Purim is the ultimate playground for nuttiness and creativity (which is always a good educational move).
Go with it. Use it. Encourage it! :-)

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General Advice on Teams in Games and Activities

When creating teams-  In many instances, children should not choose teammates.  Just number kids off, like 123,123,123… or use words like masecha, megilla, and adloyada.  Everyone with x-number or word goes to that corner,….to this corner, etc.
Voila – you have teams, no clique issues or hard feelings, and usually a fair mix of abilities per group. 

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"Pit-om Purim!"

peula activity

All places, all ages.

Kids in costumes

This can be used in most types of venue - community carnival settings, classrooms, and home/family gatherings.

People usually do some major sorting and spring cleaning leading up to Pesach / Passover.  Most folks have some clothes and household items going to a clothing drive or "Goodwill" after the next closet check, right?  So why not move up a small part of that, since Purim is only a month ahead?

In a "Pit-om Purim!" , people do NOT come in any tachposet / costume at all.  Instead, one dresses there, based on assembled 'contributions'. The idea is that each person or family has contributed a few items of preferably interesting and/or colorful clothing (the kookier, more unusual, more flow-y and/or flashy the better), plus perhaps a couple accessories and/or potential prop-type item.  A prop might be an old feather-duster, or busted pool-noodle, a box, head-band, scarf, colorful sheet, ice tongs, old pot or colander, spoons, chopsticks, T-shirt strips... 

Rule-of-thumb: don't contribute anything you'd expect to get back ;-) .  The only exception to this rule might be in the case of a smaller family and/or friends gathering at home.

It's an adult's / teacher's responsibility to pad the collection somewhat with extra items if this ends up being gathered at the very last minute- so that a child here or there won't end up feeling shortchanged and that good feelings and creativity reign. That being said, in a community or classroom event, it is best to announce this collection some weeks ahead.  That way, people start bringing in contributions in advance over time.

Some items can be saved afterwards for a permanent costume-box.  Then it's handy for various lessons and activities (every home and class should have one, right?).

If this is a larger event, like in a synagogue or community center, the items that are still nice and useful enough should be donated afterwards to a proper place for the needy.  Consider it one part of the mitzvah / obligation of matanot le-evyonim.  Further, some money saved instead of perhaps buying a costume could potentially be added towards a group-determined tzedaka [charity] goal.

a pile of clothes and costume props

How to pull this off

  • Play some music for 5-20 minutes. Time depends very much on the size of the group and enterprise.  A kindergarten group of ten children may need perhaps 5-10 minutes. (Plan in some more time if you are using extras like clown make-up, etc.) A synagogue carnival crowd may require more like up to 20 or so minutes.
  • Ahead of time, spread items out on large tables.Or if lacking that, put them piled -not too deep- on some clean sheets or blankets either on the floor or in some very large cartons (preferably very broad, rather shallow ones).  Create 3-8 such stations/collections around the area, again depending on group, size of venue, etc.
  • Trading is permissible of course. 

This writer has seen "Pit-om Purim! " done to riotous effect in a kibbutz of over 300 people of all ages.  And then used it in both home and school settings. Props became noisemakers and also costume aids. Just turn any object or cloth item upside-down or sideways to see new possibilities.  Throw pants on your head, socks on your ears, chopsticks in your hair, tie a pot to old stockings to hang from a shoulder….  

This also dovetails well with other activities like role-playing, shpeils/improvisations, etc., and we've included some separate specific suggestions for this.  In the carnival setting and sometimes in classrooms, there is usually a make-up booth as well, adding to the fun.  Just be sure to keep the official actual costuming-up period on the short side time-wise (even though people can switch, embellish and trade usually whenever they like).

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peula activity

All ages and venues. 

This is just like the game by this name from the improvisation show on television - "Who's Line Is It Anyway" (it also had an Israeli version).

girl using a phone receiver for a mustache

This is played with one duo up against another duo. Each duo works together. You can either run this simply with continual volunteers, or – like in a classroom situation – divide the group into two teams and keep alternating the playing duos.  You can also keep changing the props and/or clothing if you like.  The more ridiculous, the better- as this is "merrymaking" Purim-style, right?


In each round of play, each duo is given a card with a concept, character or vocabulary word on it that must be depicted or acted out, which the group has to guess. 


Instead of duos, teams (larger number of players together) have to create a loony shpiel/presentation.  You can offer mitzvot of Purim as a theme.  Or the idea of trying to get as many Hebrew vocabulary words as possible stuffed into a whacky act or song. If you play with the noisemaker aspect on top of the goal of creating a Purim theme song, then creating the wackiest jug-band out of the handy junk you have been collecting can be a nice addition. If you have a group of 12-18 children, that's likely 2-4 teams.  In a class situation, whatever the size, try to keep it to no more than 4 teams/presentations total.

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"The Ultimate Joe-Shmoe-Let's-Go!-Tachposet-Shmoset Relay-Race" (said in one breath)

peula activity (plus a little optional art)

kids running

('shmoset' is a made-up word like 'shmoe'. The rhyme is just to be shpiel-like silly and to help remember the vocabulary word tachposet / costume.  Just having to repeat this long name constantly as a rule instead of being allowed to simply say "race" tends to send people into giggling Tongue-Tripping Land). 

