Chanukah: Crafting Jewish

May 8, 2009

8 min read


Fun Chanukah craft ideas for the whole family.

Excerpted from Crafting Jewish, Artscroll Publications.

Crafting Jewish appeals to all ages and all levels of crafting experience. Projects range from simple crafts that need only a bit of glue and a few buttons, that even a four-year-old can do, to more challenging projects for older or more experienced crafters. Rivky Koenig has designed these crafts for our busy, time-conscious world, and most can be finished in less an hour. Crafting Jewish also includes ideas for holiday get-togethers, with fun-to-make recipes for delicious holiday treats.

In today's uncertain economy, crafts can be a terrific way to keep our children busy and amused, without having to send them to expensive getaways and activities. Even more important than the dollars-and-cents savings, though, is the wonderful, warm feeling of accomplishment that we -- and our children -- enjoy, as we create homemade, handmade traditions.

Try some of these Chanukah crafts with your children!

Glowing Glass Menorah

Here's an interesting oil menorah for you to craft, made from items you'll find right in your kitchen. This project is a cool science experiment -- watch how the oil floats on top of the water, because oil is lighter than water and therefore the two don't mix.

Note: For safety reasons, be sure that an adult is present in the room while the flames are burning.

What you will need:

  • long, narrow tray
  • 8 low glass candleholders or clean glass baby food jars or shot glasses
  • 1 slightly taller glass candleholder or glass jar
  • Glue Dots ®
  • liquid measuring cup or pitcher
  • liquid food coloring
  • olive oil
  • floating wicks
  • glass marbles, optional

How to do it:

1. Set up the tray in the place where you will be lighting your menorah, because it will be difficult to move once all the candleholders are filled with liquid.

2. Attach a Glue Dot to the bottom of each glass. Line up the candleholders on the tray, with the larger candleholder at one end, pressing down to adhere glasses to tray.

3. Fill a measuring cup or pitcher with water. Pour the water carefully into each cup, filling it half-way. Add 1–2 drops food coloring to each cup.

4. Pour approximately 1/2" olive oil into each cup. Let the oil settle on top of the water; then place a floating wick in each cup.

Optional: Before filling the candleholders, cover the tray surface with glass marbles.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Clay Dreidel Charm Jewelry or Keychain

You can craft a clay dreidel, just like the one in the song. Although it may not spin very well, it will certainly look great dangling from a necklace or keychain.

What you will need:

  • oven bake clay (we used Sculpey) in the colors of your choice
  • skewer or large sewing needle
  • disposable baking sheet
  • beading elastic
  • keychain ring, optional
  • jump rings, optional
  • needlenose pliers, optional

How to do it:

1. Roll a walnut-sized piece of clay in your hands until it softens.

2. Roll the clay into a ball. Press lightly into the ball to flatten it. Turn over and press the other two sides gently to form a box shape.

3. To form the dreidel's point, pull downward on two edges of the box-shaped clay until they meet. Turn the box and pull down the other two edges until they meet and form a point.

4. To form the dreidel's handle, pull upward on the box-shaped clay. Use your fingers to round the top point into a handle.

5. Roll a piece of different-colored clay into a thin rope. Wrap part of the rope around the base of the dreidel's handle. With the rest, form the letters a ,v ,d ,b. Place one letter gently on each side.

6. Using the skewer or needle, poke a hole through the handle's top.

7. For beads, roll pieces of clay into pea-sized balls, swirling two or more colors together. Or, roll clay into 1/2"-wide logs; slice into flat beads. Poke holes through beads with the skewer or needle.

8. Preheat oven to 250°F. Place the dreidel and beads onto the baking sheet and bake, following manufacturer's instructions. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the jewelry: Thread the beads and charm through a piece of elastic 3" longer than wrist measurement. Tie the elastic in a double knot. Trim the edges.

For the keychain: Thread a 6"-8" piece of elastic through the charm and tie a double knot in one end. String beads and charm onto the elastic. Double-knot the remaining end around the keychain ring and trim the ends, threading any extra elastic back into the nearest bead.

Optional: Before baking charm, open a jump ring with pliers and thread the jump ring through the hole in the charm's handle. After charm cools, thread it onto the elastic through the jump ring.

