Family Fun Roundup

Family Fun Roundup Autumn webpage bannerFederation’s Family Fun Roundup

This series highlights ideas to get you through a time like no other. It is a true paradox that there is both “nothing to do” and too much out there to sort through. We are here to help!

Family Fun Roundup #15: Falling for Autumn (October 2021)

It’s a great month for getting outside and celebrating the change in season!

1) Walk and Talk: Take advantage of the cooler weather and get outside with your kids. Notice changes that are happening in nature, from the leaves to what time the sun goes down. For younger kids, point them out and narrate it. For older kids, each of you should share what you’re seeing. Bonus: it can be a great opportunity for deeper conversations about school, home, or any other topic with your kids since there aren’t other distractions.

2) Make and Bake: Our new fall family tradition is to make these Apple Cider Donut Muffins that evoke a trip to the pumpkin patch and can be made by or with your children. We have also discovered Chocolate Chunk Marshmallow Cookies, which made each of us ask the question, “why didn’t we think of this before?” Bonus: these options are great to share with friends and neighbors!

3) Listen and Learn: From Jewish artists to songs about gratitude to new family storytelling podcasts, PJ Library Listen is a great companion for long car rides to the orchard or to visit family.

4) Care and Share: Want to set an example for your children while helping a good cause? Volunteer as a family! There are many options that can be done at home or in the community. And if you need assistance, please reach out to our 703-J-CARING warm line.

5) S’mores and More: Need more ideas? The Beltway Bambinos Fall Bucket List has even more local family-friendly ideas!

Family Fun Roundup #14: Sukkot Edition (September 2021)

Sukkot (soo-COAT, a harvest festival whose name means “small huts”) starts on Monday, and we are kicking off our celebration with a veritable cornucopia of events and ideas!

1) Celebrate Sukkot or Simchat Torah (“rejoicing in the Torah”) as a Community
We have some amazing events that celebrate the season through learning and hands-on activities!

Young Families Pre-Sukkot Play Date: Sunday, September 19th | 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM (VA)

Sukkah City x DC Community Day : Sunday, September 19th | 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM (DC)

Sukkah Hop with the Pozez JCC: Monday, September 20th – Monday, September 27th (VA)

Sukkot/Simchat Torah – Family Learning and Celebration with Machar: Sunday, September 26th | 11:00 AM (DC)

Pick with PJ: Sunday, September 26th | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (VA and MD)

2) Download PJ Library’s Family Guide for Sukkot and Simchat Torah
PJ Library has created a book that will guide you through how to shake the lulav (a bundle specific plants) and the etrog (a citron-type fruit) of in the sukkah (the temporary hut built for the holiday), what the blessings are, how to celebrate Simchat Torah, and more!

3) Have a Joyful Sukkot—Even If You Can’t Have a Sukkah

4) Get Pin-spired with Even More Ideas
We are curating ideas for sukkah decoration, Simchat Torah snacks, book lists, and more on our holiday Pinterest board!

If you’d like more ideas, please be in touch—we are here to help you have a meaningful and joyous Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.


Family Fun Roundup #13: Celebrate the Jewish Fall Holidays (August 2021)

It’s time for a fresh start and a new year! As we begin the new school year and the unofficial end of summer, we also welcome the Jewish year 5782 on Monday, September 6th at sundown. We will turn the page on the calendar and turn inward to reflect on ourselves, while sharing the experience as a community.

Our holidays are rich with many wonderful traditions, and our community continues to creatively adapt them to help families celebrate safely, meaningfully, and joyfully.

1)Family-Friendly Holiday Programs: Find a scavenger hunt, celebration, apple picking, or a religious service that’s perfect with kids. Check it out!

2) A Time to Grow: A PJ Library Family Guide to the Fall Holidays: This beautiful new PJ Library guide explores ways for your family to celebrate the Jewish fall holidays at home.

3) Holiday Ideas: Find ideas for crafts, books, music, and more.

