Hi there! If you’re following and keeping up with the blog you may have noticed I didn’t post last week. Ben was home sick on top of the eight crazy nights of Hanukkah. So I’ve had my hands full! In the upcoming weeks we have December holiday break, family visiting and Adam turning two on New Year’s Day. So I’m going to take a much needed break from blogging and resume next year. Happy Holidays!!!
As Hanukkah approaches I am trying to think of fun activities that my boys can try this year and we haven’t done before. We have never made a Hanukkah menorah with removable flames. The idea behind this is that each night of Hanukkah the boys can safely “light” their menorah. My boys can do this in conjunction with us actually lighting our home menorah and feel an active part of the tradition rather than just an observer.
If you are not familiar with the menorah lighting, there are eight candles that are lit during the holiday of Hanukkah. One candle is lit each night for a total of eight nights. There is a helper candle that is often located in the middle of the menorah called a shemash. The shemash is the first candle lit and it is used to like the other candles each night. During the lighting there is a blessing set of the candles to celebrate specifically the holiday of Hanukkah and the tradition of lighting a candle each night. Along with the blessing, our family sings many traditional songs in Hebrew or English each night. It’s really a special part of the day that separates regular day today life and the holiday for us. As we continue on going to school, running errands, and working during this holiday we come home each night to light the candles which gives us a feeling of celebration.
To start creating our menorah poster with removable flames I use painter’s tape and taped out the shape of the menorah on white card stock. It’s really important with painter’s tape to use a thick and study paper, so I highly recommend card stock for this project. Then I had my boys use their Melissa and Doug Dot-A-Dot Markers to add color. When they were finished I remove the painter’s tape and the shape of the menorah came out white.
Just the painter’s tape menorah was a beautiful project on its own, but to take it another step further I decided to create removable flames. We cut out from orange and red card stock flame shapes. The red flame was used for the shemash candle, and was a little bit larger in size than the other eight flames. Then I used a Velcro dots on each claim as I attached them to the paper with the boys. I would recommend if you have a laminating machine available to you to laminate the poster before adding the Velcro flames. You could also use contact paper. This would make the poster reusable for years to come. I however, do not have these items available to me right now so I did not do that. I will just have to be careful to remove the flames gently each night and have the boys attach them only.
For a recent play date my friend and I decided to make sugar cookies and let the kids decorate them. Neither one of us have made sugar cookies before, so through trial and error we were able to figure out a recipe that worked. Our first attempt at dough came out too crumbly. Once we got the dry and wet ingredient ratio worked out we had a buttery, smooth cookie dough.
Recipe for Sugar Cookies:
2 1/3 c. flour, sifted
1 tbsp. vanilla pudding mix
1 c. white sugar
1 large egg
2 sticks of butter-room temperature
First we combined dry ingredients and then added the wet using a stand alone mixer on medium. We mixed them together for 10 minutes, scraping down the sides.
Once the ingredients were combined we kneaded with our hands for five minutes and then rolled it to 1/4″ thickness using a rolling pin. We used metal dreidel shaped cookie cutter to cut out our shapes.
The cookies baked in a 350 degree oven for 9 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Once cooled we could begin adding our colorful royal icing.
Recipe for Royal Icing:
1 c. confectioner’s sugar
4 tbsp. milk
Pour sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl, add milk. Whisk together until smooth. Spoon into 3 small bowls, add one drop of food coloring and mix to create blue and gold.
We laid out a easy wipe tablecloth with a festive print, a paper plate for each child, small bowls with the royal icing, one bowl with Star of David sprinkles, and tiny spoons for decorating. The children decorated each cookie one by one, spooning one the icing and creating a marble effect.
This activity was a hit! The kids were involved with each step of the baking and decorating process. They loved decorating the cookies the most-each child decorated 10 cookies! We had so much fun and will definitely be doing more cookie and baking activities with our kids for future holidays!