Michael Rosen’s Chanukah Lights Everywhere is a sweet book, and very good for the classroom. It follows a young boy through preparations and celebration of Chanukah with his family. The book doesn’t ignore the religious nature of the celebration, but is certainly suitable for public schools.
The structure of the story is simple and elegant. “On the night before Chanukah…” it begins, and goes on through all the nights, finishing with “And on the ninth night… and even today — I still see things that remind me of our menorah. And I think about Chanukah and about being Jewish in such a wide world of so many other lights.”
If you are looking at winter festivals in general, this book can be a good one to represent Chanukah. If you want a simple read-aloud for one of the days of the celebration, it can stand alone. But if you want to go ahead and add some other teaching points, here are some ideas:
- This book is a counting book, numbering the lights with one moon, two headlights, three lamps, and so forth. It also uses ordinal numbers, with the first night, the second night, and so on. Since each day uses both the ordinal and the ordinary number, take the opportunity to practice matching them.
We’ve written the two terms on a cut-out and cut it in half. Vary the pattern you use to cut, so they will be self-checking, and you can set them up in a center. Since the book uses an overall theme of light, we used sun cut-outs, and we’ll be able to use them at other times of the year as well. However, we could also have used the dreidel shapes you see in the picture.
- If your students are at the age to do basic counting, count the items in the story as they are presented, and then use plastic dreidels or wood dreidels to practice counting and patterning. Both come in economical sets of 100.
- Other items in the book that are fun to count are all the candles in the various menorahs, the family members, and the cats making mischief on most pages.
- The dreidel game is perfect for introducing the concept of probability. Find the rules and an online version of the game at Chanukah on the Net. You’ll also find the song “Dreidl, Dreidl” there. Most of the monthly idea books include the rules to the game and an idea for how to make dreidels in the classroom. We like the idea in Carson-Dellosa’s out of print Winter Holiday Fun book, which uses half-pint milk cartons, simply folding one end into a point. Ask lunchroom staff to help with collecting and cleaning the containers. It’s great to make dreidels from clay or Model Magic , too. For older students, print out a printable dreidel. It involves cutting, folding, and pasting, and may be too delicate for young kids to play with. Our favorite printable source: The Toymaker has a collection of Chanukah printables including dreidels, a dreidel book with the rules of the game, and coloring pages of dreidels and menorahs.
- The focus of the book is on light. List all the forms and sources of light mentioned and sort them into natural and artificial lights. Reflection and heat also come up in the story’s examples, so hook those on if they’re in your curriculum.
- One page of the book uses the stars, specifically the North Star and the Big Dipper, as examples. Another page counts the moon, mentioning its shape. We like TCR’s Stars and Planets for constellations and the Big Dipper,since it has background information, reproducibles, and hands-on activities all handily together. Make the Star Clock for some good work on following directions.
- Jewish holidays move around in the secular year because they follow the lunar-solar or lunisolar calendar. Here is a PDF file of a printable lunar-solar calendar showing where Chanukah falls. This calendar also gives an opportunity to point out that Chanukah is a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, and to discuss the High Holy Days, which fall elsewhere in the year. This page explains a number of different lunar, solar, and luni-solar calendars, and has calculators allowing students to play around with the relationships among them.
- You can continue in this direction by reading Hanukkah Moonby Deborah Da Costa, a diversity-focused picture book including information about how Chanukah is celebrated in Mexico.
- Rosen’s book has a clear and simple explanation of Chanukah at the back. Judaism 101 has more detail, including songs with midi files, recipes for latkes, and some information on language.
- Check out Chanukah Fever for music to go with your Chanukah lesson plans.
- Add to the enjoyment of your Chanukah study with beautiful Chanukah toys from The Toymaker.
- 40.6% of the world’s Jewish population lives in Israel. 40.3% lives in the United States. Do some map work with Israel for Chanukah, certainly, but don’t let students forget that this is an American holiday, too.