Hanukkah

Last year our family studied and celebrated Hanukkah as part of our homeschooling through the holiday's curriculum. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about the traditions and history of Hanukkah through unit studies, lapbooks and videos.

Teaching kids about Hanukkah

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday also called the Festival of Lights, honoring the struggle of ancient Jews to restore the Temple of Jerusalem. Lasting for eight days, Hanukkah revolves around the menorah that holds nine candles. Hanukkah is the Hebrew term for rededication — and during the 2nd century B.C. the Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated. Traditions included in this Festival of Lights are the menorah, the game of dreidel and fried foods, such as latkes and jelly doughnuts.

When is Hanukkah?

In 2013, the first night of the menorah candle lighting is Wednesday, Nov. 27, and the last night will be Thursday, Dec. 5. For the first time since 1888, the first full day of Hanukkah will be on Thanksgiving Day, many are calling it "Thanksgivukkah". According to some calculations, the convergence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving may not happen again for another 77,798 years.

Chanukah or Hanukkah?

Some spell it Chanukah and others Hanukkah. These are two different English spellings and neither is incorrect.

How do you celebrate Hanukkah?

This brief video will help your kids learn about some of the basics of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah recipes

Latkes are one of the most traditional Hanukkah foods.

How to make latkes

Latkes for Hanukkah

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup finely-chopped shallots
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons flour or matzo meal (during Passover)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Grate or shred potatoes. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and transfer potatoes to the sieve or layer in paper towels to reduce moisture. Set sieve over a bowl, then twist cheesecloth into a pouch, squeezing out some moisture. Let mixture drain for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour off liquid from the bowl but leave the white potato starch that settles in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. To that starch add shallots, eggs, flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and freshly ground pepper. Return drained potatoes to this mixture and toss to combine.
  3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking pan with paper towels. When you are ready to eat, in a large skillet heat 1/4 inch of oil over medium-high heat until hot. Drop heaping tablespoons of potato mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes a side. Latkes should be golden and crisp on both sides.
  4. Eat right away or keep warm in oven. Serve with applesauce, sour cream or cottage cheese mixed with sour cream.

More kid-friendly Hanukkah recipes

Hanukkah crafts

Kids of all ages will enjoy learning more about Hanukkah through crafts and games.

Felt dreidel banner

Educational resources

Tap into these other resources to teach your homeschoolers (or any children) about Hanukkah.

Teaching younger children about the history and traditions of Hanukkah can be a bit overwhelming. Start your Hanukkah lessons with some of the more simple traditions, such as the game of dreidel, coloring pages or read the book Grandma's Latkes (or other Hanukkah book from your local library) and fry up a batch of latkes to enjoy.

Tell us

Do you celebrate Hanukkah in your homeschool? Do you have a favorite Hanukkah tradition?

More about Hanukkah

Hanukkah traditions for the whole family
Celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or both?
6 Interesting things about Hanukkah's history

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