4) A Very Israeli Rosh HashanahCook with Federation for Rosh Hashanah on Wednesday, September 1st at 8PM ET with James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Michael Solomonov, and New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author, Adeena Sussman! They’ll demonstrate how to cook the perfect Rosh Hashanah meal, just in time for the holiday—and we’ll share the recipes too!

5) Rosh Hashanah Recipes: Apples, honey, and round challah are just the beginning: There are many other symbolic foods for Rosh Hashanah! Find a recipe for your family.

Family Fun Roundup #12: Sharing the Love This Summer (July 2021)

This July is filled with love and sweetness, with Tu B’Av (the Jewish holiday of love), the Sweet Summer Series, and the Summer Olympics. We’ve got the scoop on summer fun!

1) Share the Love: Tu B’Av (the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av) is celebrated as the Jewish holiday of love; this year it starts on Friday, July 23rd at sundown. You can celebrate it at home by making cards for family members and friends, making a sweet treat, or instituting a “yes day” for the family. It occurs six days after Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning—an interesting juxtaposition explored in this blog post: Mourning and Loving in the Same Month.

2) Share the Sweetness: Join PJ Library and our partners for playtime and popsicles at your local playground! Check the Sweet Summer Series schedule for a playdate near you. Invite your child’s “grandfriends” to join them to make ice cream for our virtual offering on Monday, August 2nd.

3) Share the Spirit: The Summer Olympics start Friday, July 23rd and go through Sunday, August 8th. Root for your favorite athletes with these Olympics-themed craft, game, and food ideas on our Pinterest board. If your kids get inspired, there’s a ton of ideas for active play, too!

4) Share the Music: Sing and dance with the JFamily Ambassadors and PJ Library at the amazing Joanie Leeds concert on Tuesday, July 27th at 11:00 AM! Meet up with other families after the show. Buy tickets from Wolf Trap and use code PJJCC to receive $5 off orchestra seats.

You can always keep up with the latest PJ Library co-sponsored programs on the Jconnect calendar or Facebook.

Family Fun Roundup #11: Summer Fun Edition (June 2021)

As the school year winds down this month—and it’s hard to believe it’s only been 10 months since September—we have cool ideas for a hot time in the city!

1) Getting Ready for Summer: PJ Library has great tips for making the most of the season.

2) How Sweet It Is: Join PJ Library and our partners for playtime and popsicles at your local playground! Check the Sweet Summer Series schedule for one near you! Not ready for gathering outside yet? We will also have an online option!

3) The Truck Stops Here: All those online order delivery boxes can be recycled…or they can be repurposed into vehicles that can help your child’s imagination go on a journey! Sign up for the J Pop-Ups Truck Day Challenge to create your own vehicle out of recycled and found objects. Then submit a picture of your vehicle to be eligible for a prize drawing.

4) Ice Cream, You Scream: Beltway Bambinos has rounded up the best-of-the-best ice cream shops in our area. Which have you tried? Which would you add to the list?

5) Jewish Parenting 101: We are delighted to share an essay from local PJ Library parent and author, Marion Haberman, from her new book, Expecting Jewish.

Don’t forget that our #MitzvahMonday posts go live on Facebook each week—the Jewish values and social action ideas can take you through the whole summer. Get the archive on Jconnect.

Family Fun Roundup #10: Celebrating Shavuot (May 2021)

On Shavuot (the “Feast of Weeks”), we celebrate the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and the first fruits of the late spring harvest. It is a holiday about food, setting up rules to live by, and reading—it is perfect for celebrating with kids! We do this with dairy foods, all-night reading sessions, family hikes, and wearing flower crowns. For this month’s Family Fun Roundup, we have easy, local ideas for celebrating the holiday with your family.

Here are some Shavuot traditions and ways you can make them your own:

Yom Habikkurim (Festival of the First Fruits): Another name for Shavuot speaks to it being a harvest holiday where Jews would bring the first fruits of the harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem. Celebrate our local harvest with one of these pick-your-own farms that have strawberries, flowers, and fresh produce.

