With the ancient Hindu festival of Diwali, also called the festival of lights, this week (23rd October) we had a go at creating our own diyas or Diwali candle holders today.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) places value on the role that cultural celebrations and festivals play in supporting children’s learning and development in every area of learning. Through simple craft and activity ideas children can be supported in beginning to understand the commonalities of human values that are shared by all cultures and religions.


I have previously made salt dough with no colour and painted it after but I was so impressed with how well paint worked to colour our Autumn playdough that I added it to the salt dough before baking. Although the colour faded slightly I was still impressed with the result and it meant we didn’t have to wait for the paint to dry before adding glue and glitter.

diwali candle holders

You will need:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Paint / food colouring (optional)
  • Glue (we used PVA)
  • Tea lights
  • Glitter, sequens, gems, jewels (whatever you have)

The above was enough to make 2 diyas, we made a second batch so we had 2 colours and that made 4 in total

How to make diyas for Diwali

1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl

2. If colouring beforehand add a good squirt of paint to the water or a few drops of food colouring and gradually pour into the mixture stiring untjl it forms a dough

diwali candle holders

3. Turn out on to a dry surface and knead for a few minutes

diwali candle holders

4. Shape into candle holders. To do this I encouraged the Little Tots to roll into a ball then push a thumb into the middle. They kept testing if it was big enough by placing a tea light inside.

5. Bake in an oven at 100 degrees for 3 hours (or longer depending on how thick they are). I turned ours over halfway through to make sure they were even.

6. Once ready and cooled down the Little Tots added glue, glitter and sequins and then I varnished with a layer of PVA glue

diwali candle holders

These were easy to make and the Little Tots enjoyed the process of making the salt dough, waiting for it to bake and then decorating them and needing little help from me. This salt dough recipe is cheap and easy to make and you can’t really go wrong, even when allowing little hands to measure out ingredients.

Extension ideas:

Some further ways we plan to extend this activity are:

  • Make salt dough Christmas gifts or Halloween ornaments
  • Explore Diwali further by making rangoli patterns with dried rice or beans
  • Decorate hand prints with diwali patterns
  • Watch some Diwali songs and videos on YouTube or watch this video from the CBeebies website

Areas of learning:

  • Communication & Language – following directions, maintaining focus and concentration, responds to simple instructions, understands the use of objects, asking simple questions, using simple sentences.
  • Physical Development – using tools to effect changes on materials, understands the need for safety when tackling new challenges.
  • Maths – talking about the shapes,  weighing and measuring ingredients, time taken to cook the dough.
  • Understanding the World – learning about simaliarities and difference between ourselves and other people, showing an intresest in lives of others, talking about customs and celebrations, asking questions about where they live.
  • Expressive Arts and Design –  Exploring how colour can be changed, describing texture of things, manipulating materials to planned efffect, selecting appropriate tools and techniques needed to shape and assemble

diwali candle holders

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