Center Focus

Spin the Dreidel

  1. You will need a dreidel for this activity. You can download this pattern for making paper dreidels. You can make simple ones using cardboard or construction paper and pencils. Students can also make dreidels out of clay. Search for "art" and "Hanukkah" for the Dough Dreidel recipe.
  2. The dreidel is an important part of the Hanukkah celebration. Dreidel means "top" and is a game of chance adapted from an old German gambling game. Hanukkah was the only time of the year that rabbis permitted games of chance, so dreidel became the "official" Hanukkah game.
  3. The dreidel has four sides labeled:
    • nun - take nothing
    • gimel - take everything
    • hei - take half
    • shin - put in
  4. Players begin by placing gelt (money) in the middle. And they each have their own money to play with. In the classroom you can use chocolate coins or poker chips. The game just goes from one person to the next, each one spinning the dreidel to see what happens. The game is completed when one person has won all of the money.
  5. Over time the four words on the dreidel have come to stand for the Hebrew phrase Nes Gadol Hayah Sham which means "A great miracle happened there."