Hanukkah in a Hurry

by Laurie Bellet

There are so few planning days left before Hanukkah and no remaining days for supply ordering but, you needn’t forego wonderful art. So, if you need to do “Hanukkah in a hurry,” this column is for you!

Despite the late date, you can shed any lingering feelings of pressure if you evaluate some key details and realities. What is the purpose of the project? Are you making a gift, looking at tradition, supporting classroom learning or developing self expression? How much actual prep time do you have available to you? How many creative minutes can you give to your students?

Illuminations are always grand for self-expressive themes of brightness and light. Begin with a piece of tin foil, spread it with Mod Podge, lay tissue strips and pieces, confetti, shiny ribbon on the foil and cover with a final layer of Mod Podge. Chat about how the Hanukkah lights make you feel? What colors can you see in the flames?

Since candles radiate warmth, you can use “warm” colors (red, yellow, orange) and pictures cut from Hanukkah cards to create a collage. Or, consider a collage or a fabric picture with warm fuzzy material pieces.

Maccabee puppets are fun and so easy. You can purchase “people shapes” from your local teaching supply store or print them onto cardstock from http://www.makingfriends.com. Any plain fabrics are fine for clothing pieces and you can embellish these with threads. Ask your students to put a sign of some kind in the puppet’s hand, speaking for the puppet. Judah might say “leave my Dad alone!” If time permits, students can put on a brief puppet show.

With some black sharpie markers, white construction paper (76 lb. weight or greater) and some watercolors a Chagall-esque Hanukkah scene takes only 45 minutes. Give students a bit of Chagall information, emphasizing the dreamy nature of the work and the inclusion of some ritual pieces. Do not have them sketch with pencil first. With the Sharpie the student draws a village style scene with a house or two upside down. There is no need to over think this and any errant lines can become part of the scene itself. Add a fence somewhere, perhaps with the pickets shaped like the candles of a Hanukkiyah. Add some flying dreidels and you are ready to paint. Give the paper a “wash” with plain water so the colors will run a bit. Caution the students to let go of precision and realism when applying color. Use watercolors to paint every part of the picture leaving no white. When dry, trim the curled edges and mount it on a contrasting or even a white background.

For just plain fun, do some dreidel painting. On a large sheet of paper, drip some paint. Place a dreidel in the paint and spin it, over and over again. Watch the dreidel do the painting! For a great presentation, cut the dry painting into the shape of a dreidel and mount it on a background.

Picture frames are always perfect gifts. The best are the inexpensive gold frames with the paper mat around the picture space. Use Hanukkah wrapping paper, card pieces, stickers and confetti to collage onto the paper mat. Overlap the collage elements to fill the mat. Photograph each student individually at work. Place the mat back into the frame along with the photo of the student.

All families have room for a light switch cover. Purchase the most plain, inexpensive switch plate you can find. Paint it with gold or silver acrylic paint. Collage it with stickers and wrapping paper pieces and add a few Hanukkah stickers. When dry, coat it with Mod Podge mixed with a bit of ultra fine glitter powder (usually in the fabric decorating area of your craft store but, glitter eye shadow works well too), or iridescent pigment powder (art supply store). Let it dry fully. What could be more perfect for the Festival of Lights?