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The challenge is how to keep children of all ages busy and not have all the adults busy keeping the kids busy… Get the idea? The solution? Chanukah centers!

 


(photos: Zahava Pollack Photography)

T

he best thing about Chanukah parties is getting together with family and friends! It’s always great to see cousins, neighbors, shul friends. It’s great to relax, sip hot chocolate, and… Ooops! That lasts about five minutes before the doughnut-stuffed children start running circles around the place chasing each other!

The challenge is how to keep children of all ages busy and not have all the adults busy keeping the kids busy… Get the idea?

The solution? Chanukah centers!

Make them, place them, and kick back with that hot chocolate! The kids are going to be occupied for a while here!

 

Tips:
  • Print instructions in advance, so children can play without adult intervention.
  • Put all the centers on one side of the room, so the fun (and noise) stays there. Be sure to leave enough space between centers that children can navigate them easily.
  • Get creative with your centers. The more colorful and fun-looking they are, the more children will want to play.
  • Have a ticket or coin for completing each center. Once children complete them all, allow them to redeem them for a reward.

Center #1: Magic Dreidels

These magic dreidels won’t spin forever, but they do jump! Children of all ages will delight in the opportunity to test their speed and dexterity, as they attempt to match the most dreidels.

You will need:
  • dreidel cut-outs
  • foam sheets
  • metal washers (1 per dreidel)
  • 4 12-inch wooden dowels (1 per player)
  • 4 strong magnets (available at Home Depot)
  • glue gun

 

To create the game:
  1. Print out or draw four blank dreidels. Fill each one in with a dreidel letter and then photocopy it so there are lots of them. To make it sturdy, glue the dreidels onto foam sheets and cut them out.
  2. Decorate dreidels, making a double of each design. (So that players can match them.) Place a large metal washer on the back of each dreidel. Attach the magnets to the end of each dowel using the glue gun.

 

Station setup and play:

Place all dreidels face up in a random setup on the table. When the round begins, 2-4 players use the magnets to attract the dreidels, trying to get as many matching sets as possible. The round ends when all the dreidels are snatched up. And the winner is, of course, the player with the most magic dreidel sets!

For younger children:

Just using the magnets to pick up the dreidels is so much fun, they don’t need to find the matches.

Center #2: Leapin’ Latkes!

These latkes are so cute, you’ll wish they were edible. But please don’t eat them! The children need to keep them frying!

 

You will need:
  • 1 large brown box
  • lots of tin foil
  • 6 large paper plates
  • 6 large foam or wood craft sticks
  • 1 page of 6 latke printouts or 6 hand-drawn latkes
  • black Sharpie
  • sheet of foam
  • 2 spatulas

 

To create the game:
  1. Cover the box with foil to create a stove.
  2. Cover the plates with tin foil and attach the stick as the handle. Draw and cut out the numbers 1–6 from the foam sheet.
  3. Glue a number onto the center of each plate. Write the numbers 1–6 on the latke printout and photocopy it 20 times.
  4. Cut out the latkes.

 

Station setup and play:

Place the covered box as your stove on a table or the floor. Put the 6 numbered frying pans on the stove. Divide the latkes evenly into 2 stacks, and place a spatula beside each stack.

Now it’s time to get flipping!

Two players heat things up! Using the spatula, players try placing each of their numbered latkes into the pan with the matching number using only the spatula. The winner is the one who places all their latkes first. Ready to flip?

For younger children: Allow them to use their hands to place the latkes in the correct pan.

Center #3: Menorah Memory

Do you have fond memories of lighting the menorah over the years? The singing, the presents, the smell of oil… This center will create a sort of  memory too. These will be short term, though. (I hope!)

 

You will need:
  • 4 inexpensive tin menorahs
  • 2–3 boxes of colored Chanukah candles
  • 2 medium-sized Chanukah-themed gift boxes
  • tape
  • glue gun
  • timer

 

To create the game:

Glue one menorah inside each gift box, facing forward. Place 9 colored candles in two of the menorahs, leaving the other two empty.

Station setup and play:

Place the set-up menorah boxes facing the players on a table. Place the extra candles on the table with the 2 remaining menorahs.

Set the timer for 45 seconds… Ready, set, FUN!

Two players study the setup menorahs for 45 seconds, trying to memorize the colored candle order. Then they flip the box around to hide the menorahs and try to make their menorah match the one they studied. The winner is the one who can correctly recreate his menorah in the least amount of time. It’s taking Chanukah memories to a whole new level!

For younger children: Have them recreate the menorah while looking at it.

Center #4: Diggin’ Dreidels

We’ve got a problem! It’s the case of the disappearing dreidels! Someone took all our dreidels and buried them!! It’s time for some serious digging.

 

You will need:
  • 2 medium-sized plastic containers
  • 2 pairs of tongs
  • 4 bags of shredded paper (choose colors that match your decor)
  • 38 dreidels in assorted colors, with an even number of each color
  • 2 gold or silver dreidels
  • 2 sheets of printed dreidels that can be colored to match the ones you buy
  • a timer

 

To create the game:

Fill each container with shredded paper. Add half the dreidels, being sure to divide the colors evenly between the 2 bins. Place one gold or silver one in each bin. Fill in the dreidel chart, assigning a point value to each color.

 

Station setup and play:

Place the bins and tongs on the table. Tape a point chart down so players know the value of each color. Set the timer for one minute.

Here goes! Two players compete to dig out the most dreidels, using the tongs to get them out. When the timer rings, they add the point values based on the color of the dreidels they picked up. Any player with a gold or silver dreidel doubles their points! May the best digger win!

For younger children: Just count the number of dreidels instead of assigning points based on color.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 469)

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