Hanukkah Gelt

Hanukkah Gelt

Hanukkah gelt is a festive treat for the Festival of Lights. Make this Hanukkah gelt even more special by creating the gold coins our of chocolate-dipped apricots! Some scholars believe that the biblical Tree of Knowledge wasn’t full of apples, which didn’t grow in the Middle East at the time, but instead held ripe apricots. This recipe for Hanukkah gelt uses the same fruit dipped in chocolate for a fun and healthy alternative to the traditional chocolate coins. This Hanukkah gelt can be given to children as a gift or used in a game of Dreidel.

What You Need:

  • 24 whole dried apricots
  • 16 oz dark chocolate (sweetened)
  • Parchment paper
  • 24 aluminum foil candy wrappers

What You Do:

  1. Melt the chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly to make sure it never boils. If you like, you can use a double boiler, but this is not necessary.
  2. Remove your chocolate from the heat when the chocolate is completely melted – smooth and glossy, without any lumps.
  3. Dip each apricot into the chocolate so that half of the fruit is fully coated. Carefully place each apricot on a piece of parchment paper.
  4. Once each apricot is dipped, refrigerate them until they are firm, for about a half an hour.
  5. To give them away as chocolate gelt, wrap each piece in a small, square piece of aluminum foil, so that they look like coins.
  6. The gelt can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or eaten right away.

Your children can give small gift bags of the apricot chocolate gelt to other children as a Hanukkah gift, or it can be used to barter in the game of dreidel. Enjoy!


Hanukkah Menorah Shape Collage

Hanukkah Menorah Shape Collage

Celebrate Hanukkah by creating a dazzling paper menorah using simple shapes! Shape recognition skills are a basic part of your young child’s budding math development. Try this collage activity that will encourage him to identify, create, and use geometric shapes such as rectangles, squares, and triangles.

The Hanukkah Menorah Shape Collage can also be used to introduce numbers and counting. Mark each of the eight nights by adding to this very special artwork. Extend the collage building over the course of the holiday, and remind your young artist to count the candles for each night as they are added.

What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Optional: metallic paper or yellow/gold tempera paint

What You Do:

  1. Help your child create shape templates that will correspond with the collage. You may want to choose triangles or squares to build the menorah, and rectangles for the candles.
  2. Ask your child to trace the shape templates with a crayon. Help him identify each shape by name as you go along.
  3. Help your child cut out the shapes.
  4. Have your child build a menorah on a separate piece of construction paper by arranging the shapes together like puzzle pieces.
  5. Gently lift up each shape, and have your child glue it to the paper.
  6. Add long, thin rectangles each night of Hanukkah for candles.
  7. Here’s a safe way for your child to ‘light’ the Hanukkah candles: Have him cut pieces of yellow or gold construction paper (or metallic paper if you have it on hand), and then glue the paper flame to the top of the candle. An alternative way to create ‘lights’ is to use a small dab of yellow tempera paint.

Extend this activity over the course of the entire holiday. Discuss the significance of the menorah and Hanukkah candles with your child as he creates his own paper representation.



Dreidel Ornament

Dreidel Ornament

This dreidel ornament is a fun Hanukkah craft for your child! During the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, families often play games with a dreidel—a four-sided spinning top. Make a sparkling dreidel ornament out of popsicle sticks to hang in your window, on a centerpiece, or even on your wall to give your home a festive look for eight days. Whether you’re celebrating the holiday or just learning about a different culture, this dreidel ornament project is fun to do and makes for a beautiful decoration!

What You Need:

  • 6 popsicle sticks
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Small paper plate
  • Blue glitter
  • Yarn

What You Do:

  1. Arrange the popsicle sticks in a dreidel shape. An easy way to do this is by making a “house” shape out of them. Start by taking two sticks and putting them together at a point, like a roof. Glue them together.
  2. Then glue two sticks vertically to the bottoms of those sticks, like walls holding up the roof.
  3. Glue one horizontal popsicle stick at the bottom, like a floor. It should look like a house.
  4. Finally, glue the tip of a stick vertically onto the center of the “floor” of the house-shaped sticks. Flip it over, and it should look like the outline of a dreidel! Let the glue dry.
  5. Pour a little glue on a paper plate and dip the paintbrush into it. Brush the surface of the dreidel with the glue, and invite your child to sprinkle the blue glitter over it, making sure to cover the whole thing. Set it aside to dry. After it’s dried, you can choose to glitter the other side or leave it empty.
  6. Tie some yarn through the dreidel and hang it in the window! It makes the perfect Hanukkah decoration. This project is also great for families that celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, because you can hang the beautiful dreidel on your Christmas tree!