Use this name as a cheerleading start-off chant before the race. 

Moreover, if this is a school or shul Carnival Happening, build your race event up in advance with kid-produced posters running around.  You can add to the suspense with all sorts of teaser lines like:

  • The 2000th Annual "THE ULTIMATE JOE-SHMOE-LET'S-GO!-TACHPOSET–SHMOSET RELAY-RACE" is Coming Soon To a Shul Near You! Etc.

Really - go bananas.  It’s a mitzvah afterall :-), and nonsensical build-up in the weeks ahead - similar to what occurs in Israel now as well as in communities in our past - is all part of that! 

Suitability:  Any age, any venue, as long as you have a minimum of preferably eight people total in the race (and up to about 28). Or in other words, at least four people per team, 2-4 teams total.  Probably best to have no more than maybe seven people  per team. 

Each team needs to be supplied with a something to carry clothes etc. in.  This could be a largish knapsack, rucksack, little suitcase on wheels or pillowcase.  Just as long as all teams have the same thing so as to be competitively fair. Meaning, for example, four teams = four suitcases (or whatever).

Clothing is prepared and ready in each bag for each team.  It is advisable that the clothing be at least somewhat larger than most of the potential people involved in this enterprise ;-) !

a small boy wearing oversized clothing items Use oversized items that are easy to get on
and off quickly

When you prepare this, you might try going for a few items (say 3-4 total) of clothing and accessories.  But again, to be fair, this means that each "kit" needs to have the same things - if you include a dress in one, you must include a similar kind of dress in each kit. If a shirt is the kind you put on by pulling it over the head (e.g. as opposed to a button-down shirt) and it's long sleeved, you need the same sort of type and general size (large) for every kit.  An "outfit" might include: shorts or pants plus a dress (instead of a shirt), or pajamas, etc…,maybe a scarf, cap or large pot or colander for the head, a bracelet that can be easily slipped on and off or a velcro'ed knee guard, a sweater or sweatshirt or robe…  The more ridiculous the better. *Keep the items (and number, i.e.1-3) simpler and easier for younger children (especially in the ages where motor and skills development varies and some may still have some dressing difficulties).

Name the teams - use vocabulary words for this purpose. Like Team Shushan, Team Adar, Team Ozen-Haman… If you are going further in your Hebrew, the word for team is "kvutza".  In which case, you would say, for example: "Kvutzat Shushan".

Here is what you will quickly explain and demonstrate: 

  • Each team has a sack/bag with the same items inside it. Each person in turn in a team will -
  • Run to the designated endpoint for their team with the bag of stuff.  
  • Stop there, put on all the stuff. 
  • Run back with the empty bag to their team.  
  • Take off all the stuff.
  • The next teammate in line is packing the items up in the bag while the previous teammate is taking them off.  The packer is also allowed to help his teammate "undress".
  • Once the bag is completely re-packed, this next person takes off. ("Rinse and repeat" :-) ).  
  • The first teammate to have run will be the last packer-upper, and the winning team is the first to have that bag packed for the last time and everyone sitting down. 
  • Quickly demonstrate or describe acceptable "dressing" (and where). Explain that this is one instance where it's not okay to be "creative" in how you use items, like stuffing them all in your sweatshirt to create a big belly or tucking part of a shirt or bracelet etc. in a pocket instead of wearing it.  If someone forgets and tries to do that, tell them you will use a noisemaker to get attention (e.g. whistle, horn or ra-ashan / gragger), yell out the team name and tell that particular individual to return to the halfway-point and re-dress properly.

Did you remember the name after all that ;-) ?  Well, maybe start practicing saying "The Ultimate Joe-Shmoe Tachposet-Shmoset Relay-Race" ;-) 

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A Few Costume Ideas

Learn Hebrew Pod believes in "inclusion", so we occasionally add some notes for those dealing with individuals with special needs.  If you ever want to know how to turn a "regular" activity into something tailored for a certain need, or need alternative suggestions, do write us and we will try to help you with thoughts on modifications or other options (do share yours too with us).  Besides, the truth is that some of the best educational and daily-living ideas that started out in special needs communities often end up becoming mainstream for the wider community :-) .

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Turn Your Kid Into a Ra-ashan / Noisemaker

tachposet costume

Suitability:   Any age.  However, this is a notably useful one for much younger kids, and some with special needs (unless they have sensory integration issues involving noise, of course).  It is a very good "outfit" for developing fine motor and oral motor skills.  And it's handy in socialization issues, as others tend to be attracted to engaging someone in such a costume.

Kid dressed up as a Purim noisemaker - raashan Nothing beats an "interactive" costume!

Take a sweatshirt or something similar- you want this to be a piece of clothing that's a bit stronger/stiffer/thicker to handle having things attached without drooping too much or making things difficult/uncomfortable for the child. You can get as simple or complicated as you like (and have junk to attach).