Chag ha-Katzir (Harvest Festival of Reaping): Wheat was one of the items harvested and brought to the Temple. You can celebrate this by buying or making challah with your children. Shannon Sarna, author of Modern Jewish Baker, has some challah hacks for busy parents. Pair the challah with butter in a jar, to combine the wheat with dairy.

Receiving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai: Moses received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Make your own set of ten family rules with input from each member of your household. You can also make Mount Sinai crafts to help your children remember the history of the holiday.

Flower Crowns: Legend has it that when Moses received the Torah, the barren hills of Mount Sinai burst into bloom. Celebrate with picking flowers, making paper flowers, and making flower crowns.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot (the practice of studying Torah all night long):  Reading Torah, especially the Book of Ruth, all night is one way to celebrate. Have an “all-nighter” by letting your kids stay up late reading, with no need to hide with a book and flashlight under the covers! Find a PJ Library book about Shavuot to add to the stack.

Eating Dairy Foods: There are many reasons given for eating dairy foods on Shavuot, but your kids probably do not need the excuse. Try an ice cream sundae bar to go with your reading all-nighter, or make some of these cool treats (dairy and dairy-free options). Kids love shaking up butter in a jar, too (and it goes great with the challah)!

Take a Hike: Emulate the Israelites and take a hike outside. Check out these kid-friendly local destinations.

Learn more about Shavuot on the PJ Library Holiday Hub.

Want to share this holiday with grandparents? Get ideas for socially-distanced or long-distance celebrations on our PJ Grandparents Shavuot Resource page!

Family Fun Roundup #9: Celebrating Spring (April 2021)

Not sure there is any place that does spring better than our area—the blooms and feelings of renewal are everywhere! Here are some ideas to help you plan for some spring family fun (allergy meds not included).

1) Count the Omer with Us: Each year, Jews count the 49 days (7 weeks) between Passover and Shavuot (which means “weeks,” and it starts on Sunday, May 16th this year). We are counting toward a celebration of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai after escaping Egypt. Each day, our community is posting a number to keep count. So far, families have created numbers out of shoes, spoons, pasta, and macaroons. Claim your own number and create it with your family to share!

2) Lag B’Omer (33rd Day of the Omer): In the middle of the Omer, the 33rd day is celebrated with bonfires, outdoor hikes, and more. Celebrate Lag B’Omer at home on Thursday, April 29th with these ideas, including five s’mores recipes and a make-at-home Omer counter.

3) Spring Bucket List: Beltway Bambinos has updated their seasonal bucket list with new ideas for this year. Want to bloom and glow? Check out their list.

4) Ode to Spring: The cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin were a gift from Japan. A haiku, or hokku, is a traditional Japanese three-line poem that follows a 5-7-5 syllable structure. Why not encourage your family to write one as an ode to your favorite parts of this season? You can also illustrate it with photos or drawings. We would love to see your family’s creativity!

Roundup #8: Celebrating Passover (March 2021)

For thousands of years, we have honored the traditions of the seder (the Passover ritual meal), telling the story, and passing it on to the next generation. This year, despite all the challenges, we will do the same. Celebrating Passover is a way of standing up (or reclining on cushions as we do during the seder) and saying, “Hineni, I am [still] here.”

To help you with your Passover preparations and traditions, we’ve rounded up some great programs, resources, and tips!

Join a Family-Friendly Passover Event
From author events to cooking classes, from grandparent programs to movie nights, there’s something for everyone on our list of Passover celebrations.

Learn from the Past
Check out the lessons learned from the previous year that can apply to our second “Pandemic Passover” and other holiday celebrations in this month’s issue of Washington Parent.

Share Passover Stories

Cook Together
Kids can help make charoset (the ceremonial food eaten at the seder made from sweet fruit), matzah balls, mina (Sephardic pie), and other recipes, even from a young age. Find a new family favorite on Federation’s Jewish Food Experience.

