Celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah, and help your child learn about math and graphing at the same time! Hanukkah is a time to commemorate the rescue of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Even though the temple’s eternal flame only had enough oil to last one night, it burned bright for eight. The menorah is a traditional symbol of Hanukkah, the winter-time Jewish holiday. Each night a new candle is added, and lit, to represent the miracle of Hanukkah and the eight nights of light. Your child can brush up on her math skills by charting the length of time that each candle burns each night.
Light the menorah as you would every night. This should only be done by a responsible adult. Children should never go close to or touch the lit candles. Always supervise your child while the candles are lit. Additionally, be mindful of the lit candles. Do not leave the house or leave the candles unattended.
Use the ruler and a colored pencil or thin marker to make a graph. Try one or more different types such as a line graph or bar chart. Discuss each axis and what it means with your child. One should have a spot for each night’s candle; the other should be for the time.
Note the time when you light the candles. Clock the time it takes the candle to burn.
Chart the time on the graph.
Add in a science activity. Discuss what it takes (i.e., oxygen) for the candle to burn. Form a hypothesis about why some nights the candles may burn longer or shorter. For example, your child may say that he thinks the candles burn longer if they are taller. Talk about why that would be: Is the wick longer? Does the wax have anything to do with it? Test your hypothesis and note the observations on the bottom or back of the chart.
Erica Loop has an MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.