At Westchester Day School, in celebration of the Festival of Lights, the teachers innovated to incorporate the classic Chanukah game of dreidel into their academic lessons, giving a new spin to traditional topics.
In the middle school, students worked on the fourth annual 3D printed dreidel competition. Working in groups of twos and threes, the students used a coding program to design individual dreidels that were then printed on the 3D printer. In the final step of the competition, the dreidel that spins the longest will win (the winner was not yet known at the time of writing this article). “The students get to practice using the design process, as well as their skills with Tinkercad, as they work to compete the best dreidel,” explained Becky Shapiro, WDS science teacher. “The competition is an exciting and fun way to cap off Chanukah each year.”
Third grade students have been learning how to read and write in Rashi script letters this year. Applying their new skills and artistic talents, the students created dreidels in Rashi script and then played with their creations. “The competition was fierce but the students displayed good sportsmanship and menschlechkeit throughout,” stated Morah Elisheva Langstein, third grade teacher.
First graders’ graphing and math skills were honed through dreidel play. “Sevivon Sov Sov Sov! Kitah Aleph learned about the letters of the Sevivon (dreidel),” shared first grade teacher Morah Sabrina Gaffney. “Each child spun the dreidel as many times as possible in five minutes and graphed how many times their dreidel landed on each letter.”
Not only did these activities encourage creativity and application of skills to holiday fun, but they also served as an opportunity for collaboration between students on projects and interactive learning. “Chanukah programming at Westchester Day School really brought a joy of the chag to our students,” said Naomi Lev, elementary school principal. Lessons included a focus on collaborative and creative skills, “from multi age programming, chaggigot, joint and musical Hallel, dreidel design and competitions, to completely student run programs.”