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When it comes to December in the music room, it’s important to come up with holiday music lessons for all of your students, and to showcase different groups of people. One of the ways that you can do that is with songs for Hanukkah!
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday at the end of November or early December that celebrates a miracle that happened a long time ago– The temple was destroyed, and after the invading army was driven out, they decided to rededicate the temple. In the temple, there is a light that is supposed to stay light all day and all night, but they only had enough oil to light one night. Then, a miracle happened, and the light stayed lit for 8 nights– until someone was able to get more oil and bring it back.
Because of this, Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 nights, and each night you light one candle on the menorah. There are other traditions as well, including eating latkes, sometimes giving gifts, and playing dreidel along with many others.
I am not Jewish, so I am not an expert on Hanukkah, so if you want to learn more, you can watch this video below. This is the one I like to show my kids because it’s short and there is a kid narrating it.
Now, onto the songs!
There are many folk songs for Hanukkah, but there are three that I really enjoy, and those are below.
This was my first addition of Hanukkah into my lessons, and it was perfect specifically because it has a half note. Typically, I’m working on half note with second grade, and that makes it perfect.
I also like that the lyrics mention a lot about the menorah and the candles, so we can talk about each of those things.
You can get a Hanukkah, Hanukkah lesson pack that comes with a lesson plan, slideshow, printable activities (including rhythm gelt for dreidel and create a rhythm menorah), and more in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!
This is one of the most common songs for Hanukkah (Glee did a really good arrangement of it– seriously, look it up!). This song is really fun, and would be a good opportunity to add in the horah– a traditional Jewish dance coming from Eastern Europe. This dance is typically done at weddings, but can also be done at other joyous occasions– like during the Festival of Lights!
I have a Little Dreidel
And of course, a classic among songs for holidays– Dreidel.
I typically bring Hanukkah, Hanukkah back out in 3rd grade and we add Dreidel to that. This is a song about the game dreidel, and we typically use it to play dreidel (it’s down below!)
What should I do with these?
Now that you have a few fun Hanukkah songs for elementary music in your arsenal, you need a few ideas for what to use them for!
Here are a few things that you can do along with singing the songs.
Learn about Hanukkah
First and formore, you need to teach your students about Hanukkah if they don’t already celebrate it.
One way that I do that is by showing the video that I already mentioned, and that you can watch here.
Along with that, see if you can get an inexpensive menorah (I’ve seen a bunch at TJ Maxx and Hobby Lobby this year– here’s one on Amazon) to show the students what a menorah is. It makes it much more real when they can see it in person.
If any of your students celebrate Hanukkah, you can ask them to share their experiences and traditions, if they feel comfortable.
And, of course, we have to play dreidel!
Dreidel is a fun game. You take turns spinning the dreidel. Whichever side it lands on tells you what to do– either take half of the gelt (money– we use fake ones) out of the middle, put one in the middle, take the whole pot, or nothing happens. IF the pot is ever empty, everyone puts in one piece.
We play along with paper gelt that I included in my lesson pack for Hannukah, Hanukkah. I also have rhythm gelt, which I like to use while we are learning about half note— every time a student puts a piece in or takes it out, they have to read the rhythm.
There’s a few things that we do for Hanukkah! It’s not a ton, so I’d love to know more– how do you celebrate Hanukkah in your music room? Send me a DM on instagram (@beccasmusicroom) and let me know!