A Lava Lamp For Hanukkah

A kid making a lava lamp

Are you ready for another activity made almost entirely of things you already have at home? This upcycled art piece is also a mini lesson in density—and since it uses oil and light, there's a very lively holiday tie-in. (Plus, our team has tested this with our own kids and their friends and while it can get a little messy, it's also guaranteed to keep a group busy for a solid hour plus).

This Hanukkah themed activity is also a fun science experiment. This funky craft is a great addition to a night of enjoying foods fried in oil - and bonus, it also embraces the Jewish values of curiosity and learning. Plus at the end, you'll have a wonderful set of groovy “lava lamps” (or calm down bottles) - a great way to facilitate shalom bayit or peace in the home.

This Activity Works With These Books


  • Funnel

  • Water

  • Various types of oil (olive, vegetable, even baby oil)

  • Food coloring

  • Rinsed and empty drink bottles from the recycling

  • A drop cloth just in case things get messy


  • Spread out your drop cloth and open up your bottles

  • Using a funnel, pour a small amount of oil into one of the bottles

  • Remove the funnel and add a few drops of food coloring

  • Fill the remainder of the bottle with water, stopping at ¾ of the way to the top

  • Put the cap back on very tightly

  • Gently shake the bottle

  • Observe what happens

  • Repeat the experiment with a new bottle, but try reversing when you add the oil and water

Take it one step further:

If you'd like to get into the science, you can talk about density (mass in a given volume). Put very simply, density determines how something will sink or float. Oil and water have very different densities and each variety of oil has a different density as well. Try using different oils in different “lamps” and adding the food coloring at different steps: what do you notice? Does one oil “mix” better than another with the water? Are there any bottles where the colors are completely separated from the other liquids?


8 Books To Inspire Curious Kids
How to Make an Oil Menorah