I’m hooked. I’m not even a K’NEX fan, but it turns out that a K’NEX dreidel is absolutely irresistible to build and to play with. These dreidels spin like mad, are easy to assemble and don’t fling themselves to bits, even when doing battle in a dreidel arena. Imagine students building these at a Hanukkah Carnival . . .
I don’t see anything about a DIY K’NEX dreidel online, but there are a few “tops” here and there. So, to remedy another Internet oversight, here’s my simple K’NEX Dreidel: just a four-sided top with kavanah / intention. Even young kids can put it together just by looking at the photo below. I hope it will inspire builders to come up with different models, testing for balance, stability, speed, endurance and whatnot.
NOTE: I am a LEGO fan and feel sheepish about touting K’NEX. See my printable how-to for simple LEGO dreidels, which is also perfect for parties, classrooms and carnival stations.
K’NEX “happens” in two different scales: Classic (big) and the newer Micro (small).
I use the Micro size for this model. Micro is so much easier, especially if you are a little kid or a ham-fisted college professor (my two testers at home). Micro pieces snap together easier and are far less likely to pinch fingers mid-snap.
But, the part shapes are identical in both sizes—same shapes but different color scheme—so if you’ve already got the Classic K’NEX at home, just eyeball the shapes and match the parts. I’m all about using what you already have.
I imagine that any K’NEX set will supply these few pieces. But, if you need multiple kits for a classroom or Hanukkah party, order individual pieces in bulk from the K’NEX website. (Part list is below.)
That’s what I just did. I’ll be making these with 2nd and 3rd graders. All we have to add are the LETTERS on a dreidel (see below).
TO BUILD (using Micro size. Classic size will be same shape and proportion but different colors):
- Assemble panel as per photo below.
- Insert yellow rod in center.
- Lock rod on top of dreidel with blue pin.
- Lock rod on bottom of dreidel with blue pin.
- Experiment with length of rod below the panel to find the center of gravity and weight distribution for best spin.
DREIDEL LETTER STICKERS, DIY:
I’ll supply my students with 1/2″ colored Avery round labels, upon which they will have to write the correct Hebrew letter: nun, gimmel, hey, and shin. Then, they will apply the stickers to the dreidel top in the correct order (right to left).
Need a printable teaching / cheat sheet for the letter names, meanings and game rules? I made a chart, here. I prop these on the dreidel arenas when kids play in class and at parties/carnivals. (What’s a dreidel arena? See my post about easy, instant arenas here.)
A kid who has to write the letters and stick them on in the right order is a kid who will be more likely to remember the letters and what they stand for: Nes gadol haya sham / A great miracle happened there.
Avery stickers are “removable,”, so if they fall off during vigorous play, a thin film of Elmer’s All Purpose Glue (not School Glue, which is weaker) on the back of the sticker will help them stay on through the holiday. Another option is a bit of double-sided tape or a single adhesive Glue Dot thingy. (By the way, hot glue is bulky, seeps through the gaps, and affects balance. Physics.)
To buy in bulk for Hanukkah carnivals or classrooms:
KNEX.com (no, I don’t get a commission. I wish.)
Per dreidel, you’ll need:
2 • Micro Blue Clip Connector, #509002
1 • Micro Dark Gray Rod 1.6″, #509522
4 • Micro Yellow Rod 0.99″, #509512
12 • Micro Black Rod 0.5″, #509502
4 • Micro Red Connector, #509062
1 • Micro Black Connector, #509081
4 • Micro Yellow Connector, #509042
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
and some of my other Dreidel posts:
Kid-Decorated Dreidels DIY
Dreidel Arenas: Easy, Instant
DIY Glow in the Dark Dreidels and Glow Arena
Swim Noodle Dreidel
A New SPIN on Edible Dreidels: Caramel Dreidel (spin it, eat it)
Edible Dreidels (Instant, two sizes)
Tangram Dreidel Toast
If you are bringing dreidels to a nonJewish school for a show and tell, see this article for suggestions, checklists and printables: “Hanukkah Parent” School Visits.
Dreidel Science: I highly recommend the nonfiction picture book Four Sides, Eight Nights: a New Spin on Hanukkah, by Rebecca Tova Ben-Zvi. Among other fascinating tidbits and lore, It relates just enough about “friction, inertia, tangential points and speed as they relate to the art and science of dreidel” to make you feel absolutely brilliant. (Quote is from my 2005 review of the book in BookPage.)