There really is only one word to describe celebrating Hanukkah for kids, FUN! And, don’t we all deserve a little fun in our lives? I certainly think so.
Since the birth of my grandson Jayden, I’ve found even more joy in this holiday. Over the years I have been blessed to celebrate with so many of my families, and their young children. And each holiday was so special; younger children are truly enveloped by the story of the holiday and the games and food that accompany it. I saw this in so many children. Now, I not only get to share it with them; but I have that pure joy in my own house; I LOVE it! Below, I have provides some of my personal ideas in creating a magical Hanukkah for kids!
Hanukkah Activities for Kids
Share the Story
The story of Hanukkah is exciting. There are bad guys and heros and happy endings — there is even a miracle. A little Jewish education is important during the holidays. Sometimes the best way to share the story is with a story – a story book! Years and years ago (oh no, am I showing my age?) Hanukkah books were hard to find. Today, that’s not the case. In fact, I recently found this site which shares some of the most wonderful books around. Check it out and please, if you have a favorite book, let me know so I can share it with our community!
Cook (and eat) the Food
Hanukkah food is delicious – I look forward to it all year long. Can you blame me? Potato latkes are just so good. Freshly made with apple sauce or sour cream. Honestly, I don’t even think I need a main course; I could eat them for dinner. And, when you make them, which ever recipe you choose, don’t forget my special cooking tip: after you grate the potatoes, squeeze out all the liquid (use a cheese cloth)! They will be perfect!
As much as I love a latke, after all their salty goodness you do need something sweet. And that is where sufganiyot comes in to play. These sweet donuts filled with jelly are the perfect way to end a holiday celebration. And while you can always grab some jelly donuts from the local store, here is a quick and easy recipe if you want to make them at home. Seriously, four ingredients (if you count the oil and powdered sugar). Click the link and check it out. There’s nothing better than a warm sufganiyot!
And then, there is gelt. It’s not really “food”, it’s more of a treat! You should absolutely have some (or lots) on had throughout the holiday. Hanukkah gelt is a tradition, and chocolate gelt is the perfect little treat. Truth be told, much of the chocolate gelt (those foil-covered candy coins) you can buy from local retailers may contain peanuts and tree nuts. If you have a child with an allergy, please read the labels carefully. If you want to order nut free gelt, click here. Don’t forget to double check the ingredients when they arrive; you can never be too careful!
Holiday games are always fun, and dreidel is always a crowd favorite. Each of the letters on the side of the dreidel corresponds to a specific action in the game. Click here for a complete description of the game and its rules. Before you sit down to play, make sure you have a bowl of pennies, gelt or candy, as the game resolves around a “pot” of goodies which each player has the opportunity to win.
Do you know what the letters on the dreidel mean? They are Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Shin, which stands for Nais Gadol Hayah Shahm. Translated, that means “a great miracle happened there”. Pretty special, isn’t it?
Light the Menorah
Make the candle lighting special each night. Perhaps everyone in the house has their own Menorah (what a great idea for a first night of Hanukkah gift – here is great website for children’s style ones).
Or, if you have a family menorah, everyone can take a turn lighting the candles (of course, little ones, with help).
Say the prayer together, each night. I bet by night eight EVERYONE in the family knows it!
Tzedakah, to Jewish people is more than charity, it is an obligation to give. Our community is especially fortunate; and we should incorporate giving into our celebration, especially because so many others are truly in need. Talk to your family and determine how you can incorporate tzedakah together. You can “adopt” a child for the holiday and fulfill there wishlist, you can volunteer at any number of places, you can donate to Toys for Tots, you can make a financial contribution to an organization whose mission and goals resonates with your family. I encourage you to discuss this with your children; even those who are young can appreciate and participate helping someone in need.
Celebrate Hanukkah for Kids
Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! I cannot say it enough. Embrace the opportunity to share the holiday with your young children; believe me, they will be grown before you know it! Holidays through the eyes of a child take on a whole new meaning. Take a visual picture (and a cell phone one too) of their expressions of joy and wonder. Share in their enjoyment. Participate wholeheartedly and in a hands on manner. Put your phones away and enjoy one of the most special times of the year.
From my family to yours, Happy Hanukkah! I can’t wait to hear about your celebrations!