If you happen to save old clips from ratty clothing you threw out, like in the photo (overall clips, suspender clips, bull-clips, etc), they are a real handy "extra" now. But you don't need that additional touch. Instead, you can sew on very short loops of cloth or T-shirt material around the shirt. The length should be enough to create a 2+ cm. opening in each loop. Include a loop on at least one wrist. If the child already has a hand dominance and you'd be attaching some noisy thing one needs a hand to use (like a whistle), then put that on the wrist of the non-dominant hand. Of course, only the smallest things go on a wrist.

Now hunt up noisy things. Like a toddler noisemaker (not too big or heavy). A squeaky toy or ball works- in the photo it has the heart sewn over it but a pocket works as well. (Or you can cut out a pocket from a T-shirt rag, put the squeaky in and quick-baste to your top). Note the junk-drawer item- it's a very light-weight metal piece from an old percolator in this case. It also had washers knotted on it- just enough length to dangle on the metal – you can use embroidery thread or strong dental floss. Sew or attach a couple bells to strong string/ floss (the point to keep in mind is that you don't want to lose any, creating a potential choking hazard in a young child). Use a whistle, a top of a flute (with a shoelace running through a hole down to its opening). Anything that makes a bit of noise. Attach each item to one of your shirt loops with a bit of short shoelace, or strip of T-shirt (T-shirt strips roll up nicely into cloth string - a 3-5 cm. width usually works well). The idea being that you want to be able to remove an item if necessary or move them around after testing for comfort and usability. No strip should be longer than absolutely necessary to be certain that the child cannot become entangled, trapped, choked or otherwise endangered either on his own or when a friend "engages" his outfit. (Do double-check to be sure of this).

If you want, write in fabric marker (or sew) the word ra-ash / רעש [noise] or ra-ashan / רעשן [noisemaker] on the back. Or attach an index card with a diaper or safety pin (one that is a bit larger and won't pop open accidentally). Incidentally, this particular child went as רעש and was a "smash" with his classmates. Further, he loved the costume and it continued to be used during the following year with much glee - to work on some deficient developmental skills (fine motor, coordination, oral motor, vision).

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Super-Cool Clown Costume

tachposet costume

Suitability:   Any age.  Again, not for the overly-noise-sensitive.  But if you have a shyer kid, or one with communication issues, this one invites others to come up to say hi and ask for a honk, or whatever you attach to the hat.  But really, we advise the horn, or at least a flute attached firmly lengthwise (no dangling), or a couple little bells attached in the "hair" or brim, etc.

Clown costume for Purim - frontClown costume for Purim - backSurprisingly easy to make

First, since the costume is big, you can fit layers underneath for parading outside when it's cold.  (There's a pretty skinny kid in this outfit photo - the pants' waist is enormous, stiffened and then held up solely by the suspenders). 

Second, if you do the more 'permanent, longer' version of hat, it will likely be cherished and used for years in your family.

You need: 

  • That the clothes be bright and colorful. Shiny fabric is especially good, if you happen to have.
  • That the top and pants be pretty over-sized for the wearer.  Especially those pants.
  • Either suspenders or two T-shirt strips (around 6 or so cm. wide) - long enough to hold up the pants. You can sew the strips on or use good, dependable safety pins on the inside of the pants. You should use another little, thinner strip to tie the "suspender" strips together in the middle of the back (so that they don't fall off the shoulders).
  • For "hair": Another old about-to-throw-out T-shirt, or a few in various bright and contrasting colors, or one that has a few colors on it. (Those with emblems and pictures _added_ or printed on are not good, since they don't work so well. The kind of shirt material you want to use has a weave that rolls up when you cut it, like tricot). The non-sew fast method works best with a small t-shirt, like toddler or small kid size. But we recommend sewing, since you could get away with a few quick easy basting stitches.
  • The pants should be the type with a drawstring or an elastic waist- one where the elastic was not stitched in, but can be easily pulled out.
  • Any baseball cap, or other hat if you like. As long as your cap/hat has some inner piece you can attach/sew the "hair" to- typically an inner fold, band, or lining.
  • Uh…a 'certain kind of junk' for the waistband of the pants (see below).

The Pants: 

On the inner side, make a small slit in the waistline to pull out the drawstring or elastic. This is where "junk" comes in ;-) Anything light and a bit stiff will do the trick (not metal or hanger! - something plastic-y and preferably curve-y works fastest and easiest). A bit of leftover light hose, plastic tubing, part of an old hoop… In the case of the pictured costume, an old round plastic laundry bin was found in the trash. The rim was cut off, washed and threaded into the waistline of some worn-out shiny pajama pants. Kid suspenders attached and voila. The junk hunt was a nice outing on trash day with the child to find "something usable" and took all of 15 minutes to come across, by the way. If not we would have cannibalized something running around the house already, or stuffed a lot of stockings or thin cloth strips into the waistband with a chopstick or knitting needle until we filled it all up to stiffen it (slightly more time-consuming, but workable).

a colorful hat

The Hair: 

Short temporary version:

  • Use a T-shirt that is smaller, especially in the neck.
  • In this case a more stretchy fabric may be better. 
  • Put it "on" around your neck (not the arms).
  • Pull it up over your head so the neck part is now on your forehead and shirt on your head.
  • Make some marker lines where your ears are and where the fabric comes across the middle of the back of the head.  When you take the T-shirt off you will cut hair strips up to that line.  Just trim your strips like a haircut after that to a length of hair that suits you :-).  Throw the hat on top.

