Parents’ Choice® award-winning kids’ musician Mama Doni (a.k.a Doni Zasloff Thomas) wishes everyone a Happy Chanukah! This Chanukah season, Doni offers Mama Doni’s Eight Fun Tips for Chanukah, a series of 30-second video segments with a fun family activity for each of the eight days of the holiday.
Mama Doni’s tips — in her own words — include:
DAY 1. Makin’ Lotsa Latkes!
Chanukah is a celebration of light and oil, so we make latkes because making them uses so much oil! Start the holiday off right with a fun latke contest. Gather some friends and make the traditional latkes, but then ask everyone to think of a special ingredient to throw into the batter. Try making veggie latkes like carrots (I call those carrotlatkes), broccoli (i call those broccolatkes), fruits like apples (applelatkes), banana (bananalatkes), even crazy things like spaghetti (spaghettilatkes), chicken (bokalatkes), or even chocolate chips (chocolatkes)! You can even make a latke sundae with sprinkles. Kids can be the judges. Yum! Let me know how you did!
DAY 2: Get Your Dreidel On!
It’s dreidel night! The dreidel is a four-sided top etched with Hebrew letters, which stand for the phrase, “A great miracle happened here.” That miracle is the miracle of Chanukah. Now, this is a chance for you to get your dreidel on– for chocolate coins. Get yourself some dreidels and some gelt (instead of gelt, you can also use chocolate kisses or lollipops, or you can go healthier and play with fruit snacks or boxes of raisins).
Everyone spins the dreidel, and depending on what Hebrew letter the top lands on, you either win all of the candy (gimel), half of the candy (hey), none of the candy (nun) or have to give one back (shin). What I like to do is after everyone has had a turn to spin, is take a ROCKSTAR BREAK, and turn on your Chanukah tunes on my Chanukah Fever CD, and have a Chanukah dance party! Everyone gets a candy or gelt if they go crazy dancing and singing! Then back to playing….
Day 3: The Story of Chanukah
The Jewish holiday of Chanukah literally lights up our homes! Chanukah is also called “The Festival of Lights,” referring to the flames that we light on our menorahs on each of the holiday’s eight nights. The story of Chanukah is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when there was only enough for one day. Chanukah is about hope and spiritual light, and it’s a time to be with friends and family, as we celebrate the light in our lives.
DAY 4: Are you Grateful?
On this day, get out a piece of paper and think about eight things you are most grateful for in your life. Make your lists and read them to each other. You can set up an area of your house as a stage, and everyone in your family can get on stage and read his or her list. Of course if you want to sing the list, go for it! (Sing the list to the melody of “Maotzur”…)
DAY 5: Is It “Chanukah” or “Hanukkah?”
Everyone says the name of this holiday differently, but both ways are cool. Something fun to do on this day is try replacing your “h” sound with the “chh” sound for a little while. You can say things like “chello?” or “chow are you?” It might make your throat tickle as well as give you the Chhhanukah giggles! Make sure to wish everyone a “Chappy Chanukah!”
DAY 6: Honey This Ain’t Money
Everyone knows about Hanukkah gelt, (the Yiddish term for money) right? It looks a lot like change or gold, but it is actually made of chocolate! A fun thing to do on this day is go to the store with your mom or dad or babysitter. Put the Hanukkah gelt in your pocket ,and then when you get the cash register, take your Hanukkah gelt ,and hand it to the person at the counter as if you were paying with real change. Only let the joke go for a couple of seconds, because you are not trying to be mean, just a little silly! Make sure your mom or dad has real change ready to pay right away. Maybe the store owner will have a good laugh with you, and remember to wish him or her a happy holiday!
DAY 7: Latke Man & The Dreidel Diva
There’s a man out there in the universe who lives, breathes, eats, wears, cooks….who LOOOOOOOVES latkes, and his name is Latke Man. What do you think latke man looks like? Draw a picture of this potato loving superhero. You can also draw his cousin, “Mister Knish.” If you are really feelin’ it, you can even dress up as Latke Man for dinner. Moms, don’t be shy. You can dress up as Latke Mom — she has MAJOR potato-powers. (Oh, and if you’re making latkes again on this night, don’t forget to see which you like more…dipping them in apple sauce or sour cream.)
DAY 8: Eight Special People in Your Life
It’s the last night! This is the night where you can pick eight people in your life. These could be your mom, dad, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends… eight people who are special to you, and you can call them (or if they are nearby, you can give them a hug) and wish them a happy happy Hanukkah and tell them how much you love them.
Mama Doni, a resident of Montclair, New Jersey, hopes that her music will add some Jewish flavor to the lives of people everywhere. She speaks with great passion about preserving the priceless Yiddish and Jewish spirit by imbuing it with a contemporary vibe that connects to life in our times. Mama Doni’s recordings are available nationwide, as CDs and digital downloads, from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, FYE.com, iTunes, and select Costco locations. Projects currently in production include a Mama Doni book, DVD, and new CD. A TV pilot is also in the works!