The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin -- Book Review & Math Application

Disclosure: Wisdom Tales Press gave me a copy of this product free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

Hanukkah started on Sunday at sun down and lasts eight days. It is a Jewish holiday that celebrates several miracles that occurred during a time when Judaism was outlawed and their temple was desecrated. Last month we explored Hanukkah as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs' Hanukkah for Kids Series by taking a look at dreidels. I mentioned a few books we had read and one we had not gotten our hands on yet. Well today we get to share this beautiful book with you. The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin by Martha Seif Simpson and illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard is a story that takes place in Prague a century ago that reminds us all that money does not buy miracles.

This story tells of a toy shop owner who buys a beautiful and large dreidel from a peddler. He knows he can get a good price for such a gorgeous dreidel a week before Hanukkah. However he sells it to two wealthy families with spoiled and bad-mannered children who both return it saying it does not spin for them. The shopkeeper cannot understand how a dreidel does not work and tries it each time and has no problem. He decides he must not try to sell it as it will ruin his reputation. Then a father and son come and ask permission to just look in his store since they do not have any money to buy any toys. The young boy is so excited just to point and see the toys and the father thanks the storekeeper for allowing them to come in. The storekeeper gives the dreidel to the boy and of course it works and not only that there is some magic involved, but I will leave that for you to read about.

Even as a Christian family we love this book. In fact I was told by Hazel that I could not donate it to the library because she likes it too much. The illustrations in the book are wonderful and give you a clear picture of what is happening. The words of the story also allow the reader to really get into the story. This is such a feel good story for anyone. It is wonderful. 

To go with this book I printed out a dreidel template for Hazel to color. She hasn't finished coloring it yet so we have not made it. Once it is colored we will cut it out and glue it together and use a dowel for the stem. I have also seen ideas of using two egg carton pieces and a dowel (use a pencil sharpener to get the point) and we saw one made with a small milk carton and sharpened dowel. 

These got me to thinking about some math applications. I remember having the students make homemade dice that were unfair when teaching probability. This could be done with a paper dreidel. To make it unfair before gluing it together tape pennies, paper clips or something to one side to give it more weight. Then have the kids record what it lands on out of 10, 20, 50, etc. spins. Calculate the probability of it landing on each side. Try making different ones with different weights and with different sides weighted. Can they figure out which side is weighted? Does the amount of weight matter in the probability? 

I hope you will take time to check out this beautiful book and if you are celebrating Hanukkah I wish you and your family a very Happy Hanukkah!!