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Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah

Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah - Crafts and activities for the picture book by Natasha Wing

You may not know this about me, but I am envious of Hanukkah.  I think it is such a beautiful holiday, and I wish I could celebrate it.  Think about the history.  The story goes that in 168 B.C., the Syrians invaded Jerusalem and desecrated the Jewish holy Temple, renaming it for the Greek god Zeus and insisting the Jews convert or die.  A resistance led by the Maccabees took on the Syrians and, though they were seriously outnumbered, won the day.  The Temple had to be purified and re-dedicated (Hanukkah means dedication).  The first thing the Maccabees did when they re-took the Temple was light the ner tamid, or eternal light.  This light was supposed to burn constantly in the Temple, but the Maccabees found only enough oil for one day.  They sent a messenger to retrieve more oil, but his mission would take 8 days.  They prayed for divine intervention, and somehow, that single jar of oil lasted until the messenger returned.

Whew.  That’s good stuff.  So Hanukkah celebrates all that story encompasses:  the 8 days of miraculous oil, the struggle against the assimilation into Greek culture and the loss of Jewish heritage, the dedication of the Jewish people to stand against forces that would destroy their culture and force them to be something new.

If you’re Jewish, and I got any of this wrong, please tell me.  Because I love this story.  I love the idea of a people standing up, Hard, for what they believe in and not allowing themselves to be swayed by violence or tyranny.  We should all be so brave.

Having said all that, I might not be Jewish, and therefore I can’t really celebrate Hanukkah, but I can sure give you ways to celebrate it yourself or to teach your littles about this truly amazing holiday.

The Night Before Hanukkah Crafts and Activities

Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah by Natasha Wing

I heart this book because it goes through all 8 days of the holiday and describes how the family in the story celebrates each day.  So people like me can imagine just how awesome it would be.  The menorah, latkes, dreidel, gifts, history–all the things are in this book.

Language

Let your littles learn a little Hebrew with the Meanings of the Dreidel worksheet (plus learn how to play the game), then have them write an acrostic poem in this Hanukkah printable pack.

Enjoy fun language activities with this printable Hanukkah pack from Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah.

If you want to make a paper dreidel so you can play the game, head over to Activity Village and get the free template.

Science

light experimnet rainbow

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, so let’s try a light experiment.  Although ours didn’t photograph well, we really did make a rainbow!

What you need:

Rainbow Light Experiment for Story Time: The Night Before Thanksgiving

  • A clear glass of water
  • A small mirror
  • A flashlight or sunny window
  • A white sheet of paper

What you do:

  • Hold up the piece of paper on one side of the water glass
  • Immerse the mirror about halfway into the water facing the paper
  • Shine the flashlight into the mirror so that it reflects onto the paper
  • or
  • Angle the mirror to catch a sunbeam from the window
  • Check out the beautiful rainbow on the paper

Why it works: When light hits water, it slows down and refracts (or bends).  As white light crosses the boundary from air to water, the rays bend at different angles depending on the wavelength of the light.  Each angle produces a different component color of the original white light.  So basically, the white light enters the water and is broken into different colors in slightly different directions.  The different colors are reflected onto the paper.

Craft

Make a gorgeous Star of David ‘stained glass’ window hanger!

Star of David Stained Glass Window Hanger

Stained Glass Star of David craft for Story Time: The Night Before Thanksgiving

What you  need:

What you do:

Star of David Stained Glass Craft for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah

  • Create 2 triangles from your craft sticks
  • Glue at tips

Star of David Stained Glass Craft for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah crafts and activities for the picture book

  • Glue triangles together in a star shape, making sure to leave room for the tissue paper at each angle

Star of David Stained Glass Craft for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah crafts and activities for the picture book

  • Trace triangle onto contact paper and cut out
  • Remove backing from contact paper
  • Cut tissue paper into small pieces and stick them to the sticky side of the contact paper

Star of David Stained Glass Craft for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah crafts and activities for the picture book

  • Glue contact paper star to back of craft stick star

Star of David Stained Glass Craft for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah crafts and activities for the picture book

  • Paint or decorate front of star with glitter glue

Star of David Stained Glass Craft for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah crafts and activities for the picture book

  • Cut a 3″ section of blue chenille stem
  • Thread chenille stem with beads

Star of David Stained Glass Craft for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah crafts and activities for the picture book

  • Twist stem beneath beads to hold them in place

Star of David Stained Glass Craft for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah crafts and activities for the picture book

  • Glue to the back of the  utmost star point
  • Hang in the window

It’s so pretty!  I Love This Craft!

Food

In the book, the family enjoys both latkes and jelly donuts.  I have a couple recipes that will have your littles swooning!

Hanukkah Latkes

Latke recipe for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah

What you need:

1 pound potatoes, pealed and diced

1 pound potatoes, grated

1 medium onion

1 large egg

3/4 cup maltzo meal

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Oil for frying

What you do:

  • In a medium saucepan, cover the diced potatoes in cool water and bring to a boil
  •   Boil about 15 minutes until tender
  • Mash the diced potatoes
  • Add half the grated potatoes to the mashed potatoes
  • In a food processor, pulse the remaining grated potatoes with the onion until finely chopped
  • Press into a fine-meshed sieve until you’ve gotten as much liquid out of the potatoes and onions as possible
  • Add the potato-onion mixture to the other potatoes
  • Stir in eggs, maltzo meal, pepper, and salt
  • In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil on medium heat
  • Scoop 1/4 cup mixture for each latke and drop it in the oil
  • Press down slightly to flatten
  • Fry about 3  1/2 minutes, then flip and fry another 3 1/2 minutes, until both sides are golden brown

You can serve these with apple butter or a soft cheese–yummy!

Cheesecake Donuts

Cheesecake Donuts recipe for Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah crafts and activities for the picture book

What you need:

For the donuts:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1  1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg

For the cheesecake icing:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cinnamon/sugar mixture:

  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon

What you do:

For the donuts:

  • Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt
  • Cut in butter
  • Stir in milk and egg
  • Roll out on a floured surface and cut with a small biscuit cutter
  • In a large skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees
  • Fry donuts for 1 minute, 30 seconds  on each side until golden brown
  • Mix together cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle donuts on both sides

For the cheesecake icing:

  • Thoroughly mix together all ingredients
  • Transfer to a pastry bag or a sandwich bag
  • If using the sandwich bag, cut a small tip off one corner
  • Ice donuts

These are so good, I can’t even.  You have to try them.

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not, these activities will make a thorough lesson on the beautiful Jewish holiday.  So live a little vicariously.  And happy holidays.

Love wins,

KT

Looking for more holiday fun?  Check out:

Rockin’ a Family New Year’s Eve Party

Dinner and a Movie: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Story Time: The Night Before Hanukkah

Story Time: How Santa Got His Job

Story Time: Gingerbread Friends

Story Time: Snowmen at Christmas

Story Time: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Story Time: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Cuddle Up With Christmas Classics

2016 Ultimate Children’s Literary Gift Guide

KT Brison
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KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys.Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
KT Brison
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Latest posts by KT Brison (see all)

About KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
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6 Comments

  1. Cool post. You did a fine job of describing the holiday (so good that I pinned it). Saw you at No Rules Weekend Party and shared Quotations to Inspire You in the New Year. Happy 2017. Nancy Andres @ obloggernewbie.blogspot.com

  2. I’d love to do more with my kiddos about the different holidays. These are great! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Fun craft ideas! We’ve been reading about Hanukkah this year and I was just telling my boys yesterday that we should try making latkes.
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