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Nature Menorah

Take recycled materials and nature treasures to create a beautiful nature menorah. As you build, talk about what you are building and where this comes from, either to reinforce your traditions or to learn about the traditions of other people. Once your menorah is built, add a new nature treasure each day or night of the 8 nights. 

The Guide

Gather materials: We used 9 cardboard toilet paper rolls, a flat, rectangular piece of cardboard and low-heat hot glue to create our nature menorah. You could use a variety of recycled materials and could even dedicate 9 glass jars or other reusable containers as your holders, if you can't find recycled materials that work for you. Or, keep it simple and use wood cookies to hold a treasure for each day.

Construct your menorah: The menorah that is used in celebration of Hanukkah is actually called a "Hanukkiah" and has 9 candle holders—8 smaller and 1 larger or more prominent that is the "helper" candle to use to light the others. We created our nature menorah to have the same. We cut 8 of our toilet paper tubes a bit smaller and left the 9th tallest. Then, we used hot glue to glue one end of each tube to a rectangular piece of cardboard.

Gather treasures: Each day, gather a new nature treasure to add to your menorah. This  gives us a little extra inspiration to get outside on these chilly days, new eyes to see beauty in the nature around us. It's also a good chance to talk about size and capacity—which treasures (e.g. that really big stick vs. this small pebble) will be too big or just the right fit for your nature menorah.

Add a treasure each night: In the evenings, add the treasure to a new holder on your menorah, slowing down to admire it and sharing thanks for nature as you go.

Learn more about Hanukah: If Hanukkah is part of your spiritual tradition, enjoy tying this into your other holiday rituals in whatever way works for you. If it is not part of your spiritual tradition, learn more about the holiday and what it means to those who celebrate. Visit the PJ Library's Hanukah Hub for a kid-friendly telling of the Hanukkah story or visit your local library's children's section to find books like Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Zeifert or Sadie's Almost Marvelous Menorah by Jamie Korngold. Hanukkah is a celebration of light, hope and survival. Enjoy learning more about people whose traditions differ from ours—something that helps our kids learn to value all people. 

Why is this activity great for kids?

This inspiration for this activity as well as the cover photo came from Lindsay Fogg Willits of High Five Books/Always Art, a marvelous book shop/artist in my community and our friends at PJ Library. We just loved this way to celebrate or learn more about the traditions associated with Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. If you celebrate Hanukkah, this could be a nice activity for kids to do alongside other holiday traditions. If you do not celebrate, it could be a nice way to learn about the holiday and how others celebrate—a wonderful way to help children learn to value all people, even those different from themselves. For all who enjoy this activity, it adds another reason to get out and celebrate the treasures that nature provides!

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