hanukkah collage craft

Yesterday morning, two other moms and I spent some time in my younger son's classroom sharing Hanukkah traditions, eating latkes & doing an art project. The idea for this project was shamelessly borrowed from the blog Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish -- and the artwork created by these kindergartners & first graders was so gorgeous that I had to share it.


--  Large paper (12 in. x 18 in. was available in
     the classroom)

-- Colorful scrapbook or origami paper

-- Orange & yellow paper

-- A paper cutter (essential if prepping this craft for
    a classroom of 22 small children -- not essential
    if doing this craft at home).

-- Scissor

-- Glue stick

STEP 1 :: Cut strips of paper as follows: 2 in. x 14 in. for each hannukiah base, 2 in. x 2 in. for the shammash candle holder, 1 in. x 5 in. for candles (you will need 9 candles for each child's project).

STEP 2 :: Cut 1 inch strips of yellow & orange paper.  Then use a scissors to snip the strips into diamond & triangle shapes for the candle flames.

STEP 3 :: Set out the large sheets of paper, strips of colorful paper, and glue stick then stand back and watch as gorgeous collages are created.

NOTE: I was facilitating this project in a classroom of 5-7 year olds and we allotted approx. 20 minutes for the craft.  If we had had more time for the project, giving the children scissors to cut out their own candles would have been an option.  And certainly, if doing this project with older children, there is no need at all to pre-cut the paper into strips and they can cut the paper into strips themselves.


tutorial :: acorn dreidels

Originally posted December 9th, 2015

I spotted this tutorial for acorn dreidels on the blog Growing up Creative.  Brilliant!  These are not traditional dreidels because they don't have Hebrew letters on them, but when it's Hanukkah, every sort of spinning top is referred to as a dreidel in my house.


-- Acorn caps (note: we tried out a few different
    types of acorn caps and liked the way these
    ones spun best, but any sort will work.)

-- A small amount of clay (we used Sculpy, but
    again, there's no need to be fussy -- any sort
    will work.)

-- Wooden matches

STEP 1 :: Roll a small amount of clay into an egg-shape and stuff one end of it inside an acorn cap.

STEP 2 :: Shape the top of the clay into an acorn-ish shape.


STEP 3 :: Insert the salt-peter end of your match into the center of the clay and push it down until it hits the inside of the acorn cap...

Like so.

Now your dreidel is done and ready to...


And because you can never have too many peg dolls, I thought I'd mention that there are instructions for creating peg doll dreidels in my second book.  For more dreidel fun, you can find edible dreidels here (made them today with my children and they really work). We've also made super fun perler-bead tops according to the instructions HERE at Babble Dabble Do.

Happy (almost) Hanukkah


tutorial :: making hanukkah candles

Originally posted December 5th, 2015

I'd been searching for the perfect Hannukiah for years, and then a few weeks ago, I stumbled across this one.  It's made of bronze, but I love the fact that it looks as though it were made of small branches.  Because we have a new Hannukiah, I decided to make our own candles.  These would make a wonderful  Hanukkah gift, and this is also a perfect craft for children.

A spool of braided candle wick (like this)
Honeycomb beeswax sheets (like these)

STEP 1 :: Using a scissor, cut a beeswax sheet into pieces 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) by 4 inches (10 cm).  Then, cut pieces of braided wick which are 5 inches (13 cm) long.

STEP 2 :: Place a piece of wick along an edge of one of the cut beeswax pieces and gently crimp the beeswax over the wick.  If the beeswax breaks, rips or cracks, you can gently warm the sheet between your palms (or warm it slightly with an electric hair dryer) and try again.

STEP 3 :: Roll the remaining portion of wax sheet around the wick, trim the wick to 1/2 inch (1 cm), and... you're done!


tutorial :: golden walnut garland

Originally posted December 7th, 2015

There is a tradition of using nuts and coins as tokens for the Hanukkah game of dreidel, so making a garland of golden walnuts seemed like a beautiful way to decorate our mantelpiece this winter.  If you don't celebrate Hanukkah, golden walnuts would also look nice on a Christmas tree or as a nature-themed ornament for winter solstice.


