Category Archives: Hanukkah

Hands-on Menorah Quiz (for School, Carnival)

QuizTable

Gelt just for playing, Prize Draw for big winner later

The word “quiz” is instant Carnival buzzkill, ain’t it?  Hardly the sort of catchy title to entice kids to a Chanukah Carnival station.  But really, it is a quiz, my activity, not a game.  And if it’s facilitated in the right spirit, it will be fun.  And educational.  And memorable.  I promise.

The goal is not to be the Kosher Police, nor to shame a child who last week crafted an exquisite chanukiyah that, according to this quiz, is not “kosher,” nor to cast aspersions upon Bubbe’s electric menorah Continue reading

The Spin on Gendered dreidels

"Girl color" or "boy color." Adult role model included.

“Girl color” or “boy color.” Adult role model included.

In which I modify store-bought dreidel kits, and lament the gendering of an otherwise gender-neutral toy. Continue reading

“Oil Crush” synagogue program: Make Oil like a Maccabee

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Olive Crushing Installation

This year, instead of a Chanukah carnival, I envisioned something new, or rather, something very, very old.  Our synagogue Religious School held a Chanukah “Oil Crush” program.  In a nutshell, we made olive oil—shemen zayit—just like the Maccabees, with a commissioned replica of a Hellenistic-era olive crushing installation: crushing wheel, pivot pole (power shaft) and crushing basin.  Students from Pre-K to 7th grade took turns pushing the pole to rotate the crushing wheel over fresh olives straight from the tree (ordered from California).  Continue reading

Kid-decorated dreidels DIY

My Earnest Sunday School Teacher hat is on:

Kindergarten dreidels

Kindergarten dreidels

Dreidels are great teaching tools. To paint and decorate a dreidel means a kid learns the 4 Hebrew letters and how to form them, and the Hebrew acronym that points to the reason for the season: Nes Gadol Haya Sham (A great miracle happened there.)  And, there’s the dreidel game, of course, which Continue reading

Printable Dreidel rules, letter names and meanings

print this JPEC or click on the pdf link below

print this JPEG or click on the pdf link below

Need a quick visual to remind players of dreidel game rules?  Or to show kids the shapes of nun, gimmel, hey and shin for dreidel crafts?  Or what the letters on a dreidel stand for? Click this link to print the pdf: Dreidel Letter Cheat Sheet Continue reading

The Final Menurkey (stick a fork in me, I’m done)

and flesh-colored candles on a bed of gelt.

and flesh-colored candles on a bed of gelt.

I just can’t get worked up about the Hanukkah / Thanksgiving thing. I can’t even bring myself to call the holiday mashup by one of its cute, mashed up names.  However, I did feel duty-bound to create a cheap Menurkey DIY, and then another even cheaper Menurkey.  

But what I really, truly wanted to do was roast a huge Empire Kosher Turkey, shove white turkey frills on the ends of the drumsticks and jab nine Hanukkah candles into the crispy, brown skin on top. Continue reading

Dollar Store Menurkey hack (and Talmudic quandary)

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Some folks are still looking for a cheap turkey to repurpose as a Hanukkah menorah, so here’s one for a buck.  If your once-in-a-lifetime Hanukkah/Thanksgiving needs will be satisfied with a cheap plastic Menurkey, get thee to a Dollar Tree before all the $1 solar-powered turkeys are gone.  Then, pimp that bird with a jumbo craft stick and super-glued birthday candleholders. I added glow-in-the-dark bday candles and Continue reading

Altoids tin Menorah

1/4" hex nuts all in row

Mint-orah

Nine hexnuts glued inside an empty Altoids tin = Travel Menorah.  Or, a Curiously Tiny Menorah.  You can’t get much easier.  Or smaller for that matter.  Mine is the classic Altoids size, and it holds—just barely—a row of birthday candles with the Shammash nearby.

I might have to name this a Mint-orah, although my gag reflex is already on the alert.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made a Menorah-saur Continue reading

Dormenorah (upcycled LED Menorah for dorm)

You can still kinds see the measurements on the yardstick.

Dorm menorah

An upcycled menorah for a dorm room, made of an old yardstick and plastic Easter eggs.  My cost was zero, because I happened to have eggs left over from the seder plate lesson plan wherein I tried to convince 3rd graders that the brightly-colored, hinged and apparently hilarious objects were, in fact, “beitzim”  and not Easter Eggs.  The eggs ended up as projectiles, as talking eggs (what with the handy hinge) and as unintended take-home favors. Continue reading

Handyman Menorah (DIY “Man-orah” for dorm or home)

Manorahoutsidewick

PVC and pine Menorah

A “Man-orah.”  100%  hardware, rough and ready.  Instant.  Cheap.  Uncomplicated.   Just hacksaw 18.5″ off the end of a pine 1×3, slap some glue on 9 PVC fittings and you’re done.  No need to sand the splinters or remove the printed SKU# with acetone.  That’s for sissies.  LED tealights mean this bad boy is safe for the strictest dorm rooms (“no naked flames”), but Continue reading

