The Story of Hanukkah from Time for Kids

This year (2014), Jews begin celebrating Hanukkah at sunset on Tuesday, Dec. 16, and end the celebration on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 24. The holiday lasts a total of eight days and nights.In Hebrew, the word “Hanukkah” means “dedication.” Hanukkah honors a struggle that dates back to 165 B.C., when Jews defeated an invading army and regained the Temple at Jerusalem. According to legend, Jews found a lamp inside the temple with just enough oil to light their holy lamps for one night. By some miracle, the legend goes, it burned for eight nights.Today, Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a candle in a menorah for each of the eight nights.


1. When is Hanukkah? Jewish holidays are based on a lunisolar calendar, which is based on the movement of the sun and moon. A year on the Hebrew calendar ranges from 353 to 385 days. So, unlike Christmas, Hanukkah does not fall on the same date each year.

2. The Menorah:  Menorahs were the lamps used in the ancient holy temple in Jerusalem. The original menorahs only had seven candle-holders. A Hanukkah menorah has nine. During Hanukkah, it is tradition to light candles on a menorah — one for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, and an extra one to light the others.The world’s largest Hanukkah menorah — at 32feet high — can be found during the Festival of Lights in New York City’s Central Park.

3. Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel:  A dreidel is a popular Hanukkah toy. It is a four-sided spinning top with different Hebrew letters on each side. To play the dreidel game, players start out with the same amount of money (or candy) and they gain or lose depending on which letter turns up when they spin the top. In Hebrew, the letters form the initials of the message, “A great miracle happened there.”

4.The Gift of Gelt:  One Hanukkah tradition is the giving of gelt, or gold coins. In the past, children would give gelt to teachers and charities. Eventually, it also became the reward for winning dreidel games. During the holidays, chocolate candies wrapped in gold tinfoil are sold to mimic real gelt.

5. Festive Foods:  Many families celebrate the holidays by enjoying a meal together. Latkes or potato pancakes, are a popular Hanukkah dish.They are often served with applesauce and sour cream. Jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyot, are also popular.


© 2014 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved. TIME FOR KIDS and are registered trademarks of Time Inc.  Illustrations by Chris Ware/TNS

Check out this local story in the Grand Forks Herald.

Holiday Season Newspaper Activities

Looking for some activities to do in the classroom? Here are some ideas from the NIE Institute. The actvities cover a variety of subjects from art to social studies.

ART: During the holiday season, many gifts are exchanged between friends and family. Students can use your newspaper (including advertisements and regular content) to create personal wish lists. First, have students pick five items they’d like to receive, then five items they would like to give. Using the design skills they’ve learned in your class, allow students to cut and paste these items into an attractive collage.

Students can cut letters from the newspaper (or use their own artistic flair) to create an appropriate title for their collages. After their collages are created, students can practice their drawing and copying skills by recreating their favorite item from the 10 onto a new sheet of paper.

CAREER EDUCATION: Retail establishments are very busy throughout December. Use your newspaper to find examples of other businesses that are impacted positively or negatively by the holidays. What jobs can you find that would ONLY exist during the holiday season? Are there any jobs can you find that would NOT be affected in any way by the holiday season?

ENGLISH/ LANGUAGE ARTS: Christmas is the most widely known and celebrated holiday in December, but many other holidays also occur in this season. Use your newspaper to find examples of some of these other holidays. Write a persuasive essay encouraging your classmates to celebrate another winter holiday (either in addition to or in place of Christmas). Use your newspaper to research more about the holiday you’ve chosen to promote and utilize outside sources to locate additional details.

GEOGRAPHY: Although many people in our area wish for a “white Christmas,” use today’s weather map to locate other areas in our country where a white Christmas might be more likely to occur. If you decided to drive to one of these areas during the holidays, what route would you take? How many miles would you be traveling? What scenic features (mountains, rivers, etc.) would you cross on your journey? What states would you pass on your way there? If you decided you definitely wanted to AVOID snow on Christmas, where would you be most likely to visit? Answer the same questions for your new travel plans.

HISTORY: The New Year is fast approaching. What do you think will be historically the most important things that happened in 2011? Use your newspaper to locate stories you think will still matter in 2012 and even further into the future. Based on what you’ve found in your newspapers, what are the five items you most think deserve a spot in a 2011 time capsule? Write an essay to explain your decisions.

MATHEMATICS: The month of December traditionally has more advertising than other months of the year. Work with a partner or two to determine how many column inches of advertising are included in one section of today’s newspaper. Now determine how many column inches are devoted to editorial content (stories or photos). Compare the two numbers: what percentage of that section’s content is advertising and what percentage is news? When your class has completed this job, compile your numbers and determine which section has the most advertising and which has the most news. Create a graph to compare these numbers.

