Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of Lights and lasts eight days. It usually falls in late November or December. Jews celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate the Miracle of the Oil. Over 2000 years ago, in 165 BC, the Jews in Judea rebelled against their Syrian ruler. After three hard years of fighting, the Jews defeated Antiochus and, to celebrate, they restored the Temple of Jerusalem – which had been taken over by the Syrians – and rededicated it to their God. As part of the celebrations they lit an oil lamp which should have been kept burning all the time, even though they could only find enough oil to keep it burning for one night. But a miracle occurred, and the oil lamp stayed lit for eight days, which was the time it took to make new oil for the lamp. This was the Miracle of the Oil. It was then declared that every year, Jews would remember the day with an eight-day Festival of Lights and celebrate the miracle of the oil by placing eight candles in a Menorah (a special candlestick) and lighting one candle for each evening of the celebration. Here are some great games you can play with your children to help celebrate Hanukkah. www.activityvillage.co.
The Dreidel Game
This classic Hanukkah party game is best played with a small group of children – less than 6 is ideal. All that’s required for the game is a dreidel, 20 pennies for each player, and a small pot or bowl. The players gather around, and choose a player to spin the dreidel first. Depending on which letter (Nun, Gimel, Hey or Shin) is facing up when the dreidel stops, the player must either: do nothing (Nun), take everything in the pot (Gimel), take half the pot (Hey) or put a penny in the pot (Shin). Deciding a winner can be done in a couple of ways. For a short game, players can count their pennies after they’ve had 5 or 10 spins each. For a longer game, players can keep playing until one player reaches a certain level, for example 50 pennies.
Pin the Candle on the Menorah
This game is a Hanukah-themed version of the party classic “Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Prior to the game, draw a Menorah with one candle missing on a large sheet of cardboard or paper and stick it on the wall of the playing area. Draw a candle separately and cut it out. The children gather together and choose someone to go first. Place a blindfold over the first player’s eyes and spin them around 2 or 3 times before giving them the candle to stick on the Menorah. The game continues until all players have had a turn. The winner of this Hanukkah party game is the player who places the candle closest to its’ intended spot on the Menorah.
Take words that have to do with Hanukkah and jumble up the letters. Put them on paper and the first person to unscramble the words correctly wins! Here are some examples of words you could use.
Star of David
Hanukkah Match Game
Print and cut out pictures having to do with Hanukkah. You can even draw them if you would like. You need two of each picture. Mix all of the pictures together and place them on the floor face down. Try and see how many matches you can get!
This is played like the normal BINGO, but you need a word associated with Hanukkah at the top. Examples are: LIGHT, GIMEL, EIGHT, GIFTS, DAVID, COINS, and TORAH.
Star of David Window Ornament
Glue & an old paint brush
Piece of Yarn
Bright Colored Tissue Paper
Waxed paper (used only to keep table clean)
Scissors (Adults required)
Exacto-Knife (Adults required)
Cutting Board (or heavy piece of cardboard from an old box)
This is a great family project… the older kids (adults) can do the cutting, and the younger ones can help with the glue and glitter! Clear a table for this one. Use the full size pattern to cut out two Stars from the white cardboard sheets. To cut out the center areas, use the exacto knife. Then use a hole punch to put a hole at the top of each star.
Lay out some waxed paper (this is used to catch any of the glue or glitter that may fall off the cardboard.) …lay the cut out stars flat on the table. On one side of each of the stars, cover it with glue… using the brush to push the glue to cover the entire area of the star. Let this dry.
While the glue is drying, you can cut out the squares of colored tissue from the tissue patterns. When the glue and glitter have dried… put a dab of glue on the corners of the pieces of tissue. Place the tissue on the inside of one of the stars (the side that does not have the glitter). Then brush a coat of glue to the other star. Carefully put the two stars together. Allow this to dry.
When the star is dry pull a string (yarn works good!) in the hole… and hand in your window. When the sun hits the window… watch it shine!!!
Variation: In the center area, instead of putting a piece of tissue… you can put in family photos.
Don’t Say a Word
For this year’s Hanukkah party you can play the ‘Don’t Say that Word’ game. This is fun game that can be played at just about any home or office party. You will get small stickers and stick one on each guest as he or she arrives to your party. When everyone has arrived at the party you make the announcement that from here on out at the party guests must avoid saying a certain word. It will be need to be a word that’s expected to be said at some point during the evening. Then the guests must listen carefully to each other when they are having conversations. If someone mistakenly says the forbidden word and another person notices that person can take the sticker from the person who said the forbidden word and stick it on themselves. At the end of the party you can tally up and see who has the most stickers. Who ever has collected the most stickers wins a prize.