Adaptive Chanukah And Dreidel Activities
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Adaptive Chanukah And Dreidel Activities

Traditional Chanukah games and activities can have both fun and therapeutic value

Clay Dreidel. Courtesy of Lisa Lightner
Clay Dreidel. Courtesy of Lisa Lightner

Editor’s Note: Thank you to blogger Lisa Lightner for sharing her great Chanukah list!

Happy Chanukah! I like to teach my kids about all the major holidays and customs, even if we are not that ethnicity or religion. My sons both started playing the dreidel game in preschool and now one still asks for it. Here are some ways to adapt traditional Chanukah activities or work on therapeutic values in those activities.

For starters, if you do an internet search on the history of Chanukah, you can adapt what you find to read to the level of your child. Chanukah has many new and unusual words to accompany it: gelt, menorah, dreidel. And of course all the words in the dreidel game. Pronouncing new words and letter patterns can help speech and expand vocabulary. Here are some more ways to work on therapeutic skills–as you enjoy learning about Chanukah with your child.

1. Food: This link has simple, traditional recipes for Chanukah. At my son’s school, they sometimes do “food group” to get the kids to try new foods. So why not do one at home and try new foods?

2. Menorah: You can work on counting, patience (8 whole days!), safety, and blowing out candles (oral motor). With the eight candles and eight days, you can also track something for eight days–something they’ve been working on. Such as “I will make my bed every day for eight days” and have a reward at the end. Have daily goals and daily prizes, which is common with Hanukkah. Make it rewards based. You can also use it to reflect and memory recall. What did we talk about when we lit a candle yesterday? If a candle is just out of the question for your child, do one on paper and either glue or tape a “flame” for each day. That still works on fine motor skills.

3. Dreidel Game: The dreidel game is really fun. Spinning it definitely takes fine motor skills. There’s taking turns, waiting, learning rules, counting and so on. There’s also the community kitty of gelt, so you have to be willing to share.

Here are some printable dreidels and printable dreidel game rules for you to use. Gelt can be anything though–coins, skittles, anything of value to your child. If you need to adapt the dreidel because your child can’t spin it, consider allowing them to just toss it like dice. Or, you can use a pencil gripper or rubber bouncy ball to put on the small stick to give them something more substantial to grab and spin.

If you want, you can really go old school and make one out of clay. Working with clay is a great activity for their hands and for sensory.

4. Coloring: There are lots of free coloring pages for you to download and print for your kids.

5. Music: Find Chanukah songs with the lyrics on youtube to sing with your kids, such as:

Lisa Lightner is a blogger, advocate and parent who provides great resources for parents and educators.

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