Friday, November 23, 2012

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel - Teaching Ideas

This is a great Hanukkah story about courage, strength and creativity. The story starts with Hershel arriving in town on the first night of Hanukkah and finds that there are no menorah's lit. The villagers explain to Hershel that there are goblins that haunt the old synagogue on the hill and they HATE Hanukkah. Hershel tells the villagers that he is not afraid and that he will take care of the goblins so that they can celebrate Hanukkah. Hershel is at the synagogue for 8 days and he successfully scares away or outsmarts each goblin that comes. On the last night the King of the Goblins comes and frightens Hershel, but he stays strong and once again outsmarts the goblin. Because of Hershel's strength and creativity he saves Hanukkah!

I hope this is a book that you have and share with your students, it has such a great message. Below are all the skills, strategies and ideas that you could use to get your kiddos thinking.

At the bottom of this post is a link to the differentiated, skills and strategies packet that I created for this book.

Reading level: 3.2
Theme: creativity and imagination, bravery and courage
Genre: fables/folk tales

Suggested Vocabulary: latkes, synagogue, menorah, dreidels, rabbi, outwit

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is going to be about. I wonder what Hershel is going to do with the goblins. {possible questions during} I wonder why the goblins hate Hanukkah so much. I wonder why the goblins don’t scare Hershel. {possible questions after} I wonder if the goblins will come back. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author’s point of view – third person. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this.
  • Author’s purpose – entertain {evidence} There are no such things as goblins. The illustrations of the goblins are funny. It is silly when Hershel squishes an egg and tricks the goblin into thinking it was a rock. All these things make an entertaining story.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Hershel arrives to the village and learns that there will be no Hanukkah because of the goblins. {most important event from middle} Hershel is able to scare away all the goblins and light the menorah. {most important event from end} Hershel tricks the King of the Goblins and breaks the spell.
  • Cause and effect – Why are there no menorahs lit on the first night of Hanukkah? Because the villagers are afraid of the goblins. Why does Hershel tell the villagers he will get rid of the goblins? Because he wants to have Hanukkah. Why is Hershel able to trick the goblins? Because they are not very smart. Why does the first goblin leave? Because he is afraid of Hershel squishing him like a rock. At the end of the story how come there are so many menorah’s lit? Because it is the last night of Hanukkah and Hershel was able to defeat the goblins.  
  • Character analysis - Describe Hershel {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Celebrating Hanukkah. Lighting a menorah. Being brave when something scary was happening. Wanting to help someone even though it would be scary.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why do you think the goblins hate Hanukkah so much? {text clues} the goblins have scared the villages so badly they won’t celebrate Hanukkah. The goblins try to scare Hershel away so he won’t light the menorah. The goblins were very mean and unfriendly. {what I know} I know that Hanukkah is about the rededication of the Holy Temple and makes people happy. {my conclusion} I don’t think the goblins want the villagers to celebrate Hanukkah because it makes them happy and the goblins don’t want anyone to be happy.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} The story is mostly about Hershel outsmarting the goblins and saving Hanukkah. {details} Hershel squishes an egg between his hands and tricks the goblin into thinking it was a rock. Hershel makes another goblin believe there is a spell on the pickle jar. Hershel tricks the King of the Goblins into lighting the menorah.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story is when Hershel outsmarts the King of the Goblins and gets him to light the menorah.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about? Do you think Hershel will be able to break the spell? Will Hershel be able to last all 8 nights in the synagogue with the goblins? How do you think Hershel will scare the second goblin? After hearing the voice of the King of the Goblins do you think Hershel will run away or will he stay and face him? Will the King of the Goblins figure out Hershel’s plan?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} The goblins won’t let the villagers celebrate Hanukkah. {solution} Hershel tells the villagers that he will rid the synagogue of goblins. One by one Hershel rids the synagogue of the goblins.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Summarize - {someone}The villagers {wanted} wanted to celebrate Hanukkah {but} but the goblins wouldn’t let them {so} so Hershel said he would break the spell and when he did the villagers could {finally} finally celebrate Hanukkah. 
  • Theme – There are a couple of different lessons to be learned from this story. Your faith is stronger than the evil/meaness in others. Hershel had faith that he could break the spell of the mean goblins, and he did. Using your imagination can help solve your problem. Hershel had to outsmart the goblins and when he did the villagers’ problem was solved.

You can find this packet in either one of my stores.

Happy Holidays!


  1. Another beautiful book! I'm featuring this post on Bagels and Blogs tomorrow. :)

    Math Coach’s Corner

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE books! I have a feeling that I'll be spending a lot of time here! Found you through TBTS.



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