Shabbos looked NORMAL!!!! (Cue the heartrending sobs). The horror! The misery!

What mother can look her child in the eyes after hearing how she has devastated him and not make a parsha cake. But, after a year of glorious confections, the kids were begging for soup and veggies on Shabbos and didn't eat the cake. While art is nice, wasting food and money is not. I'm refuse to make cakes that are beautiful and delicious but sit, So there have been modifications to the program. Instead of recreating the creation of the world, I serve black and white cookies. On Parshas Chayei Sara, I made a rounded cake sans frosting and asked the kids how it connects to the parsha. They came up with 4 ways. I can make sheep very quickly with marshmallows and cupcakes. There are a lot of parshios with sheep. The kids don't seem to mind the change.

Perhaps they don't mind because parsha has now become a 24 hour long affair in our house. Once the kids learned you could be creative with parsha, woo boy - there was no turning back. And they know their parsha well; after all they had a year of parsha cakes.

So this year's theme, they seemed to have decided, is how to turn each parsha into some violent reenactment that involves wrestling. The "better" parsha plays get practiced and reenacted for many weeks.  For some reason, the plays involve blankets, costumes, and pillows. And knives. and swords. and light sabres. and guns.

A sampling:
Noach - drowning in the mabul. Using blue blankets to smother everything.
Vayera - one son was tied down on a kids desk with a karate belt. The other kid was pretending to shecht him with a long bubble wand (which has "disappeared". Thank you very much). The angel, wearing pillows on his arms, flapped around a lot yelling avraHAM, avraHAM! (Excedrin....)
Chayei Sarah - Eliezer goes to find Rivka. His camels turns out to have neon green vampire teeth and proceed to eat everyone around.
Toldos. - Esav and Yaakov had a lot of sibling rivalry that needed a lot of wrestling to work out
Vayishlach - WWF Yaakov vs Esav mania! and from my 4 yr old: "Totty, will you be my Shimon- we need to kill out Shechem."
Vayeishev - of course Yosef being THROWN in a pit
I thought we were safe until Vayechi.

We basically were. The kids acted out the shevatim over and over again. Until, they decided that donkeys and lions are mortal enemies and . . . .

Recently, my kids have started asking "How does some random thing connect to the parsha" Fun, Fun, Fun.

After a few fun weeks of parsha sheets from school, parsha cake, parsha plays, and parsha connections, and even parsha pictures (from Torah Tidbits) one kid pipes up "I have an idea! How about we act out something from the parsha and you have to guess!" It was 10 o clock. Shabbos had started at 4:30. My husband and I looked at each other "Parsha Charades? Maybe we can do that ...tomorrow:)!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Parshas Vayigash/Vayechi - settling in Goshen

The town of Goshen - sheep and a yeshiva

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DHR chanuka contest

Monday, November 29, 2010

Parshas Vayeishev

This was made with the help of my boys and nephew. 

Yosef in the pit with snakes

Yosef's coat dipped in blood 

My niece in Passaic made her own

Monday, November 22, 2010

Presented 11/15/2010 - Handout from the Rebbitzen Esther Rosenblatt Yarchei Kallah for Rebbetzins

Parsha Cakes
Why  someone who never owned a mixer would start cake decorating. 

Why Parsha Cakes Work
Bloom’s Taxonomy - Developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom. There are six levels within the taxonomy that move from basic to high levels of thinking. Knowing, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, Creating.

Constructivism is a learning theory based on authentic and real-world situations. Students internalize and construct new knowledge based on past experiences. The constructivism theory is student-centered and encourages higher level processing skills to apply their working knowledge. [1]

Situated Learningdescribed by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger as a model of learning in a Community of practice. Situated learning is learning that takes place in the same context in which it is applied. Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989) argued that meaningful learning will only take place if it is embedded in the social and physical context within which it will be used.” [2]

Zone of Proximal Development  is the difference between what a child can do independently and what they can do with guidance from adults or peers.
Sociocultural historical theory – Based on Vygotsky’s theories of cultural mediation,Barbara Rogoff discusses how culture is transmitted. She discusses situated learning and how  cultural learning must be situated in real life activities and also be authentic. Children are “apprenticed” in the use of cultural tools through activity with skilled mentors. The degree to which they are able to advance with skilled assistance is referred to as the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).[3]

Critical characteristics of Situated Learning
The learning environments will:
·  Provide authentic context that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real-life;
·  Provide authentic activities;
·  Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes;
·  Provide multiple roles and perspectives;
·  Support collaborative construction of knowledge;
·  Provide coaching and scaffolding at critical times;
·  Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed;
·  Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit
·  Provide for integrated assessment of learning within the tasks. [4]

Making Parsha Cakes

Tools of the Trade

  • Fondant - wilton
  • Corn Syrup
  • Cake Spatula - flat, silicone, angled
  • Frosting in Cans - Wilton, Pillsbury, Duncan Hines
  • Food Coloring – Gels vs. Water base
  • Corn Starch
  • Crumb Coating
  • Cake Leveling
  • Pound Cake
  • Piping Gel
  • Candies, toppings

At the Shabbos Table

Using the Parsha Cake to teach the Parsha
Engaging different ages during the discussion
Prompting Higher Level Thinking Skills
Planning for Next Week


Parshas Bereishis

This cake was made in class  we added the decorations one day of creation at a time. We didn't add the grass until after Adam davened to Hashem

My nieces parsha cakes

I am so proud that my niece, who is only 12 years old, has started to make her own Parsha cakes.

