Reading Aloud Activity

Posted on Dec 2, 2014 | Resources

Runaway Latkes

Suggested Age: Preschool to Grade 2

Submitted by Vicky Dworkin, State Librarian, Hawaii State Library

Books: The Runaway Latkes by Leslie Kimelman

Mrs. Greenberg’s Messy Hanukkah by Linda Glaser

Seven Spools of Threadby Angela Medearis

This is a good activity for a “Winter Holidays” program. Most keiki in Hawaii have little awareness of Hanukkah (or Kwanzaa), so I try to include a range of holidays celebrated in winter, rather than just Christmas story times. Hanukkah is not “the Jewish Christmas,” it is a distinct holiday usually celebrated around the same time of year. “Latkes,” or potato pancakes, are a favorite food traditionally eaten during Hanukkah. I might do a full program of Hanukkah stories, or I might do one Christmas, one Hanukkah and one Kwanzaa story at a single winter storytime. My favorite Kwanzaa story is Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Medearis.


Activity #1:  The Runaway Latke Frying Pan

Runaway Latke Story, Craft & Game (Various versions available on internet, most often called “Flip the Latke.”)


  • Sturdy paper plates – 1 per child
  • Large craft sticks – 1 or 2 per child (Can substitute throwaway chopsticks.)
  • Yellow scrap paper (Can use worn-out office envelopes.)
  • Yellow card stock or cardboard (Can use worn-out, rigid office envelopes)
  • Yarn
  • Heavy duty tape, like packing tape
  • Glue
  • Tools: hole punch, scissors


  1. Tape craft stick securely to center of sturdy paper plate, so handle extends. (With larger plates, may need to tape 2 craft sticks together or substitute chopstick).runaway-latkes-01
  2. Cut out two irregularly shaped round “latkes” (potato pancakes) from scrap paper or envelopes. Glue off-center to surface of plate.
  3. Cut out 1 irregularly shaped round cardboard latke. Punch hole near one end.
  4. Punch hole in rim of frying pan/plate opposite side from handle.
  5. Tie one end of yarn to cardboard latke; the other end to frying pan. Length of yarn depends on skill and dexterity of kids participating. For younger kids, make yarn short, 4”-6.” To make it more challenging for older kids, increase length of yarn, 10”-12” or more.

Game: Start with the pancake on the plate, toss it in the air to flip the pancake and try to catch it. This is a standard “toss and catch” game.

Alternative: make one side of latke browner, the other side lighter. Challenge is to flip so darker side lands face up.


Activity #2: Finger Play

Latkes, Latkes
Latkes, latkes, (Make circle with fingers.)
Sizzling in a pan. (Hold hands out flat in front of you; move them slightly up and down.)
Flip them, (Flip hands over.)
Toss them, (Make tossing motion.)
Catch them if you can. (Make catching motion.)


Activity #3 Frying Latkes:

Another good activity to do at home would be to make latkes from one of the recipes included in either of the Hanukkah books. This requires adult participation and supervision, but elementary-aged children can help. See: this article for an illustrated “Kids in the Kitchen” (supervised) version of potato latkes. I like to add finely grated carrots to the grated potatoes in my latkes. Serve with applesauce.

Rebecca’s Latkes (from The Runaway Latkes by Leslie Kimmelman)
(If you are under 12, be sure to fry the latkes with help from a grownup!)

  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and grated
  • ½ onion, grated
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons flour or matzo meal
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of cinnamon
  • chopped parsley (optional)
  • olive oil

Mix together all the ingredients except the oil.   Heat the oil in a skillet until very hot. To make each latke, drop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into the oil and flatten into a pancake shape. Fry the latkes on one side; then turn and fry on the other. Both sides should be crispy brown. Drain the latkes on paper towels for a few minutes. Serve with applesauce or sour cream. Serves 4-6.