Happy Hanukkah! It’s coming up soon. 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 Hanukkah activities or work on therapeutic values in those activities. I originally made up this post over 3 years ago, but am updating it to check for content and links. So here you go- More than 20 adaptive Hanukkah and dreidel activities for kids with special needs, including printable dreidels.
For starters, if you do an internet search on the history of Hanukkah, you can adapt what you find to read to the level of your child. But Hanukkah has many new and unusual words to accompany it–Hanukkah, 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.
Hanukkah food and customs
Food-This link has simple, traditional recipes for Hanukkah. 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?
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.
Hanukkah-Dreidel Game with printable dreidel
Dreidel Game-The dreidel game is really fun. Spinning it definitely takes fine motor skills. All the words are new (language development). 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. Below I listed some sources on finding gelt or dreidels. But 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.
Right click and save this dreidel if you need to make it larger:
There are so many cool Hanukkah themed things on Amazon too. From glittery stickers to fun books and Mad Libs for kids with better vocabulary skills….lots to choose from!
Other Hanukkah activities
Hanukkah Dreidel song
You can also sing the dreidel song:
Pin it so you have it:
Still holiday shopping? See a BSC and Special Ed teacher’s recommendation for 50 best toys.