Yasmeen Kamrani Sallam
Invitation to Create a Dreidel and Menorah
This is an invitation to create is a STEM activity that teaches children about Hanukkah. The Jewish Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday where after dinner, the family gathers to light the menorah candles -- a new one each night until all 8 are lit. Playing with a dreidel is another aspect of the holiday. The traditional game is with a dreidel, which is a pointed, four-sided top which can be made to spin on its pointed base. The more we learn and represent all cultures in classrooms and in our homes, the more knowledge and understanding we provide for everyone while making every child feel seen and heard in their community.
To set out this invitation you will need assorted wood bits, glue, an example of real menorah and dreidel, candles, and books about the holiday. Before inviting the children to create reading the stories will ignite their curiosity and provide a base knowledge about the symbols of the holiday. Placing real examples or images of the menorah and dreidel will provoke the child to pay attention to the details of the what they will create on their own. Simply invite the child to glue the wood bits to create their very own interpretation of a menorah and dreidel.
STEM preschool activities such as this are designed to engage and stretch their thinking. Introducing the engineering and design process is a natural fit due to the fact that children already like to build and problem solve. This invitation is a perfect opportunity to change a simple building activity to challenge them to think and create in new ways and enhance their interpretation and perception of weight, height, and balancing. There was no wrong or right way to do this activity and the possibilities are truly endless.
They are able to stretch and grow their problem-solving skills by collaborating with one another on how to create a menorah or dreidel. They also enhance their mathematical awareness when they have to count the number of candles and holders. Through these trials, children are able to analyze the situation more critically and come up with creative solutions. STEM provides awesome real life lessons that will build a child's cognitive skills throughout their lifetime.