Besides being very pretty, these golden walnuts were easy enough for my five year old son to create, and all the supplies (except the walnuts) were already sitting in my cupboard.


-- Walnuts

-- Gold acrylic paint (silver would be pretty, too)

-- Small screw-eye bolts like these

-- A paint brush

-- White (PVA) glue

-- Some ribbon and cord or string

STEP 1 :: Twist a screw-eye bolt into the top of each walnut.  You should not need a drill because the area in the center, at the top of the walnut, is soft.  Don't worry if the screw-eyes feel wobbly -- you can secure them with a drop of glue later, after you have applied paint.

STEP 2 :: Paint your walnut shells gold (or silver, or whatever metalic paint you happen to have stashed in the cupboard) and allow them to dry.

STEP 3 :: If the screw-eyes on your walnuts don't feel secure, add a few drops of white (PVA) glue at the bases of the eyelets, where they are bolted into the nutshells.

STEP 4 :: Once the glue holding any loose eyelets has dried, add pretty ribbons and then tie your walnuts along a length of cord or string at regular intervals.  Alternatively, if you want to hang these on the branches of a Christmas tree, you can tie a small loop of cord through the eyelet of each nut.


In this season, I wish you comfort + joy,
peace, hope and light.


tutorial :: transparency windows

The weekend before last, we attended a Holiday Fair at Waldorf School of the Peninsula. While there, I spotted a craft activity which we did not have time to try but which I knew I had to create at home.  I did not get the name of the person who originated this craft, but if you happen know the person at Waldorf School of the Peninsula who came up with this idea, please let me know so I can give them credit!



-- Window star paper (from here, here or here)

-- White vellum paper (like this)

-- Wooden frame (like these)

-- Wooden cut out shapes (check your local craft
    store or have a look at the selection here)

-- PVA or standard white glue

-- Glue stick

-- Scissors

-- A ruler

-- Watercolor paints & brush (optional)

STEP 1 :: Flip your frame over so that it is lying face down on the table (see photo above) and measure the opening at the back.  This measurement will be at least 1/2 inch (1 cm) larger than if you measure from the front i.e. your artwork will need to cover the 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) lip inside the window of the frame.  It is this lip which will hold your artwork in place.

STEP 2 :: Once you've measured the frame opening from the back, cut a few pieces of vellum paper to match the measurements.  You can trim your paper to fit perfectly inside the window, or wait to trim it until you've completed your artwork. (You will end up with some of your colorful paper overhanging the edges, and so you will have to do some trimming around the edge later anyhow.)

STEP 3 :: Cut up pieces of window star paper to create colorful collages on your rectangle(s) of vellum and use a glue stick to secure your collage to the vellum. (Warning: if you use PVA/white glue to secure the window star paper, it will wrinkle and buckle.)

STEP 4 :: Trim the edges of your collage so that it fits into the back of the frame. If your artwork is curling, you can press it beneath a heavy book for an hour or so to flatten it.

STEP 5 :: I had planned to leave the frames and wooden shape pieces a natural wood color, but my son wanted to paint his tree (he said he also wanted to paint the frame, but then changed his mind).  Painting your frame and wooden cut-out is optional, but as you will see, my son's transparency window with his painted tree is very beautiful.

STEP 6 :: Decide whether you want your wooden cut-out to be at the top or bottom, on the side or in the center, and use PVA/white glue to affix your wooden cut-out to the front of your frame.

STEP 7 :: Once the glue is dry and your wooden cut-out is secure, flip the frame face down and insert your artwork into the back.  Our frames have flexible metal tabs which can be pressed down to hold the artwork in place.

