Shabbat in our home is observed in a pretty traditional manner. Phones, computers, and other distractions are unplugged, hidden in drawers and just plain done away with. And then, for 25 marvelous hours, there is actual rest and quiet and time to be a family. During the work week I leave for the office when the kids are getting up and my husband doesn’t come home until they are off to bed. It’s rare that we have time for everyone to be together, so you can understand that I am more than happy for a precious day of disconnect from the outside world.
We begin our Shabbat by lighting candles as a family. I grew up in a house where candles were hastily lit, prayers were mumbled uncomfortably, and then everyone parted ways to continue their separate lives in our own little corners of existence. I make an effort to show my children a different kind of Shabbat. I spend Sunday through Thursday planning one special project we can do together and I like to think it is the most important thing I do for them (aside from the general tasks of keeping them alive, clothed, and sheltered). When I help my kids to build something special like candleholders, it’s more than a fun product with a messy process. We are building a memory of time spent together, and creating an object that they are excited to use over and over again, every Friday night.
Here’s how to make these easy playdough candleholders.
Candles (either basic white Shabbat tapers, or tea lights, whichever you want to use in the candleholders)
A permanent marker
Basic acrylic paint in a variety of colors
½ cup water
½ cup Salt
1 and ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cornstarch (if you don’t have it, substitute flour or even some baby powder)
* This will make enough dough for 4 candle sticks with dough to spare.
1. Measure out all ingredients and let your children pour them into large mixing bowl. Help them knead dough with their hands until all ingredients are mixed in, forming a large ball. You may want to help younger children as the mixing can be strenuous on small hands.
2. Divide the dough into manageable sizes for your children to work with.
3. Help your child make their dough into a ball, star, heart or any other shape they’d like.
4. Grab your permanent marker. I like to write my kids’ names or the date of projects we make together on the bottom. Do this before the next step.
5. Take out your shabbat candles (or whatever you’ll use in these holders) and place in dough upright.
6. Allow your dough to dry overnight with candle still in or set your toaster on low heat to dry out your shapes (make sure the candle hole is large enough to hold candle if it shrinks a bit in the oven).
7. Once dried, help your kids to paint their candlesticks. I have one toddler and a preschooler but find that giving them a little bit of paint in a small dish lets them stay in control of the activity without too much intervention from mom. I keep butcher paper and craft aprons on hand to avoid big messes. For this activity, we voted on silver paint together and I just let the kids go to town with their own projects.