The Symbols of Chanukah
Next, explain to the children that just as there are certain symbols we typically associate with Christmas (like a tree, ornaments and Santa), there are certain symbols that are typically associated with the Chanukah celebration. These symbols include the Menorah, the Dreidel and the Star of David. Here is a little background information that you can give about each:
The Menorah is a candle holder with 9 branches. For this reason, it can hold 9 candles. The candle in the middle is known as the "Shamash," and it is used to light the other 8 candles. The candles are lit each night, at sundown. On the first night, one candle is lit. On the second night, two candles are lit. This continues each of the 8 nights. The Menorah is typically displayed in the window of a home, to remind all of the miracle of Chanukah.
The Dreidel is a small, wooden top. It is used to play a game during the 8 days of Chanukah. Players are given gelt, which is another word for money or currency. Each side of the Dreidel holds a symbol: nun, gimel, hey and shin. Players place some of their gelt as a bet in the middle of a circle, and then take turns spinning the top. If it lands with nun facing up, the player does nothing and their turn is over. If gimel is showing, then the player gets to take whatever gelt is in the middle. If it lands on hey, the player only takes half of the pot. Finally, if the Dreidel lands on shin, then the player adds a small amount of gelt into the pot.
If you have a Dreidel available in the classroom, you can actually play a round or two with your students. You can also teach the children a Dreidel song to sing.
The Star of David
The Star of David is typically recognized as the symbol of Judaism. It is a six-pointed star, formed of two equilateral triangles.