Marmite Menorah

Marmite Menorah

Marmite Menorah

The subset of people who love Marmite and who celebrate Hanukkah must be infinitesimal, so I do not expect a ton of hits on this project.  Still, it begged to be created: a Marmite Menorah.  Mmmmmm. The name sounds delicious, so warm and yeasty, like Marmite on challah toast.  My 6 year-old saw this in the window after school today and declared it a “Men-armite.”  (Such a genius.)  Whatever the name, I love the look of flames licking up from the open jars, as if by some miracle Marmite is transformed into fire.   Continue reading

Menurkey, quick and cheap

repurposed kitsch

repurposed craft store turkey

I am not super excited about the “Menurkey” because I didn’t think of it first.  Still, I cannot ignore this once-in-a-lifetime convergence of Hanukkah with Thanksgiving, and I happen to need a commemorative menorah for our religious school Chanukah program.  Sure, I could have supported the worthy Kickstarter Menurkey, but I am a Maker myself and I am the cheapest woman I know. Continue reading

Edible Menorah in a Window

The ol’ Pretzel Stick Menorah is a quick and easy activity for a class or party. It’s educational, it’s fun, and you can eat it.

Lighting the menorah in a window

Lighting the menorah in a window

I did this last year with K through 3rd grade, and everyone loved it, which is a boast I wish I could make about all my lesson plans.  First, we turned off the lights and lit a real oil menorah, with blessings.  This put everyone in a receptive mood and gave a heads-up that there are such things as menorah blessings.  It also provided a real, working model of an object we were about to recreate with food, WHICH IS Continue reading

Menorah-saurus for Mr. Bill

menorahsaurus1

Menorasaur, Menorahsaur, Menorah-saur, Menorah-saurus? Where is the Library of Congress standardized spelling?

I made this little menorah for a friend.

WHY: “Menorah-saurus” was the punchline during a post-prandial chat at Carnegie Deli last month.  Someone—his wits dulled by a surfeit of latkes—remarked that this was the first time “in thousands of years” that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincided.  And then my husband snarked an even more egregious anachronism, “Yeah, in the age of the dinosaurs, they used to light a menorah-saurus.”

My latke friend’s gaffe was funny because he happens to be one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, but even so, it wasn’t enough to compel me to unpack the power drill and actually make a menorah-saurus.  What was enough was the fact that he and his wife recently lost their real menorah—along with the rest of the house—in a Colorado wildfire.  Latke Man needed a menorah-saurus pronto, well in time for this year’s untimely Hanukkah.

Speaking of fire, it may not be terribly wise to add lit candles to a plastic toy, so Continue reading

Meatloaf Menorah

MeatloafMenorhcandles1 text
Mmmmmmm, a menorah made of meat, in honor of the Shabbat during Hanukkah.

Actually, I made two:
1) a free-standing meatloaf menorah, and
2) a flat, branched meatloaf menorah (see below). Continue reading

Tangram Dreidel Toast

tangram dreidel toast

tangram dreidel toast

A tangram toast dreidel may prove to be my least popular post, but as I tell my children, you gotta be you, even if no one wants to be around the you you gotta be. Continue reading

A new SPIN on Edible Dreidels: Caramel Dreidel

Carameldreidel1

caramel dreidel

I give you an edible dreidel that actually spins.  It shares the chief values of the marshmallow dreidel and my mini-marshmallow dreidels—values which lie in the building, the writing upon (with food-safe markers) and the eating.  To these attractions, the caramel dreidel adds the bonus of spin. Continue reading

Instant goodie bags for Hanukkah Classroom visits

re-used gelt bags

re-used gelt bags

Here’s a quick, cheap way to make teeny goody bags for your Hanukkah classroom visit.  IF you do gelt.
These are very, very simple.  I could go all Target Dollar Spot and use fancy bags and woven ribbon and include more gelt and hand-lettered name tags, but this particular goody baglet is meant to be a token gift for a minor holiday: a good-will gesture from the token Jews in the room. Continue reading

Hanukkah Parent classroom visits

Super cheap, in-your-face oil menorah

tin oil menorah with glass or plastic cups

Here’s a link to my buffet of options for Hanukkah Parent School Visits: what to bring, what to read, what might happen.  Please add your experiences below or on that page. We can learn from each other.

And here’s what I’ve chosen from the buffet for my own classroom visit this time:

After last year’s fizzle of a oil menorah demo (where none of the homemade wicks worked), Continue reading

Printable Dreidel Rules (gift tags)

Two-sided tags: dreidel rules and a 2 sentence explanation of Hanukkah

Two-sided tags: dreidel rules and a 2 sentence explanation of Hanukkah

I usually give out dreidels when I’m the Hanukkah Parent on a classroom visit. Dreidels are fun to spin, they (sort of) tell the story of Hanukkah in 4 letters, and they distract the children from the fact that I’m not giving them any gelt at all (long story).

Most of the kids aren’t Jewish, so they haven’t grown up playing dreidel.  They don’t know from dreidel rules, AT ALL. Granted, nowadays mum and dad can Google the rules on an iPhone right there in the school parking lot the minute kiddo gets into the minivan, BUT… Continue reading