This unconventional flameless menorah for kids is a wonderful way to teach, share & pass on a beautiful tradition (and also happens to provide the perfect opportunity for a little counting and color-learning practice). Just like an actual menorah, you can add the “candles” together over the course of Hanukkah for a kid-safe celebration of lights!
The brilliant colors are a perfect way to brighten up November or December’s long, dark nights, and it feels fitting that a menorah meant for kiddos might have 9 little twigs instead of 9 branches, doesn’t it?
Traditionally, a menorah (or hanukkiah) has 8 candles at the same height, with the Shammash (the candle you use to light the others) set apart from the rest (usually a taller branch in the center). Although our non-traditional version has eight multi-colored candles ascending, the Shammash still sits highest.
To make your own DIY KIDS’ twig menorah you’ll need:
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- A piece of cardboard or cereal box
- Yellow/gold construction paper or cardstock
- Scissors or a utility knife
- A hole punch
- 8 or 9 sticks (about 3-4″ long)
- Paint and a brush
- A hot glue gun or craft glue
- Moss, evergreen sprigs or other natural decoration (we used this preserved moss mix)
- Garden shears to cut twigs
Colorful Twig DIY Kids’ Menorah Instructions:
- Collect and paint twigs to prep
Collect 9 twigs of the same approximate length and width (you can usually break one larger stick into 2 or 3 smaller ones)
You’ll also want 4 longer straight sticks to use along the edges of your menorah (a decorative touch, that also helps it keeps its shape and stand strong and sturdy). I thought it would be especially engaging for kids if it formed a rainbow of colors, so we painted each stick, but they’d look equally beautiful left untouched.
- Add paper flames to the top of each candle with glue
Cut small, simple flame shapes out of a piece of cardstock or construction paper. Use a hot glue gun to affix a flame to the top of each twig candle.
Note: It’s easier to push the stick into the cardboard base if the edge is fairly even, so if one side of your stick has a much more jagged edge, you may want to use that side for your paper flame.
- Cut a strip of cardboard, paint, and crease at center to create the base
Use an X-acto knife or similar to cut an 18-inch x 2.5 inch (or larger) strip of cardboard from the side of a box.
We painted our cardboard, but it’s an optional step. Once dry, fold in half and crease at the center.
- Cut holes in the cardboard strip for your twig candles
Make a mark in the middle of your cardboard strip, then use a ruler to mark off 4 more lines (equal distances apart) down each side of your cardboard strip.
NOTE: If there’s one thing I could change about this menorah, I wish I had made the cardboard base a bit wider! For a wobble-free base, I’d make this at least 4-5 inches wide so it’s nice and sturdy for little hands.
Using an X-Acto knife or boxcutter, cut small “X”s at each mark, then gently fold inwards (toward the bottom of your base). These create the holders for our twig candles. Remember to take into account the width of your twigs so your X’s don’t create a hole that’s too small/large.
If you *do* happen to make a hole that’s a bit too large, just wrap a bit of clay or playdough around your candle before adding it to the menorah!
- Glue a small cardboard support to the underside of your base
To stabilize your menorah and keep it standing tall, glue a small cardboard triangle-shaped support under the bend in the center.
- Add nature-based decorative elements to the base
We thought we’d cover up a bit of the cardboard and embrace the natural theme by adding some dried mosses on top. We used the glue gun to make a big “S” shape, then started pressing dried grasses and mosses down on top!
- Glue sticks to the 4 edges of your menorah
To add some support and give our edges a finishing touch, we used a hot glue gun to add stick edging to each side of our menorah.
We were able to just break our sticks to the approximate length of each side, but you can use a pair of garden shears if your sticks are harder to break at the right spot.
- Add your candles!
Gently pop the candles into your menorah each night from right to left, using the Shammash to “light” each one.
I am so happy with the way our menorah turned out! The bright colors combined with the warmth of the natural, mossy materials give it such a joyful glow – no real flames necessary! This would be a wonderful way to decorate and “light” the menorah in a classroom or at Hebrew school.
I created the simple paper peace dove garland that’s hanging in the background using our free printable from last year’s peace & love holiday wreaths, but this DIY egg-carton star light string from Creative Jewish Mom would look SO divine! Or a recycled dreidel garland from Meri Cherry – the perfect combination of upcycling and holiday entertainment.
If the modern camp-craft vibe of this project has you swooning, you’ll be pleased to know it was just one in a full series of nature-inspired holiday crafts using twigs and pinecones! Our DIY pinecone and twig holiday hanger is the perfect crafting complement to this wonderful menorah. And for an afternoon of sensory play and small world-building, create a mini winter sensory garden from materials found outdoors.
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