Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Chanukah...

Let me start off by saying I know very little about Chanukah, beginning with the fact that I don't know if I should spell it with a "C" or with an "H."  (If you are wondering, I am using a "C" because that seems to be the more popular way lately.  If that's not right, I'm very sorry.)

Anyway, while I am not a celebrator of Chanukah in the traditional sense, I feel that introducing my children to different cultures and traditions helps them learn to be more accepting and tolerant human beings and prepares them to meet and interact with people who are not carbon copies of themselves.  Boy that was a lot of words, but you got me, right?  Getting along and accepting others, that's what I'm saying.

So, I know the basics of Chanukah; origin, a few common traditions, I know how long it lasts, but I am by no means and expert.  Since I wanted to share this holiday with my kids, I started with a non-fiction book as a jumping off point.  (A Chanukah encyclopedia, if you will.)  You can probably find something like this in your local library's database.  You will want to start early because around holiday time, lots of holiday books tend to be checked out, imagine that.

I was able to find a book called, Hanukkah: Celebrating the Holiday of Lights, by Arlene Erlbach.  This book was a great resource for me to picture walk with my kids (show and discuss the pictures without reading word for word).  I didn't not read it aloud to them in it's entirety, because it is very detailed and rather lengthy.  It was just a gateway book, one to get them interested in the holiday.

After the kids had a feeling of what Chanukah is all about, then we read a fiction book about Chanukah. Let me interject something here, there seems to be a lot of pretty solemn and even sad books about Chanukah.  I was really looking for something light and fun.  Here's what I found... 

Runaway Dreidel! By, Leslea Newman

This book is sort of a Chanukah remake of Twas the Nigh Before Christmas.  As the family is preparing for their Chanukah celebration, the dreidel spins out of control and leads the characters on an elaborate chase (including spinning past two delis-- one kosher, one Greek!-- sorry, I love that part.) 

Anyway, my kids and I really enjoyed this one.  First, rhyming book-- and a good one too, clever rhymes, with what I would consider a difficult topic to rhyme about  Then, I also really liked the fact the it's playful, but still talks about the holiday and traditions surrounding it.  It was a great way to boost Chanukah excitement. 

Then to extend the fun we made our own hand print menorahs!  Check it out...

First, a shout out to the jumbo stamp pads!  Robyn has posted about them here and here.  They are awesome!  Awesome!  Buy some!  They are actually washable, you know as opposed to stuff that claims to be washable but isn't.  And, they are super fun!  My toddler is the one who goes gangbusters for these!  As soon as I get them out she is scrambling onto the table and ripping the plastic cover off the things...

As you can see they are a 'full contact sport' sort of activity for toddlers, but totally worth it!  I had no problem getting those dark blue hand prints off the table, or the child.  So fun!

Anyway, menorahs, we obviously used the stamp pads.  Here's what else we used...

We just used plain old copy paper.  The wipes are on hand to do a quick wipe of the hands if switching colors of stamp pad. 

So, stamp it up. Press really well on the fingers.  Next you need to do what we call the "kissing thumbs" move...

In case you don't know, a menorah has nine candles.  There are eight candles, one for each day of Chanukah and a ninth candle in the middle, called the Shamash or helper.  So, the thumbs are going to become the Shamash...

Again, press well on the fingers, and make sure the thumbs keep 'kissing' when you place them on the paper.  After stamping, we washed up while the hand prints dried (I don't know how I didn't get an after picture of the stamping?)  It doesn't take long for them to dry enough to decorate.

So, we drew the candles on first, and then we "lit" them.  There was a lot of talking about the number of candles, and counting the candles, good math/Chanukah connection. 

You could really go anywhere with these:  cutting them out, using construction paper for the base and the candles, putting on a new candle for each night of Chanukah, glitter could be a very nice addition.  As you see, endless possibilities. Here are our finished products.

Happy reading and Happy Chanukah!

Oh, if anyone has any great Chanukah books, please comment and share.  We love hearing about new books. Or, if you know the right way to spell Chanukah, I'd love to learn that too!

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