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Jewish Holidays By Diana Garrett ED417-02 Jewish Holidays Five Learning Activities for Kindergarten

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Jewish Holidays

By Diana Garrett



Jewish Holidays

Five Learning Activities for Kindergarten

Objective: Identify different cultures through the study of holidays, customs, and traditions utilizing stories and the arts.

  • Contents
  • Hanukkah Slides 3-5
  • Passover Slides 6-8
  • Rosh Hashanah Slides 9-10
  • Yom Kippur Slides 11-12
  • Sukkot Slides 13-14
  • Websites Slide 15




Basic Content Knowledge

  • Also known as the Festival of Lights.
  • Begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev, but varies on the Western calendar.
  • Maccabee Victory—Antiochus, a Syrian king, required all Jewish people to abandon their heritage (God, religion, tradition, customs) and worship Greek gods. The Maccabees were a group of Jews who refused to obey. Three years of fighting ensued, until the Syrians were successfully driven out of Israel.
  • Eight Days of Oil—After this victory, the Maccabees set to work clearing the Temple in Jerusalem of all Greek religious influences. The group then decided to light a lamp that would be an “eternal light.” However, there was only enough oil for about one day. Miraculously, the small amount of oil lasted eight days.

Hanukkah Activity Materials

  • Zigzak! A Magical Hanukkah Night by Eric Kimmel and Jon Goodell
  • Dreidels
    • 1 per group (2-4 students)
  • Game pieces
    • Can be chocolate chips, pennies, raisins, etc
    • 10-15 per student



Hanukkah Activity

Read the Book and Play the Dreidel Game

  • 1. Read and discuss Zigzak! A Magical Hanukkah Night by Eric Kimmel and Jon Goodell.
  • Form groups of 2-4 students.
  • Each player receives an equal number of game pieces (10-15).
  • Before each turn, all players put one piece into the “pot.”
  • The first player spins the dreidel. There are four possible results.
    • Nun—means nothing. Do nothing with your pieces.
    • Gimmel—means everything. Take everything in the pot.
    • Hey—means half. Take half the pot. (If there is an odd number of game pieces, take the extra one)
    • Shin—means put in or pay. Put two pieces in the pot.



Hanukkah Activity


Shin (pay)

Hey (half)

Gimmel (everything)

Nun (nothing)

  • When a player has no game pieces left, he/she is out.
  • When a player has all the game pieces, he/she wins!




Basic Content Knowledge

  • Passover is celebrated with a special dinner called a seder (say-der), stories, and histories of Passover.
  • Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Moses begged the Pharaoh to let my people go, as instructed by God. Moses warned that God would punish the people of Egypt if the Pharaoh did not comply. The Pharaoh still refused and ten terrible plagues were unleashed.
  • The plagues were blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, blight, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the slaying of first-born children.
  • Israelites were told to mark their homes with lamb’s blood and God would “pass over” their homes, sparing their first-born children.
  • The Pharaoh finally agreed, and the Israelites left Egypt so quickly that they could not even bake bread. The packed dough and baked it in the sun. The result was a hard matzoh cracker, still eaten today.


Basic Content Knowledge Continued

  • The Pharaoh sent his army after the Israelites. When the Israelites reached the Red Sea, they were trapped.
  • The second miracle of Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, allowed the Israelites to cross safely, and swept away the Pharaoh’s army. The Israelites now knew they were free.

Passover Activity Materials

  • The Miracles of Passover by Josh Hanft
  • Sturdy paper plates or plastic plates (1 per student)
  • Paper muffin cups (5 per student)
  • Green acrylic paint
  • Craft glue
  • Sparkles
  • Black markers
  • Stickers for decoration (optional)



Passover Activity

Read the Book and Make a Seder Plate

  • Read and discuss The Miracles of Passover by Josh Hanft
  • Paint plates green and set aside to dry.
  • Paint the bottom of the inside of the muffin cups green and set aside to dry.
  • When dry, with the black marker, write the names of each of the Passover symbols on the bottoms of the inside of the muffin cups—Charoset, Bitter Herbs, Greens, Egg, and Shankbone.
  • Glue the muffin cups around the perimeter of the plate with the craft glue.
  • When dry, use the glue and sparkles to decorate.



