There are many way to include children in your Hanukkah celebrations. Here are a few resources to help you make the festival of lights shine bright for your kiddos.
Make Latkes Together
- 1 (30 ounce) bag frozen potatoes (shredded) or 5 large potatoes scrubbed and grated
- 1 cup sweet onion, finely diced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons flour
- vegetable oil (for frying)
- sour cream, for topping
- applesauce, for topping
- Defrost grated potatoes in a medium-size colander. Press with paper towels to remove excess moisture. There won’t be much.
- Add onion, eggs, salt, pepper and flour. Mixture should be thick and cohesive.
- Pour about 1/4 inch of oil into a heavy-bottomed frying pan.
- Use about 2 Tablespoons potato mixture and place in the oil and press into a patty.
- Fry for about 3 minutes. Flip and fry for another 3 or so minutes. If pancake cooks too fast, reduce oil’s temperature. If it takes longer, turn the oil up so they don’t get soggy. Repeat with remaining potato mixture.
- Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with apple sauce or sour cream, or keep in a 250 oven on a baking sheet.
Do a Hanukkah Themed Craft
1. Dip both hands, with fingers slightly spread, into the blue paint.
2. In the middle of construction paper, line up your paint-covered hands side by side, with your thumbs touching. Gently and firmly press hands onto the paper.
3. Dip your index (pointer) finger in the paint. Place your finger above your thumbprints to make the middle, highest candle, called a shamos.
4. Wash or wipe your hands thoroughly. Put a finger into yellow, white, and/or red paint. Press on top of each candle to create flames.
Here a few simple rules of the games taken from A Different Light: The Hanukkah Book of Celebration.
1. At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center “pot.” In addition, every time the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, every player should put one in the pot.
2. Every time it’s your turn, spin the dreidel once. Depending on the outcome, you give or get game pieces from the pot:
|Nun means “nisht” or “nothing” in Yiddish. The player does nothing.
|Gimmel means “gantz” or “everything” in Yiddish. The player gets everything in the pot.
|Hay means “halb” or “half” in Yiddish. The player gets half of the pot. (If there is an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes half of the total plus one.)
|Shin means “shtel” or “put in” in Yiddish. The player adds a game piece to the pot.
3. If you find that you have no game pieces left, you are either “out” or may ask a fellow player for a “loan.”
4. When one person has won everything, that round of the game is over!
Read Hanukkah-Themed Stories
Latke the Lucky Dog: by Ellen Fisher
A family adopts him from an animal shelter on the first night of Hanukkah — and names him after the potato pancakes that his fur resembles. Now it’s time for him to learn the rules of the house, as well as the traditions of the Festival of Lights.
The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: by Martha Seif Simpson
In this story, a magical dreidel won’t spin for greedy, spoiled children. The shopkeeper wonders: will it spin for another child — one who carries the true spirit of Hanukkah in his heart?
Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah: by Sylvia A. Rouss
After watching the Shapiro family celebrate the different nights of Hanukkah, Sammy Spider is sad that he cannot participate in the celebration. In the end, Sammy gets to share the holiday with the Shapiros.
Watch Hanukkah-Themed Movies
If your kids are older, this animated film from Adam Sandler is pretty hilarious. Definitely not for the toddler set.
This Emmy award winning animated film tells the story of a young Jewish girl who longs for a Christmas tree. After her Grandpa takes her to his union Christmas party and she questions why it is OK to go to the party and not have a Christmas tree, he lovingly explains “…I think there is a big difference between celebrating something because you believe in it and helping friends celebrate something because they believe in it.”
Attend Hanukkah Activities Around Town
Introduce Mensch on a Bench in Your Household
The Mensch on a Bench is a Hanukkah Tradition meant to bring families together, and add more funukkah to Hanukkah. Mensch on a Bench was created by a Jewish father who wanted to teach his sons about the Jewish holiday while adding new traditions to the family. First came the story of Moshe the Mensch who helped Judah Maccabee at the temple. Moshe played dreidel, loved gelt, and was a true Mensch-all around nice guy. Next came the doll which holds the Shamash candle and watch over the Menorah.
Hanukkah is the perfect opportunity to talk with children about what they believe in, and what it means to stand up for your beliefs. Find causes that support free speech as well as religious freedom, and help them to spread those messages centuries after the miracle of Hanukkah. After all, Hanukkah is the story of the Israelites fighting for religious freedom!
How are you and your family celebrating Hanukkah?
Featured Image Photo credit: CrazyUncleJoe / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND