Creating Hanukkah crafts is a wonderful way to spend some creative time together with your child. Whenever possible, turn first to your child for unique ideas of his own. There's really nothing more exciting for a child than generating an idea and following it through until completion. And as you come up with whatever it takes to make his suggestions fly (sometimes literally), it's a reminder for you that the point of making Hanukkah crafts with your child is really not the finished product at all, but the process.
- Making a Menorah. Since the parameters for this project are simple-8 of one thing and then 1 that is differentiated in some way-see what ideas your child comes up with on his own. Even if it's an Andy Goldsworthy-esque type of project like putting icicles (candles) atop snowballs (the menorah), listen to your child's idea and find a way to make it work. If the finished product will not last, take photographs of it and then paste them up for viewing to show your pride in your child's process. Remember that you want to encourage your child's creativity, not quash it. If no ideas are forthcoming, you can always make a menorah out of blue plastic cups with painted wooden popsicle stick flames.
- Star of David. One of the fantastic things about the Star of David is that it is primarily two equilateral triangles on top of one another. Even very young children without highly developed fine motor skills can master a Star of David triangle long before the five-pointed version of a star. Ask your child what materials he would like to construct triangles from-lichened sticks, leaf stems, even Playmobil parts or Tinkertoys-your child may come up with a suggestion that will amaze and delight you. And perhaps instead of glue, you'll end up using twisty ties or even magnets to hold the construction together.
When all else fails, you can always use blue popsicle sticks, available in most craft stores. Glue the sticks into two separate triangles, and then glue the two triangles together to create a star. After it is dry, hang your Star of David on a ribbon from your child's bedpost or, if you live in a dual religion household, on the tree!
- Hanukkah Stamps. Buy rubber stamps that appeal to your child and mix them in with rubber stamps of menorahs, dreidels, and Stars of David. Choose an ink pad in a Hanukkah color, and let your child stamp craft paper with the rubber stamps. Have your child tell you a story about what the different stamps mean. Then you-or he, depending on his age-can write the story on the craft paper with a metallic pen. I remember one year my boy did menorahs and trains-apparently the trains had a large delivery of menorahs to make that year. Depending upon the age of your child, chances are that the images will overlap and bleed and lack any semblance of symmetry. Though your own esthetic sensibilities may be challenged, I promise that the grandparents will be thrilled!
- Beeswax Candles. Beeswax candles are another fantastic project for children. Beeswax comes in sheets and is available at craft stores while wick is sold either pre-cut or by the yard. Your child will simply roll the beeswax around the wick (tightly) and at the end of the roll, press the edge of the beeswax to the body of the candle. Again, resist your temptation to help your child make this candle "perfect." It will probably be uneven, but it will be a project that your child has completed on his own! He can decorate the outside of the candle with whatever he chooses, be it cloves, orange zest or different colors of wax dripped onto the outside layer.
Of course, the holidays are a busy time, and perhaps your Hanukkah craft project is meant to be less about quality time with your child than it is about keeping him busy while you get a few things done. That's perfectly fine, too! Just try to incorporate his ideas in whatever ways you can easily accommodate-it will make him more invested in the project, and perhaps buy you a few more minutes of that precious commodity........time!