Hanukkhah lesson with games and recipes (1-3 grade)
Name of Teacher: Anna R
Class/Grade/Language Level: JHS 1 – 3 (but probably adaptable to ES)
Textbook and specific lesson: n/a (special holiday/cultural lesson)
Goal: 1. For students to have a basic understanding of the story and current practices of Hanukkah , thus learning about and experiencing some aspects of Jewish culture. 2. For students to enjoy a traditional cultural game (dreidel). Class time: a complete 50 minute period is best. Do this in December, at the end of the semester, in place of a Christmas lesson (or as an accompaniment to Christmas. Two great winter flavors!).
Preparation: 1. Brush up on your Hanukkah knowledge. You don’t have to be Jewish to teach this lesson, but it helps to have a solid idea of what you’re talking about. Wikipedia has a good summary. Make sure you know the rules for dreidel well!
2. Flashcards/PowerPoint: While using PowerPoint is easier, some schools don’t have the technology necessary. If you cannot use the included PowerPoint, then you’ll need to make your own flash cards instead. The more pictures the better! For the PowerPoint, add your own pictures of you celebrating Hanukkah if you do. I also bring in my menorah.
3. Dreidels and gelt (“gold”): I use pennies for gelt (the “gold” used to bet) but pieces of paper, knots of yard, buttons, or some other small item would work just as well. You need enough for each student to have 5 – 8 pieces. I have some wooden dreidels from home now but I have made them for classes before. You will need around 10 – 12 dreidels (enough for each group and back-up dreidels because kids are super enthusiastic spinners). You can make them out of paper (sturdy cardstock!) or save your school lunch milk cartons and make yourself some milk carton dreidels. Here’s a tutorial but there are many others online: http://www.ehow.com/how_2120049_make-hanukkah-dreidels.html
If you want to fold your own, this is a simple, useful template:  Paste it over your card stock, cut them out, fold and glue them, and stick a little handle on!
I also have big cards with the Hebrew, Romanization, and instructions for each side of the dreidel that I stick on the board. If you can write Hebrew or at least draw it, you can just write each letter nice and big on the board instead.
Handouts: Hanakkuh pictures
Class time: Entire class
Lesson Plan (based on the PowerPoint)
Part 1: Vocabulary (5 minutes or less) Start with the basic vocabulary they’ll need to understand the story. Ask them about each word, give them the meaning if they don’t know it, and practice saying it.
- Judaism, Jewish people: none of your students are likely to know these ones. Even your teachers may not. Once you give the Japanese, you may get some slightly startling responses (“Anne Frank!” is common). I’ve had students say “I thought they were all dead already.” as well. Do your best. “Yes, Anne Frank was Jewish.” “There are many Jewish people all over the world.” Let them know if you yourself are Jewish and be ready to explain that you can be Jewish AND your nationality.
- Light(s): students often mistake this word for “right.”
Then introduce Israel (the setting of the Hanukkah story) on a map. I like to tease them a bit before switching to this slide: “This is English class so let’s have a 社会 (shakai –social studies) quiz!” I give 2 hints and let them guess. The hints are: 1) Its capital city is Jerusalem and 2) Jerusalem in Japanese. They usually get it pretty fast.
Part 2: the Hanukkah Story (10 minutes) Introduce the story, adjusting your English level as appropriate. Point out details in the pictures and ask students questions (What’s this? Who is this? What are they doing?) – if you just talk, they’ll pass out, pictures or not. The following are sample scripts but feel free to use your own words.
Slide 5: Hanukkah is “Festival of Lights” in English. Why is it called that? (Participation prompt [PP]: What is “festival” in Japanese? What is “light”? ) Let’s find out!
Slide 6: Long, long ago, there was a temple (お寺（てら）） in Israel. It was a very important (大切（たいせつ）な） place for Jewish people. (PP: Can you see these little dots [point to people in temple picture]? What are they? People! The temple was very large.)
Slide 7: An army (軍隊（ぐんたい）） attacked (攻撃（こうげき）した） the temple. They (the army) broke (こわした) many things. (PP: gestures for attack and break really get the point across) The army was from Greece. Greece was very big and strong then. (PP: What is Greece in Japanese? They may or may not have studied ancient Greece in history.)
Slide 8: The army said, “You can’t go in the temple. You can’t be Jewish now. You are Greek now.” (PP: Who is this [Greek soldier with paper]? Who are these people [upset Jewish people]? Make sure they understand the army’s order and ask them how they would feel if another country’s army came to Japan and told them they could only speak that country’s language, etc. I try to avoid using countries like China or Korea as examples because students already tend to have negative impressions of them and we shouldn’t encourage that. I generally just continue using poor Greece.)
