How it Plays
Gather the playersany numberin a circle around a table or on an uncarpeted floor. Give each player five to ten chocolate coins, raisins, or other treats, and place the rest in the "kitty" (a spot in the center of the playing area). Each player takes a turn spinning the dreidel, a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side.
When the dreidel stops spinning, whichever letter is up indicates a particular action for that player to take. Nun, which looks like an upside-down numeral one, means nothing happens; you win nothing, you lose nothing. Gimel, which looks like nun with a tiny foot sticking off it, means you take the entire kitty. Hay, which looks like an upside-down letter U, means you win half the kitty. And shin, which looks like a three-pronged pitchfork, means you have to put one piece into the kitty (this can be accompanied by chants of "Shin, Shin, put one in").
Together, the letters stand for the phrase nes gadol hayah sham, "a great miracle happened there." Keep playing until one by one the players run out of treats and are out of the game. The winner is the one with the biggest stash. And don't forget to end the game with a rousing round of the dreidel song, which almost every child learns in preschool: "Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay, and when it's dry and ready, then dreidel I will play."
What You'll Need
Learning and Growing
Like many games of chance, dreidel develops counting skills. And it certainly teaches good sportsmanship!