Sharing Hanukkah at School

Ah December, time for delicious fried foods, cozy family get-togethers, lighting the menorah, and a yearly visit to your child’s school to explain Hanukkah. Chances are that if your child attends a secular or public school, you may be invited to teach a short lesson about Hanukkah to their class. If you’ve done this in the past, or every year, you may be getting tired of the same old crafts and cooking demos. If you’ve never had to do this, but you’re on the hook for this year, we’ve got a few tips for helping give an elementary or preschool classroom a crash course in Hanukkah.

In our quick guide for the “Hanukkah Parent” you’ll find story suggestions and activity ideas for three age groups: preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school.

PREP:

First, give yourself a refresher on the Hanukkah story. For a humorous take for adults and young adults, watch this video from BimBam (formerly G-dcast). You can also head over to MyJewishLearning’s Hanukkah 101 page. In one sentence, Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the Jewish temple after it was taken back from the Greeks in the 2nd century BCE.

This video from Howcast can also help:


If you're still not 100% on the ins and outs of Hanukkah, use Tablet's Hanukkah FAQ and you'll be a walking, talking, Hanukkah expert in no-time. (Well, expert enough to convince a classroom of children that you know what's up).

THE HANUKKAH STORY:

For age-appropriate adaptations of the Hanukkah story that you can share with your child and their classmates, print one of our versions:

The Hanukkah Story for Kids Ages 5 and under

The Hanukkah Story for Kids Ages 6+

Once children are familiar with the story, you can jump right in to some activities.

READ

For Preschoolers (1-3 years):

Eight Winter Nights
Hanukkah Lights
Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah!
It's Hanukkah!

For Younger Readers (3-5 years):

Mrs. Greenberg's Messy Hanukkah
The Hanukkah Trike
The Parakeet Named Dreidel

For Big Kids (6+):

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Hanukkah at Valley Forge

Nathan Blows out the Hanukkah Candles
Hanukkah Cookies With Sprinkles

View all of PJ Library's Hanukkah-themed book selections

DO

Activities & Crafts:

For Preschoolers (1-3 years):

Hand Print Menorahs
Clay Menorahs
See more ideas at Preschool Plan-it

For Pre-K-Kindergarten (3-5 years):

Edible Menorahs
Dreidel Gift Jars

For Big Kids (6+):

Hanukkah Cards
Play Dreidel
Make Lego Dreidels

You can also share a classic Hanukkah song with any age group. Print this lyric sheet courtesy of PJ Library in Miami.

Recipes:

Printable Hanukkah Recipe and Activity Cards
Quick smashed-apple sauce
5 Fun & Easy Hanukkah Recipes to Make With Your Kids
 

For more fun, kid-friendly recipes grab a copy of one of these books:
The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen
Hanukkah Fairy Tale Feasts.

For additional activity ideas, see:
12 Hanukkah Activities We Love and Make Your Own Menorahs

DISCUSS

For Pre-K-Kindergarten (3-5 years):

Children in this age group understand what it means to be brave like the Maccabees. Encourage kids to talk about times that they've been brave, whether by talking to a new friend, going to the dentist, or getting back on their bike after they've fallen down.

For Big Kids (6+):

Hanukkah celebrates liberation from oppression, and reminds us of the importance of freedom of religion. It also teaches us to fight back when people's rights are taken away. For children ages 7 and up, Hanukkah provides a jumping off point to discussions about freedom of expression and current events.

Discussion questions might include:
“What makes freedom important for all people?”
“How can a small group make a difference?”

MORE

For more tips and resources check out Bible Belt Balabusta.

Are you the “Hanukkah Parent” at your child’s school?
Share your favorite tips and tricks with us on Facebook.

Find Hanukkah activities, recipes, story ideas, and more on the PJ Library Hanukkah hub.