1. Students should be able to identify Judah Maccabee as the hero and Antiochus as the wicked king.
  2. Students should know that the story of Maccabees is the basis for the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.
  3. Students should understand the meaning behind the 8 candles of the Hanukkah menorah.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Tell the story of Judah Maccabee and his brothers:

Our story begins thousands of years ago, in the second century BCE or around the year minus 200. At this point in history there was a massive nation called the Greeks and they had formed this military empire and had taken over so much of the known world that they're one of the largest empires, in terms of land mass and history. Now one of the territories they had taken over was called Jerusalem and it is the holy city of the Jewish people.


The Greeks decided that everybody that lived under Greek rule had to follow Greek laws and even worship Greek gods.  As a result of this decision, they started smashing the Jewish temples and churches called synagogues. This was very unpopular and pretty mean; if you worshipped your own gods or went by your own rules, you were punished by the Greeks.


So one day a brave, brave man named Judah Maccabee stood up and said, “Hey that's enough!” Judah Maccabee gathered all the Jewish men and taught them very quickly how to use a spear and a shield and they formed a military group called the Maccabees, a super cool tribe of freedom fighters who were ready to stand up and fight for their rights. Now the Maccabees and Judah, they marched out of Jerusalem to go fight the Greeks - drive them off and regain their land and their temple. After many battles, the tiny group of Maccabees defeated the Greeks. They had won! They'd won this military victory against a much larger army, which in itself is a miracle.


But, when they arrive at the holy Temple, all is in ruins. They tear down the Greek gods and begin cleaning. They find only one small bottle of holy oil with which to light the great menorah. And, it would take 8 days to prepare more holy oil. They lit the menorah with the tiny amount of oil, only enough for one day and it burned for all 8 days. And, to this day, the Jewish people celebrate the 8 days of the miracle of the holy oil that burned for 8 days. They eat foods fried in oil, like jelly donuts and potato pancakes. They burn candles, one for each day, in each home, and give presents each day. And they play games with a special spinning top called a dreidl, with letters on each side remembering that “a great miracle happened there.”

Add Judah Maccabee to your timeline.

  1. Feed the Elephant True/False questions:

                                   True                                           False

      Antiochus was a Macedonian king.          Antiochus was an Egyptian pharaoh.

      Judah Maccabee led the Jewish people.   Antiochus led the Jewish people.

      The lamp burned for 8 days.                     There was plenty of oil for the lamp.


  1. Play with a dreidl: You can get one of these from Pat or at any store. Each letter has a meaning. Each child starts with about 20 raisins. Each puts one raisin in the center of the table. They take turns spinning the dreidl. If it lands on Nun, they get nothing. If it lands on Shin, they have to give a raisin to each player. If it lands on Hey, they get half of the raisins in the center. And if it lands on Gimmal, they get all the raisins in the center. When you decide time is up, the child with the most raisins is the winner, and each gets to eat his raisins.

  1. Make a paper menorah:

Take a 9x12 piece of tag board or construction paper.

Fold it in three equal sections.

Stand it up and tape the bottom together.

Cut 18 even slits halfway into the

      folded sections to make candles.

Fold every other “candle” down into

      the base, leaving 9 standing. Why 9? The middle candle is the special candle used to light the others. 

Cut out a paper flame and glue to

      top of each candle.


  1. Close with prayer.