Here are her creations.

Lech Lecha - Sara & Avraham descend to Mitzrayim
Vayera - Lot's wife

Chayei Sara - Yitzchak & Rivka getting married

Toldos - Yaakov & Eisav

Vayeitzei - a well with a stone on top

Vayishlach - Kever Rochel

Parshas Vayishlach

After a somewhat long hiatus from fancy parsha cakes, my kids had some ideas what they wanted and I helped them bring it to life.  In this week's Parsha, Yaakov is about to confront Esav, the brother he hasn't seen in 34 years. He sent him gifts to pacify him, davened to Hashem and prepared for war (that's a mortar with shells by his side - I know slightly anachronistic.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Parshas Vayishlach - 5771

Yaakov prepared three things to confront Esav - Bribes, Prayer and battle

Friday, August 6, 2010

Parshas reeh

כט  וְהָיָה, כִּי יְבִיאֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-אַתָּה בָא-שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ--וְנָתַתָּה אֶת-הַבְּרָכָה עַל-הַר גְּרִזִים, וְאֶת-הַקְּלָלָה עַל-הַר עֵיבָל.

29 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt set the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Parshas Ekev


כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מְבִיאֲךָ אֶל-אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה:  אֶרֶץ, נַחֲלֵי מָיִם--עֲיָנֹת וּתְהֹמֹת, יֹצְאִים בַּבִּקְעָה וּבָהָר.
ח  אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה, וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן; אֶרֶץ-זֵית שֶׁמֶן, וּדְבָשׁ

 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills;

 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey;

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Parshas Vaeschanan

Parshas Vaeschanan - lots of mussar, & mitzvos & 10 commandments. Chose one important mitzva - tefillin. 

As a woman, I never knew anything about tefillin except that they were black and cost a lot of money.

I have learned that the Tefillin of the Hand have a knot that looks like a yud on one side and a strap from the other. The Tefillin shel yad are made from one piece of leather

The Tefillin of the head is made from 4 sections of one piece of leather that are pressed into a square, has a shin on its side, and straps coming from both sides of the back.

The boxes are sewn with gid - sinew of a kosher animal - in a square. The corners cannot be rounded.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Parshas Devarim

In this week's parsha, bnei Yisrael capture the lands of Sichon & Og. The pasuk describes Og's bed as being 9 amos by 4 amos - There is a machlokes if this is by Og's amos or regular amos but Huge by any measure.

Parshios Matos-Maasei

 a map of Bnei Yisrael's travels through the desert. This map shows Egypt, Sinai Desert and the south of Israel

Friday, July 2, 2010

Parshas Pinchas

In this week's parsha,  the shevatim picked their portion in Eretz Yisrael by lots.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Going to Museums

So this isn't a post about parsha cakes. But it is a post about education. The best learning takes place when kids are interested and when they can touch, feel and experience what they learn.  Why waste valuable time describing something if you can see it and clear up any misconceptions?

For this reason, my husband and I like to shlep our kids to museums. There is so much you can learn in a short jaunt through a museum that they might not learn until 6th or 7th grade.

My friend wrote a post about the Corning Museum of Glass and her reservations about taking a rambunctious, high-spirited, freedom loving toddler to visit and walk around there. After all, it is a glass museum, and toddlers and museums don't mix - especially not those of the glass variety. That post got me thinking. My husband and I love museums. We have taken our boys to museums of all sorts since they were born. This past summer, we took all four boys on a four day adventure to Boston, Massachusetts. I have many gray hairs from these excursions as we herded my rowdy lot through cultural experiences encouraging them to be polite and mindful of others. Yet, somehow, these trips have turned my little daredevils into museum goers. There was a school fair and my 3 & 5 year old were going around looking at the exhibits like pros. What has worked for us that keeps us going back?  So in no particular order, my thoughts on how to make the experience memorable and positive.  

