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Reply to "COMPLETE LESSON SET: 1 Maccabees - The Story of Hanukkah ~ Rev. Ron Shifley"

Games and Cooking Lesson Plan - 1 Maccabees 4:6-59 "The Story of Hanukkah"

Discovery Destination:


  • “Rugrats Chanukah” episode on DVD; “Rugrats Holiday Celebration”, Paramount, 2004  or  “Rugrats: Season 4”, Nickelodeon, 2011
  • TV, DVD player
  • Wooden Dreidel  (one for each student) Can be purchased in bulk at
  • Handout: "Dreidel Game Instruction"s (one for each student) Attached for download and printing
  • Foil covered chocolate coins (about 30 per group; 2 groups)
  • 2 low kids tables to play games on
  • Cooking oil
  • Electric fryer
  • Tube biscuits to make donuts
  • Cinnamon/sugar mixture to coat donuts
  • Tongs
  • Plates, napkins

Teacher preparation:

  1. Read the Scripture passages prayerfully, asking God to show you what He has to say to you and to those He’s given you to teach.
  2. Read the Biblical Explanation and Background, and think about what concepts you need to teach.
  3. Learn more about persecuted Christians living today at The Voice of the Martyrs website: 
  4. Prepare the necessary materials.

Lesson Plan


Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.


Teach about 1 Maccabees, briefly relating that it is a story that took place between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written and that it inspired the biblical holiday of Hanukkah that Jesus himself celebrated in the Temple in Jerusalem. If it is past the first Sunday of this rotation, first ask the children to relate what they’ve already learned about the story of Hanukkah in other workshops. 

Rugrats Chanukah Video 

Play the first 2:00 minutes of “Rugrats Chanukah.” [This portrays the plight of the Jews under King Antichous, when the Jews were forbidden to study the Scriptures and played the Dreidel game as a way to hide their religious observance.  It also introduces the hero Judah Maccabee.] 

After the video clip is over, ask:

Imagine what it would have been like during this time, and you were told that you told that you could no longer worship God and study the Bible.  How would this have made you feel? 

Do you think you’d would have given up your faith in God  to get along with the Greeks, or would you have still studied the Bible, and worshipped in secret like the Jews did in the Rugrats cartoon?

What do you think it was like to have to meet in secret to study the Bible?  Would you have been afraid? 

Legend has it that the Jews used the game of Dreidel as a cover up when Greek soldiers discovered them studying the Scriptures.  What do you think you might have done to keep the Greeks from discovering that you were studying the Bible? 

Say: In a number of countries around the globe, Christians today live under similar circumstances and are oppressed, even at times put in prison for their faith.  In some countries people are put in prison for even owning a Bible. Let’s say a prayer for those who live under religious persecution today. [Lead the class in a short time of prayer.  You might want to pray for persecuted Christians living in Iran, Egypt, Sudan, China]. 

Recite the memory verse together a couple of times: “The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalms 27:1) 

Then say:  Fortunately, during the times between the Old and New Testaments, the Maccabees stood up for their faith, freed Jerusalem and the Temple from Greek occupation.  The biblical holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the faith and courage of Judas Maccabees and the miracle that God performed among the Jews at the Temple.  Today, we’re going to have fun and get a chance to play a traditional Hanukkah game and enjoy a tasty snack that reminds us of God’s miracle at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Dreidel Game

One of the fun traditions of Hanukkah is the spin the Dreidel game.  A Dreidel is a for-sided spinning top that families play with on Hanukkah.  Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter.  These letters form an acronym for the Hebrew words (Nes Gadol Haya Sham) “A great miracle happened there,” referring to the miracle of the oil that took place in the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Dreidel game is played to commemorate the time when worship of the God of Israel was outlawed by King Antichous from 168-165 B.C. and the reading and teaching of Scripture was forbidden.  Yet, as legend had is that faithful Jews continued to teach God’s Word in small groups in defiance of the law.  When Greek soldiers would pass by, the Jews hid their Torah scrolls and began spinning the Dreidel so that it would appear that they were gambling and not studying Scripture, just like we saw in the Rugrats video clip earlier. 

[Divide the kids into two groups and sit them around the two tables, unless the group is small.  On each table should be one Dreidel and a loot of foil wrapped chocolate coins.] 

The game is played using a Dreidel and chocolate coins (gelt).  Each player starts out with 10 or more coins and places one coin in the “pot”.  The first player spins the Dreidel, and depending on which side the Dreidel falls on, either wins a coin from the pot or gives up part of his stash.  The code is as follows:

  • Nun – “none”-  the player gets none and the next player spins
  • Gimel – “all” – the  player gets all of the coins in the pot.  Each player then puts one coin in to replenish the pot.
  • Hey – “half” – the players takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number of coins.
  • Shin – “put one in” – each player puts one coin in the pot. 

Play continues until one player wins the entire pot of coins.  After the game is over, all the coins are divided up so each player ahs their own chocolate coins to take home and enjoy. 

[Allow kids the chance to play the Dreidel game.  If time runs too long to complete the next part of the lesson, call the game and divide up the gold chocolate coins evenly among the kids.] 

Frying Donuts 

One of the traditional foods eaten during the celebration of Hanukkah are fried donuts.  The oil used to fry donuts reminds us of the miracle of the holy oil in the Jerusalem Temple. 

1 Maccabees recounts how after the Maccabees defeated the Greeks and  freed Jerusalem from foreign occupation, they went to the Temple in Jerusalem to cleanse it so that it could be dedicated to the worship of God once again.  “They made new holy vessels, and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple.  They offered incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple… So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days…” (1 Maccabees 4:49-50, 56) 

Legend has it that when the priests went to light the lamps on the menorah, they discovered that there was only enough purified olive oil to light the menorah for one night.  Yet, in faith, they lit the lamps anyway.  A miracle happened.  God let the flames on the menorah burn for 8 days until more holy oil could be made.  This is why lighting the menorah is one of the central acts during the annual celebration of Hanukkah. 

Eating foods fried in oil is also another tradition that reminds us of the miracle of the oil.  Today, we’re going to fry some donuts and enjoy them.  As we do, take a moment to remember God’s miracle in the Temple so many years ago. 

  1. Have a helper fry the donuts while the kids are playing the Dreidel game above.
  2. Give kids bowls of sugar and cinnamon mix to coat their warm donuts with
  3. Let each child enjoy at least one fried donut. 



End the lesson with prayer, thanking God for the ordinary miracles that He performs everyday in our lives. 

Pass out a Dreidel and instructions on how to play the game to each student before they leave so that all the kids can play Dreidel at home.

Written by Rev. Ron Shifley from: Scotland United Church of Christ
Scotland, SD, USA

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