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One of my new favorite December lessons is the song Hanukkah, Hanukkah. There are a lot of different music activities for Hanukkah, Hanukkah that you can do, but I have narrowed it down to a few of my favorites!
When looking for holiday songs last December, I really looked for songs and lessons where students could practice the concepts they needed to practice while we were learning fun holiday songs. We have some things that we do every year in December– The Nutcracker, sock skating, watching Frosty the Snowman… but we needed some songs with the concepts we needed to practice. Second grade was practicing half note, so when I came across Hanukkah, Hanukkah, I thought that would be perfect.
These things can be done with minimal resources. If you want to get everything ready to go (including powerpoint with song lyrics, rhythms, Orff parts, and Dreidel rules, plus printable worksheets, and a printable lesson plan), you can get the lesson pack in my TPT store, which you can grab here!
Music Activities for Hanukkah, Hanukkah
Learn the Song Hanukkah, Hanukkah
First off, of course, you should teach the song!
I teach the song by rote first. We echo speaking the words and then singing the song. Then we sing together!
Learn about Half Notes
After learning the song, we review some of the rhythms that we already know. If students haven’t learned half note, I introduce it here!
I like to have students sing the song while clapping the rhythm. On half notes, we can roll the note on our legs. We do this a few times so that they get the rhythm internalized.
Then, I will show them the half note. We call it “long” in second grade. In third grade, we learn actual names.
Students continue clapping the rhythm while we sing, but this time I point to the rhythms. Sometimes, I even print out the rhythm slide that I show them (and you can purchase here), and have students point to the rhythm on the print out.
Orff-estration for Hanukkah, Hanukkah
Let’s practice half notes with some instruments!
To go along with Hanukkah, Hanukkah, my students played three instruments. For second grade, this can be a lot, so I always start with trying all of the rhythms on body percussion first, and then doing two instruments at a time. If they look like they are understanding that, then we do another instrument as well.
Xylophone: Playing half notes! This one is the most complicated. Students play four C’s, four F’s, four C’s, three G’s, and end on one C. We practice this before they get instruments by saying the words and pretending to play.
Another option: Have students get in groups. One group plays C, one group plays F, and one group plays G. You could also do this on Boomwhackers if you prefer.
Woodbock: Woodblock plays two eighth notes and one quarter note. So titi ta.
Jingle Bells: In December, EVERYTHING gets jingle bells! Our jingle bells play half notes throughout.
Make a Rhythm Menorah
First off, we talk about what a menorah is, and the history of Hanukkah. If you don’t know, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday. It celebrates a miracle that occurred hundreds of years ago. During the rededication of the temple, they only had enough oil to burn for one night, but it burned for eighth nights!
This is why Hanukkah is 8 days long. It’s also why you light a candle on the menorah each night– to remember the miracle.
In my lesson pack, I have a menorah with candles. On the candles, I have students create different rhythms. So they create 8 different rhythms.
After having them create their rhythms, I have them swap with a partner to see if their partner can read it.
Then we put them up on the bulletin board, because, it’s fun.
Need more holiday ideas? Check out Christmas Tree Hunt and Charades
Dreidel is a common game that is played during Hanukkah.
I got this big bag full of dreidels for really cheap off of Amazon. You can get them here.
Everyone starts with an equal number of pieces (you could use bingo chips).
Spin the dreidel. Wherever it falls, there is an action for each side. I have them listed below with the pictures so you can see them.
The goal is for one person to get all of the pieces!
Need a no-touch alternative?
ABCYA has a super easy to play DIGITAL dreidel game that you can use if you are teaching music on Zoom or in class but far away. Students don’t even have to remember the rules, which makes it super easy for second grade!
Play Dreidel + Practice Rhythms!
To take the dreidel game one step further, you can use rhythm cards instead of chips.
I made rhythm cards with the picture of the traditional pieces that we used. Each time someone wins a piece, they have to read the rhythms on the cards.
This is my go to activity for first and second grade students in the winter– sock skating.
I once had a first grader doing this activity and he look at me and said, “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!”
It was great.
Anyway, the premise of sock skating is that students take their shoes off, then they keep the steady beat with their feet by “skating” around the classroom. It’s great. Pure joy.
If you have carpet, I’ve heard of people using paper plates, although buy a bunch, because I imagine they would get holes in the bottom after a while.
Note: Some students (especially if you live in south Georgia and it’s 80 degrees in December…) may not have socks. I have a bag of old (clean!) socks that I bring on this day so that students can use them. Then I put them into a different bag to take home so I know which ones need to be washed.
Another music activities for Hanukkah, Hanukkah is to listen to the piece Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I try to hit all four of the seasons with my second graders on a good year.
For this piece, you could:
- Sock skate
- Practice the steady beat
- Listen while you do a snowman matching game
- Listen and draw winter pictures
More Holiday lessons? Here’s an activity for the 12 Days of Christmas
And the last music activity for Hanukkah, Hanukkah is, of course, to learn Dreidel, Dreidel. This is also help with the dreidel game, because students will have a song to go with it!
You can check out Dreidel, Dreidel here.
Have you used the song Hanukkah, Hanukkah? What was your favorite of the music activities for Hanukkah, Hanukkah? Let me know in the comments!