Yesterday was the first day of Hanukkah. None of my students are Jewish (nor am I), so I thought it was unlikely that any of them had ever played dreidel before (nor had I). My total knowledge of the game comes from My Jewish Learning. We used it to drill rhythms, but as always, it is easily modifiable to drill anything else.
What you need:
- A dreidel.
- These are not expensive. Think Oriental Trading Company, Amazon, etc.
- Cards with whatever you want to drill. I used rhythm cards.
- Game tokens of any kind.
- Mine are from the game Reversi, but you could also use pennies, pencil erasers, small chocolates, whatever.
- Paper and pencil (optional)
- Distribute tokens evenly between the players. I went with six each, but the actual amount doesn’t matter much. Add some to a center pile as well. I put four in.
How to Play:
- The first player spins the dreidel. There are four possible outcomes:
- ש – The player adds a token to the center pile, and count and clap a rhythm on from the stack of flashcards.
- ח – The player gets half the tokens in the center pile and must invent a rhythm, write it out, and count and clap it.
- ב – The player gets all the tokens in the center pile and must write out a rhythm that the other player claps.
- נ – The player does nothing.
- When the lesson time is over, the person with the most tokens wins.
If you thought through the statistics, you’ll have noticed that the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of having an empty center pile. Plus it’s all random chance, and I always like to make sure my students win, so here are a few tips:
- Sometimes I make a mistake in my counting and clapping. If the student can catch me and do it right, they get the tokens I was supposed to collect. If I was supposed to add a token to the pile, I have to add double. I used this strategically whenever I was supposed to get a fair number of tokens.
- When the center pile has been empty for a couple of turns, it gets boring. A couple of times, I just told the student I was going to cheat and add a few more tokens to the center pile. I did not tell them that I only did that when it was their turn. That increases the likelihood that they end up with those tokens, not me.