Svivon, Spinning Top toy. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

by Gil, Natalie, and Yael Dekel.‎

Free resources:‎ ‎
Download games ideas with PDF templates (click the links and photos in this article, to download).
‎- Introduction to Hanukah story.‎ ‎

Also, see other Hanukkah resources, here.‎

Game 1 – Scare away the Light Muncher:‎
The children need to scare ‎away the Light Muncher (click here for template), who eats-up the light of Hannukah.‎ Tell the story of the Light ‎Muncher, who likes to gobble ‎up the light of Hanukkah. The ‎Monster ‎ate all the light of the ‎Menora (candelabrum) in the ‎temple in Jerusalem. The ‎Macabeem ‎family had to chase ‎him away, and rededicate the ‎temple. But now, the Light ‎Muncher is after ‎the Menora ‎light in your Hanukkah party!…‎

Game - Scare away the Light Muncher...‎ Hanuka Game.

Game – Scare away the Light Muncher…‎

The children need to stand up, ‎and pretend that they are candles. ‎They can make ‘waves’ with ‎their ‎hands in the air to ‎represent the flames. The ‎facilitator, holding the Light ‎Muncher, should try to ‎‎‘eat’ ‎up the flames. The children ‎then need to ‘intensify’ the ‎flames so to scare the ‎Muncher away…‎

Game 2 – Pin the Candles on the Menora:‎
Just like ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ game. Download template. Here is the result from our party…:‎

Pin Candles on the Menora - Hanuka Game by Gil Dekel

Game – Pin the candles on the Menora…‎

Game 3 – Spot eight differences:‎
Hanukkah is celebrated over eight days, so there are eight differences to spot in this game.‎

Spot 8 Differences Hanukah Game.

Spot 8 Differences, Hanukah Game.

Game 4 – Word Search games:‎
There are two versions for you to use: one game makes the shape of the Menora; the other game has ‎a standard layout.‎

Hanukiya shape, Word-Search game

Word Search game, with a shape of Hanukiya (candelabrum). © Gil Dekel.‎

Game 5 – Hanukkah Medals:‎
See templates to prepare the medals in advance. On page 3 of the PDF template I included empty ‎‎‘field’ which is space where you can type your own text. The children just love to be ‘awarded’ these ‎medals, so make sure you attach a nice golden ribbon, which you can buy cheaply from local stores or ‎online.‎

Hanuka Medals

Hannukah Medals. Designed by © Gil Dekel.‎

Introduction to Hannukah: ‎
Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Light. The Hebrew name ‘Hanukkah’ means dedication, ‎referring to the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabeam ‎‎(Macabim) Revolt. The Temple’s Menorah (candelabrum) was re-installed during the revolt, ‎and a miracle followed. ‎

Eight branches Menora (Candelabrum). Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

Eight branches Menora (Candelabrum). Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

While the story commemorates a miracle from the past, it also upholds the present day, by ‎celebrating the inner light that lies within people, and which can overcome external darkness. ‎Hanukah teaches us to look at purity over impurity, and at spiritualism over simple materialism ‎in our daily lives. ‎

The festival begins on the 25th of Kislev, a Jewish month, and ends after eight days. Each day, ‎people light up one candle, adding another one the next day, and ending with eight burning ‎candles. This represents the miracle where one small bottle of oil that should last for one day, ‎actually burned for eight days in the Temple.‎

Happy Hanukkah Candles. © Gil Dekel.‎

Happy Hanukkah Candles. © Gil Dekel.‎

The story describes the Maccabeem victory, driving the invading forces out of the holy land, for ‎a short period. After their hard-earned victory, the Maccabeem entered the temple in ‎Jerusalem to find out that the bottles of oil for the Menorah were used. They could only find a ‎single small unconsumed bottle of oil which was enough to last for just one night. To everyone’s ‎surprise, the oil was able to sustain the lit candles for eight nights – a miracle which is ‎celebrated every year during Hanukah, in order to praise the Godly light and the power of ‎freedom.‎

Lighting up the Menora, on Hanuukah holiday. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

Lighting up the Menora, on Hanuukah holiday. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

