Each Sukkot when my children were young, we built a small plywood sukkah with a roof made from the branches we collected from the woods surrounding our home. Each fall I would prepare the plywood walls by painting them white, and then when my girls selected the year’s sukkah “theme,” they would paint the walls with their own designs. My kids loved this project because it was the only time they were allowed to paint on the walls! I must say that although I often cringed at their choice of theme—there was the year of Pocahontas, the year of the Power Rangers and even the year of the Spice Girls—I loved the tradition and appreciated how the murals held up through wind and rain during the weeklong holiday.

As my daughters grew, so did our sukkah. We eventually tried the PVC-pipe method, but the wind got caught in the tarp walls and the sukkah flew over the fence and into the pool. Now that we’re a blended family with five children ages 13, 15, 17, 23 and 25, we use a sukkah kit ordered online. (There’s nothing better than an easy-to-assemble sukkah!) Over the past few years our sukkah has taken on a Martha Stewart look; we decorate with bales of hay, large potted mums and pumpkins of all sizes. And although our sukkah now sports a portable heater to keep us warm on cool fall nights, I must admit I sometimes miss our semi-tacky little wooden sukkah with its theme walls.

This year I’m looking forward to enjoying the best of both worlds: a beautifully decorated sukkah in my backyard and a toddler-inspired sukkah decorated by the inaugural class of Gan Aliyah Preschool, the brand-new school at Temple Aliyah in Needham, where I work as the education director. Here are two Sukkot-inspired craft projects I plan to try with the kids this year. They may not hold up through wind and rain, but I’m sure your kids will have fun putting their own marks on the holiday!

Glittery Gourds

You’ll need:

  • Newspaper to protect your work surface
  • Smock to protect your child’s clothing
  • A selection of small gourds with sturdy stems (these can be found at farmers markets and grocery stores)
  • Non-toxic white glue, like Elmer’s Glue
  • Small foam paintbrushes
  • An assortment of glitter in small shakable containers
  • Ribbon
  • Narrow-width colored duct tape

Instructions:

Cover your work surface with a few layers of newspaper and outfit your child in a sturdy smock. Pour glue into a shallow container, like an empty egg carton. Have your child select a gourd and use a foam brush to cover the gourd entirely with a thick coat of glue. Immediately shake the glitter containers over the surface of the gourd until fully coated. Repeat the process for as many gourds as you’d like. Let dry completely. To hang the gourds in your sukkah or home, attach ribbon to the stems using colored duct tape.

Apple and Pomegranate Prints

You’ll need:

  • Newspaper to protect your work surface
  • Smock to protect your child’s clothing
  • Two small apples, cut in half across their width
  • Two small pomegranates, cut in half across their width
  • Plastic plates with rims
  • Red, yellow and green tempera paint
  • White foam paper
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon

Instructions:

Cover your work surface with a few layers of newspaper and outfit your child in a sturdy smock. Pour a generous amount of each paint color onto a plate. Have your child dip the flat side of the apple or pomegranate into the paint and press it onto the foam paper. Repeat the process until the paper is covered in prints. Let dry completely. Punch two holes at the top of the paper and run ribbon through them to hang in your sukkah or home.

Jennifer Rudin joined Temple Aliyah as director of education in July 2011. She directs Mercaz Aliyah, Temple Aliyah’s K-7 religious education program, and is also the founding director of Temple Aliyah’s new Gan Aliyah Preschool, a half-day Jewish preschool that opened in September.