December Songs Part 1 – Hanukah!

We asked our trusty CMN e-list for songs to sing for all the December holidays, as well as songs for solstice and the coming of winter.  Hanukah is coming up quickly (starts this year on Saturday, 12/8) so we’re jumping right in. Keep watching this space for even more songs for those other December celebrations…

From Joanie Calem, Columbus, OH:  I love December, though it is a tad schizophrenic for me, as I teach and perform in a wide variety of settings, so there are the Orthodox Jewish settings where I can’t mention Christmas, the small town America settings where I can mention anything but get blank looks at everything except Christmas songs, the public settings where I am supposed to do Christmas songs but not mention Jesus, and then the places where I can do everything and everyone is equally engaged.  I am always paying close attention to where I am and which hat I am wearing on any particular day.

“Dreidle Rules” is song #14 on my album, Shanah Tovah, Shanah M’tukah. The song teaches what each of the letters on the dreidle stands for, and how the letters correspond to the rules of the Dreidle game. The title is of course intended to be a pun!  When I do the song in classroom settings, I hand out laminated cards with one of the letters on them, and the children spin until their letter is sung out and they fall.  In performances, I invite the kids to spin their hands if they are in chairs, or spin freely if they have room to move, and I invite a couple of children up to represent the dreidle.

Here are the instructions from the book that accompanies my CD.  Shanah Tovah, Shanah M’tukah means “Have a good and sweet year,” a traditional greeting at the Jewish new year.

Dreidle Rules – words and music by Joanie Calem

Nun, Gimmel, Heh and Shin are the Hebrew letters that are on each

side of the dreidle. This song gives you the rules of the dreidle game. I

like to hand out cards with one letter on each card, help the children

identify which letter that they have, and then mix up the verses, with

the children twirling freely, and falling when their letter is called.

Spinning is great for children’s brain development!

 

In Hebrew, the letters look like this:

Shin              ש

Heh               ה

Gimmel        ג

Nun               נ

 

Spin dreidle spin, spin so I will win!

Please dreidle fall, on gimmel and I’ll get all.

Spin dreidle spin, spin so I will win!

If you fall on heh, half the pot comes my way.

Spin dreidle spin, spin so I will win

If on nun you fall, nothing happens at all!

Spin dreidle spin, spin so I will win!

Please don’t fall on shin, ’cause then I have to put one in!

Spin dreidle spin, spin so I will win!

Spin around and dance, dreidle’s a game of chance!

Laura Deutsch writes:  To me, the very best Hanukah song, which is done in a lot of public schools, is “Ocho Kandelikas” by Flory Jagoda. The chorus is fabulous. It is in Ladino, which is the language spoken by the Jews who were exiled from Spain in 1492. It is a combination of Spanish and Hebrew, with a smattering of many other languages from the countries and cultures that they wound up in: French, Turkish, Arabic, and eastern European languages. There is a fabulous arrangement on YouTube by the Fairfield CT Children’s Chorus directed by Jon Noyes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p5FBFdYufk

Or in this version, hear Flory Jagoda sing it herself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeS46weU4ZI  If you don’t know this song, it’s a keeper.

From Susan Salidor of Chicago, IL:  Since Joanie has already offered her wonderful dreidel song, I’ll offer my One Little Hanukah Candle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzv1eLlCRmk).

I wrote it as a counting song, a finger play, to introduce ordinal numbers, to use with the wooden toy menorahs and candles found in many of my Jewish preschool classrooms, and also to supersize.  9 children become a human menorah: the shamash or helper candle stands in the middle, and four children/candles stand on either side of the shamash.  As the song is sung (I sing it much slower with my classes than what you will hear on the video), the shamash lights the candle sung about until all of the candles are lit.  When a candle is lit, the child places her hands on top of her head and moves them to resemble a flickering wick.  (I light the shamash at the beginning of the song.)

The first time I do this song with a class, I am the shamash.  Sometimes the children use yellow scarves or yellow construction paper “flames” but I prefer them to just use their hands.  This song is super simple, very visual and good for preschool holiday performances if your preschool insists on such a thing.

