For years I’ve been wanting to make meaningful Hanukkiahs with my students. Something beyond the classic mosaic tiles with nuts on them or clay with nuts and candles. This year, thanks to the beauty that is the Reggio Emelia approach to learning and the amazing school I work at, I got a chance. We made A LOT of Hanukkiahs, aka menorahs (though menorahs only have seven candles.) We made beautiful, thoughtful, amazingly gorgeous Hanukkiahs from recycled materials.
We got our materials from an amazing treasure of a place here in Los Angeles called Trash for Teaching. If you live locally please do yourself a favor and check them out. They offer workshops and tinker days for kids and families. I’ve been told some other large cities have similar places, like San Francisco. It’s basically a huge warehouse with all kinds of incredible discarded materials from local businesses that can be used for art and learning. Anyway, if you don’t have a place like this by you, please don’t chalk off this project. There are definitely ways you can achieve this same look! Here’s how.
a block of wood (ours are about 10 inches long and an inch and a half wide) 9 small glass bottles (if you don’t want to purchase bottles you can use nail polish bottles! the color will look great and you can get a cheap set of kids nail polish like this or start saving for next year) 9 nuts, glue, a wood cube, paint and glitter
Then we set out all kinds of small engaging materials that could represent aspects and ideas of our family. Children were given 9 bottles and encouraged to make thoughtful decisions about what they filled their bottles with. For example, dried beans or pasta might represent how they love to eat dinner with their families. Little rainbow beads might represent how much their mom loves bright colors. Little pebbles might remind them how much they love to go on a nature walk with their siblings. We heard comments like “I’m using pasta because my sister loves mac n’ cheese.” Or “I love the beach so I’m using pebbles.” It was really magical to hear how different materials could take on so much joy and meaning for each individual.
Once 9 bottles were filled (8 for the 8 nights of Hanukkah and one for the Shamash to light the candles) children were tasked with dipping the bottles in a shallow bowl of white glue and placing them onto their base. They painted one extra cube to raise their Shamash above the other candles and glued that on as well. Nuts were dipped in glue and placed on each bottle. Nuts are the perfect size for Hanukkah candles. I’ve been told that nail polish bottles are also the exact right size for traditional candles so you can add the nut or leave it plain.
Each Hanukkiah that was made looked gorgeous and so special. I can’t wait for the students to share them with their families next week. If you’re looking for more ideas here are 10 creative ways to celebrate Hanukkah. Wishing everyone love and light this holiday season. Meri