By: Andrea Dillon
*This post contains affiliate links. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.
Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, is a winter holiday celebrated worldwide. While this might not be a holiday that you and your homeschoolers observe and participate in, it can be essential to teach them the culture and history of the holiday from a social studies aspect. So how do you do that? We have pulled together many great resources to help you cultivate your own Hanukkah unit study.
|What Is Hanukkah?||Hanukkah Traditions||Hanukkah Decorations|
|Hanukkah Foods||Hanukkah Books|
What Is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah (sometimes also known as Chanukah) is an eight-day celebration each November or December for Jewish people. Each day, Jewish families light a candleholder called a menorah. Also known as The Festival of Lights, the Hanukkah story is a remembrance of an ancient miracle when one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in the temple. Learn more about Hanukkah and its history at the resources below.
- History.com Hanukkah – Get the history of Hanukkah and more from History.com.
- Hanukkah Story for Kids: 17 Hanukkah Activities and Lessons for Holiday Learning
What are the Hanukkah traditions? The main common tradition in Hanukkah is that Jewish families light a candleholder called a menorah each day. However, many Jewish families across the world have other specific traditions like eating potato pancakes called latkes, singing songs together, and spinning a top called a dreidel. Learn more about those below.
- What is a Menorah? – Learn more about this mainstay in Hanukkah here.
- Make Your Own Menorah with these fun ideas from PJ Library.
- What is a Dreidel? – Find out why this little spinning top is an important Hanukkah tradition.
- Learn how to make your own Dreidel from Kid World Citizen.
Do families decorate for Hanukkah? Well just like all the other traditions, this can differ from location to location and from family to family. Get ideas on how some families decorate or why they choose not to below.
- Is It Traditional To Put Up Hanukkah Decorations?
- 15 Simple DIY Hanukkah Decorations to Make This Year
- 23 Hanukkah Crafts & Activities for the Whole Family
- 18 Hanukkah Crafts for Kids
Books are great additions to any holiday celebration. Here are a few of our favorites to try.
“It’s Hanukkah on Sesame Street, and Grover invites his friends to a Hanukkah party at his house. Girls and boys ages 2 to 5 will learn the why and how of celebrating Hanukkah along with Elmo, Telly, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert, Ernie, Zoe, and Murray. ”
“It’s Hanukkah, and Max and Rachel are excited to light the menorah in their family’s new apartment. But, unfortunately, their Hanukkah box is missing. So now they have no menorah, candles, dreidels, or, well, anything! Luckily, their neighbors are happy to help, offering thoughtful and often humorous stand-in items each night. And then, just as Hanukkah is about to end, Max and Rachel, inspired by the shamash (“helper”) candle, have a brilliant idea: they’re going to celebrate the Ninth Night of Hanukkah as a way to say thanks to everyone who’s helped them!”
“Bubba Brayna makes the best latkes in the village, and on the first night of Hanukkah, the scent of her cooking wakes a hungry, adorable bear from his hibernation. He lumbers into town to investigate, and Bubba Brayna—who does not see or hear very well—mistakes him for her rabbi. She welcomes the bear inside to play the dreidel game, light the menorah, and enjoy a scrumptious meal.”
“This zesty parody of one of America’s favorite picture books offers a very different bedtime routine: one that is full of family exuberance and love. Instead of whispers of “hush,” this bedtime includes dancing and kvelling, and of course, noshing—because this little bunny is a Jewish bunny, and this joyous book celebrates the Jewish values of cherishing your loved ones, expressing gratitude, and being generous.”
“Rescued from an animal shelter on the first night of Hanukkah, Latke has trouble learning the house rules. Despite a series of mishaps, he is one Lucky Dog!”
“Lucy Latke’s family is just like yours or mine. Except that they’re potato pancakes. And also, they are completely clueless. After lighting the menorah and gobbling the gelt, Grandpa Latke tells everyone the Hanukkah story, complete with mighty Mega Bees who use a giant dreidel to fight against the evil alien potatoes from Planet Chhh. It’s up to the Latke family dog to set the record straight. (To start with, they were Maccabees, not Mega Bees…) But he’ll have to get the rest of the Latkes to listen to him first!”
Do you think you know all about Hanukkah now? Take this little quiz with Mayim Bialik to find out!