MUSIC: Well-written articles are often very lyrical. Work with a couple of students to fnd a story in today’s newspaper that you think would make a good song. Make a list of the story’s main points and especially note any sentences or phrases that you think might work “as-is” in your song. Use a popular holiday tune to set your song to music. Share your song with the class.

NEWSPAPER KNOWLEDGE: A good newspaper includes a wide array of topics and materials each day. What topics do you find in today’s newspaper that probably wouldn’t occur in other months? Create a list and see how many December-specific stories you find.

SCIENCE & HEALTH: As the weather gets colder, we know cold and flu season is upon us. What are some specific steps you can take to avoid being sick during your winter vacation? Compile a class list of ideas and submit them to the newspaper as a letter to the editor. (Letters that are brief, well-written and well-edited are more likely to be published, so don’t send a first draft!)

SOCIAL STUDIES: Holidays are celebrated differently throughout the world. Pick a country outside of the United States and research what December celebrations might be like there. Using a current holiday newspaper article as a guide, write a feature story about your chosen country and holiday. Be sure to include an attention-grabbing headline and lead!

COMMUNITY SERVICE: More people are interested in helping out during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Create a newspaper clip file or bulletin board that details organizations in your area that could use community support. As a class, choose a group you’d like to help. Because many organizations need help year-round, determine what your class can do AFTER the holidays to help out as well. Your contribution could be as simple as designing artwork for their buildings or as complicated as a fundraising drive.

JUST FOR FUN: Go on a newspaper scavenger hunt! It shouldn’t be hard to find holiday-related items in this month’s news. Time yourself as you look for the following:

1. A holiday article or photo that is NOT about Christmas;

2. A dateline that indicates a place you’d really like to visit during your vacation;

3. An example of a gift you’d really like to receive;

4. A word or phrase that you think best exemplifies this season;

5. A classified advertisement for something holiday-related;

6. A photo that reminds you of winter;

7. A food you’d like to eat during the holidays; and

8. A sporting event that will occur during your winter vacation.

December Holidays

From KRP’s The Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide. Here are four different holidays that are observed in the month of December.

Hanukkah (cultural/religious)  Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights, or Feast of Dedication. It begins on the evening of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (about December) and lasts eight days. Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees (led by Judah) over the Hellenistic Syrians in a famous revolt. While the victory itself was considered miraculous, Jewish legend provides another explanation for Hanukkah rituals, the most important of which is candle lighting. According to legend, when the Maccabees reclaimed the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, it had to be rededicated. But there was only one jar of sacramental oil enough for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, from which the eight days of Hanukkah was derived.

The Jews observe many traditions during Hanukkah, including eating foods fried in oil, playing the dreidel game, and giving gifts or (money) to children.  Ask students to compare and contrast Hanukkah to Christmas or another winter holiday. Have them make a comparison chart illustrated with pictures and graphics cut out of the newspaper.

The menorah is a special candleholder that holds nine candles; one for each of the eight days of Hanukkah and a ninth candle called the shamas. The shamas is lit every night and used to light each of the other candles, one each day. Send students on a search for menorahs in newspaper advertisements. Have them make a menorah poster with information about this important Jewish ritual.

Have students find out how the dreidel game is played. Then have them write a how-to story for the school newspaper. Ask:  Can you think of games we play in observance of other holidays? Discuss.

Christmas (federal, cultural/religious)  The most popular of Christian observances is Christmas, a festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, founder of the Christian faith. Although no one knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth, most Christians celebrate on Dec. 25. Christmas is celebrated throughout the world. In the United States it is one of the most joyous times of the year. People decorate their homes and Christmas trees. They sing Christmas carols, attend church services, send cards, feast with family and friends, and exchange gifts.

Many of the Christmas traditions observed in the United States originated in other countries. In small groups, have students find newspaper datelines for five countries that celebrate Christmas. Then have them conduct research to see if any American Christmas traditions originated in those countries. Allow a spokesperson to report each group’s findings.

Have students cut out words, graphics, and pictures from the newspaper that symbolize Christmas. They can use the cutouts to create their own Christmas cards.

Since Christmas is one of the busiest and most hectic times of the year, have students write a letter of advice to someone who wants to know how to slow down and enjoy the holiday. Point out your newspaper’s advice column beforehand.

Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1, cultural/religious)  Many of the traditions observed by African-Americans today have roots in African culture. The seven-day festival known as Kwanzaa is one of them. This holiday is widely celebrated by African-Americans each year and is based on the traditional African festival of the first crops. M. Ron Karenga first introduced Kwanzaa to the United States in 1966. It combines traditional African practices with African-American ideals. The holiday centers on the Nguzo Saba, seven principles of black culture developed by Karenga. Each evening during Kwanzaa, family members light one of the seven candles in a kinara (candleholder), discuss the principle for that day, and sometimes exchange small gifts. Near the end of the holiday, the community gathers for karamu - a feast of traditional African food.

