Are you looking for simple activities to learn more about Hanukkah this year with your toddler? Then, I know you will love this round up of simple Hanukkah activities, book recommendations, and more!
I am sorry to say that I had every intention of writing this post months ago but failed miserably and I apologize for that. But, hopefully you can still recreate these ideas just in time for the holiday to kick off soon! Last Hanukkah, I collaborated with Marla of the website, Because I Said So, Baby, and instagram @becauseisaidsobaby, to share these fun Hanukkah ideas for your toddlers and preschoolers.
Like most of the activities I create for my daughter, these are very simple. Even though they’re simple, they will allow you to:
- introduce the traditions of the holiday
- share new vocabulary
- engage in fine motor practice
- offer opportunities to practice early math skills
Not to mention, scroll down through to the end of the post to find both Hanukkah picture book recommendations and TV episodes that are appropriate for our toddlers and preschoolers.
Easy Hanukkah Activities For Toddlers
1. Hanukkah Sensory Bin
Sensory bins are one of my absolute favorite simple activities to set up for my daughter. I was really intimidated by them at first because I thought they had to be complicated and over the top. But, I quickly realized that successful sensory bins (like most toddler activities) usually means the simpler the better.
For this Hanukkah version I included:
- blue and yellow dyed rice
- Hanukkah cookie cutters
- Hanukkah gelt (gold coins)
- wooden dreidels
- Hanukkah loose parts of a menorah and dreidel from a Hanukkah tic tac toe board
I know it sounds like dying rice would be complicated but it’s really not. To make the blue and yellow rice for this Hanukkah sensory bin I simply:
- divide 2 cups of white rice into two separate Ziploc gallon sized bags.
- add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to each bag
- add as much blue and yellow food coloring to each bag as desired
- close the Ziploc bags and shake the rice up to spread the color around
- Once the color has been spread evenly, let the rice dry onto a baking sheet with a sheet of waxed paper
- Let the rice dry for a few hours and then layer into your plastic bin to play!
I always like to have another smaller bin to offer my daughter when she’s playing with a sensory bin. And bowls, scoops, spoons, or other fine motor tools to encourage exploration.
Since sensory play does come with its own mess, worth it in my eyes but definitely unavoidable, I like to make sure I have a messy zone set up with a towel underneath or a plastic shower curtain to try and contain the mess as much as possible.
2. Counting Candles Menorah Math Game
This was such a fun game we played with my homeschool preschool group last year. Quick to set up and get the kids up and moving, which is always a good idea. I love to play this game as a musical movement game. To play, simply print out the menorah, number cards, and grab some popsicle sticks to look like candles. Have your little one dance around to some music. When the music stops, have them flip a number card over, and then grab that same number of popsicle sticks to light the menorah with.
This hands-on math game helps with cardinality, counting, and number recognition. To grab this free download, simply click the link here to grab it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You could also use this game set for a play dough activity by flipping the cards over, have your child say the number, then build the matching number of candles out of play dough onto the mat.
3. Marshmallow Dreidel Snack (Snacktivity)
Anytime you can get food involved, you have an instant hit on your hands. This marshmallow dreidel snack or snacktivity as I like to call it (snack + activity 😉) really brings me back to my childhood. It’s the perfect easy Hanukkah activity your toddler will love and something I can involve my daughter in making with me.
I love making these with her and then eating them while listening to a favorite Hanukkah read aloud (see the list below.). It’s a Hanukkah tradition I hope to continue for a long time.
These adorable dreidels could not be easier to make and only require 4 things to put them together. To make your dreidels, you need:
- large marshmallows
- pretzel sticks
- Hershey kisses
- Nutella (my favorite secret to keeping these glued together!)
To take full advantage of this snacktivity, grab your ingredients, your Hanukkah story, a dreidel or two to play while eating, and a cup of coffee (for you of course!)
To make these:
- Have your child take the pretzel stick and place it into the middle of the marshmallow. I broke ours a little at the end so they weren’t super long.
- If your child is comfortable using a knife or even a butter knife, have them help you spread Nutella onto the bottom of the marshmallow.
- Then have them attach the Hershey kiss to the Nutella to complete the dreidel snack
Once they’re ready, sit back, enjoy, and listen to your favorite story while you snack!
4. Hanukkah Play Dough Tray and Play Dough Mats
I saved my favorite easy Hanukkah activity for last because I can never get enough of play dough. Play dough is the perfect calming sensory activity and has been a hit with my daughter since she was about one and a half. It’s something we do almost once a month and it is always a hit. Sometimes we make our own play-dough and other times we use store bought. For this Hanukkah play dough tray, I decided to use store bought to whip this up super quickly!
Before I share how I set this Hanukkah play dough tray I want to reassure you of the benefits of playing with play dough and how they outweigh the (messy) concerns:
- play dough promotes fine motor skills
- it’s calming
- it encourages creativity
- it encourages independent play
- works on hand-eye coordination
What To Include In A Hanukkah Play Dough Tray:
Now that we got the benefits out of the way, to set up this Hanukkah version of the play dough tray I used my favorite plastic appetizer tray from the Dollar Tree. I love how each compartment holds a different tool for play dough play and allows my daughter to choose the materials she wants without it being overwhelming.
I also included:
- blue play dough (you can do both blue, white, and yellow!)
- yellow and blue craft sticks
- play dough tools including rollers and scissors
- Hanukkah themed cookie cutters in the shapes of a menorah, star of David, dreidel, and pitcher
- assortment of dreidels
- Hanukkah loose part figurines from a wooden tic-tac-toe set
I paired this play dough tray with my Hanukkah play dough mats that I created and included in my December Learn and Play printable activity packet.
If you want to get more ideas for setting up a simple play dough tray, check out this post here!
Our Hanukkah activities would not be complete with a collection of our favorite picture books. I love sharing new monthly themed books with my daughter and I hope you can find some new favorites form this list. Each link leads to Amazon and are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through these links, please know I receive a small commission. Thank you for all of your support.
Our Favorite Hanukkah Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers:
- Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf
- Hanukkah Bear
- Latke, The Lucky Dog
- Grover’s Eight Nights of Light
- Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah
- Happy Hanukkah, Corduroy
- Happy Hanukkah, Curious George
- The Night Before Hanukkah
- The Eight Knights of Hanukkah
- The Three Latkes
- Meet the Latkes
- D is for Dreidel
- The Count’s Hanukkah Countdown
Hanukkah TV Episodes for Kids
If you’re looking for some ways to add a little Hanukkah fun into your child’s screen time over the holiday, I have rounded up some of our favorite episodes for you here. My daughter is super excited to watch the Elena of Avalor episode and the Super Why episode!
I hope you find some fun and easy Hanukkah activities you can do with your toddler coming up! If you choose one of these to try, I would love for you to share it with me over on Instagram @teachtalkinspire. Happy Hanukkah to you and your loved ones!