Spinning the dreidel is traditional game played during the eight days of Hanukkah. I created a helpful printable download that includes clear (and correct) rules of the game and an easy to read dreidel illustration.
What is it?
A dreidel is a 4-sided spinning top
Symbols on the Dreidel
Each side of the dreidel is decorated with a Hebrew letter —nun (נ), gimmel (ג), hey (ה), and shin (ש). These four letters are an acronym for “nes gadol hayah sham”—“a great miracle happened there.”
Some dreidels also feature a transliteration of each letter like this:
In Israel, the last letter, shin, is replaced with the letter pey (פ), which stands for “po”—”here.”
What you need to play:
- 1 dreidel (if you want the game to be more fast-paced, each player can have their own). If you are playing with small children under 5, using a larger sized dreidel which is easier for them to spin. With older children and adults, a medium sized dreidel works best.
- A flat surface to spin the dreidel
- Game pieces which can be any desired object, such as coins. chocolate gelt or organic jelly beans
- A plate for every player’s game pieces
- A platter for the “pot”- the central area where all the game pieces are placed.
Rules of the Game:
- A minimum of two people are needed to play the game.
- The game is played in “rounds” where each player takes a turn at spinning the dreidel.
- Each player begins with an equal number of game pieces.
- Players agree on the spinning order in each round of the game.
- The game begins with each player placing one of their game pieces into the joint “pot.”
- Each player takes a turn by spinning the dreidel once. The player takes the action based on which Hebrew letter is facing up when the dreidel lands:
- If נ (nun) is facing up, the player does nothing.
- If ג (gimel) is facing up, the player gets everything in the pot.
- If ה (he) is facing up, the player gets half of the pieces in the pot. (If there are an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes the “larger half”).
- If ש (shin) or פ (pe) is facing up, the player adds a game piece to the pot.
- At the beginning of each new round, each player puts one game piece into the center “pot.”
- When, and if, the “pot” is empty or has only one game piece left and the players want to continue the game, each player puts one piece in the “pot.”
- The game can end anytime the “pot” is empty.
- The “winner” is the player with the most game pieces at the end of the game.