  1. Preparation - Sedatives and/or a gin tonic. If it is a hands-on museum take two. Definitely bring two adults. Explain to the kids what they might see and why it will be cool. Bring some snacks. Bring a stroller so you can move very, very quickly. (for the need for speed, see number 4).
  2. Minimize hands on museums (just kidding - well only a little) Hands on museums are harder than other kinds of museums. Kids get highly stimulated and want to touch everything. You need eyes in the back of your head, as invariably, all the kids will run in opposite directions. To prevent losing kids -which you will do - try to station each adult at one of the entrances to the exhibit. If you are lucky, the place will only have one entrance/exit so you can talk. If you are less lucky, it will have two, and each exit will have a bored adult stationed there. If there are more than two exits, don't stop or see number 1. 
  3. Running areas The best museums have large areas in which to run around. Forts are great as there are  the marching grounds and cannons to climb on at regular intervals. The walls of the fort are generally angled so for every 2 steps the adult takes, the child will take 15.The Museum of Natural History in NYC is also fantastic. They have a Blue Whale suspended from the ceiling there. That is the largest mammal on earth. That's a lot of room to run around underneath. A Boat Tour hasn't worked. Boats are small and children like to go next to the edge. It gets boring quickly and there is no place to go but into the water.
  4. Speed - Get on your sneakers - It's a museum marathon. Don't try to do more than one thing in a room. Keep moving quickly to the next thing. Do not read the signs posted next to the exhibits. Do not join a tour group. Do not stay in any one museum for too long.
  5. Plan Breaks - Stop for food, bathroom, and fun before being asked. Have a contest who can jump over the lines or find three green things in a minute. On long trips note the nearest playground on the map. Park half a mile from your destination so kids will be a little worn out by the time you get to where you are going.
  6. Floor Plan  Every child must have his own copy. This keeps them entertained. If they are bored, they can crumble the map and throw it. It also trains them that museums are laid out in a logical manner, and you can choose where you want to go based on a map.  You can share your goals because the floor plans will have pictures. "We will be stopping at each of these bathrooms" Also, this gives them a sense of ownership because they can participate in choosing what they want to see. A great place to get the kids used to using maps is at zoos, because they recognize the animal by picture and will choose the must sees.  you build up from there. After the day is over, they also have a cheap souvenier that reminds them of what  they have accomplished.
  7. Small rooms Look for contained areas that you can get in and out quickly. For example, the side rooms in the forts are small so they can only have one or two display cases. Nothing will be hands-on because the display cases hold guns, bullets, old uniforms and journals. We go into the room, tell them one interesting fact about what we see and leave. With a two year old, after they finish running around in circles, we may say - look that is the  notebook they wrote in. Who writes in notebooks? You do? Hurray for notebooks!" With a 7 year old, we may discuss journals and how they are used in their classroom. 
  8. Goals -  Make up a goal,so there is a purpose to the trip.The Corning Museum was great because it had a scavenger hunt for the kids. We found 8 items in a display of thousands and then left.
  9. Special - Sometimes we buy a bottle of soda to share. Sometimes we make something together. Doing something that is a treat makes the trip seem more magical.
  10. Interesting -  What interests your child? Talk to them on their level about those things. This trip is not for the adult. It is for the adult and child to share an experience together. Good bets are things to do with death, violence, competition, mechanics, or things they may have learned in nursery school - like shape, color or opposites. Not sure what girls would like. For example, we went to see the Mummies in Boston. The kids loved the Mummies because they were - well - mummies and the hyreoglyphics because we asked them to try to decipher them. They thought Egyptians liked to eat chicken nuggets because there were a lot of chickens on the mummies. When looking at Impressionist paintings we looked at the pictures from close and far, a concept they have honed in nursery. And that was all we saw. in a half hour. Then we left.
  11. Share - Share those things you find interesting on their level. Say it briefly, but this conversation gives them a sense of what they should be doing. For example, "wow, I think that is interesting. Did you know that the Colonists had to pay a lot of money for tea?" Or "I like that sculpture. It has curvy lines. It looks like it is moving." Soon enough, your kids will be offering "Look Mommy a big glass apple!" and then "I like that piece, it has my favorite colors." And then "Mommy, why are there two different kinds of uniforms next to each other?"
  12. Check for handicap accessibility - Our one nightmare museum experience was in a place that was built last century and retrofitted to be a museum. There were steps and Million Dollar 18th century Venetian chairs strewn about so also look for 
  13. Valuable in display cases - Most modern museums are concerned about crime and protecting their valuables. Avoid gift shops and places that don't have cordoned off areas. Last but not least.  
  14. Taxidermy is great - Kids love animals, and stuffed animals don't move. You can see a lot in a short amount of time. The animals are generally organized by geographic region and will have beautiful painted backdrops. You can let your imagination run wild or just talk about what you see. It is a great way to get kids to start to talk about what they see and are learning. The taxidermy is often behind glass, you don't need to whisper and your kids can run around in front of the exhibits. 
Do you have any tips about museum going? I would love to hear.