Visit the PJ Library Passover Holiday Hub
Find the PJ Library Haggadah in multiple languages, book lists, games, lunch tips, preparation ideas (including a pre-seder checklist!), and more!

Check Out Our Passover Ideas Pinterest Board
Need more reading, recipe, or wardrobe ideas? Look on our Pinterest page!

Passover begins at sundown on Saturday, March 27.

Roundup #7: Celebrating Purim (February 2021)

I recently posited that we’ve done nothing BUT celebrate Purim since the pandemic started (read why on our “Here’s the Story” blog). If you want to celebrate Purim for real this year, we have a whole lot of options to wear your masks, eat some hamantaschen, and party with your family.

Join a Family-Friendly Purim Event
Grab your mask and join a virtual or socially-distant outdoor Purim celebration, or order a BimBam kit to celebrate at home. Want the experience of a carnival of Purim games at home? Check out our community-wide Purim Carnivirtual on Sunday, February 21 at 4:30 PM. (Early bird discount ends Tuesday!)

Share Purim Stories

Make Hamantaschen
These triangular filled cookies are a Purim staple. You can buy them at a local bakery or make your own at home with this easy recipe.

Get Your Costume On
It’s said that we dress up on Purim because God’s role in the story is masked, or because Esther initially hid her identity as a Jew. Have fun by dressing up as a character from the Purim story, as a hero, or as a favorite storybook character. Here are some ideas that won’t take long to throw together!

Participate in Matanot L’evyonim (Gifts to Those in Need)
Giving to help those experiencing poverty is a mitzvah (good deed) during Purim and year-round. If you’d like to contribute time, talent, or treasure, check out great ideas for doing good on Federation’s Jconnect.

Visit the PJ Library Purim Holiday Hub
Find recipes, costume ideas, book lists, and more.

Check Out Our Purim Ideas Pinterest Board
Need more reading, recipe, or wardrobe ideas? Look on our Pinterest page!

Purim begins at sundown on Thursday, February 25.


Roundup #6: Pajamuary, MLK, and the Trees’ Birthday (January 2021)

1) Honor the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King: This week, you can teach your kids to follow Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s example with these books and hands-on activities.

2) Celebrate the Birthday of the Trees: Tu B’Shevat is a holiday that marks the season when trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep to begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. It begins on Wednesday, January 27 at sundown. Find at-home ideas, recipes, and books on the PJ Library Holiday Hub, and join us for one of these programs:

  • Tu B’Shevat Grandfriend program, Tuesday, January 26, 4:30 PM
    PJ Library kids and their “grandfriends” can join us for a multi-generational event to share stories, create a watercolor collage artwork, and celebrate togetherness. Register by January 19 to receive free art materials for the program. (Best for ages 3-7)
  • PJ Our Way Tu B’Shevat Seder, Wednesday, January 27, 5:15 PM
    Join PJOW and Capital Camps for a mini-seder and to play games and celebrate the birthday of the trees together. (Best for ages 8-11)

3) Celebrate “Pajamuary”: We declare January to be “Pajamuary!” Find a local place to donate pajamas, and then join us for a weekend full of activities. (Best for ages 1-6):

4) Engage, Educate & Elevate: Tips for Engaging Kids During the Pandemic: Join Federation and local early childhood education experts, Ora Cohen Rosenfeld and Miryam Buchler, on Tuesday, February 9, 7:30 PM, for an engaging seminar about creating a positive learning environment for your preschooler during these challenging times. Bring your questions, learn about local preschool, and connect with other preschool families.

5) Let It Snow: In case you need it, bookmark our Snow Day Activities Pinterest board. Our favorite ideas include hot chocolate bombs, LEGO prompts, indoor games, and snow art!