Passover Activity


  • Write “Seder Plate” in glue in center of plate. Cover with sparkles, wait a few minutes, and shake off excess.
  • Add stickers if desired.



Rosh Hashanah

Basic Content Knowledge

  • Rosh Hashanah (rosh hosh-shon-uh) has four meanings.
    • Day of Judgment
      • Jewish people should examine their past year and ask forgiveness for any transgressions
    • Day of Shofar (sho-far) (ram’s horn) Blowing
      • Marks beginning of High Holy Days
    • Day of Remembrance
      • Of Jewish history
      • Prayers for Israel
    • New Year’s Day
      • Celebrated with special prayers and feasts

Rosh Hashanah

Basic Content Knowledge Continued

  • Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two calendar days because it is considered too important to celebrate for just one. It is treated as one long day.
  • The destiny of all mankind is said to written by God in the Book of Life on this day.
  • Traditional foods are sweetened, often with honey, to symbolize sweetness in the coming year.

Rosh Hashanah Activity Materials

  • All About Rosh Hashanah by Judyth Groner and Madeline Wilker
  • Apples
  • Knife
  • Honey
  • Sturdy paper plates
  • Napkins



Rosh Hashanah Activity

Read the Book and Eat Apples and Honey

  • Read and discuss All About Rosh Hashanah by Judyth Groner and Madeline Wikler.
  • Cut up apples and distribute onto plates.
  • Pour honey onto each plate.
  • Distribute plates and napkins to students.
  • While eating, discuss what the apples and the honey represent in the New Year (growth and sweetness).



Yom Kippur

Basic Content Knowledge

  • Yom Kippur (yom kip-poor) is the Day of Atonement. It is considered one of the most sacred days.
  • The Book of Life is closed and sealed on this day. Those who have repented are promised a good, happy new year.
  • On Yom Kippur, Jewish people ask forgiveness for broken promises made to God, not to other people. It is believed that God cannot forgive broken promises made to other people, therefore the day before Yom Kippur is reserved for this purpose.
  • It is the day of “not doing.” People are to emulate angels by not eating or drinking, anointing, having marital relations, washing, or wearing leather shoes.

Yom Kippur Activity Materials

  • K’tonton’s Yom Kippur Kitten by Sadie Rose Weilerstein
  • Large, round container
    • Basket, bowl, trash can, etc.
  • Bean bags



Yom Kippur Activity

Read the Book and Bean Bag Toss

  • Read and discuss K’tonton’s Yom Kippur Kitten by Sadie Rose Weilerstein
  • Place large container in open space.
  • Line students up from a specified distance.
  • Students take turns trying to toss bean bags into the container.
  • Students record results.
  • Discuss how it felt to miss the container, how people are not always as perfect as they would like to be (al het), and how students can always improve their behavior and make amends.




Basic Content Knowledge

  • Sukkot (suh-coat) is also known as the Feast of Booths.
  • It is named for the sukkah (huts) that the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert before they reached the Promised Land.
  • Many Jewish people build a sukkah to celebrate this holiday. They range from simple to elaborate.
  • Families celebrate by eating meals in the sukkah, and some will even sleep in them.

Sukkot Activity Materials

  • Sammy Spider’s First Sukkot by Sylvia A. Rouss
  • Chairs (optional)



Sukkot Activity

Read the Book and Play Fruit Salad

  • Read and discuss Sammy Spider’s First Sukkot by Sylvia A. Rouss
  • The students form a seated circle with one “chaver” in the center.
  • The chaver assigns each child a piece of fruit (banana, appple, pear, orange, pear, banana, etc.).
  • The chaver shouts the name of a fruit, and the students assigned to that fruit must change seats.
  • While students are changing, the chaver must find a seat.
  • The person left in the middle is now the chaver.
  • After the game, discuss the importance of fruit and the Jewish harvest.



Web Sites


Department for Jewish Zionist Education

Eric A. Kimmel: Author and Story Teller

Holidays on the Net



Web Sites



My Jewish

Online Learning Haven

The Perpetual Preschool