Besamim (spice) bags for Tu b’Shevat (activity for kids)

Objective: The children will learn about Tu b’Shevat, have the opportunity to explore their sense of smell, and create spice bags which can be used for Havdallah or for a Tu b’Shevat Seder.  (Wondering where the spices fit into the seder?  See How to Run a Successful Tu b’Shevat Seder.)
 
Materials (one bag for each person)

  • 3×4” Ivory-colored, iridescent, mesh, with ribbon pull-string, Wedding favor bags (12/pkg) (can find these at craft stores)
  • Iridescent fabric paints (a multiple-colored set or multiple-colored singles)
  • Cardboard pieces (1 per bag) cut out from facial tissue boxes (sizes of cardboard pieces should be slightly smaller than the dimensions of the favor bag, so that they can easily slip into bags to protect the front and the back of the bags from the fabric paint going through to the other side of the bag.
  • Bowls for holding spice and other project materials (I saved my mushroom containers)
  • Small size disposable Kiddush cups
  • 2 x 3 ¾ -inch “Bagettes” or reclosable plastic storage bags from craft store to hold relatively small amount of spices while the fabric paint is drying
  • Felt tip markers
  • Children’s smocks and adult aprons
  • Disposable plastic tablecloth cover (can alternatively use a garbage bag cut open)

 
For Spices

  • Different flavored whole bean coffee roasts (separate into bowls according to flavors)
  • Dried mint leaves
  • Herbal teas, but they are not as aromatic as the coffee beans
  • Whole cloves
  • Cinnamon sticks hammered into smallish pieces (not powdered)

 
Methods

  • Cover table with plastic sheet or tablecloth cover
  • If the cardboard from the tissue box has a design, you can suggest that the user could follow those contours, but only a suggestion
  • Use fabric paint only below the pull ribbon
  • Fabric paint should be used as dots, because when lines are painted, for some reason the paint goes right through the mesh.  (Suggestion:  make some samples of dot patterns on some extra cardboard to give people an idea what they could try.  Or they can try to make their own prototype using markers to make dots on the cardboard, before they use their fabric paint)
  • While the fabric pain is drying, have users pick up a small amount of each spice they may be interested in and put each one into small plastic Kiddush cup.  Have them arrange the cups in a way that they can smell the combinations of spices together.  They can experiment smelling to see which combination they like the best.  Whatever they reject, have users put back into the bowls from which they were taken.
  • Once they select their combination of spices, they can use the “bagettes” to temporarily hold their spices, until the paint is dried.

 
Thanks so much to Beth Singer for creating this program.

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