Hanukkah Countdown Calendar

Hanukkah Countdown Calendar

This Hanukkah countdown craft will help your little one count the eight nights of the Festival of Lights. Your child can create a Hanukkah countdown calendar by drawing a menorah, and positioning egg carton compartments above each candel. As each day of Hanukkah is counted down, he will receive a small treat in each compartment of the Hanukkah countdown calendar! This activitiy is an entertaining way to build his counting skills and his anticipation for the final night of the Festival of Lights.

What You Need:

  • An empty cardboard egg carton
  • Scissors
  • Poster board
  • Stapler
  • Paint, brushes, markers
  • Small treats: gelt, stickers, tiny dreidels, coins, love notes, etc.

What You Do:

  1. Have your child draw a  menorah and candles on the poster board. Don’t forget to make one arm taller for the shamash. For reference, ask your child to look on line for a picture of a menorah.
  2. Cut 8 cups out of the carton and discard the rest.
  3. Ask your child to staple the top of the egg cups above all 8 branches of the menorah, leaving the space above the shamash empty.
  4. Invite your child to number the eggs cups from 1–8.
  5. Each night of Hanukkah, ask your child to draw or paint a flame above the appropriate eggcup.
  6. After bedtime, hide a small treat in the egg cup for your child to discover the next night.

Thumbprint Christmas Tree Cards

Thumb print Christmas Tree Cards

Recipients will agree that these homemade cards beat store-bought, boxed cards any day. With a little guidance from parents, youngsters can create a Christmas tree using their thumb as a stamp. What a unique way to illustrate how your child is developing, artistically and physically, while sending much appreciated holiday cheer to a loved one far away!

What You Need:

  • Green acrylic paint
  • Small bowl for the paint
  • White card stock and envelopes
  • Gold star stickers, sparkle stickers or similar embellishments
  • Brown marker
  • Iridescent flakes, optional (available at craft stores)
  • Adhesive tape from tape dispenser, or glue

What You Do:

  1. First, ask your child to pour some paint into the bowl.
  2. Demonstrate how your child will stamp her thumb, drawing it on a piece of scratch paper to help your younger child visualize how the tree will look. Explain that she will start at the top with one thumb print, make two thumb prints centered underneath that, then a row of three beneath that and end with four thumb prints at the bottom.
  3. Have her dip her thumb into the paint and scrape any excess off on the rim of the bowl.
  4. Have her press her thumb onto the upper quarter of the paper.
  5. Tell her to dip her thumb into the paint again and make two thumb prints, side by side, underneath the first thumb print.
  6. Have her dip her thumb again and add three thumb prints in a row beneath the second row.
  7. Then, ask her to dip her thumb into the paint and make a row of four thumb prints beneath the third row.
  8. Have your child set the card aside to dry and make another one. Keep working in small batches until you have enough cards to send to friends and family for Christmas.
  9. Once the cards are dry, your child can put the finishing touches on the tree. She can draw a brown rectangle under the tree and color it in to create a tree trunk. Then, she can top the tree with a star-shaped sticker and some sparkle stickers for ornaments.
  10. Let the cards dry one more time and then they are ready for you to address and mail! These hand made cards are sure to spread holiday cheer to all who receive them.


Christmas Skip Counting Book

Christmas Skip Counting Book

In kindergarten, kids learn how to count by twos. In teacher-lingo, this is called “skip counting.” Give your child some practice with even numbers, while creating a cute Christmas keepsake. Plus, get some holiday cards in the bargain!

