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How to Make a Kwanzaa Kinara

We love to celebrate as many holidays from around the world as possible during the months of November through January of each year.  

One of those holidays that's super fun to learn about is Kwanzaa!

Besides our usual Kwanzaa printables and activities, I love to add a fun practical life/art activity to our studies.  This time around we learned how to make a Kwanzaa Kinara!

What I love so much about this project is that it can be adapted to meet the needs of every child in a preschool and/or elementary classroom.  There are so many possibilities.

My second favorite thing is that it only takes a few materials and tools to put together.  This is not a project that will break the bank.

How to Make a Kwanzaa Kinara

Materials Needed to Make a Kwanzaa Kinara

To make your own Kwanzaa Kinara, you will need the following materials:

If you would like to teach children how to light the candles, you will also need the following:

If you are want turn this activity into a wood working art project, you may also want the following materials on hand.
If you'd like to teach your students what the Kinara is, what the different colored candles represent, and the order in which they're lit, I highly recommend our Montessori-inspired Kwanzaa Printable Pack.


If you're looking for even more Kwanzaa printables for the classroom, be sure to check out our Montessori-inspired Kwanzaa Printable Pack II.


How to Make a Kwanzaa Kinara

We started our project by drilling holes into our pieces of wood.  Each of the kids marked the very center of their piece.  Then they measured out and marked where the rest of the candles would go using a ruler and pencil.  (We chose to keep candles 1" apart.)

Drilling holes for candles in a homemade Kwanzaa Kinara

Once marks are made, each kiddo took a turn using the drill with adult supervision and assistance.  

After taking these pictures I realized the boys didn't have their safety glasses on.  My sincere apologies.  I'm not sure how I missed this step, but please make sure you use them. 

Drilling holes in homemade Kwanzaa Kinara

We decided to set up our drill in our kitchen.  To ensure that our counters would stay safe, we used a cookie sheet and 2x4'' piece of wood under the wood the kids were working with.

Once the holes are drilled, kids can choose to sand and varnish/paint their candle holder.  

The boys chose to sand their pieces, but preferred the natural look over varnish and paint.

How to Light the Kwanzaa Kinara

Once the candle holder is made and dry, the next step is placing the candles where they go.  Our kids used the control in the Montessori-inspired Kwanzaa Printable Pack I to place their candles. 

For younger preschoolers, placing candles where they go, may be the entire activity.  This provides great fine motor practice and includes color matching.

Lighting Candles on Kwanzaa Kinara

If you decide to teach children how to light candles using matches or a lighter, adult supervision is 100% necessary at all times.

A basic lesson in fire safety is also a good idea before you begin.  

Please make sure that children are not wearing loose clothing and have their sleeeve rolled up.

We recommend placing the candle holder on a cookie sheet and having a glass of water nearby to place used candles in.

Lit Candles on Kwanzaa Kinara

In our classroom, all of our students are neurodiverse or have trauma and/or emotional challenges.  For this reason, we allow students to learn to light matches at nine years old, if they feel that they are ready. 

Many of them have a fear of fire or suffer from anxieties, so working with matches is a BIG step for them.

Other students struggle with a lack of safety awareness, so it isn't until the age of nine that we consider that they may be ready to start working with activities that include fire.  Some students are ready, but some are not.  

For this reason, all matches and lighters are locked up unless the activity is being used and supervised by an adult.

The use of matches and fire in the classroom is completely up to teachers and parents.  In some situations it may be prohibited.

Whatever you decide about fire, making a Kwanzaa Kinara is such a fantastic activity.  It involves so many practical life skills and can incorporate an art lesson.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

How to Make a Kwanzaa Kinara (Craft for Kids)

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