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Happy Hanukkah! Multicultural Kindergarten Holiday Lesson

written by: Cheryl Gabbert • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 11/19/2013

Multicultural learning is an important part of today's elementary curriculum and teachers are always looking for units on winter holidays and customs. Here is the first of five in an article series of multicultural holiday lessons. Day one focuses on Hanukkah activities.

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    A Little Background

    Menorah Hanukkah is known as the Jewish Feast of Lights. The word Hanukkah means dedication in the Hebrew language. The holiday lasts eight days, usually falling in the month of December.

    Hanukkah originated in 165 B.C. when the Jews defeated the Syrians after three years of struggle. Festivities were held and the Temple of Jerusalem was dedicated to God. Syrian idols were removed from the Temple, and the Jews found only enough oil to light their lamps for one night. Miraculously, the small amount of oil ended up lasting for eight days.

    Gifts are exchanged during Hanukkah. Every evening, an additional candle is lit on the Hanukkah Menorah (also called a Hanukia). The first night, the working candle, or Shamash, as well as the first Hanukkah candle, are lit. By the eighth night, all of the nine candles will be burning together.

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    Hanukkah Activities

    Reading List:

    The Best Hanukkah Ever, by Barbara Diamond Goldin and Avi Katz.

    Light the Candles: A Hanukkah Lift-the-Flap Book (Picture Puffins), by Joan Holub and Lynne Avril Cravath.

    Festival of Lights: the Story of Hanukkah, by Maida Silverman and Carolyn Ewing.

    Circle Time: Read books from the list above; then display books for children to explore in the reading center.

    Letters of the Day: C for candles, H for Hanukkah, and L for light


    I'm a Little Dreidel

    I'm a little dreidel, made of clay

    Let me spin if you wanna play.

    If I fall down and you don't win,

    Pick me up and spin again.

    Social Studies:

    Light a real menorah. Discuss how one candle is lit per night for eight nights using the Shamash candle. First light the Shamash candle. Next light the first Hanukkah candle, then the next, until all 9 are lit, then sit down together to eat latkes.

    Cooking activity: Make potato latkes for the class to share.

    Potato Latkes

    4 cups grated potatoes

    2 eggs

    2 tbs. flour

    Salt/pepper to taste

    Cooking oil

    Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add potatoes, flour, salt/pepper. Mix well. Spoon mixture into oiled pan, making several small pancakes. Brown each side on medium heat. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve with sour cream or applesauce, if desired.


    Sources of Light

    You will need:

    flash light, lamp, overhead light, candle (use menorah), pictures of the sun, moon, stars, construction paper, crayons

    Talk about the sources of light in our world. Show the items above and discuss how each item provides us with light. Now have each child write the word Light on the top of the paper. Ask each child to draw some sources of light on the paper. Display the projects on a bulletin board.


    Dreidel Play "Spin the Dreidel." Use one dreidel for each group of 4 children. Have each child bring 20 pennies to class prior to Hanukkah day. Have extra pennies for the children who don't bring any. Each child will take turns spinning the dreidel and following directions based upon the symbol that lands face up. The symbol and what it stands for will come with the dreidel.

    Dreidels can be bought from Oriental Trading or from many dollar stores. The child who acquires the most pennies when you decide it's time to stop playing is the winner. Put a basket in each group which will be the pot.


    1. nun: Do nothing.

    2. gimel: Take all the pennies from the pot, leaving only one. Everyone else puts one penny in the pot.

    3. hay: You win half of what's in the pot.

    4. shin: Put one penny in the pot.

Winter Holidays Around the World: A Multicultural Holiday Unit

Kindergarten teachers looking for an easy to prepare, multicultural, holiday thematic unit will be delighted with this 5 part article series. Winter holidays from around the world will be showcased in a week's worth of lesson plans.
  1. Happy Hanukkah! Multicultural Kindergarten Holiday Lesson
  2. A Multicultural Kindergarten Holiday Unit About Advent
  3. A Multicultural Kindergarten Holiday Lesson About Poinsettia Day
  4. Winter Holidays Around the World: Celebrate St. Lucia's Day in Kindergarten
  5. Multicultural Winter Holidays Around the World: Christmas in Italy