Hanukkah Essentials: Latkes, Dreidels, Menorahs & More


Hanukkah is here and what better way to engage students than through integrated Hanukkah activities aligned to Common Core Standards. Here are highlights from our Hanukkah Essentials Unit:

1. KWL menorah: To start our unit, students completed a Hanukkah KWL. They knew that Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the winter but had many questions regarding traditions and origin.

Hanukkah KWL

2. Hanukkah research: During social studies time, students researched to answer their specific questions from their KWL menorahs. They summarized and recorded new learning on their Hanukkah fact sheet.

Hanukkah research

3. Delightful dreidels:  Students colored and assembled dreidels using the template included in the unit.

Making dreidels

Playing dreidel

While students worked on their dreidels, I pulled small groups to make these adorable edible dreidels.

edible dreidels

dreidel step 1

dreidel step 2

dreidel step 3

dreidel step 4

4. Memorable menorahs: While students colored and glittered menorahs (included in the unit), I pulled small groups to make these keepsake handprint menorahs.

Glitter menorahs

Handprint menorah

Menorah step 1

handprint menorah step 2

handprint menorah 3

5. Luscious latkes: I used Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat by Naomi Howland as the anchor text for the Hanukkah unit. During reading group time, students made predictions, summarized the story and determined moral of the story (all lesson plans and graphic organizers are included in the unit). As a culmination, we made homemade latkes (recipe included in unit). I shredded potatoes and students formed the small potato pancakes.

Homemade latkes

We also tried the premade pancake mix, a much easier option. Most students preferred the mix to the traditional latke recipe.

Premade latke mix


Download our Hanukkah Essentials unit for these ideas and much more!


Glitter 101: How to Survive Glitter in the Classroom

For most, glitter evokes the holiday season, but for elementary teachers, just the thought makes their toes curl and sends shivers down their spines. Glitter is messy, time-consuming and ever-lasting (hence those few pesky sprinkles lingering around at the end of the year). The messiness discourages many teachers from incorporating glitter into art projects, but it is something every child should experience. Here are 6 tips to help you survive glitter in your classroom:

1. Set up space: Determine a large, easy-to-clean space that allows children to spread out during the glitter process. Plan a drying space within steps of the glitter location. I use my large, rectangular table by my classroom library. I pull the table away from the books, stack the chairs and place needed materials on the table. I set up a large canvas drop cloth at the carpet area (right next to the glitter table) where children place their masterpieces. The drop cloth catches any loose glitter and prevents children from walking across the room to the counter space, which is a glitter disaster just waiting to happen.

Set up space

2. Use glitter grabbers: I provide children with the leaf trays (as shown in picture) or large plastic tubs to shake off extra glitter. Lunch trays, copy paper box lids, and dish pans (found at Dollar Store) are all perfect glitter grabbers. Plus they stack easily for storage.

Glitter grabbers

3. Make glitter dispensers: Avoid flying glitter by creating these inexpensive glitter dispensers. Simply purchase clear, squeezable condiment or paint bottles and fill with glitter. Cut the tip at the base to make a wider hole. Children squeeze glitter over desired area, providing more precise distribution of glitter.

Glitter dispenser

3. Organize by color: I have 4 different colors of glitter on my rectangular table and each color has its own glitter grabber.  This allows you to recycle extra glitter without creating a large container of ‘rainbow’ glitter at the end of each project.

Organize by color

4. Modeling is a must: This week when I mentioned the words, “add glitter” my second graders squealed with joy. One child shouted, “I’ve never used glitter!” Shocked, I asked the rest of my class if they’ve used glitter before and only half raised their hands.  While planning this project, I assumed that all had used glitter, thus assuming that they all knew how to use it as well. However, as teachers we must never assume that children have required background knowledge or previous experience. Glitter, like anything else, must be modeled explicitly. I first show how to use the Elmer’s glue by saying, “Dot, dot, not a lot.” I then show how to gently shake a SMALL amount of glitter over the glue and gently shake to cover all glue spots. Then I carefully tap excess over the glitter grabber. I talk aloud through each step so children thoroughly understand each step.

Dot Dot Not a Lot

5. Set a limit: I only allow 4 children to glitter at a time; this gives students plenty of space and access to all of the necessary materials. I also set a timer and give a reminder half-way through to ensure that every child has equal glitter time. If you don’t limit the time, you will have a few who will try to spend all day there.

Set a limit

6. Thank your custodians: Even with these tried-and-true tips, children can get a little zealous with the glitter, causing a little extra work for your custodians. Let’s face it, school vacuums aren’t the most powerful machines out there. I always give my custodians a small, special treat to express my gratitude. They love this gesture and it prevents them from cursing my name after glitter sessions.

Thank your custodians

Have a glitter tip? I’d love to hear from fellow glitter gurus.


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