The Winter at Valley Forge is credited with being the hardest winter of the entire American Revolution. General Washington was striving to keep together an army with no money, no food, and precious little to keep his soldiers from dying of hypothermia.
Yet he persevered. There are so many homeschool history lessons you can pull from this time. This time we’re going to focus on a piece of American legend, General Washington talking with a Jewish soldier as Hanukkah starts.
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Hanukkah at Valley Forge
According to a letter passed down from family member to family member as General Washington is walking the camp he sees a soldier lighting a candle one cold winter night and chanting something he doesn’t understand. The soldier goes on to explain to him the story of Hanukkah and the two of them draw parallels between the Maccabees battle and their own struggle against the British government.
One author found this letter and was inspired to write Hanukkah at Valley Forge*, a hauntingly peaceful retelling.
It’s a great book to bring connections together in history, which I love. It also highlights the struggles both groups had very well.
Hanukkah at Valley Forge activity
Like I said, I LOVED this book. The older kids really enjoyed it and were able to get so much more from it.
After reading it I pulled out a simple Venn Diagram and had the kids each draw or write one thing that was different about the two wars, and one thing that was the same.
My kids’ drawings all prominently featured pictures of people missing toes, fingers and whole limbs from frostbite. That’s about what they got from it. And then they spent the rest of the day telling me about how they were going to lose body parts from the “bitter bitter cold.”
Ummmm, not so much guys, it was 80 something then. Not anywhere near cold enough, but good imagination.
So, they may not have retained much of what I thought was important, but like with many things in life, it takes constant repetition to learn it all.
Some other Hanukah and American Revolution posts
- Planet Smarty shares a Hanukah preschool craft
- All Things Beautiful role-playing game (for middle and high school)
I originally posted this March, 2011, but have updated with some more stuff and better pictures. 🙂