Clay Menorah for Preschool Children

How to make clay menorahs in preschool | TinkerLab

Today I’m sharing how to make easy clay menorahs that are easy for toddlers and preschool children. These are made with air-dry clay, so no baking is necessary.

air dry clay menorah with kids

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Supplies – Clay Menorah

  • Air Dry Clay
  • Small bowl of water
  • Clay tools such as popsicle sticks, rolling pins, and cookie cutters
  • Acrylic paints for painting the surface. Liquitex is a solid brand.
  • Mod Podge or acrylic clear coat to seal it with a shiny coating

The Set-up

Cover your work surface with a vinyl tablecloth or work on a non-precious surface that easily wipes clean.

If you’re making a Hanukkiah (it holds nine candles, rather than seven), talk about the story of Chanukah and how the Chanukah menorah has eight candles + 1, the shamash, to represent the miracle that oil burned continuously for eight days.

Invite your child/ren to make menorahs. Encourage creativity and original thinking.

air dry clay menorah with kids

We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our home, so, as some might agree, our children get the best of both worlds! But it can also be a tricky mash-up of cultures, but I guess it makes sense to my kids who know nothing else.

The other day we discovered a new-to-us A-mazing teacher supply store, and came home with a 2.5 pound bucket of Crayola Air Dry Clay to make our very own menorahs. It cost just $5, and I cannot recommend this clay enough.

It feels just like the clay you throw pots on, and my kids were enthralled by the texture. So unlike play dough, and it has the potential to make long-lasting objects.

air dry clay menorah with toddler

We started with a mound of clay, rolled it out with our new rolling pin, scored at a Waldorf school winter festival, and poked a candle into the clay eight times. N placed one of our menorahs on the table as inspiration.

Menorahs hold nine candles, eight for the eight nights of Hanukkah, and a ninth called the shamash (meaning “attendant”) that lights the other candles.

Meanwhile, my 15 month old got into the clay spirit. She’s been copying everything her sister does, and after seeing this magic, I wished I had given her a bigger piece of clay to play with.

air dry clay menorah with kids

To make room for the shamash, we decided to build a little mound by making a ball of clay, scoring both sides of where it would connect with hatch marks, and then pressing the pieces together.

air dry clay menorah with kids

We used a little water and a popsicle stick to smooth out the edges. I read that if there are cracks in this clay it can fall apart once dry, so we were sure to smooth all those cracks right out with water.

air dry clay menorah with kids

And then N decided to use a wooden stick to poke a pattern of holes all over the menorah.

air dry clay menorah with kids

And a hole for the shamash.

air dry clay menorah with kids

My little one was happy to play with a small pot of water and the goopy clay.

Now we have to let the clay dry for 2-3 days before painting it. If you’d like to join us and make an air dry menorah too, you should be able to find Crayola Air Dry Clay at Target, Walmart, Office Depot or on Amazon for $5.99.

So far, I love this product, and I think we’ll make handprint ornaments with it tomorrow!


  1. M Wall says

    At our house, we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, so it is really nice to see a Hanukkah craft! I had not thought about making a menorah, so thanks for the great idea! Not sure if I want to fight the crowds to buy some clay, so maybe I will try the salt dough. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • Rachelle says

      I had the same salt dough idea. 🙂 Just this morning I asked N if she wanted to make a salt dough menorah and she said “no.” I think she’s had enough. I’d love to hear how it goes.

  2. Anne says

    What teacher supply store was it? We have a good one here in San Carlos, but I’m always looking for more resources for our homeschool adventures

    • Rachelle says

      I think that’s the same one, Anne! Morrisons. I’ve never been and it was *dangerous* walking through the aisles with my kids. My 3 year old wanted everything, and my 15 month old was thrilled to wander around and pull things off the shelves. Oh, and after spending $$, we finally headed home! My local favorites are RAFT and now Morrisons. Where do you shop?

      • Anne says

        Yep, Morrison’s is the one. 🙂 The staff is so nice there, even when my 12 month old is crawling around, dragging things off the shelves. I also love University Art for good quality paper and supplies.

  3. Lucy says

    Now that there aren’t any little ones at home, we try to get as many friends and family as possible (even little ones) to help deliver food baskets and gifts to needy families through our local police & fire departments.  It’s a good lesson for all of us and the kids’ eyes (both those helping and those receiving) is a sight to behold.  BTW, I enjoyed the Hanukkah menorah craft.  It would make for a wonderful teaching moment — for all of us.  Thanks.

    • Rachelle says

      Lucy, this is a great tradition! Before kids I volunteered at a food kitchen, and it really helped me understand just how much I have. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Melissa says

    Love crayola air dry clay….it is so similar to “real clay” . As an art teacher, I would use it for kids that missed clay lessons. BTW , love the bowl with the red splotches!

    • Rachelle says

      You’re such a good teacher to have an alternative clay for those lucky kids! I like the splotchy red bowl too, a gift from my tasteful MIL.

    • rachelle says

      Oh no! This will give you enough clay to make at least four menorahs 😉 It’s a great value, though, and I like having extra clay for other projects throughout the year.

  5. wendy says

    What happens when the clay menorah cracks in half? Cam you use combustible super glue to put it back together or will that cause a fire when the menorah is lit?

    • rachelle says

      Hi Wendy,
      Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that your menorah cracked 🙁 I haven’t tested this solution, so I can’t say for certain if that will work. The great thing about air dry clay is that you can revive dry clay with water. My best advice is to make a slurry of clay (mix water into clay and turn it into a paste), and then use this to attach the pieces back together. Happy Chanukah!