As the holiday season approaches, it’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce young minds to the rich traditions of different cultures. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a joyous Jewish celebration that can be shared with your toddlers in a formal and vibrant setting like preschool. Without further ado, let us explore what Hanukkah is, when and how it is celebrated, and the various delightful Hanukkah activities for preschoolers, which your little ones can enjoy, while learning something meaningful.
Hanukkah is a festive Jewish celebration that lasts for eight days, and it has been going on for over 2,000 years! A group of brave fighters called the Maccabees won a big battle to protect their temple. After their victory, they wanted to light a special candle holder called a menorah in the temple. But they only found a tiny bit of oil, enough for just one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight whole days! And those eight days came to be the length of the festival. Hanukkah typically falls in December, and its celebration involves special stories shared with children, traditional Hanukkah games like spinning the dreidel and yummy food for everyone to enjoy.
Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which usually falls in December. The festival lasts for eight nights and days, and each night, a candle is added to the menorah. The central candle, the shamash, is used to light the others.
Families come together to light the menorah, sing traditional songs and exchange gifts. Traditional Hanukkah foods, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts), are enjoyed during this festive time.
Bringing Hanukkah to School!
Now that we have a basic understanding of Hanukkah, let’s explore some engaging Hanukkah games and activities that can be incorporated into the preschool curriculum to introduce toddlers to this wonderful celebration.
- Dreidel Delight:
- Hanukkah Storytime:
- Hanukkah Songs and Dance:
- Potato Stamping:
- Star of David Hunt:
- Hanukkah Sensory Bin:
- Latke Tasting Party:
- Counting Candles:
- Menorah Craft:
Materials Needed: Dreidels, small candies or tokens Dreidel is a traditional spinning top game enjoyed during Hanukkah. Each side of the dreidel has a Hebrew letter representing the phrase “A Great Miracle Happened There.” Toddlers can take turns spinning the dreidel and receiving candies or tokens based on the letter it lands on. It’s a simple yet exciting game that promotes fine motor skills and counting.
Materials Needed: Hanukkah story books Engage toddlers in the rich traditions of Hanukkah by incorporating storytime into your daily routine.Set up a cozy reading corner and share age-appropriate books about Hanukkah with the toddlers. Choose books that have vibrant illustrations and simple storytelling to capture their attention while educating them about the festival. This not only enhances language skills but also introduces children to the cultural significance of the celebration.
Materials Needed: Hanukkah music, open space for dancing Create a festive atmosphere by playing Hanukkah songs and getting your toddlers to dance along. Simple dance steps like spinning in a circle can add an element of fun while celebrating the festive spirit. This activity not only introduces them to traditional Hanukkah music but also encourages physical activity and social interaction.
Materials Needed: Potatoes, carving tools, paper, paints Connect the celebration with the traditional Hanukkah food, latkes, by organizing a potato stamping activity. Cut potatoes in half, carve simple shapes, dip them in paint, and let toddlers create their own festive artwork! This simple yet engaging craft not only enhances fine motor skills but also introduces toddlers to the visual symbols of Hanukkah in a fun and hands-on way.
Materials Needed: Star-shaped stickers or cutouts, hidden prizes Create a Hanukkah-themed scavenger hunt by hiding Star of David shapes around the classroom or play area. Each star can lead to a hidden prize, making the game both exciting and rewarding. This activity promotes problem-solving skills, teamwork and adds an element of discovery to the celebration.
Materials Needed: Sensory bin, beads, tinsel, toys, and miscellaneous items Create a sensory bin filled with materials like blue and silver beads, tinsel and small dreidel toys. Toddlers can engage in sensory play by exploring and identifying the different textures and objects in the bin, enhancing their tactile and visual senses.
Materials Needed: Potato latkes, applesauce and sour cream Explore the culinary side of Hanukkah by organizing a Latke Tasting Party. Introduce your little chefs to the traditional potato pancakes (latkes) served with applesauce or sour cream. You can have them put the dish together in their own way, with the help of spoons. This sensory experience promotes trying new foods and embracing diverse culinary traditions.
Materials Needed: Hanukkah candles, numbered cards Enhance your preschooler’s counting skills by incorporating Hanukkah candles into a fun counting game. Place numbered cards around the room and ask toddlers to find and place the corresponding number of candles on each card. This activity combines physical movement with cognitive development. Not only that, it also teaches your little ones to count, collect and care for delicate objects like candles!
Materials Needed: Menorah-shaped cardboard, paper and markers Provide toddlers with simple materials like cardboard, paper, and colored markers to create their own menorahs. This hands-on activity not only enhances fine motor skills and color recognition, but also introduces the significance of the menorah in Hanukkah celebrations.
Incorporating Hanukkah into the preschool curriculum is a delightful way to introduce toddlers to diverse cultures and traditions of the world. Through engaging Hanukkah games and activities, young learners can develop a sense of appreciation for the Festival of Lights while enhancing their cognitive and motor skills. By fostering a sense of inclusivity and understanding, preschools can create a warm and festive environment, where every child feels like a part of the celebration, regardless of their background. At Eurokids, Hanukkah provides a beautiful opportunity to teach toddlers the values of unity, joy and the importance of spreading light in the world.