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
- 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.
- Then have them read the article in this lesson plan. This resource contains one nonfiction article and three reading activities to assist with reading comprehension, standardized test prep (EQAO), and cross-curricular learning. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.
- 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: Lasting eight days, the joyous Jewish holiday celebrates a miracle from more than 2,000 years ago.
- History of Hanukkah
- Hanukkah: from Britannica Kids
You can use any of these videos to help your students understand Hanukkah or to reinforce their knowledge of the holiday.
- This video by actress Mayim Bialik goes over a lot of the myths surrounding Hanukkah and provides lots of information about the holiday.
- Watch the Jewish a capella group, Shir Soul, perform the Chanukkah song, Dreidel, while also playing the Hanukkah game.
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.
- Latkes and Applesauce by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Kris Easler
- 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:
- Reading by the Menorah Light: 11 Best Chanukah Picture Books
- Delightful Children’s Books to Celebrate Hanukkah This Year
- The Festival of Lights: 21 Mighty Girl Hanukkah Books
Additional Jewish Holiday Resources
- Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — celebrate the Jewish high holidays | Articles | CBC Kids
- Sukkot — a Jewish celebration of fall! | Articles | CBC Kids
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.
- Do you like to shop over the holidays? When any holiday comes around, stores like to try and increase impulse shopping with their customers. This podcast listening comprehension lesson on Impulse Shopping can be a real eye-opening lesson for your students.
- Have you ever bought decorations, home goods, or treats from the dollar store for the holidays? This podcast listening comprehension lesson on Dollar Store Prices can get your students to discuss how dollar stores can price their items so low.
- If you’re talking about take-out with the Middle School ELA Sub Plan on Reusable Take-Out Containers, why not pair that lesson with the podcast listening comprehension lesson on Personalized Notes? Especially during the holidays, restaurants could personalize their take-out containers with notes for their customers. In this lesson, students can examine this marketing trend.
Any of these sub plans or podcast lessons would be a fantastic addition to your middle school Hanukkah lesson.
Other Lesson Plans
- November Lesson Plans
- December Lesson Plans
- Middle School Christmas Lesson Plans
- Full-Year Lesson Plans