Better and best permanent versions:

  • Better: Baste the hair above onto the inner rim of your hat.
  • Best: Cut a bunch of T-shirt strips. 5 or so cm. width is good. Gently stretch/pull each strip between your hands to make it roll. Make each strip slightly more than double the length you want. You just use a quick stitch or two to attach each two ends together into the inside of the hat (making hair 'loops'). For child safety, and so that loops can't be long enough to catch on anything, don't go longer than neck/shoulder length. If you sew with heavier or embroidery thread, thicker dental floss, or nylon fishing line, by the way, it will hold up like iron for ages.
  • Get a bike horn for the coup de grace. Sew it on in two points to anchor it well to the hat- going over again and again (about 5-6 times) at each of the points- and tight. Again, heavier thread, embroidery thread, or nylon fishing line are the best choices for this.
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Odd Costume Tips

Purim costume Save those shoulder-pads!

tachposet costume


"Shoulder pads" or any other padding you are about to throw away:

If you are one of those always taking the shoulder pads out of clothes- they make great ears with a few quick basting stitches to a cap. For floppier bigger ears just stitch on lickety-split.  For a pointier stand-up kind, fold in half and baste-stitch shut before attaching.

Use Your Toy Box Or Junk Drawer:

Here's but one loony example:

Be a field (yes, really, this has been done)

  • Take one small toy tractor and one toy airplane. 
  • Dress in green or green and brown.  If it happens to be in some pattern of squares or stripes even better.
  • Attach the tractor on some string or green, brown or beige yarn around your neck (a la necklace).
  • Attach a light little bit of wire to the little airplane or hang it from the brim of a baseball cap, so that it's like a crop-duster over your "field".  You could alternatively hang a little bird, clouds, sun etc. like a walking mobile plus field.
  • If you have those little baseball action figures, by all means, go as a baseball field ;-) . Use masking tape to lay out your diamond, etc. The point being, whatever little toys are running around help to generate the costume idea.

Always save old stockings and tights. Socks too for that matter:

  • They take up very little storage room – bunch them up in little balls in a bag to stash away. These have endless uses (like gardening ties). For costumes purposes they are great, for but one example, as headgear – stuff the legs as ears for example. Or to create "extra" arms or legs, etc. Use another pair to tie them around your waist or attach to shoulders like a harness. Stuff 'em with old socks you were about to get rid of or whatever is handy. Throw socks over the ends for the feet or gloves/mittens on for the hands or paws, or make a nice tail….
  • Socks missing mates make great sock puppets. Be a walking theater by throwing a cape/curtain around yourself or your child, or draw scenery on that "backdrop" or on an old shirt. Then - with the puppets on your hands - let the show begin :-) !
  • Need colorful sleeves or legwarmers? Old socks with the feet cut off or sleeves cut off a worn-out shirt will do the trick great. Do you have a child with leg braces? (Or just want to create more colorful boots?) Cover them with cut long socks or sleeves to make cool costume boots, like for a super-hero or clown, the envy of all.
a light bulb

Final General Tips:

  • When in doubt, use duct tape  :-) .
  • Bless the inventor of safety pins.
    The Velcro dude too, while we're at it.
  • You can never have too much aluminum foil.
  • Old T-shirts have endless uses.
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"Stick it to that bad guy" (may his name be wiped out)

peula activity

All ages.  Good for carnival, street fair, even classroom or party game at home. 

You will need:

a pile of fabrics
  • An old sweater you don't plan to wear anymore- the fuzzier the better.
    OR a sweatshirt with a fuzzy inside (just turn it inside out).
  • Some jeans (or pants that are similarly a bit stiffer).  Thinner-leg pants will mean less stuffing, of course.
  • Socks (longer are better) and shoes.
  • Another pair of socks (again, longer are better) and/or mittens or dishwashing gloves - whatever you have "handy".
  • Some large safety pins.
  • Maybe some sheet-y cape-y thing to drape back over shoulders - to help make him look minister-ish.
  • Maybe a light hat (or make an easy-peasy three-cornered paper one with our origami directions).
  • "Stuffing".  A lot.
  • Some balloons.
  • Duct tape or other fairly hearty very sticky wide tape, like packaging tape.
  • Scissors.
  • A thick, dark marker.
  • A fair number of ping-pong balls.
  • Velcro with an adhesive back. The kind that comes as 1 cm. dots are best, or you can cut little bits to size right off a roll of Velcro tape. Or cut up small strips- like 1/2 cm. wide. You run one strip around the ball. Then a 2nd one around the ball that crosses the first one. (Some games sell them this way together with felt-like target boards, by the way). You will want the part that is Velcro- e.g. that isn't fuzzy- that "catches" onto stuff.
  • A chair with a back.

