Holidays nowadays seem to be little more than an excuse for a shopping spree. And many mall stores now even feature decorations and gifts for Chanukah along side Christmas. (Something that wasn't true when I was a kid.) With this external focus on consumption, it's even more important to balance children's experiences.
When choosing Gates' gifts for Chanukah it was important that some be about the holiday and Jewish culture. Because Gates especially loves Shabbat and is now at the age where she wants to be involved, I also wanted a few Chanukah-related items that were interactive. A 31-piece wooden Chanukah Set by KidKraft (*affiliate link) and My First Menorah Book by Salina Yoon (*affiliate link) fit these requirements nicely.
An interactive Chanukah set was important as we didn't want Gates touching the lit candles of our family menorah. Before we gave this set to Gates (as we do with all toys and books since the Fisher-Price toy incident) we opened the gift to see if there were any pieces that would pose a choking hazard. To simulate lighting candles this set has wooden flames that you set into the candles. The flames by themselves are choking hazards. You could glue them into the candles to remove the hazard. Or you could do like we did, remove the flames and put them away until Gates is older.
Throughout the holiday, Gates has enjoyed putting the candles into the menorah and taking them out. She's also pretended to make latkes for us. The dreidel that comes with the set is weighted a little oddly so we haven't really played it. (I have others but am unsure where they are at the moment, having not seen them since before we moved into The Station.)
The same night we gave Gates the Chanukah set we gave her the My First Menorah Book (*affiliate link). I'd heard that it explained the holiday in terms a child could understand and it does. (It simply explains Hanukkah as the celebration of the bravery of a few Jewish patriots and ignores the subsequent civil war or later substantive size of the Maccabee forces (over 20,000 by some accounts).)
I like the message throughout the book that Chanukah is a time for being thankful for your blessings and is a time to connect with family and friends. However, if you're looking for the prayers that are said for Chanukah, they're not in the book. This omission was a little disappointing. (I've shared the Hebrew, the phonetic pronunciation, and the English translation of the Chanukah blessings previously if you need them.) But overall, the book is a good introduction to Chanukah for a toddler. Gates has had us read it to her multiple times. Her favorite passage is the dreidel song on the seventh night.
How are you talking about Chanukah with your little one?
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Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
This post contains affiliate links, identified with (*affiliate link) following the linked text. I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing regardless of referral fees. I purchased both of the products featured in this post. All opinions presented are my own.