Roundup #5: Sharing Stories & Celebrating Seasons (November 2020)

1) Gratitude and Giving: Over the next two months, our programs and resources will have a meaningful theme of Hakarat HaTov (recognizing the good), providing avenues and education to focus on how to share gratitude and give back. Check out our blog post and our resource page, and consider one of these upcoming options:

2) Tips for Staying Active: With the daylight hours becoming shorter and the weather turning colder, many families are worried about getting enough time for active play outside. Kids are resilient—with the right clothing and the right attitude, you can still enjoy outdoor family time. Here are some ideas and tips:

  • Layer up—wearing thin layers helps keep your family members warm and can be taken off as the body warms up during outdoor activity. Gloves and hats help a lot. (Here’s how not to lose the gloves!)
    • BONUS IDEA: If you have winter clothing that your child has outgrown or have a need for winter clothing for your child, consider connecting to Yad Yehuda’s Clothing Exchange.
  • Go for a nighttime walk, with a flashlight, glowsticks, or a homemade lantern.
  • Go “plogging” (where you pick up trash with gloves while you walk or jog).
  • Take a camera on your daytime walk. Document the change in seasons through your child’s eyes and your camera lens.
  • And when the weather just won’t permit getting outside, check out these ideas from the Washington Post for indoor activities to keep kids active.

3) Make Thanksgiving Sweeter: Federation Partner Sunflower Bakery is a local non-profit that provides job training and employment in pastry arts, production baking, barista service, and front of house operations for individuals with learning differences. Their delicious holiday baked goods are now available to order. Buy your desserts for Thanksgiving while doing a mitzvah (good deed)!

4) Find a Delightful Chanukah Option: Chanukah begins the evening of Thursday, December 10. We are rounding up fun events and resources here.

Roundup #4: Sharing Stories & Celebrating Seasons (October 2020)

1) Read Stories with Grandparents: Caribu (which was created by a PJ Library parent) lets families have a video call with children’s books and activities shared on screen.  It’s a great way to have extended family share stories and stay connected. The app’s library has now expanded to include a selection of PJ Library books! Note: the free Caribu subscription includes access to 15 books, games, or activities per month

2) Hear from Two Fabled Actresses: Natalie Portman and Eva Longoria will discuss Portman’s new book, a retelling of three classic fables, and her “belief in the power of storytelling to change minds.” Join this Sixth & I virtual event on Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 PM. Register in advance. (For adults)

3) Find a Weekly Program: Join the JCCs for one of their weekly virtual gatherings.

4) Taste the Season: In addition to the apple cider donut muffins we’ve been making, this pumpkin challah recipe is the perfect way to celebrate the season on Shabbat.

5) Bring the Beauty of Fall Indoors: While on a family walk, collect the colorful leaves that have fallen to make leaf rubbings, pressed leaves or these luminous leaf lanterns.  Get more ideas for your family walk in this PJ Library blog post, “Children and the Leaves of Autumn.”

6) Bring the Torah to Life: This week’s Torah portion is about Bereishit (“Creation”). You can honor the Jewish value of Shomrei Adamah (“partners in Creation”) by making a family commitment to caring for the earth. This could be adding more to recycling; taking a bag and gloves on a family walk to pick up trash; making reminder signs to turn off the lights and water when not in use; or other ideas you come up with as a family.

Another Torah connection: we will soon re-read the story of Noah’s Ark. Bring it to life with a trip to the National Zoo, which has timed tickets available for visitors, or one of these local farm festivals, which have animals to view, pet, or feed.

P.S. Feeling overwhelmed? Unsure about your options for support? Call 703-J-CARING: The Jewish Community Support Line (703-522-7464), to be connected with the many resources available to residents of DC, MD, and Northern VA. A partnership between The Jewish Federation and JSSA, 703-J-CARING is accessible Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM-6:00 PM, and all calls are confidential. Everyone deserves care. Your Jewish community is here for you.