Estimated time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes, or according to manufacturer's instructions
Cooling time: 20 minutes

Wooden Block Menorah

With just a handful of wooden blocks, a rectangular piece of wood and two wooden knobs, you can craft an original Chanukah menorah. Personalize your creation with paint, lettering, patterned paper, and pictures. Since the menorahs are crafted of flammable materials, for safety reasons be sure that an adult is present in the room while the candles are burning, or use only as decorations.

What you will need:

  • 10 (11/2") or 9 (11/2") and 1 (13/4") wooden blocks
  • rectangular piece of wood (approx. 16"x2"x1/4")long enough to hold 9 of the blocks in a straight row
  • 2 (1") wooden knobs
  • extra-strong craft glue
  • acrylic paint in assorted colors
  • 1/2"-1"-wide paintbrushes
  • nine pennies
  • nine metal nuts or washers
  • craft glue or decoupage medium, such as Mod Podge

How to do it:

1. Use your paintbrushes and acrylic paint to paint all the wooden pieces the colors of your choice. (One side of each wooden block does not need to be painted, as it will be glued to the base.) Let dry completely.

2. Glue the two wooden knobs to the bottom of the rectangular piece of wood, 2 inches in from either end. Let dry.

3. Glue on the blocks:

Option 1: For a centered shamash, evenly space 9 (11/2") blocks on the base and glue them on. Glue the 10th block on top of the middle block; or use the 13/4" block as the center block.

Option 2: For a menorah with the shamash at one end, glue 9 (11/2") blocks, evenly spaced, to the base. To make the shamash, either glue 2 blocks (11/2") one on top of the other or use the 13/4" block, placed at either end of the base (see photo).

4. Glue a penny to the center of each block. Glue a nut to fit on top of the penny.

Estimated time: 45 minutes
Drying time: 1 – 2 hours

Picture menorah: After completing step 2, use a 11/2" square craft punch to punch out squares from photos and patterned scrapbook paper. (If you don't have a square craft punch you can cut the squares using scissors or a paper cutter. Measure correctly and outline the block on the back of the paper in pencil before cutting.)

Glue the photo or paper squares to the front of the blocks with a thin layer of decoupage medium, such as Mod Podge or craft glue that has been thinned with a little bit of water. Smooth out any air bubbles with your fingers. Let dry for 20–30 minutes. Coat the paper squares with another layer of Mod Podge or thinned glue. Let dry and continue to step 3 to assemble the menorah.

Personalized menorah: After completing step 2 and the menorah has dried, glue chipboard or wooden letters onto the front of each block (or stick on alphabet stickers.) Decorate the blocks and menorah base with glitter and/or embellishments. Continue to step 3 to assemble the menorah.

Dreidel-Stamped Gift Wrap and Card

Wrap your Chanukah presents in your custom-made gift wrap, add a matching card, and send a gift to someone you love.

What you will need:

  • permanent marker
  • 3 flat expandable sponges
  • dreidel-shaped cookie cutters, optional
  • scissors
  • bowl of water
  • 1 roll craft paper or mailing paper
  • acrylic or tempera paint in the colors of your choice
  • disposable plastic plates
  • blank cards and envelopes

How to do it:

1. Use the permanent marker to draw dreidel shapes on the sponges. (Or trace a dreidel shape from a cookie cutter onto the sponges.) Use scissors to cut out the sponge shapes.

2. Roll out the amount of paper that you would like to stamp and cut to size.

3. Squeeze or pour paint onto the plastic plates — one color per plate.

4. Soak the sponges in water so that they expand. Then, wring out the sponges. Dip one flat side of a sponge into the paint, making sure to cover the entire surface with paint.

5. Place the sponge, paint side down, on the paper. Apply pressure to sponge but don't rock it, then lift the sponge up gently.

Repeat steps and with all the colors you are using randomly stamping the surface of the paper. Allow the paper to dry. Stamp dreidels on the front of the cards the same way you did on the wrapping paper. You can stamp envelopes as well. Allow to dry.

Estimated time: 30 minutes – 45 minutes
Drying time: 1 hour

Next Steps