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Interesting Middle School Hanukkah Lesson

Middle School Hanukkah Lesson Plan

Use this middle school Hanukkah lesson to help your students learn about this holiday. Hanukkah is a very important holiday to those of the Jewish faith, but finding engaging middle school lesson plans about it can be very difficult.  Hanukkah, also sometimes known as the Festival of Lights, includes important elements like the lighting of the menorah, prayers, and gift exchanges, yet many of our students might not be familiar with this holiday.

You can help your students develop an understanding of this eight-day festival by reading non-fiction texts. Helping students to build background knowledge and understanding of world cultures is an important goal no matter what religion your students follow.  I use the Article of the Week format to help my students build their background knowledge.  To help with this knowledge building, you can use this middle school Hanukkah lesson plan that is focused on a nonfiction article.  In it, students will learn what Hanukkah is as well as this important holiday’s history and traditions.

The idea behind Article of the Week is for teachers to assign students a non-fiction article each week to read and then give them time to develop a written response. Students get exposed to a wide variety of non-fiction and they get to reinforce their writing skills. This not only helps students develop their literacy skills but also helps the teacher cover curriculum expectations.

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Hanukkah Background Information

Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration that started over 2,000 years ago that lasts for 8 days. It can be spelled Hanukkah or Chanukah. It starts on the 25th of Kislev (a month on the Jewish calendar – typically in November or December), and it reminds Jewish people to rededicate themselves to their faith and culture. 

The word Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew.

During this time, people participate in traditions such as lighting the Menorah, gift exchanges, eating traditional food, and playing games. On this holiday, people remember the miracle that occurred where there was only enough oil to light the menorah in the Temple for one day, but it lasted for eight. 

A tradition of Hanukkah is to light the menorah, which is a candle holder that holds 9 candles. It is lit for the 8 nights of Hanukkah, and the last candle – the shamash – is used to light the other candles. 

Middle School Hanukkah Lesson

Middle School Hanukkah Lesson Plan

  1. Start your middle school Hanukkah lesson by showing students this video What Is Hanukkah? as it will help them gain some background information about this holiday.
  2. Then have them read the article in this lesson planThis resource contains one nonfiction article and three reading activities to assist with reading comprehension, standardized test prep, and cross-curricular learning. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.
  3. If time permits you can have students play a game. This article How to play Dreidel provides instructions.

This middle school Hanukkah lesson includes:

  • Teacher lesson plan
  • Pre-reading K-W-L chart
  • Non-fiction article (regular and modified version)
  • Mp3 recording of each article
  • 3 Post-reading activities: comprehension questions, grammar questions (2 options: paper and self-grading Google Forms), long answer writing response
  • Individual PDFs and Google Slides formats

Hanukkah Articles

Hanukkah Videos

You can use any of these videos to help your students understand Hanukkah or to reinforce their knowledge of the holiday. 

Consider Including Picture Books

I love using picture books in my classroom. Don’t forget to put Hanukkah picture books on display. I like to start my lessons with a picture book where possible. Check your school or public library to see if they have any books you can borrow. 

  1. Latkes and Applesauce by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Kris Easler
  2. The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler, illustrated by Jill Weber

For more book lists on Hanukkah books, you can check out some of these blog posts: 

  1. Reading by the Menorah Light: 11 Best Chanukah Picture Books
  2. Delightful Children’s Books to Celebrate Hanukkah This Year
  3. The Festival of Lights: 21 Mighty Girl Hanukkah Books

Additional Jewish Holiday Resources 

Middle School ELA Sub Plans

2 Peas and a Dog has some great Middle School ELA sub plans that you can use over the holidays that dive into topics related to the holiday. 

  • With Hanukkah comes lots of parties! But what happens to waste during these celebrations? Try the sub-plan on Party Planning to learn more. 
  • As with a lot of holidays, there could be lots of sugary treats. The sub-plan on The Effects of Sugar can help bring insight to your students on this topic. 
  • Sometimes there can be a lot of take-out meals when a holiday rolls around. This sub-plan on Reusable Take-Out Containers can enlighten your students on the different containers used and their benefit to the environment. 

Any of these sub plans would be a fantastic addition to your middle school Hanukkah lesson.

Podcast Listening Comprehension Lessons

Along with sub plans that you can use over the holidays, there are also some great podcast listening comprehension lessons you can use. 

Any of these sub plans or podcast lessons would be a fantastic addition to your middle school Hanukkah lesson.

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