You are building a "Haman" to throw sticky ping-pong balls at.

Prepare your ping-pong balls with the Velcro as described above. Do a "trial ball" to see how much Velcro you need to stick on and to get it placed best. Then to test, throw the ball at a sweater or the inside of a sweat shirt (which also checks if you chose a good "sticky/fuzzy" one  ). The point being that you want the ball to stick to the target.

Stuff the shirt and pants.  Stuff them tight.
Stuffing can be anything- crumbled newspaper balls, sheets, rags, all those endless plastic bags we save, laundry for the next wash, whatever…

Connect top to bottom by tucking the top into the pants snugly.  (Maybe add a few large safety pins too around the waist - like through the belt loops to the sweater). 

Stuff one pair of socks enough to fill feet and ankles.
Run the remainder of the sock length over the bottoms of the very stuffed pants to connect your feet. Put on the shoes.

Do the same with the second pair of socks for hands, connecting over the ends of the arms with the extra length of sock left unfilled.  Put on the gloves or mittens if you have some.

All of the above you can do with your students or your own children, of course.

Blow up a balloon. Put a silly or nasty face in heavy marker on it. Take about 30 cm. (10+ in.) of tape and make a loop, sticky side out. Plop it inside the neck area of your dummy and stick the balloon face on it. You want extra balloons in case this head runs away or pops in the ensuing game. The dummy sits in the chair.

The game and difficulty to "win" can be however you choose. 3-5 ping-pong balls to take shots in a turn is probably about right. It's likely easiest to hit the sweater but worth more if the ball sticks. Hitting the balloon head would be worth more. Knocking the hat or headgear (if you add that on your model) might be a bit harder. Knocking the head off completely or the balloon alternatively popping would likely be worth the most.

a box full of stuff

*An alternative to the ping-pong ball method (and saving a sweater): 

Use knee-high socks. Or cut off old stockings or tights.

Fill a third to a half of the foot (toe plus) of each sock with one of these options:

  • a balled up pair of socks.
  • a good zip-lock or knotted sandwich bag that has been filled with a small fist size's worth of dried beans, rice or legumes.

Place in toe and knot it shut in the sock. Or use a twist tie, rubber band, or yarn to tie sock shut and keep your stuff down at the toe end. 

Voila, you now have created a bona-fide "fling-sock" (Google the term with images if you are unfamiliar with this). These are useful for many indoor and outdoor games. Make heftier ones if you involve the dog, who also loves these - and only use socks or a tennis ball as the toe stuffing for those guys. Do also be aware of these socks having almost a magnetic tendency to get caught and lost when near trees ;-).

- rename the game "Bop the Bad Guy", "Swat the Bad Guy", etc.

If you use ping pong balls, the throwing distance would be pretty near.
If you use one of those fling socks though, the throwing distance should obviously be somewhat farther, as they can pack a real wallop (and don't use the tennis ball kind for this), though aim is sometimes a bit tougher for the uninitiated :-). The smaller the fling sock (like a kid-sock size), the less the wallop  (uh... usually). 

***In a Hebrew class, you can get more mileage by adding some vocabulary learning and practice while preparing your dummy – for example, clothing words or parts of the body. Or words from the Purim list (like tachposet, Haman, ozen-haman- make triangle ears on that balloon!...). You can even add Hebrew labels onto your dummy.  If you are a class doing a booth for a school or synagogue carnival, you are now set. 

Trust us- this game is a "hit" ;-)  . 

This also happens to be a good therapy game for those with a whole variety of special needs and for skills-reinforcement/practice (in which case, keep your dummy afterwards and use him regularly).

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Lakova Sheli Shalosh Pinot

shir song

The younger set. 

You can hear the melody for this song on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3XWgQUq7zQ  

לַכּוֹבַע שֶׁלִי שָׁלשׁ פִּנוֹת
שָׁלשׁ פִּנוֹת לַכּוֹבַע שֶׁלִי
לוּלֵא הַיוּ לוֹ שָׁלשׁ פִּנוֹת
לֹא הָיָה זֶה הַכּוֹבַע שֶׁלִי

lakova sheli shalosh pinot
shalosh pinot lakova sheli
lule hayu lo shalosh pinot
lo haya ze hakova sheli

My hat has three corners,
three corners my hat has.
And if my hat didn't have three corners,
it would not be my hat. 

Hand motions:

  • lakova - point to head
  • sheli - point to self
  • shalosh - hold up three fingers
  • pinot - point to elbow
  • shalosh - hold up three fingers
  • pinot - point to elbow
  • lakova - point to head
  • sheli - point to self 
  • ve - two closed fists, side by side, touching thumbs.
  • lule hayu lo - shake head no and wag index finger side-to-side
  • shalosh - hold up three fingers
  • pinot - point to elbow
  • lo haya ze - shake head no and wag index finger side-to-side
  • hakova - point to head
  • sheli - point to self 

Now tell the kids something seems to be missing.