What You Need:

  • card stock
  • at least 5 different holiday stamps
  • ink pads in holiday colors
  • markers
  • crayons
  • stapler

What You Do:

  1. Staple five card stock pages into a booklet.
  2. Ask your child to select a stamp, press it onto the inkpad, and stamp the selected image twice in the center of the first page. Under your child’s stamps, write words to describe what you see, for example, “Two snowmen.” Then ask your child to use a marker or crayon to write the numeral 2 at the top of the page.
  3. Repeat this process with the next stamp, only this time, have your child stamp two objects, then two more beneath it. Ask your child how many items he sees, then write the words beneath the pictures, for example, “Four candy canes.” Your child should write the corresponding numeral, 4, at the top of the page.
  4. Continue in this manner, with six objects on the next page, eight on the following, and ten on the last page. Let your child decorate the booklet as he’d like and when it’s complete, read it together. Pause on each page and ask your child to predict which number will come next.

Still feeling crafty? Use the stamps and card stock to create holiday cards. For each card, give your child an even number and challenge him to count it out as fast as he can, using skip counting. Voila! A cute treat to send to relatives, and a nice way to add some creativity to this important math skill!



Pre-K & Preschool theme ideas for Thanksgiving

Pre-K & Preschool theme ideas for Thanksgiving

Books :

Thanksgiving Book List

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

A celebration of friendship and family featuring Karma Wilson’s beloved bear character. If you’re not familiar with this series run, don’t walk to your nearest library or bookstore! Beautiful illustrations paired with rhyming text make this series the perfect read aloud for any preschool or kindergarten classroom.

Over the River by Derek Anderson

An amusing take on the classic song where turkeys take the place of humans. The vivid, eye-catching illustrations will capture the attention of your students and the hilarious antics will keep them engaged.

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston

The silly rhyming text teaches children how to count backwards from ten. While it may be silly it can also be used as a tool to support the Common Core through the development of mathematical fluency. Children need to be able to fluently count forward and backward and know what numerals come before and after. Ten Fat Turkeys is the perfect book to support the concept of mathematical fluency.

Turkey Trouble by Wendi J. Silvano

A hilarious story about a turkey who disguises himself to avoid the inevitable on Thanksgiving Day. Turkey’s attempts at disguising himself will have your students giggling from start to finish. Click on the picture of the book cover and check out the preview on Amazon- too cute!

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie is one of my personal Thanksgiving read-aloud favorites. This book can be used as a tool for supporting sequencing and re-telling skills. I have also created some free printables to go along with this story; you can find them on the Thanksgiving page.

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes

Simple rhyming text coupled with beautiful watercolor illustrations capture the true spirit of being thankful from the perspective of a child.

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland

A simple book appropriate for young children that will help explain the concept of being thankful. This book features multicultural characters, and is perfect for young children who are second language learners.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

From bestselling author Todd Parr, The Thankful Book celebrates all the little things children can give thanks for. Parr’s distinctive illustrations and relatable text make this a must have for all early childhood classrooms.

Over the River and Through the Woods by Lydia Maria Francis Child, illustrated by John Steven Gurnsey

While it is only available second-hand, this is one of my favorite Thanksgiving books. The full-page illustrations are very detailed and the text follows the classic song word for word. I love to read this book aloud and then introduce the children to the song. You can see an extensive preview on Amazon, but ignore the editorial reviews – they are for the wrong book.

Who Will Carve the Turkey This Thanksgiving? by Jerry Pallotta

I love this “Who will…?” series by Jerry Pallotta so much I just had to include it! Although it is only available as used it is well worth it. The illustrations are amazing and the funny premise has my students howling with laughter every time. After reading this book aloud, ask your class what other animals they can think of and then create your own class book.



Little Pilgrim
Sung to: “Twinkle Twinkle ”
Little Pilgrim dressed in gray
on that first Thanksgiving Day.
Little Indian dressed in brown,
Came to visit Plymouth Town,
They both came to eat and pray
on that first Thanksgiving Day.

Mr. Turkey
I have a turkey, big and fat.
(Make a fist with one hand-thumb Out for turkey’s head)
He spreads his tail and walks like that.
(Attach “tail” by spreading Out fingers of other hand and join together)
His daily corn he would not miss.
(Poke with thumb at floor)
And when he talks, it sounds like this:
Gobble Gobble Gobble

Did You Ever See A Turkey?
Sung to: “Did you ever see a Lassie”

Did you ever see a turkey a turkey a turkey
Did you ever see a turkey go this way and that
Go this way and that way and this way and that way
Did you ever see a turkey go this way and that?

