When it comes to winter holidays, unless your school or city
with a high Jewish population, Hanukkah tends to get pushed into
Christmas' shadow. Here is a look at how you can incorporate Hanukkah
themes into your classroom.
1. Achieving the impossible
Hanukkah focuses on the story of keeping a burning light lit
for eight days, when there was only enough oil to last for one.
Sounds like an impossible task! Have students write about a time
where they accomplished something that they had previously thought
2. Dreidel, dreidel
Spinning the dreidel is a traditional holiday game. You can have
a class competition with the dreidel. Split students into teams
to compete against each other, and then have winners compete against
the winners from other teams for a class champion. Candy, raisins,
stickers, or other small items can be used as prizes.
3. Create a holiday scrapbook
Celebrating Hanukkah in your classroom represents an appreciation
for diversity and cultural understanding. Encourage your students
to share their favorite holiday memories through a creative scrapbook.
Each student can create a personalized page, or you can have them
research the important symbols, meanings, and stories behind Hanukkah
and create a class scrapbook.
4. Stamping the holiday spirit
Living in America, we celebrate diversity. The U.S. Post Office
publishes holiday stamps, including ones celebrating Hanukkah.
Have your students think about cultural underpinnings - as well
as the style of a stamp design - by asking them to create a unique
stamp. They can enhance their communication skills by presenting
their design and its symbolic meanings.
5. Make your own wrapping paper
Jewish children receive a gift for each night of Hanukkah. You
can have students design a different wrapping paper for each night.
If you have extra time, have students use the wrapping paper to
wrap up a small homemade gift for a loved one.
6. Cook a feast
For classrooms that have access to a kitchen, you can make up
your own Hanukkah feast as a way to introduce students to traditional
foods. If you are unable to actually cook, have students look
up Hanukkah meals and design their own menus of what they would
7. Make a menorah
Each night of Hanukkah, the family will light candles in a special
holder, called a menorah. You can have students model their own
menorah out of clay. Have them look at pictures for inspiration.
You can even place real candles in the menorah for students to
light at home.
8. The gift of giving
Students can learn that giving to others is an important part
of any holiday. Consider having them bring in canned goods for
the local shelter, or host a bake sale to raise money for the
less fortunate. Older students can vote on which charity they
feel needs the money the most.
9. A look at oil
Since the story of Hanukkah revolves around lamps burning for
eight days, this can be a confusing idea for students who are
commonly familiar with electricity. Have your students research
oil lamps and how they were used. You can also take a look at
how olive oil is made, from planting olive trees to the finished
10. Compare and contrast the celebrations
Hanukkah is often considered the Jewish "Christmas," but in actuality
the two holidays are quite different. Have students research both
holidays and their traditions to see how the two compare. Upon
closer observation, they may be surprised at how different the
two traditions are.
These are just a few ideas on how to incorporate Hanukkah themes
into your classroom. With a little creativity, you can have students
see the magic behind this holiday as well.