Aha! - the shir/song goes so much better with a bona-fide ozen-haman hat! :-)


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Origami: Ozen-Haman Hat (& a bit more)

melechet yad arts & crafts

Kindergarten through lower grades. (Or really any age, though).

  • You need a lot of newspaper. 
  • Use at least three-sheets-thickness per hat.
  • Keep the sheets folded in half (like you would when reading the paper), giving you six-sheets-thickness minimum (In the diagrams pay attention to the black lines). 
  • Place paper on table facing you with long, open side towards bottom.
    Fold paper in half vertically. Open again. (It's just to give you a guideline halfway in).
  • Bring top corner down to center line.
  • Do the same with the other corner.
  • As for the leftover portion under the triangle: Fold half the news sheets up one side, and half up the other side (so it looks like a little sailboat).
  • Looking at the long rectangle portion at the bottom, fold the top corners in on each side of the hat (which in effect will complete the large triangle shape).  First it will look like this:
  • When you fold in the second side over the first, it will then look like this:
  • Now open the "pocket" you have created in your hat. Fold a little bit of the corner inwards on each side.  (You can also staple it to secure it if you like).
  • If the children are too young to do this (kindergarten kids can be still too variable in ability), we can assure you from long experience that it takes like 30 seconds to make one of these, so pre-preparing them for a bunch of kids is not a major hassle. 
  • It's sufficient for the kids to decorate the hats as their part of the contribution, if they are too young to handle the folding part.
Everyone is getting into the act

If you are making specifically ozen-haman hats, a few possibilities: 

  • The kids color in a smaller triangle in marker whatever "flavor" they prefer on each side of the hat.
  • Make marker lines of a smaller triangle on each side.  The kids cover these guidelines with sticker dots.  (This is good for earlier gan / kindergarten skills).
  • Have them glue or tape on smaller triangles cut out of a nice flavor-y color in construction paper. 

If these are intended instead to be clown or "adloyada" parade/carnival hats, they can decorate like crazy.  They can also tape or staple on streamers, construction paper strips… go wild. :-) 

Now put on your hats and start singing.

It also makes for a cute presentation for the school, etc. 

Your class can teach everyone the song and hand motions.  Enjoy! 


If you turn the hat creation upside-down and staple a sturdier 4-5 cm.-side strip to both corners, you have now created a sal / basket to put goodies into (inside a napkin, plastic bag or saran-wrap) for mishloach manot. (You might want to use 4-5 newspaper sheets in thickness for this and staple a couple places). 

For another origami basket made out of newspaper (with a flat bottom)

see a neat-o demonstration here.

In terms of suitability this is about 2-3 steps up in difficulty from the ability to make a standard classroom paper airplane. The middle and high school kids will probably like this. 


So now you obviously need to bake something to put inside...


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Hamentashen / Ozney Haman Recipe

matkon recipe

(of course -!- since this is a Jewish chag / holiday and that means we have to be cooking and eating, and this this case we even cover a few mitzvot / obligations!). 



First of all, the originator of this recipe believes that grated lemon peel and lemon juice helps almost every recipe (it's a Mediterranean thing, aided by a lovely lemon tree out back).  When not using lemon, she tends to find a use for oranges, kumquats and clementinas, peels included of course. 

Second, this kind of baking is not the most exactly-measured science.  You have a little leeway by "feel", roll-ibility of dough, and by personal taste (regarding both dough and fillings).  If there is an asterisk next to the ingredient, it is in the amount the author found worked the best for her and the recipients doing that tough job of eating.  In such cases, a range is given after that in brackets, meaning you can mess around with the measurement somewhat if you prefer. 

Third, this is more a cookie-feeling dough, softer than what you get in most cases-  i.e. this is not the cake-y, harder, rather drier-tasting dough like the recipes involving yeast and most store-bought ozney-haman.  Since the author has often had to make 2-5 times the recipe amount below, she figures she's been doing something right. 

With those provisos out of the way, let's get to it! 

a kitchen table with flour and hamentashen Messy fun with something to do for any age or ability

Let's Deal With The Dough: 

Wet stuff - 

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar *   [3/4 – 1]
  • peel of 1 nice-sized lemon, finely-grated or minced*
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup orange juice*   [1/2 – 1] 

Dry stuff - 

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 cups flour 


  • A lot more flour ready on the side for when you start shmushing and rolling dough.
  • Cups and small bowls to cut circles in the rolled out dough.
  • A good clean, smooth surface for rolling out dough (flat oilcloth on a table also works).
  • Oh yeah, and a rolling pin would be nice. 