During Hanukkah, people eat food that is fried with oil, such as Sufganiya (doughnut) and ‎Levivot (potato latkes), in order to pay tribute to the miracle which was oil-based. Eating dairy ‎foods is another tradition, done in memory of Judith (Yehudit) who rescued her entire village. ‎Legend says that Judith fed cheese to the Assyrian General Holofernes and gave him wine to ‎drink in order to overpower him when he got drunk. ‎

During the holiday, Jewish elders also give gelt (coin money, or chocolate coins) to children in ‎order to teach them to share and give to charity. Others also do it in order to make the holiday ‎more festive. ‎

Another tradition is to play dreidel game (spinning top toy, ‘svivon’), which was used in times ‎when the invading rulers have outlawed Torah study. During that time, children would hide ‎their studying materials, and as a cover-up they would play spinning tops. The Svivon has 4 ‎Hebrew letters printed on it, standing for: ‘A Great Miracle Happened There’ (in Israel).‎

Svivon, Spinning Top toy. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

Svivon, Spinning Top toy. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

Overall, the atmosphere of Hanukkah is intensified with games, foods, songs, families coming ‎together, and prayers. It is a wonderful and rich celebration which gives much glory and honour ‎to life and God. ‎

Other games ideas for Hanukkah:

Spinning Musical Statues:‎ The children need to spin, as if they are spinning-toys, while music plays. When the music stops, they ‎need to freeze.‎

Marshmallow Menora:‎ Create candelabrum using marshmallows as candles, and jelly-beans as flames.‎

Beewax Candles:‎ Buy pack of beeswax sheets with wick (amazon or ebay), and make candles with the children.‎

Pix ‘n mix Hanukkah story:‎ Tell the story of Hanukkah, and ask each child to re-write it in their own words. Then, randomly, pick ‎up one sentence from each child’s story, and mix it into a new story. The result will be random comical ‎set of events story. Read it aloud. The more the story is random, the more the children would love it…‎

Drama word game:‎ Children age 9-years-old love to act. Set two groups of children. Give each group a few words from the ‎Hanukah story, such as: ‘Joy’, ‘Hanukiya’, ‘Chocolate coin’, or even general sentences such as ‘this is a ‎great Hanukkah party’. They will need to practice for 10 minutes, and then to perform the words to ‎the other group. The other group will need to guess the words, from the act alone. ‎

Draw your own light:‎ Hanukkah is about finding the inner light within, even if sometimes we may feel lonely, or ‎misunderstood. When life feels dark outside, we can look inside for that inner light. ‎ Ask the children to draw their inner light, or something else that makes them feel happy. It could be a ‎special memory, family member, imagined friend, a colour, a feeling, or anything that represents joy ‎and light to them.‎

The Menora (candelabrum) represents finding your inner light. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

The Menora (candelabrum) represents finding your inner light. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

New words to Hanuka songs:‎ Play a Hanukah song (maybe ‘Oh Hanukah’), and ask the children to re-write the words, in any way ‎they want to, and then to perform and sing their new song…‎

Chocolate Treasure Hunt:‎ Prepare a treasure hunt, with a map, in the room where your party takes place. The treasure is the ‎chocolate coins; so instead of just giving chocolate coins, the children should find it. You can also talk ‎about charity, and ask the children to ‘swap’ their chocolate coins, once found, so that they ‎experience giving (and still each child gets a chocolate coin back…)‎

Glow Sticks:‎ So simple, yet so effective. Give children glow sticks (15 sticks cost about 2£), turn off the light in the ‎room, and watch the kids pretending to be inter-galactic invaders, or something similar… A wonderful ‎way to end your Hanukkah party. You can also play the Hebrew Hanukkah song ‘We came to deter the ‎darkness’ (‎באנו חושך לגרש‎).‎

Children playing with glow sticks. A great way to end up a Hanukkah party. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

Children playing with glow sticks. A great way to end up a Hanukkah party. Photo © Gil Dekel.‎

See other Hanukkah resources, here.‎

Hannukah is also spelled: Hanuka, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chanuka.‎ חנוכה, חג האורות. ‎

24 Dec 2014
© Gil, Natalie, and Yael Dekel