Plan a Kwanzaa feast for your class. Assign each student a traditional African-American food to bring. After they taste-test each item, have students write a newspaper-style review of their favorite African-American delicacy.

Tell students about the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity); Kujichagulia (self-determination); Ujima (collective economics); Ujamaa (cooperative economics); Nia (purpose); Kuumba (creativity); and Imani (faith). Have them illustrate their understanding of these principles by finding newspaper examples of them in action. They can make a poster or bulletin board display with their findings.

Boxing Day (Information is from

Boxing Day takes place on December 26th or the following Monday if December 26 falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

Boxing Day began in England, in the middle of the nineteenth century, under Queen Victoria. Boxing Day, also known as St. Stephen’s Day, was a way for the upper class to give gifts of cash, or other goods, to those of the lower classes.

Boxing Day is celebrated in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, and Canada.

There seems to be two theories on the origin of Boxing Day and why it is celebrated. The first is that centuries ago, on the day after Christmas, members of the merchant class would give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. The gifts were an expression of gratitude much like when people receive bonuses, from their employer, for a job well done, today. These gifts, given in boxes, gave the holiday it’s name, “Boxing Day”.

The second thought is that Boxing Day comes from the tradition of opening the alms boxes placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents thereof which were distributed amongst the poor, by the clergy, the day after Christmas.

Newspaper Activities for December 2014

Check out these daily lesson plans using the newspaper for the month of December. This calendar provides a subject specific focus for each day of the week with activities for every school day of the month: Monday – Language Arts, Tuesday – Social Studies, Wednesday – Math, Thursday – Science, Friday – Newspaper Information.


What are you thankful for?

Throughout the year, we get to celebrate, or show how grateful we are, for certain people and things on holidays.

On some holidays, kids get to stay home from school, and parents get the day off work. Those are great days for the whole family to hang out together, celebrating!

On Arbor Day and Earth Day we show our appreciation for the earth and its natural resources. On President’s Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we take time to remember, and show our gratitude for, the great leaders of our country who struggled for our rights and freedoms. On Veteran’s Day we say thanks to the men and women who have fought and died protecting our nation all over the world. On Labor Day we give thanks, and a day of rest to those people who work hard at their jobs all year long. On Mothers Day, Fathers Day and Grandparents Day we show how grateful we are for our loved ones.

As you can see, the list goes on and on. That’s because we all have a lot to be thankful for! We can be thankful for our health, our families, our friends, and much more. But you know what? We don’t have to wait for a holiday like Thanksgiving to say we’re grateful. You can show how grateful you are every day!

A great way to show gratitude is by being polite and saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome.”  Being loyal and faithful to your friends and family shows gratitude. Just treating other people, young and old, with respect shows gratitude. Handshakes, hugs and kind words show gratitude, and make other people grateful to you! And you know what’ s the best part? You can spread a little gratitude all year long!

What or who are you grateful for? On a piece of paper make a list of all of the things and/or people you are grateful for.

Information is from the Washington Times NIE and the NIE Institute.

Thanksgiving Newspaper Activities

Here are some easy ways to integrate the newspaper into your curriculum (many of these ideas are cross-curricular):

1. ART: Look through the newspaper for advertising that catches your attention. Find at least four examples of ads you like. What are the reasons the ads are so enticing? Create a list of what made the ad stand out (for instance, was it the use of a border, the amount of white space, the colors, etc.).

Now look through the newspaper and find at least 10 items(words, phrases, photos or graphics can be used) for which you are thankful this season.

Create a Thanksgiving collage, employing some of the techniques you liked in your chosen advertisements; you may want to replicate the concept of the ad in your collage.

2. CAREER EDUCATION: Many employers hire seasonal help beginning this time of year to help with the holiday rush. Look through today’s classified help wanted ads and see how many opportunities you can find for seasonal jobs. Which of the jobs do you think you’d enjoy most? Least?

3. ENGLISH/ LANGUAGE ARTS: Thanksgiving is a holiday seeped in tradition. For instance, every November, a Presidential pardon is issued to save a turkey from becoming Thanksgiving dinner; the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is always televised that morning live from New York; etc.

Find examples of other Thanksgiving traditions mentioned in today’s newspaper. Write a persuasive essay (including an introduction, body and conclusion) about why one of these traditions should be kept or eliminated. Your essay should include your opinions but should also be backed up with facts and statistics (either found in your newspaper, online or in your library).

