This history of Hanukkah is the story of a miracle. The Menorah with its eight candles symbolizes that miracle: oil that should have lasted for only one day lasted for eight. Help your child understand the meaning behind this holiday by getting them engaged in some activities and crafts, some that the whole family can enjoy!
Getting the Kids Involved in the Holiday Traditions
Ariela Pelaia, About.com Guide to Judaism, has some excellent suggestions for getting the kids involved in Hanukkah traditions. There are many other activities that the family can do together as well. One is to have a Hanukkah party complete with activities that the kids will enjoy. You can have it on any day during Hanukkah. More than that, though, you can encourage your child to participate in and learn about Hanukkah while nurturing their various talents and abilities.
For example, if your child is an aspiring playwright, have her write a Hanukkah play. It doesn't have to be set in ancient times. It can be a story about a child or a family -- or anyone -- who learns the meaning and importance of the miracle celebrated by Hanukkah. If the family is large enough, family members can take on the roles of the characters. If more people are needed, your child can recruit friends, even those who aren't Jewish. It can be a way to share the story of Hanukkah with others. Or maybe your child is a budding director. You can write a play and have your child film it. Whether your child writes the play, directs it, or films it, the video will be something that the whole family will enjoy watching year after year. In fact, it can become part of your family's Hanukkah tradition.
If your child enjoys writing stories, he can try his hand at writing fiction. Encourage your child to write a Hanukkah story and illustrate it or maybe write a poem. If your child enjoys music, perhaps she might enjoy composing a Hanukkah song. The possibilities are limited only by your child's interests and abilities.
Activities for the Kids
Get your child thinking about and focusing on Hanukkah by having her work on some Hanukkah crafts, play some fun games, or watch some fun videos. The Enchanted Learning site has a number of fun crafts, including a paper Dreidel and a metal Star of David (made from a disposal pie plate).
How about getting your child to make a Gelt Bag? Once the bag is made, you can hide some "gelt" around the house that your child can then put in the bag. You can use real coins or gold foil covered chocolate coins that your child can then put in the bag. Keep in mind that your child can make a different size bag. Just alter the measurements to suit the size you want.
And of course, the whole family can play the Dreidel game. When you play, you can explain to your child what the word "dreidel" means and what the letters mean on the Dreidel. Learning these meanings can make playing the game so much more meaningful for your child -- and it will still be just as much fun.
The Chabad.org site has so many great activities for the kids. One of my favorites is the Chanukah connect the dots game. What makes this game really fun is that the kids have to solve addition problems in order to get the dots connected. The site also has some wonderful Chanukah videos for kids to watch. There are too many to list, but there is quite a variety, from an animated "news" coverage of the story of Chanukah to a live action re-enactment, starring a group of adorable five-year-olds. If that's not enough for one site, your child will also find some Hanukkah music to listen to on this site.