Mixing Instructions (using preferably a fork and a strong spoon with a long handle, but then we never really tried a mixer for this):

  • In a real big mixing bowl, beat eggs with fork.  Add the "wet" ingredients one at a time in the order given. Then sprinkle in the salt and baking powder (so there's no clumping) and mix well.  Now sprinkle in small amounts of your flour, like a half cup or so at a time, stop to mix, sprinkle in more, etc. etc.
  • You should now have a rather sad looking, possibly almost soggy-ish or too wet-seeming mess.  Looks more like cookie dough perhaps.  You are maybe saying, "Can't be! She expects this to work as dough you can roll out?!"
  • If this is the case, good for you - it means you did everything just about right so far.
  • Cover the bowl tightly with saran wrap. Put it in the fridge for at least 30-60 minutes, or forget about it for even a day. 

"Now We're Cookin' " (almost): 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 C. / 350 F.
    Drink a cup of coffee while you are waiting on the dough and for the oven to heat up. Maybe have a little nosh too.
  • Use baking parchment or grease your baking sheets.  "Sheets" meaning you have 1-2 in the oven while preparing another 1-2.  That's wise if you are making more sizable amounts of this (a.k.a. Ozney Haman Factory-For-A-Day), like in any situation of having to make multiple amounts of the recipe.
  • Prepare to get rolling with the items mentioned above (see "Plus:").
  • Flour your hands, the rolling surface and rolling pin really well.  Take a handful of dough.  If too sticky still, sprinkle flour liberally also on the dough and shmush it in your hands to mix it in, until it starts to feel "right" and "doable".
  • Roll the handful out to a thickness of about 1/2 cm. or a little less (1/8 – 1/4 inch).
  • Press circles all the way through in the dough.
  • Add filling (explained below) in the middle, not too little, not too much.
  • Pull up three sides to pinch shut.  Really shut (except for a little opening in the middle).  If not, the filling will fly out when baking, which is not a good plan.
  • If you are really into 'nice-looking', grab another egg or two. You can separate out the white to use alone or go whole egg and beat in a small bowl. Brush the egg on the dough after placing the guys onto the baking sheet. This brushing biz has also been done with a flattish soup spoon when the glazing brush apparently suddenly grew legs and scampered off [later found in a toy bin, of course, luckily before it got commandeered for a child's watercolor artistry].
  • Bake for 10 to 25 minutes (sorry, I don't know what size ozney haman you made, plus every oven is different). They are ready when golden and all that stuff.  You might simply "test run" a few, like a smaller batch, then you'll know, as well as allowing you to make any other adjustments you may find worthwhile.
  • This makes somewhere between 3 and 6 dozen, again depending on size and thickness factors, how much and often you added flour when rolling, etc. 
  • Baking was perhaps never so, uh, inexact a science as here, but it is deliciously worth it, honest.
  • If you want your ozney haman to stay slightly softer and more crumbly, once they cool at all sufficiently to be put into plastic, store them in a container or plastic bag closed tight. Meaning do it a bit sooner instead of later.

Child Involvement:


However, if it's too unrealistic to do the messiest parts with the kids (though it's really fun) or if they are way too young, then they can still help with beating eggs, sprinkling in some ingredients, taking a turn with the mixing spoon, making the circles with big plastic cups and little bowls as cutters, and then putting in little spoons of filling into the center of each circle. They can also help with closing up the ozen haman if a bit older (just check and fix a bit afterwards if necessary for no explosive oven surprises), and/or with brushing on egg. Let them do at least a bit of the rolling out. This does not need to look gorgeous and perfect or anywhere near. Kid involvement is far more lovely and delicious pay-off for all, including recipients. 

Note: Don't throw away strips of dough outside the cut circles.  Those are less messy dough already :-).  A kid can shmush together and roll those strips up into a little ball again (just like play-dough!).  Then they can roll that dough out for another 1-2 little ozney haman (so can you, of course- why waste dough, especially after all that work?). 

The Fillings Really Make It: 

You can buy store-bought pre-prepared (don't fee guilty), either specifically for oznay haman (like poppy-seed ["mun"] filling, for example) or the kinds of fillings used in pie-baking, etc.  You can also use chocolate spread or a nut spread (like Nutella). 

***Or you can be adventurish and make your own***.

You can make it anything you want.

You can be different from everyone else.  And if you happen to be in a locale where a whole bunch of people are making these, being different can bring some wonderfully surprised smiles.  And then everyone wants to taste a bunch to see the next surprise. 

Making like 2-4 different flavors works nice once you get the hang of all this.  Starting with store-bought and trying just one experimental flavor on a limited number though is terrific for your first time out at such an endeavor.

Making filling-on-the-fly:

The author tends to just hit the fridge and pantry first to see what happens to be available.  If that doesn't work, she runs to the store and gets whatever looks interesting.

If you have some jams, just use 'em for some of your flavors.  Or add something to them.  Like a bit of ginger, minced citrus peel, the kind of spices that go into pie fillings (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) … you get the idea.  Throw in some lemon juice to cut the sweet down a notch. 

If going more from scratch, you need a saucepan.  If you have made compote or stewed anything, you just make this somewhat thicker.  Some water, some lemon juice, brown sugar, and whatever extras like just mentioned go with your base (a kind of fruit, some nuts, whatever). Chop your base up, throw it in the pot and start stewing over low heat with no lid, occasionally stirring. Do that til it gets gel-thick. If your concoction is still too chunky, smash the mix with a potato masher once everything sufficiently softens while cooking.

