I'm out to create simple, dazzling Hanukkah activities for preschoolers, because in our blended home, Christmas always outshines Hanukkah and to be honest, it kinda breaks my heart.
Growing up, I always felt left out of Christmas and it seemed for my family, Hanukkah was kind of an afterthought. Sometimes we would light the candles; sometimes we didn't. I wanted in on the festivities!
I'm hoping to build my children's excitement for the Festival of Lights while they're still young, so we can build family traditions for years to come. So to pump them up, we will be doing tons of Hanukkah preschool activities. Join us!
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1. Perfect Preschool Menorah -A Recycled DIY Hanukkah Activity!
Nervous about your child lighting the candles on Hanukkah? With this simple toilet paper roll craft, kids can add and remove lights without any fire.
First collect and paint the toilet paper rolls with your preschoolers. Painting is always a sure-fire way to get my preschoolers excited!
Next grab a piece of cardboard long enough to fit 9 toilet paper rolls across. To make it simple to place them, I trace 9 circles in a row across the board.
Then have your preschooler squeeze some glue into a cup to contain the mess. They can dip the end of the toilet paper roll in the cup, without the glue going everywhere before placing the roll in a circle.
This was a great matching, fine motor planning activity for my little one, and a math opportunity with my older preschooler. We discussed symmetry on the menorah with the "Shamash" candle being in the middle.
Some mathematical questions I asked during this Hanukkah activity:
How many candles are we placing on the menorah?
If we take out the large Shamash candle, how many are left?
How can we fairly share the shorter candles to each side? How many will there be on each side?
What are some other symmetrical objects around the house?
Make your own menorah with your preschooler this Hanukkah in a few easy steps:
2. Star of David Popsicle Sticks -DIY Hanukkah Preschool Math Activity
The Star of David is generally recognized as a symbol of Judaism and is most often recognized from the Israeli flag.
We explored popsicle sticks and dough to make two triangles for this Hanukkah preschool activity.
The kids each made two popsicle triangles and then tried to create the star shape by placing them one on top of another.
Math questions I asked during this Hanukkah activity:
How many sides does a triangle have?
How many triangles in the star?
How is this start different from a typical star shape you usually see?
Can you count the points on this star?
3. Dreidel Stained Glass Hanukkah Craft
Do you already have a sticky wall? Just pull out your contact paper and place a dreidel shape on top using a little window then decorate to your heart's content. Preschoolers love this little Hanukkah activity and it hits some great fine motor skills and sensory needs!
Place the contact paper sticky side out on the wall or on the floor. Keep in place with some painters tape. (Want a tutorial on how to do that? See my video here.)
Then cut and shape a dreidel onto the paper.
Choose one of the Hebrew letters: נ (nun), ג (gimmel), ה (hey), ש (shin) to put on your dreidel stained glass craft! We read Spin the Dreidel by Alexandra Cooper to determine what each letter meant in the game.
The kids chose hei (ה) because it means you get to take half the tokens in the pot and gimmel (ג) because it means you get to take all the tokens in the pot!
When making the letter, decide...How will you display the art? If you plan to put it on a wall, you'll need to make your Hebrew letter reversed, so that it comes out properly when placed on the wall. If you plan to display it on the window, make the letter you choose, in its normal orientation so it can be seen properly on the other side of the window.
Kids can use tissue paper, glitter, or ripped paper scraps to place onto the dreidel shape. In our house, the more glitter the better.
As we crafted, we discussed the 4 letters on the dreidel and made predictions on what letters in English they were closest to based on their beginning sounds. We have been learning lots about letter and sounds, and this was a great way to discuss how other languages have different letters that also make sounds (and some languages are character based instead)!
Other learning benefits were sensory input from the sticky contact paper itself and fine motor building, placing piece by piece of tissue paper onto the sticky paper.
4. Dreidel Spin Art- Hanukkah Preschool Art Activity
Got a dreidel and some washable paint? My favorite is either Crayola washable or Lakeshore washable, because they're only truly washable paints I've ever found!
Make sure to use my hack and keep the paint in a shoebox so you don't get paint splattered all over the floor.
Grab your dreidel and spin to create splatterfully, beautiful dreidel art.
Opportunities for learning are discussing color mixing and also identifying the Hebrew letters as you land on them.
5. How To Play Dreidel - A Classic Hanukkah Activity Perfect for Preschool!
The letters on the dreidel stand for a Nes Gadol Haya Sham (A great miracle happened there.) In Israel, instead of using a Shin for Sham (there), the dreidels have a Pey(פ) for Po (here).
Spin the Dreidel- Game Rules:
Every player receives the same number of gelt or candy. A good number to start with is 10-15.
At the beginning of each round, every player puts a piece of gelt into the pot.
If you roll a נ/Nun, you get nothing! If you roll ה/Hey, you get half, and if you roll ש/Shin you give two coins back to the pile. If you roll a ג/Gimmel you get everything in the pot and the round starts over.
The game continues until one player has won all the gelt!
With one simple Hanukkah activity, preschoolers learn about taking turns, counting, and even the beginning of dividing as we learn to take "half" when landing on Hey. Will you be playing dreidel this year?