Roundup #3: Get Clean and Crafty (September 2020)

1) Get a Clean Slate: The Jewish Days of Awe start with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur (“day of atonement”), which begins tonight at sundown. We wish you all g’mar chatima tovah (“a good final sealing.”) Yom Kippur is a day of prayer and introspection to have a fresh start for a new year. Find a Yom Kippur

2) Celebrate Sukkot: Sukkot (“feast of booths”) is a harvest holiday that begins on Friday at sundown. During this holiday, we commemorate God’s sheltering our ancestors as they traveled to the Promised Land by building a sukkah (temporary hut that is open to the stars) as our “home-away-from-home.” You can also do a virtual tour of sukkot from around the world or build a virtual sukkah with this app, Celebrate the harvest by picking apples or pumpkins and join one of these Sukkot events, including our Sukkot Grandfriend cooking program on Tuesday, October 6.

3) Fall for Autumn: There are outdoor adventures to welcome the new season, from hikes to pumpkin picking. We love the Beltway Bambinos Fall Bucket List, with ideas for safe, seasonal fun.

4) Get Crafty: You can make stamped cards for any occasion using household items and some paint. We are also gushing over these adorable beaded pumpkins and corn projects that you can use to decorate your home or your sukkah. (Best for ages 3 and up)

Find even more ideas on our Sukkot and Simchat Torah Pinterest board

Shanah Tovah U’Metukah (“have a good and sweet year”)

P.S. Feeling overwhelmed? Unsure about your options for support? Call 703-J-CARING: The Jewish Community Support Line (703-522-7464), to be connected with the many resources available to residents of DC, MD, and Northern VA. A partnership between The Jewish Federation and JSSA, 703-J-CARING is accessible Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM-6:00 PM, and all calls are confidential. Everyone deserves care. Your Jewish community is here for you.

Roundup #2: Ideas to Get Through a Summer Like No Other (August 2020)

1) Make a Difference: Want to do a mitzvah (“good deed”) to help others facing hunger? Check out Federation’s Social Action Toolkit for families for a quick guide to addressing food insecurity in our area with a hands-on project.

Follow up with learning and doing the Jewish value of tikkun olam (the Jewish value of repairing the world) with these great resources (best for ages 4-12):

2) Walk and Click: Bring a camera on a family walk. Have your children take pictures of flowers or other things that look beautiful to them. Done monthly, your child can develop an appreciation for how the environment changes with the seasons. It is also fascinating to see how each person sees the same world with different eyes. Consider using the photos to make gifts such as notepads, framed prints, collages, and more. (best for ages 3–12)

3) Share PJ Story Time Videos: Get a library refresh or take a break from reading by sharing these book videos with your child. And if you liked the High Holiday-themed book you received this month, find more like it. (best for ages 0–8)

4) Create the Museum of You: The Capital Jewish Museum will guide you on a weekly journey to curate your own collection that tells your story. Watch the videos (posted weekly on Wednesdays) and view the resources to create your own museum at home! (best for ages 3–12)

5) Let Your Imagination Take Flight: The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum has videos, activities (including piloting an aircraft!), and inspiration on several science topics (Grades K-12)

Don’t forget about our last week of the Summer Sweetness events or the Summer at Home Family Fun Guide for more things to do as a family.

And to get your family ready for the High Holidays, Federation will have a month of ideas for reflection and introspection.  Follow us on Facebook to see everything for the Hebrew month of Elul.

Roundup #1: Welcome (July 2020)

1) Check out our Summer at Home Family Fun Guide for ideas and the Jewish values that inspire them.

2) Join Us for Some Summer Sweetness: We have taken the Sweet Summer Series online and focusing on the values of kindness, gratitude, and friendship. Join us with our partners on a weekday evening; find the schedule online. (Best for ages 3–7)

3) Walk with Purpose: Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt for five things you have not seen since last summer. Or find one thing for each of the five senses (touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing). (Good for all ages)

4) Find a Local Jewish Summer Camp: Connect with virtual and outdoor options for your child (camps ages vary, from preschool–middle school). Also check out “5 Things to Consider If You’re Signing Up for Zoom Camp” on Kveller.

5) Make a Refreshing Treat: Try these key lime pie popsicles or one of these cool recipes on PJ Library. Yum! (good for all ages)