How to Play Dreidel: The Traditional Game, Plus a New Spin

What You’ll Need

  • “Gambling pieces” (plastic chips, pennies, small candies, buttons, peanuts in the shell, etc. may be used) for each player
  • A dreidel for the group.

How to Play

Distribute an equal number of gambling pieces to each player. Begin play by having each of the players ante up one or two pieces into a common pot. Take turns spinning the dreidel and taking the actions determined by the letter you spin:

Nun: The player takes nothing. 
Gimel: The player takes all.
Hey: The player takes half. 
Shin: The player puts in.

The winner is the person who collects all the gambling pieces.

A New Spin for Your Family

In addition to lighting and blessing candles, eating latkes, and exchanging gifts, your family may wish to try a new spin on the dreidel game.

What You’ll Need

  • Eight (8) sheets of construction paper or copy paper
  • Scissors
  • Markers, pens or crayons  

What You’ll Do

Cut a large dreidel shape from each of the eight sheets of construction paper.

Write one of these discussion starters (or your own eight discussion starters) on the dreidels so that each dreidel has a different discussion starter on it:

  • Togetherness is part of our family when…
  • Sharing is part of our family when…
  • Loving is part of our family when…
  • Fun is part of our family when…
  • Celebration is part of our family when…
  • Mitzvot are part of our family when…
  • Learning is part of our family when…
  • Tradition is a part of our family when…

Draw eight blank lines below each discussion starter.

Together with your family, come up with eight answers for one of the discussion starters on the first night of Hanukkah.  Choose one family member to record the answers on that dreidel.  When you’re finished, add the dreidel to your Hanukkah decorations. Use a different discussion starter dreidel (and a different family member to record the answers) for each of the subsequent nights of the holiday.

You may also try playing the dreidel game with a charitable twist: Everyone puts some money in the kitty, and the winner gets to choose where to donate it.