The dreidel game is one of the beloved pastimes of Hanukkah, and making a dreidel can be equally fun for people of all ages. In making a dreidel and playing the game, children can connect excitedly with tradition and ultimately remember the central story behind the festival of lights.
There are numerous ways to make a dreidel. You can make them out of heavy paper, milk cartons, cardboard, clay or even using a dreidel-making kit.
Using a kit
A dreidel kit can be purchased at any local Jewish religious supply store. If you can't locate one through a phone book or by searching online, then talk to your local synagogues or Jewish community groups about how to get a kit. Once you've bought the kit, making a dreidel will be simple and fun. But playing the game will be even more fun!
Making it from scratch
To make a dreidel without a kit, you should think about the dreidel's form. It has a stick protruding from the top - this lets you spin the dreidel. The dreidel's body looks like a cube sitting on top of an upside-down pyramid or cone. And on the four outer faces of the cube, four Hebrew letters are written - Nun, Gimel, Hay and Shin (one on each face).
If you plan to make your dreidel out of some kind of heavy paper or light cardboard, check out this diagram and the following instructions.
- Cut this diagram out of your material. Follow the solid outer lines as you cut.
- Where you see the circle, punch a hole using a small pencil. This will be the top face of your dreidel.
- Once you have pasted and cut out the diagram, fold along the dotted lines so that the letters appear on outer faces of the dreidel and the flaps can be glued together.
- Glue the flaps to the appropriate inner sides. For example, the flap on the left edge of the triangle under the Gimel face will be glued to the inside right edge of the triangle under Nun. Now the body of your dreidel is taking shape!
- Lastly, send your pencil through the hole in the top face, so that the pointy end goes through until it reaches the bottom point of your dreidel. Now you're ready to play!
If you want to make a more resilient, longer lasting dreidel, make it out of clay. This process is more involving, though.
- What you'll need. You'll need clay, a cube clay mold and a pyramid mold, in addition to the pencil/dowel that we used in the first method. Ideally either the exposed sides of the mold are of the same size, or the pyramid's is slightly smaller than the cube's.
- Fill the cube mold with clay and smooth out the exposed surface.
- Before the clay dries, take it out of the cube mold and stick the pencil or dowel into one of the faces. Push the stick into your clay until it has pushed right through the opposite face of the cube.
- Make sure that you insert the pencil at a perfect ninety degree angle to the top of the cube, and perfectly in the center. That's the most challenging part of the whole project, but if done improperly, your dreidel will not spin well.
- Now pack the pyramid mold full of clay and smooth out the exposed surface as before.
- Before the clay has dried completely, remove it from the pyramid mold and place the flat face of the pyramid onto the bottom face of the cube (the face with the pencil sticking out of it). Be sure the pencil is centered in the pyramid as you push it in.
- Don't forget the letters! You can either carve them in the sides of the dreidel or draw or paint them on.
And that completes Dreidel 101! Once you've made your dreidel, using either a kit or your own creative energy, you're ready to play the dreidel game. Go for the gelt! But also remember, and tell all children who play, why the Hebrew letters are displayed on the dreidel. Together, they stand for "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" - in English, "A great miracle occurred there." Happy Hanukkah!