What do you do when your daughter wants to know what Hanukkah is? And you aren't Jewish. This happened to me...the mom and the teacher of my seven year old daughter and student. When I was just a mom I would give her some answer that was completely inadequate for these types of questions thinking she didn't need to know, it didn't pertain to us. I know. Self-absorbed. Thoughtless. Impatient. But, as her teacher I have taken on a different attitude. One of exploration, adventure, and learning. So, when she asked me what Hanukkah was two weeks prior to Thanksgiving I gave her a simple explanation (the best I had) and told her we would study it and learn everything we could. She was game and so was I. This is probably my favorite part of home-school. The part where we learn together.
Where does a home-school mom begin research on such a topic? Google, of course. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Hanukkah is the menorah. So, I Googled "How to make a menorah." We love a good art project. Guess who had the perfect answer for me? Martha Stewart. Of course. I began clicking through all of her links to purchase the products needed (the plus of a ten hour car ride with Man driving) only to discover that there was no way I was paying some of those prices and shipping costs. There would be another way and I moved forward into book selections calling in my order to my local library so they could have them waiting when I returned from Thanksgiving. Love my library folks!
So I have to tell you, this has probably been my favorite study so far. I constantly feel inadequate teaching religion to my daughters. I am not well versed in every aspect of the Bible, but I am always willing to find out the answers to their questions. So, moving into a religion that was not my own was quite the stretch for me. But, this was fascinating and eye-opening. Man even got interested and we had many late night discussions about Hanukkah and its meaning. We even had to bring in our expert religion teacher, my step-dad. He is an expert 1. because his father was a Baptist minister 2. he knows everything about religion...and a whole lot of other stuff too. I would highly recommend to all of my Christian friends to teach their children about the Jewish faith and Hanukkah. It's good to know stuff!
Anyway, I gathered up all my converted "parts" for Martha's menorah and we got to work. I found a 1.5" x 30" at Lowes. Man cut them into 19 squares at 1.5" x 1.5". Then he sanded them. We didn't want little fingers catching a splinter. Martha calls for a fancy gouache paint that is waaaaay too expensive for the smallest tube of paint I have ever seen, so I bought similar colors in acrylic (something I knew we could re-use) and watered it down. Worked like a charm. Keep in mind that the third topper for the middle "helper" candle will be even lighter. I just watered the white down further once the others were done.
He pre-drilled the top pieces, preparing them for the candle holders. Here was the tricky part. I couldn't figure out why she didn't have a link to the candles they used since they needed to fit in the specific cake tip she used. Shame on you Martha. But then I realized why. Impossible to find. After an unsuccessful trip to Hobby Lobby (an hour away) and whining to Man for a few days he says, "Order the menorah candles and then we will find the cake tips they fit in." He is so smart...sometimes. So, I ordered the candles. They were here in no time flat. I loaded them up, went to Jo-Anns and fit them in the best tip I could find.
Now. We thought we were brilliant until we put the candles in. I didn't account for the screw, and the candles aren't flat on the bottom. So, they wouldn't stand up straight unassisted. When I was about to shed major tears, well, because this had been the hardest thing to accomplish in like forever. Man says, "No worries. I will melt the bottom and it will stick." And it did. If you can figure a way around this I suggest you do so. It is an ok temporary fix, but it gets old doing it every night with eager, impatient hands ready to light the candles. Alas we were done, and just in time. Our girls were so excited to participate in the Festival of Lights, with a true understanding of what the celebration was all about.
WAIT****DON'T STOP READING***WAIT
I have tiny little fingers in my house that really don't need to mess with fire yet. Check out what we made for her!
1. Gather 8 empty toilet rolls and 1 paper towel roll. First rule of home-school: never throw any kind of "roll" away. Then let the kids cut little squares of tissue paper.
2. Cut the top of each roll, at an angle, with scissors.
3. Using a glue stick, rub the glue on and gently lay the tissue paper onto the glue.
4. Place a battery operated tea light under each "candle" and watch them glow! Addison actually kept hers in her room and they were beautiful. And she was thrilled.
---The Homeschooling Mama