Hello Mr. Turkey
Sung to: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

Hello, Mr. Turkey how are you?
Hello, Mr. Turkey, how are you?
His feet go wobble, wobble
And his head goes Gobble, Gobble.
Hello, Mr. Turkey, how are you?



Native American Thanksgiving Rhyme

(If you are in a non-religious school, you can eliminate the first and last lines.)
Thank you, God the Father (Fold hands in prayer)
Thank you, for the sunshine (Stretch arms overhead in circle)
Thank you, for the rain (Move fingers down)
Thank you, for things that grow (Move hands up)
Thank you, for good food to eat (Make circle around tummy)
Thank you, for families that love us. (Cross arms over chest)
Thank you, God the Father. (Same as first)


Thanksgiving Meal

[Fine Motor]
Have children cut out pictures of their favorite foods and glue them on a paper plate. Grocery store sale papers from the newspaper can be used for pictures (or print out clipart).

Coffee Filter Turkeys

Cut a coffee filter in half and have children paint it with watercolors. Cut out a turkey’s body from brown paper (a sort of gourd shape) and let the children glue it on. Have them draw eyes and a beak.

Giving Thanks Class Book

Ask children to think of things they are thankful for, and illustrate it on a sheet of paper. Each child’s page would read: “_____ is thankful for _____.” Example: “Nash is thankful for friends.” To make our class books, I use “presentation book covers” from an office supply store or Walmart. It has a sturdy plastic cover with a clear insert, and the pages are also clear inserts. I just slip in a page for the front cover, and slip in the children’s pages inside. These can be reused.

Number Flip Book

To make a flip book, fold a piece of paper over hotdog style, cut four flaps (cut four slits into one side of the paper), and write numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 on the flaps. Children put the correct number of Thanksgiving stickers under each flap.


Pumpkin Pies

Ingredients for one serving:
Mini graham cracker crust
3 spoonfuls of vanilla pudding
1 spoonful of canned pumpkin
1 spoonful of whipped topping
Directions: Stir the vanilla pudding and canned pumpkin together. Spoon the mixture into the mini pie crust. Top with whipped topping.

(I also have this cooking activity listed with the Halloween/Pumpkin theme. Depending on the year, I may do this activity in either theme, but not both.)

House Center

In the House Center, add a Thanksgiving tablecloth, Thanksgiving placemats, and a vase of autumn flowers.

Sensory Table: Pie Crust Dough

At Large Group time, mix different consistencies of flour and water mixtures (similar to pie crust dough). Make 3-4 bowls using varying amounts of flour and water. Place the bowls in the sensory table, and allow children to explore and feel the difference of the consistencies. Another idea is to place a cup of flour, cup of water, bowl, and spoon in the sensory table, and let the children choose how much of each substance to add to their bowl and stir.

Witches Brew

Witches Brew

This witches’ brew recipe for kids makes a scary drink for Halloween parties! This delicious witches’ brew looks like a pungent cocktail made for conjurers, but it’s actually a refreshing drink made of tinted lemonade, tapioca pearls, and gummy worms. The tapioca “eggs” are popularly used in Taiwanese bubble tea drinks. Read on to learn how to make this witches’ brew recipe for kids, and serve the drink in individual mason jars or a big punch bowl for a whole party of witches!

What You Need:

  • ½ cup whole tapioca pearls
  • Seltzer water
  • Green and yellow food coloring
  • Sugar
  • Lemonade
  • Gummy worms
  • Mason jars
  • Colorful straws


What You Do:

  1. Boil six cups of water and add in the tapioca pearls, cooking according to instructions. You’ll cook it for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pour the pearls along with the water into a bowl. Add in four drops of yellow and two drops of green food coloring and stir.
  3. Add two tablespoons of sugar. Allow this mixture to sit for half an hour.
  4. Rinse and drain the pearls using cold water.
  5. Arrange your jars in a row. Add in two spoons of tapioca “eggs” into each jar.
  6. Fill them two-thirds of the way full with seltzer water.
  7. Top the jar off with lemonade.
  8. Drop in a couple of gummy worms, add a colorful straw and serve!

