STEAM Learning Lab – Hanukkah Paper Dreidel

Hanukkah Paper Dreidel
Ages 4 and up

Hanukkah Sameach! While Hanukkah began on Dec 10th, there are still 4 days left to celebrate! Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration of a miracle that happened long ago. In 168 BCE, Greek invaders had taken over a temple in Jerusalem. According to the story, the temple was recaptured by a Jewish group called the Macabees. As part of reclaiming the temple, the Macabees lit a lamp. It looked like there would only be enough oil to keep the lamp lit for 1 day, but the menorah stayed lit for 8 nights! That’s why Jewish families now celebrate Hanukkah for 8 nights.

As part of this celebration families light candles within their own Menorah. They light a candle each night until all 8 candles are lit. They also eat good food, visit and play the dreidel. The dreidel is a top, with four sides that are labelled “nun, gimel, hey, shin” which represents the phrase “Nes gadol haya shaam” which means “A miracle has occurred there.” Let’s make our own dreidel so we can see how the game is played!

Materials:

  • Cardstock or light cardboard (like from a cereal box)
  • Short pencil or crayon with a pointed end
  • Tokens like Chocolate chips, small candies, coins
  • Scissors

Directions:

  1. Cut a small square of cardboard (about 4 in x 4 inch)
  2. Draw an “x” so that the cardboard is separated into 4 equal parts
  3. Write one of the following words in each segment: nun, gimel, hey, shin. Or draw the symbols for the words (see the symbols here. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-to-play-dreidel/)
  4. Give each player an equal number of tokens. 10 is a good place to start
  5. Everyone puts one token in the middle
  6. Then we take turns spinning the dreidel. Whatever side the dreidel lands on, that decides the action each player will take. Here is what each side means:

    Nun: player gets nothing
    Gimel: player gets the whole pile!
    Hey: player gets half the pile
    Shin: player adds a token to the pile

  7. Everyone spins once per round, and then puts another token in the middle and begins the next round
  8. If you run out of tokens, you can try and see if someone else will loan you some
  9. The round ends when one person has won all the tokens!

More Fun:

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