4. GEOGRAPHY: The college football season is winding down. Look at today’s sports section and find information about at least three college football teams that will be playing in ballgames during the Thanksgiving weekend.  If you wanted to visit all three cities where the games would be played, what would be the smartest route to take and in what order would you want to visit? (Assume you’ll be traveling by car.)

Using a United States map, calculate how many miles you’d travel. What geographical features would you cross on your path (i.e. rivers, mountain ranges, deserts, etc.)?

Find the latitude and longitude of each city in your list. What states are represented in your list? What regions?

Use the weather map in today’s newspaper to describe the probable weather in each of your chosen cities at this time of year.

5. HISTORY: Thanksgiving in America is traced back the pilgrims and Native Americans. Using today’s news stories as your guide, write a news article as if you participated in or observed the first Thanksgiving. Be sure to include possible quotes from some of the people who would have been present.

When your article is completed, look at today’s news to decide how to write a good headline. Now, write your own headline for your story. Remember – the goal of a headline is to briefly describe the article and to draw in the reader.

6. MATHEMATICS: You’ve been assigned to make the Thanksgiving feast at your house this year, using only $50.  Use the grocery ads and any published recipes to decide what you’ll make. Since this is your Thanksgiving feast, you’re welcomed to be creative in what you cook. Decide on a main course, at least two side dishes and a dessert. Use the grocery ads to determine the following:

-The total cost to purchase the ingredients needed, including the appropriate sales tax for your community (remember your $50 budget); and

-The percentage of your funds that will be spent on each item in your meal-the main course, both side dishes and the desert.

7. MUSIC: Christmas is known for a variety of music. Your assignment is to create a song that will establish Thanksgiving as a musical holiday.  Work with at least two classmates on this project. Clip out at least 10 headlines and divide them into their parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.). Your goal is to create a Thanksgiving song that incorporates only the words you’ve cut out (you do NOT have to use all the words you’ve clipped, but you cannot use any words you haven’t!). Use any familiar tune to set your words to music, and share with the class.

8. NEWSPAPER KNOWLEDGE: Write the word T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G down the left-hand portion of a plain piece of paper.  Look through the newspaper to find examples of articles, advertising and/or photos that begin with each letter. Write a phrase to describe the word’s significance to today’s news and identify where in the newspaper you found it. (EXAMPLE: T-echnology: this refers to section D of today’s newspaper, which is labeled Business and Technology and includes stories about new technological developments in music, computers, games and more.)

9. SCIENCE & HEALTH: Many fitness clubs and weight-loss programs encourage people not to overindulge during the holidays. But, because it always happens, those same organizations count on increasing their membership as soon as Christmas is over.  Develop a strategy to help your family avoid gaining weight this holiday season. Use grocery ads to design a healthier menu for your family’s holiday meals.  Also look in today’s newspaper for physical activities your family can enjoy together during your vacation.

10. SOCIAL STUDIES: Different people celebrate Thanksgiving in different ways.  Look through today’s newspaper to find ways that area groups and families are celebrating the holiday throughout our region and throughout America. Other countries also celebrate holidays similar to our Thanksgiving (obviously not started for the same reason). Find examples of such countries. Research in the news, the Internet and in your library to find out the major differences in how the holidays are celebrated outside of the United States.


Activities provided by: Emily R. Workman, NIE Program Director, The Benton County Daily Record & Northwest Arkansas Times, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Northwest Arkansas Edition and distributed by the NIE Institute.

It’s a big one!

Just under 3.91 — Weight in pounds.

$4 — Retail price.

 34 — Advertising flyers.

 300 — Additional labor hours for printing/packaging.

 700 — Advertising flyer pages.

The Thanksgiving paper will be available at local retailers for those who don’t subscribe to the Herald.  The papers’ girth will prevent it from being stocked in the Herald vending machines. 

Thanksgiving Day’s Herald will be the biggest paper of the year. For more information visit


Lake-snow effect

Snow piled high in a parking lot after a lake-effect snow storm in Buffalo, New York. Credit: Flickr user:~Sage~.

What’s the deal with lake-snow effect in the Buffalo, NY area? Find out what it is and what causes it — on the SciJinks web site.

Credit: NOAA/NASA SciJinks (

Also check out Aaron’s Weather Talk

Road to Wellness: Driving Tobacco and Cancer Off the Map

In recognition of “The Great American Smokeout” today, check out this newspapers in education tab called, The Road to Wellness: Driving Tobacco and Cancer Off the Map. This educational supplement was developed by the Geographic Health Equity Alliance, a national network managed by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and the NIE Institute.

 Click here to download this 16-page tab

Note: if you are going to print this pdf, make sure to adjust your print setting to “fit on page”. The pdf is bigger than 8.5 x 11 (normal print size.)