Slide 9: So, a group called the Maccabees fought back (fight: 戦（たたか）う). [gesture fist fighting] Maccabee means “hammer” in Hebrew (ヘブライ語). (PP: What’s “hammer” in Japanese? Yes, it’s ハンマー・金槌（かなづち） [click])
Slide 10: [point to small army] These are the Jewish Maccabees. They only had a very small army. Here is the Greek army. It was very big and strong. Who won? (PP: students will almost always say “the Greeks!” so remind them of the Greek order. If they said “you can’t be Jewish” but there are still many Jewish people now… who won?) The Maccabees won!
Slide 11: We always need light in our temples. But there was no electricity then. PP: What did they use? – OIL!
Slide 12: What’s oil? Oil is 油（あぶら） in Japanese. This is an old jar of oil.
Slide 13: They used oil lamps. These lamps need oil. But there was a big problem! (PP: What’s problem in Japanese? Hopefully they remember the part about the army breaking many things in the temple.) The army broke all the jars of oil! There was only 1 jar of oil left. (PP: backtrack if they’ve already forgotten “jar” from the oil slide)
Slide 14: They needed new oil. (PP: How long does it take to make new oil? Let them bounce some guesses around.) It takes 8 days!
Slide 15: 1 jar of oil is 1 day of light. (PP: make sure they understand this, explaining in Japanese if necessary.) What do you think they did? What would you do?
Slide 16: They lit the lamp. How long did the oil burn? It burned for one day… two days… three days? Four… five…six… seven… eight days! (To really get it across: Count off on your fingers. Start with a worried expression then confused then happier and happier as you count until you are very relieved and happy at eight.)
Slide 17: The one jar of oil burned for 8 days! It was a miracle (奇跡 きせき）！ (PP: What’s “miracle” in Japanese?)
From that time, we celebrate Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights) every year.
Part 3: Celebrating Hanukkah (10 minutes) Pictures are really important for this part. I try to use as many different pictures as possible to show the diversity of Jewish practice and people around the world.
Slide 18: How do we celebrate Hanukkah now? (PP: What’s “celebrate” in Japanese?) Let’s look at some pictures.
Slide 19: [candles] What are these? We say “candles” in English. [menorah] This is a menorah. How many arms does it have? Nine. This middle one is the “helper candle”. We use it to light the others. So there are really eight arms. Why eight? (PP: Hopefully they can connect this to the eight days in the story. If not, ask them about the story: How many days did the oil burn in the temple? or What was the Hanukkah miracle?)
Slide 20: When is Hanukkah? [2013 dates] It is November 27th to December 4th. (It is early this year.) How long is Hanukkah? It is for eight days! (PP: Why 8 days? Connect back to the temple miracle again.) In Israel, there is no school and no work for 1 week! (* They get really excited about this usually.)
Slide 21: Let’s see some pictures.
(PP: If you have time, asks the students about the people in the picture. Who is this? It’s Grandma! Etc.)
Slide 22 – 28: Pictures of families around the world lighting their menorahs. Ask the kids what they’re doing.
Slide 29: We light the candles in our menorah?
What’s a menorah? What’s a candle?
How many candles are there? There are 8 (plus 1 helper)!
Slide 30: Please use your own picture here! I’m only leaving mine as a place holder. If you don’t celebrate Hanukkah, just skip this one. If you can sing the blessing, the kids get really excited.
Slide 31: A big menorah. Where is it? Washington, DC. (* They usually guess Israel and are surprised by the reminder that there are Jews all over the world.)
Slide 32: Hanukkah in the White House. (* They may think President Obama is Jewish. This is a good time to explain that he isn’t but because many Americans are Jewish, the President celebrates with the Jewish community in the White House. Multi-culturalism!)
Slide 33: We eat special foods! Latkes are made of potatoes. Sufganiyot (“soof-gone-ee-oat”) are jam doughnuts.
Slide 34: Everyone likes sufganiyot!
Slide 35: Why do we eat these foods?
They’re cooked in oil! (* again, please replace the picture of me with yourself/another picture if you can. It will be more interesting for your kids.) (PP: Why oil? Back to the miracle again!)
Slide 36: Replace my pictures with you eating latkes! Don’t have any pictures like that? Use my latke recipe and you will! [document: latkes and variants]
Slide 37: We play games too. We play with this [dreidel].
Slide 38: This is a dreidel. Dreidel means “to spin.”
Slide 39: (*This is another spot for YOU to show off your super dreidel skills in photo form.)
Do you want to play?
Slide 40: Let’s play dreidel! (leave this up as you explain the game).