One Little Hanukah Candle  (S. Salidor copyright 2004)

One little Hanukah candle shining bright, one for the first Hanukah night

Two little Hanukah candles shining bright, two for the second Hanukah night

Three little Hanukah candles shining bright, three for the third Hanukah night

 and so on… 

The CMN e-list also received Hanukah versions of some standard children’s songs.  Jodi “Jiggle Jam” Koplin sends in the following to “I’m a Little Teapot”:

I’m a little latke round and flat

The Hanukah table is where I am at

Applesauce and sour cream, please have some

Down in your tummy, I’m yum, yum yum!

 

Joanie Calem’s got a Latke Hokey Pokey:

You put potatoes in, you take potatoes out, you put potatoes in, and you stir it all around, you’re gonna make a latke so you turn yourself about, that’s what it’s all about, HEY!

You put onions in … You put eggs in … You put some salt in … You put some pepper in … You do the Latke Pokey… that’s what it’s all about, HEY!

Susan Salidor responds: I do my version of the “Hanukah Pokey” in a similar way, but use symbols of Hanukah to put in and take out, like: menorah (made with hands/fingers outstretched, locked thumbs for the shamash), latkes, presents, dreidels (rolling the fists like you would for Wheels on the Bus), gelt, etc.  The chorus is:  “You do the HA HA HA HA-nukah Pokey!” (4x)

 

3 comments

  1. I wrote this call and response song called Hanukkah! Hanukkah! Each child gets a tambourine to play on the ‘response’ part. Can be spoken as well.

    Hannukah Hannukah
    Festival of lights
    We celebrate freedom
    For eight bright nights
    Learn of Judah Macabee
    And his courageous fight
    We’ll play dreidl games
    Watch menorahs flame
    For eight bright nights

  2. After doing the Latke Pokey all week, I’ve updated the lyrics! Here is my 2012 version:

    We put potatoes in, we take potatoes out, we put potatoes in,
    And we stir it all about,
    We do the latke pokey and we turn ourselves around,
    That’s what it’s all about, HEY!

    Now don’t cry!

    We put onions in, we take onions out, we put onions in,
    And we stir it all about,
    We do the latke pokey and we turn ourselves around,
    That’s what it’s all about, HEY!

    We put eggs in, we take eggs out, we put eggs in,
    And we stir it all about,
    We do the latke pokey and we turn ourselves around,
    That’s what it’s all about, HEY!

    We put some salt in, we take some salt out, we put some salt in,
    And we stir it all about,
    We do the latke pokey and we turn ourselves around,
    That’s what it’s all about, HEY!

    Now don’t sneeze!
    We put some pepper in (Ahchoo!), we take some pepper out (Ahchoo!), we put some pepper in (Ahchoo!),
    And we stir it all about,
    We do the latke pokey and we turn ourselves around,
    That’s what it’s all about, HEY!

    We pour some oil in, we pour some batter in, we pour some more batter in, and we fry ‘em all about,
    We do the latke pokey and we turn ourselves around,
    That’s what it’s all about, HEY!

    Now once they are cooked:

    We put some apple sauce in, we take some apple sauce out,
    we put some sour cream in,
    And we dip our self about,
    We do the latke pokey and we turn ourselves around,
    That’s what it’s all about, HEY!

    We do the Latke Pokey, we do the Latke pokey, we do the Latke pokey, that’s what it’s all about, HEY!

  3. Don’t forget Joanie Calem’s “Shining Bright” activity.

    1 candle, two candles *shining *bright
    Filling each *house with Hannukah light
    3 candles, 4 candles shining bright
    filling each house with Hannukah light
    5 candles 6 candles shining bright
    Filling each house with Hannukah light
    7 candles 8 candles shining bright
    Filling each house with Hannukah light
    And on the eighth night, the shamash makes 9
    9 candles making our whole house shine.

    (* – I sign these words)

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