The day after Thanksgiving, I woke up to a street filled with lit-up houses and stores decked in red and green. So what did my family do? Brought out our winter holiday box, of course! Raising kids in a multi-faith household, we celebrate a lot of holidays and spend a lot of time reading holiday related books. This year, my kids are fascinated with all things Hanukkah. I’ve already spent the past few days immersed in children’s Hanukkah picture books, so I decided to find some hands-on activities to extend their learning and enjoyment. Here is a list of my top Hanukkah picks from Education.com for the preschool through second grade grade set.
Preschool and Kindergarten
- Hanukkah Menorah Shape Collage: In this simple art project, your child will get to practice shape identification while making their very own menorah. For younger children, consider cutting out the shapes in advance and inviting them to place them on their paper. With older kids, this is a great way for them to practice their fine motor skills as they draw and cut out their own shapes.
- Maccabee Shield: My 3-year-old has been captivated by the story of Hanukkah this year, in particular the battle over the temple. This activity provides the perfect way for your child to act out the story of Hanukkah with their very own Maccabee shield, using materials you likely have laying around the house.
- Magnetic Menorah: With the addition of magnet strips (I was able to find some at my local art store) your child can not only make, but “light” their own menorah! This is the perfect activity to practice counting skills as your child lights their candles each night of Hanukkah.
- Alphabet Block Menorah: This is a great activity if you have leftover alphabet blocks, but you can also pick up a low-cost set from the store. This can be a fun activity to do with a younger child–they can work on letter identification and counting skills–or with an older child. they can follow the directions and practice gluing and setting the menorah up.
First and Second Grade
- Tzedakah Box: I love this activity not only because it allows for open-ended creativity with common materials, but because it encourages the act of giving to others with a tzedakah box. In my house, we suggested several places to donate to, and my older child chose the local SPCA. Each time he gets money as a gift or allowance, he puts half in the tzedakah box.
- Hanukkah Gift Bags: This activity introduces your child to a wonderful craft–sewing! They will get to learn a new skill, use their creativity, and then share their finished creations with family and friends. So dig out a needle and thread and get creating.
- Make a Clay Dreidel: Is your child already singing the “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel…” song on repeat? Encourage your child to make their very own clay dreidel in this fun and easy activity. When finished, they can practice writing Hebrew letters to finish their dreidel. Consider picking up some chocolate gelt to sweeten the games that will follow!
- Menorah Light Chart: This activity adds some math and science data collection to your candle-lighting ceremony each night of Hanukkah. Introduce your child to graphing as you create a candle graph together and use it to collect data about the length of time each candle burns during Hanukkah. This activity could be extended to include predictions from the whole family!
Here are additional resources to make the most of the holiday:
This Hanukkah, I hope you consider these activities when thinking about how to celebrate (or introduce) the festival of lights to your children!
By Jasmine Gibson, an educational consultant with expertise in early elementary education, supporting teachers, and designing curriculum.