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), I’m bringing a store-bought oil menorah that I’ve already tested. It’s not gorgeous, but it’s cheap (6 bucks) and effective, and the kids should love helping me pour olive oil into the cups. I’ll have a jar of olives, too.
I’ve already checked with the teacher about allergies (zero) and if I will be allowed to kindle flame (yes) and where I will be allowed to secretly blow out the flames (far from the smoke detector).
Here’s the book I’ll be reading: Why We Celebrate Chanukah, by Howard M. Kurtz (Pigment and Hue). It’s short, colorful, easy to see across the classroom, and it relates the story and modern customs in pleasant rhyme. ChaiKids.com and ModernTribe.com sell it, but for some reason, the publisher doesn’t distribute this book via the usual book outlets.
My other favorite Hanukkah picture book dwells a smidge too long on the military aspect for my non-Jewish, Kindergarten audience, but it’s great for other ages and for Jewish kids:
The Story of Hanukkah by David M. Adler (Holiday House, $6.99, ISBN9780823425471). By the way, Adler is the author of the Cam Jansen adventure series, which you might know if you’ve got a “chapter book” reader at home.
The Big Ideas I’ll be trying to relate in five minutes: the miracle of the oil, light in darkness, freedom of religion, dreidels are fun, and that the letters on a dreidel “tell” the whole story in shortcut. I bought a supply of wooden dreidels with painted letters, and each kid will get one with a little card of the game rules (see my printable PDF for the cards, here).
The Big Ideas I’ll be trying not to relate: that Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas, that we all give presents to our kids for eight nights straight, and that Jews love gold so much they make it into chocolate and eat it.
P.S. The oil menorah is made by Ner Mitzvah. They also make my favorite candle menorah for little hands: the adjustable tin candleholders mean that even toddlers can insert the candles without excessive breakage or frustration. They usually cost less than 2 bucks.
P.P.S. Addendum: The visit went well and the oil menorah was fabulous. Highly recommended! Here’s a pic: