Introduction: How to Make a Tot-friendly Menorah for Chanukah

Every Friday my children light the Shabbat candles. My 10 year old handles the matches skillfully, while my 3 year old daughter gets help from my husband (much to her disliking).

And because she wants to be just like her older brother, doing everything he does without help from mommy and daddy, it's going to be a real challenge come Chanukah this year. My husband and I will wrestle to hold her hand so she doesn't burn the house down or worse, herself.

So. what is a parent to do when faced with the dilemma of keeping one's toddler safe when handling fire, while still allowing her some independence?

I've been obsessed with�making these luminaries�With a few recycled materials, some Mod Podge and LED tea lights you too can create a tot-safe menorah just in time for the Festival of Lights!�

And if you don't need a tot-safe menorah how about some cool�Star of David luminaries made the same way with a few simple variations?

Step 1: Gather Materials

 To make a tot-friendly menorah you'll need:

8 recycled glass jars all the same size
1 recycled glass jar that's taller than all the rest
Mod Podge (I used a glossy finish for extra shine)
Paint brush
Tissue paper recycled from last year's Chanukah gifts (I used white, blue and yellow)

Step 2: A Couple More Things to Be Gathered

Don't forget to also gather:

LED tea lights
Optional number stickers (I didn't have any so I used my trusty label maker. I also used it to label the shamash candle)

One last requirement, lots of funky Chanukah tunes to really get things shaking!

Step 3: Protect Your Space

 Spread out some newspaper on your work space to protect it from the gooey Mod Podge.

Step 4: Iron Things Out

If you are using tissue paper recycled from a gift bag you'll want to flatten out the wrinkles. To do this you'll want to set your iron on low heat and press away. Works like a charm!

Step 5: Cut It Up

Cut up a bunch of small squares and rectangles from your freshly flattened recycled white tissue paper.

Step 6: Cover and Smothered

Take one of the eight small jars and coat it with a nice layer of Mod Podge. Use brushstrokes that run from the top rim to the bottom edge of the jar, working around the entire outer circumference. 

Step 7: Sticking Together

Use the squares and rectangles you cut out of white tissue paper to cover the jar, sticking it to the layer of Mod Podge you just brushed on. Overlap the shapes as to assure there is glass peeking out.

Do these last 2 steps to each of the eight jars then set them aside to dry. 

Step 8: Cut It Out

While you're waiting, cut out flames and candles from your yellow and blue tissue paper. Make sure they're big enough to fit on the jars you just covered with white tissue paper.

(side note: I actually cut out double flames and candles to really make them pop when glued to the jars. So instead of only 8 flames and 8 candles I cut out 16 flames and 16 candles--get it?)

Step 9: Touch the Flame

Once the white layer of tissue paper is dry, it's time to add the "candles" to the jar. Use a little swipe of the Mod Podge to secure the flame to the top area of the jar. (I double layered the flames to make them really pop)

Step 10: Can You Handle the Candle?

Using a little more Mod Podge, glue to candle to to bottom of the flame making sure to overlap it a little onto the flame. 

Do the last two steps to all eight jars then set aside again to dry. Perhaps shine up the ol' menorah or hunt down Bubbie's famous latke recipe while you wait?

Step 11: Number Them

Number your menorah jars (candles) by placing a number sticker on each jar. I used my label maker to make my numbers since I wasn't ready to go out to a store just for some number stickers.

This is an optional step, but I thought since I was making the menorah special for my daughter it might as well be a teachable moment. I wanted to show her that there are 8 candles for the 8 nights of Chanukah and that they are placed in the menorah from right to left but lit left to right. My daughter's fine motor skills got a nice workout placing the stickers onto the jars.

Step 12: Seal Things Up

 One the jars have had a chance to dry you'll want to put a finishing coat on each of the jars. Coat each jar with long brushstrokes of Mod Podge. This will smooth out and flatten down the tissue paper and seal up the jars really nice!

Step 13: Don't Forget About the Big Boy

At this point my son came into the room and pointed out that we didn't make a shamash. I mentioned that we didn't need to make one as we aren't really lighting these menorah candles.

Much to my son's dissatisfaction he insisted that we needed to make one stating, "What kind of menorah doesn't have a shamash? It's the service candle after all!" To that I responded, "You think it needs one so badly, you make it."

He did, and he insisted it be bigger than the rest and that it had a label so his sister would know it was the shamash. What a good big brother!

Step 14: The One in the Middle Is the Shamash

 Here's his finished shamash. I was rather impressed.

Step 15: Light the Menorah

 Now you're armed with a tool to guarantee that this year's Chanukah menorah lighting will be tear-free. 

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