STEP 8 :: Hold your artwork up to the window so you can admire how nice it looks with light shining through the colorful, translucent paper.


pine cone candle holders at fanciful twist

 I just spotted a tutorial for these pine cone candle holders over at A Fanciful Twist

Pine cones!  Glitter!  Candles!  What's not to love?

You can find the tutorial HERE.


blog tour :: the horribly hungry gingerbread boy

FTC Compliant Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book by Heyday Books to facilitate this blog tour review., however, all opinions expressed below are entirely my own.

Today I am honored to be participating in a blog tour promoting the newest book by Elisa Kleven: The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy (and please read to the end of this post for a *give away*).

If you're a regular a reader of my blog, you may have seen me mention Elisa Kleven's books once or twice (or thrice).  I love Elisa's work for the peacefulness and hope her work exudes. I love the luminous colors of her artwork, and I love every tiny bird, mouse, turtle, frog, butterfly, ladybug, and ant inhabiting her engagingly detailed illustrations.

I treasure each of Elisa's books for different reasons and what I love most about this newest book is that it is so very funny and feisty.  Elisa's take on the story is utterly original with a Gingerbread Boy who is deeply offended that the child who has created him then tries to eat him.  My favorite lines of the book are:

"Hey you," cried Shirley.  "Stop! Come back!"
"No way!" he said.  "I'm not your snack.
I thought you'd be my friend, but no,
You bit my thumb -- what next, my toe?"

As you can see in the illustration above, all is eventually resolved between Shirley and her Gingerbread Boy, but along the way we are treated to a madcap tour of San Francisco with notes at the end of the book telling us about the Landmarks visited by our two protagonists.  And what's more, at the end of the book there is also a recipe for baking your own gingerbread people (who hopefully won't try to run away).

If you're not up for baking, here is another way to make gingerbread people which Elisa shared with me a few weeks ago.  This sweet craft is one which Elisa sometimes offers at bookstores and schools when she visits to talk about her work.

-- A large sheet of blank paper
-- A sheet of brown paper (or a brown paper bag)
-- A cookie cutter for tracing a template (optional)
-- Colorful bits of paper and/or fabric
-- Buttons or other interesting collage materials
-- A pencil plus markers or crayons
-- White glue for attaching buttons & fabric
-- A glue stick
-- A pair of scissors

STEP ONE :: Using a pencil, sketch the outline of a gingerbread person onto a sheet of brown paper or a brown paper bag and then use a pair of scissors (or have your child use scissors) to cut it out.  Alternatively, if you are uncertain about freehand sketching a gingerbread person, you could trace around a person-shaped cookie cutter.

For extra fun, you could cut out more than one gingerbread person and create a scene with them interacting on the page.

STEP TWO :: Use the glue stick to affix your paper gingerbread folk to a larger piece of plain paper.

STEP 3 :: Cut out clothing from collage materials (paper or fabric) and affix with glue (glue stick for paper or white glue for fabric).

STEP 4 :: Use more collage materials plus pens & crayons to create a sky, clouds, grass & flowers, buttons, faces for your gingerfolk, etc...

And now that we are done with our craft project, please let me tell you about the *give away*.  To participate, leave a comment below, and if you wish, please share your favorite kind of cookie or a favorite cookie-baking memory in your comment.  I will close the give away on Monday December 12 and choose a winner via random number generator.  Thank you to Heyday Books, publisher of The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy, for kindly offering a copy of the book. (Note: due to high postage rates, this give away is limited to participants in the US only.)

If you enjoyed this blog post and are interested in reading more about Elisa & the The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy, you can visit her website HERE. I also invite you to visit the other blogs participating in this blog tour (there is a book *give away* on each blog!)

12/6/16 :: Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)/Tara Lazar
12/7/16 :: We Bloom Here/Margaret Bloom
12/8/16 :: Wee Folk Studio/Salley Mavor
12/9/16 :: KidLit411/Sylvia Liu

The give-away has ended and comments are now closed.  Thank you for your interest!