Spider Hat

Spider Hat

This spider hat activity challenges your child to learn about spiders while improving his fine motor skills! Using simple household items, help your child create his own spider hat with paper plates and pipe cleaners. Your child will get great practice cutting, tracing, and stapling. Kids will also get a little scientific practice categorizing the different types of spiders. This activity is a fun year round, but it’s an especially spooky project for Halloween.

What You Need:

  • Picture book on spiders
  • A plain white paper dinner plate—the simple kind with the scalloped edges
  • One 9″ x 12″ sheet of black construction paper
  • Two ⅜ inch or ½ inch googly eyes
  • Scissors
  • Nontoxic, washable school glue
  • A stapler

What You Do:

  1. First, encourage your child to tell you what he knows about spiders (they have eight legs, make webs, eat bugs, etc).
  2. Then take out the picture book on spiders and go through it with him. Explain the way spiders help the earth and comment on the different kinds of spiders, habitats, etc. Perhaps even take a walk around the neighborhood looking for spiders, spiderwebs, or places a spider might live.
  3. Once you’re home from the walk, let the crafting begin. Put your plate on the table. There will be a flat, inner-ring about 6 inches in diameter in the center of the plate. Mark that ring with a marker or pencil.
  4. Then help your child cut along the line until the circle pops out. You should end up with hole in the center of the plate, about the size of a kindergarten’s head.
  5. Next, take out the black construction paper and use a ruler to mark out eight strips approximately ¾ inches wide by 9 inches long.
  6. Help your child cut out these strips. They will become the eight spider legs.
  7. Fold each strip accordion-style at ¾ inch intervals. This is good practice for little hands but can be tricky, so assist as needed! You should end up with eight springy, zigzag strips.
  8. With the remaining black paper, mark a crescent about 6 inches long and 2 inches at the widest point.
  9. Help your child cut out the crescent. This will become a visor at the front of the hat (the spider’s face).
  10. Glue two googly eyes onto the crescent shape about 3 or 4 inches apart.
  11. To assemble, help your child use a stapler to attach the visor/”face” in front.
  12. Attach four legs to each side of the plate.
  13. Once finished, pop the hat on your kindergarten’s head and take a picture


Something Orange

Something Orange

This Halloween, explore the color orange with your preschooler by creating an edible picture using orange foods. You can follow our example and create a simple likeness of a man, or put together your own design. The beauty of this activity is that it calls for ingredients that you probably already have on hand, such as oranges, carrots, and American cheese.

As your little one builds his creation, and snacks along the way, he’ll compare and contrast different textures such as soft and crunchy, and explore flavors such as salty and sweet. To inject a little extra learning, give him a mini anatomy lesson to boost his vocabulary and self-esteem!

What You Need:

  • 3 slices American cheese
  • Orange slices
  • Orange bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • Round cookie cutter (you can also use the rim of a glass or lid of a container)
  • Knife
  • Cutting board or plate to work on

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child to place a slice of cheese on his work surface. This will be the man’s body. Talk about other words that describe our upper body, such as “torso” or “chest.”
  2. Have him cut a circle out of the second piece of cheese to form the man’s head. Ask him to place it on top of the man’s torso.
  3. Using the third piece of cheese, help him cut strips for the arms, legs, and neck. Have him put the body parts where they should be. As your child works, point to two or three of your own bones and explain what they’re called. For instance, as your child lays down the legs, you can mention that the “patella” is another word for kneecap; and as he sets the torso down, show him where the “clavicle” or collarbone is. Repeat each term a few times so that your child can commit the new words to memory. Imagine how amazed friends and family will be when your child points to various parts of his body and rattles off their names!
  4. Once the body is constructed, slice the carrot into coins for the eyes and hands and have him arrange them on the man’s face.
  5. Slice the bell pepper into thin strips for the mouth and eyebrows. Encourage your child to use his imagination to accessorize the man, say with a tie and pocket.
  6. Help your child grate the carrots and arrange them around the man’s face for hair. Grated carrot can also be used to create grass for the man to stand on.
  7. Finally, use two orange slices to form the man’s feet/shoes.

Now that your little man is complete, there’s only one thing left to do: give him a name!

**This activity is peanut free, tree nut free, and vegetarian.