From Shushan, With Love

What can be said? I’ve pinched trays upon trays of cookies to be those triangular Hamantashen. I’ve filled beans in kid-made maracas. We have dressed as Vashti, Esther, and Mordi. This house takes Purim seriously.

With Purim quickly approaching again on March 8, I’m wondering what we have missed. I guess if Purim came with a checkoff sheet, I’d have a nice group of checks. See this whole piece I wrote on Multicultural Kid Blogs.

In fact, tour this year’s MKB Purim Blog Hop! Only good things!

What about this year, though? What more can be said?

My kids, ages 6, three, and baby, know the deal. They could make clay cookies, design the fiercest dress for Esther and cardboard castle scenes, but what about creating a script? What about letting them act out what they know as opposed to making some cute thing for Pinterest? Do they have what they need to play and piece together the story in their own way? I say, for all of us, YES! (Or if you see gaps, let’s fill them in so they can get back to playing and acting it out). 

There is power and value in a retell or summary. We as people invariably color a story or situation with our own humor or angle, our own compassion, and zeal. We are made to ask insightful questions enjoy interaction. We are made to bring life to a page! Plus, I love any opportunity to authentically assess my children’s understanding and take on all parts of our heritage and faith. The teacher in me knows that my authentic observation will lead me to ask them good questions and facilitate even stronger play. 


I am all over taking out the globe and looking with them at what happened during the reign of 5th-century Persian king Xerxes I  who reigned 486–465 BCE, and I totally only know this from Wikipedia because I have the historical memory of a horse. And that really doesn’t matter with play! Our kids’ dramatic play should not look or sound like Jeopardy!

And that’s what I realize—the story of Esther, the Megillat Ester מגילת אסתר, is to be read yearly for a purpose. Like all of the Jewish festivals and directives in Torah, these things are to be taught to our children, retold throughout all generations, l’dor v’dor.

Like poetry, the Book of Esther is to be read aloud. 

It is in the retelling, that our children get a chance to use their language and make the stories and histories relevant today. It is in the retelling, that they get to tap into their knowledge and make connections using language. They get to engage in higher-order thinking (going way beyond mere coloring sheets) to create, synthesize, and build upon their framework with creative application! Bloom’s Taxonomy is for our every day with kids and certainly for this season of Purim.

But first, become familiar!

Immerse or re-immerse yourselves in the characters, plot, and setting. Invariably, new things jump out and news ideas will form. 

Watch an animated video telling, ala Hanna Barbara!


In the past, I have suggested this movie, too, a non-animated One Night With the King

And the text: The Book of Esther to be read on Purim and before, as preparation. This is useful for comparing and contrasting with the movie renditions. What was changed? How do you feel about the way each character was represented?

Now further-engage!

Think of all the growth a child undergoes in a year. What they understand and gleam–this year will be vastly different than past Purim. Now for your family’s acting & retelling:

For the enactments, read aloud portions or paraphrase yourself while children act and interject. 

Invite them to create puppets to act and roleplay the Purim story.

You could use these awesome printable puppets by Moms and Crafters or invite them to make a basic or a more detailed Esther. I am picturing bits of beads and shiny scraps. Maybe two Hadassah/Esthers, or a two-sided puppet, one from before she goes to the palace and one that reflects the dazzling, Jewish queen and royalty of Shushan/Susa.


My daughter sat down with a pencil, copy paper, and her imagination. She chose to write in Japanese as opposed to English, but you will see the characters, what they are wearing, down to what colors each part of their costume will be. This is how she chooses to create her puppets–with an organized shopping list to ensure we find the right colors and details to make her ideas come to life.


Or use what you have! Anyway, see what grabs and entices the kids. This is for them!


(It is easy to be dismayed and feel a righteous anger towards Haman, but how are we to feel about the king? You may engage in some good discussions with your kids about this and every character’s role in the story).

Add music, maps, globes! Enhance your learning and make a show!

One music sample here

a video for more understanding of Sephardic Jews in modern-day Iran

Poetry & music of Modern Mizrahi Jews (those from Arabic countries)

All understanding, comprehension and critical thinking will emerge throughout play. Enjoy! Eat, drink, apply the goodness of Purim as you tell and retell. Give to the poor, share the joy and courage of Esther and her prayer. Drown out the name of Haman.

Play, play, play. Experience the power and fun of retelling. Take a look, also, at the gorgeous linked activities below!

Purim for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of our annual Purim for Kids blog hop. Visit the posts below for great ideas about sharing this holiday with the kids in your life! Don’t miss our blog hop from last year, and you can find even more ideas on our Purim board on Pinterest:


Participating Blogs on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Interfaith Purim Plus: A Wide Approach to Spring Holidays
Moms & Crafters: Free Color-in Purim Puppets
Kelly’s Classroom: Better-than-Best Purim
Melibelle in Tokyo
All Done Monkey: Free Purim Printables

One thought on “From Shushan, With Love

  1. The author writes from her rich experience and thoughtful participation in Judaism, frame work of the history and lessons of Purim. She clearly internalizes Purim and joyfully shares the deeper meaning as well as the fun of this festival.Her family as well as readers greatly benefit from this well-worked piece.

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