Use this simple explanation of Hanukkah for children to begin learning about this Jewish festival. Plus, use our resources for Jewish crafts, games and art projects.
What is Hanukkah? for children
Introduce your children to the Jewish festival of lights with this simple explanation of Hanukkah. This article is part of our Hanukkah activities and craft resources.
In this article, your children can:
:: learn about the Jewish festival of Hanukkah
:: read about the story of Hanukkah
:: learn how Hanukkah is celebrated today
:: find links to more Hanukkah activities and crafts
Happy Hanukkah book
Save time and teach better by using our Happy Hanukkah book.
You’ll get a complete set of lesson plans to learn about this festival and a collection of activities, arts, and crafts all planned for you: instant download, printables included, no prep needed, and all ad free.
Ready-made Hanukkah Unit
This Unit is part of our Festivals specialist curriculum pathway, and is a part of a set of ready-made units you can use to teach your children about the festivals of the world all through the year. Based on the teaching philosophy of hands-on learning, the Play Academy festivals curriculum is engaging, effective and loved by children.
See more details of this Hanukkah Unit, and all the other specialist curriculum pathways and ready-made units you can choose from, in the Play Academy here.
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that is also known as the Festival of Lights. It remembers the historic re-dedication of a temple and a miracle that happened.
The story of Hanukkah
Over two thousand years ago the Greek ruler, King Antiochus, forbade the Jews from observing their faith and ordered them to worship Greek gods. The Jews refused and a group of them, called the Maccabees, fought for their right to follow their own religion. After a three-year war, the Maccabees won but their temple was destroyed in the battle.
The Maccabees cleaned and repaired the temple and wanted to light candles to re-dedicate it to God but they only had enough oil to burn for one day. They lit their lamp anyway and miraculously the oil lasted for eight days.
The festival of Hanukkah reminds Jews about this dedication to their faith, and the miracle of the oil is why Hanukkah is celebrated over eight days.
Celebrating Hanukkah today
Hanukkah is celebrated by Jews all over the world for eight days beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. This matches to a date somewhere between late November and late December.
During the festival a special Hanukkah menorah is lit. The menorah is a candle holder with eight branches. One candle branch is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two are lit on the second night, and so on until all eight branches are lit on the final night of Hanukkah. Special blessings are recited as the candles are lit, which is usually at sundown.
Families gather for parties and dinners and traditionally eat foods made with oil, such as doughnuts and latkes.
Hanukkah gelt, or money, is given to children. This might be small coins, generous amounts from grandparents, or chocolate coins.
The traditional game of dreidel is also played with a spinning top.
Make a Hanukkah Mini Book
Make your own mini Hanukkah book to record all that you are learning about the festival.
:: pens and pencils
:: craft knife (optional)
Print the mini book and use colourful pens and pencils to complete it. The colours often associated with Hanukkah are blue, white, and gold.
Colour the title page, menorah, and dreidel.
Draw a Star of David and add extra decorations.
Make notes about the festival. Add this mini book to the others you are collecting in the Play Academy units.
More Hanukkah activities and crafts for children
See all our Hanukkah activities and crafts for children including menorah and Star of David crafts, and dreidel art projects and games.