Quickie Hanukkah Project Ideas

by Laurie Bellet

The approach of Hanukkah sends even the least crafty of teachers to the drawing board. In addition to regular class projects, there are “make and takes,” special Hanukkah “workshops,” family programs, bring-a-friend activities and lots of minutes to soak up with sponge time fun. Here, in no particular order, are art activities you can implement with any age students, simply, inexpensively and successfully:

Poster Party — Take some gift-wrap scraps, old greeting cards, confetti, ribbon markers and glue. Offer these, paper odds and ends, stickers and stencils along with a piece of white poster board, to each student. Put on the music and make a Hanukkah poster. Laminate each poster if possible and your families will have a decoration for years to come. Try to photograph each creator in the process and add it to the poster.

Dreidel Painting — Dip your dreidels in thinned paint and let them spin across the paper.

Candle Painting — This is a simple “resist” art project. Draw with a Hanukkah candle on a piece of white paper (75 lb. Paper or heavier is most satisfactory). Then, paint over the entire paper with watercolors or thinned tempera. The wax will ‘resist’ the paint. Mount onto a piece of contrasting paper for a finished product.

Stained “Glass” — Place laminating film over a drawing and trace the design with a black Sharpie pen. Or, draw your design freehand. Color it in with Sharpie marker. You can also run ‘overhead sheets’ through your printer to print out your favorite Hanukkah motifs. These will go fast so be well supplied. Colored masking tape makes a terrific frame.

Silver Dreidels — Cut dreidel shapes out of aluminum foil. Paint with ‘activity’ paint, acrylics or tempera mixed with a little white glue. Older students can press designs into the foil with a pencil tip prior to painting. Glue (tacky glue or carpenter’s glue are best) the dried dreidel onto a cardstock background. For a really funky background, tack a piece of corrugated cardboard like the side of a box. Peel off the top layer to reveal the ribbed texture underneath. Lightly paint this for a rustic look. You can speed drying by placing these in a 200-degree oven for just a few minutes (no more than 8 minutes; one for each night of Hanukkah)

Hanukkiyah Hands — Paint children’s hands or press each hand onto a giant stamp pad. Place the painted hands onto a piece of white paper with the thumbs together. The thumbs are the shamash; the fingers are the branches.

Hanukkah Stamps — On a piece of foam board (your nearest craft or office supply store stocks this stuff), trace a simple dreidel design (start with a square; invert a triangle at the bottom; add a small rectangle at the top. Leave small spaces between the parts for greater interest.) Adding a few basic swirls will give the dreidel a spin. Avoid any lettering because it will print backwards. Brush or spray the top surface with water. Use your pencil to press the design even further in. Use your pencil and a craft stick to carve out the area in or around your design. Hanukkiyot are too intricate to promise good results. Spread paint on the surface and print onto a piece of paper.

Dreidel Bags — Decorate a simple white or colored sandwich bag with Hanukkah stickers and stamps. Inside place a dreidel or two along with game instructions. You would be surprised how many families do not know the game rules. If you are at the craft store, you can pick up some small cloth bags. For a tie-dye effect, color the bag with Sharpie marker and spray lightly with rubbing alcohol.

Micrography Hanukkiyot — Students letter their Hebrew name or their family name for the base of the Hanukkiyah. If there are multiple family names, the student can use their first name. Turn the paper sideways and carefully letter the name of each family member as a candle. In parent education, you can encourage participants to letter all the attributes they hope to nurture during their family’s Hanukkah experience.

Music Collage — Select your favorite Hanukkah music. Brainstorm the themes of Hanukkah — light, joy, warmth. Offer students tissue paper in warm colors (red, yellow, orange, gold), scraps of other fancy paper, sparkly threads or ribbons and whatever assorted collage or Hanukkah odds and ends you have. Encourage students to work in silence, collaging onto a mat board or cardstock base as the music inspires them. With preschoolers, this activity is best done with self-stick collage boards. All other ages can use white glue or Mod Podge. Coat the final product with an extra layer of glue for a hard finish.

Rubbings — cut your Hanukkah shapes out of sandpaper and glue onto cardboard. Use different grades for variety in the same picture. Lay a piece of paper over the sandpaper cut out and rub with the side of a crayon.

So many projects. Not nearly enough time.