The author has used for various fillings such ingredients as fresh or canned pears, plums, peaches, apricots, apples, kumquats, kiwi, dried fruits (chopped up on the fine side), surprisingly popular pumpkin filling (made just like for pie - although Israelis may look at you funny if you tell them before they taste it)… There is no wrong answer if it tastes good, and experimenting makes it your own :-).

One can also make nut fillings. Put for example some walnuts or pecans in a bag, close it, and hammer the heck out of 'em. Maybe add a small bit of butter to your pan ingredients when the major base ingredient is nuts. Or use smashed nuts mixed in with a fruit. Cranberry-apple-walnut, apple-pecan, pear-peanut (although watch for those with allergies), raspberry, kumquat marmalade, etc. have always been big winners.

The runaway-baker is currently struck with some zany idea of trying chunky-mashed bananas (no need to precook like the other fruits) with a touch of maple syrup and crushed-up pecans next. Maybe a smidgen of minced dried cranberries too in there. Afterall, it works great in pancake batter so why not a small test batch of 2-4? If you beat her to this one, please let her know how it went for you.

The author has done this loony endeavor both with a few special needs children privately and a couple times with middle-school and high-school classes in a synagogue kitchen.  Everyone survived fine, and -given a multiplied recipe of course- with enough product (despite constant "checkers", noshers and visitors) to happily take some samples home. Oh- in origami baskets of course.

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Ra-ashanim / Noisemakers

melechet yad arts & crafts

All ages, and we mean ALL.

(a.k.a. "What's that I hear now ringing in my ears?" –Phil Oches )

a noisemaker
  1. Save small milk or juice boxes and containers, little soda bottles, little tins, etc.  Put in some old beads, dry legumes/beans/rice, washers, bolts, busted jewelry chains…. anything that makes a noise when shaken. SEAL SHUT TIGHT, especially with the toddler set! (Have we mentioned how much we love duct tape?).  Tape or paste on some paper or contact-paper.  Let child decorate with marker, crayon, stickers, etc.   
  2. Alternatively, stick a much smaller, slimmer such shaker-noisemaker into a sock, cut-off piece of stocking or tights, or even a slim stretchy cut-off long sleeve (brightly colored &/or striped) which you just knot shut at the bottom end. When you twirl the sock or whatever, you get the noise ;-) .  Just don't use anything too long, big, or heavy, so that no one gets accidentally hurt in the excitement, ok? 
  3. Take some small wood leftovers or blocks. Or the inner tubes from saran wrap (since they are a bit heavier than the paper-towel kind which are thinner and can't take much of a beating). Take some sand paper strips - the coarser the better. Trace cut-lines onto the sandpaper on the paper side, using the wide-surface side of each block.  Attach your sandpaper using 4 flat thumbtacks by pushing or hammering into one side of each block. Or in the case of using cardboard tubes, use strips about 10-12 cm. /5 in. wide and cut to fit slightly less than one complete wrap-around.  Duct-tape both ends tightly onto half the length of each tube. You rub these together and voila (and not too hard on the ears either, if someone has a sound sensitivity). While you're at it, chalk Haman onto them for wiping out his name with use.
  4. Save one of those round oatmeal containers. Or some tupperwear / plastic container, etc. Throw some spoons in and shake.
    And / or
    Use the spoons or some chopsticks or your long tubes to beat your drum. Soup pots work well also (especially if you are hard-of-hearing already anyway from too many toddlers afoot for too many years). You can string a belt, sash or long thick T-shirt strip through the pot-handles and wear your drum off the shoulder.
  5. Take old keys (not ones you still use, of course) that you saved but didn't get around to making the cool wind-chime with yet. String them together, rattle and go.
  6. Hit your junk drawers (and toy box). There is noise in there just waiting for you, we promise.
  7. Pot lids make terrifyingly good cymbals (wearing ear muffs isn't such a bad idea in such a case).
  8. Those saran wrap tubes make pretty safe drumming really on almost anything (a la the group Stomp).  Be a drummer sans drum, since there is plenty around you, even the chair, wall, whatever you see on a walk, to take a go at and compare sounds.
  9. Kazoos made a comeback.  If there's some in a toy store in your area, this is a great time to get one.  Your mouth can be handling that while you're drumming with the tubes. The smaller boxes with junk that make noise when shaken can go in large pockets or put inside the socks you are wearing (just wear larger-wider socks), and will make noise whenever you jump, jiggle, twirl or stomp. You can wear the keys on a wrist or belt loop.
  10. Don't forget to write Haman in chalk on shoe soles. 

You are all set to shake, rattle, rock and roll. 

Now go to the megillah reading and/or adloyada as a one-man band, a family jug-band or a cool & crazy troupe with chevre / friends. 

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Catch the Shpeiler

peula activity

Adjust to age.  At home or in class.

This is the one time that making stuff up or messing up and trying to get away with it are the goals.  For the designated shpeiler/s that is. 

You can go with volunteers or names out of a hat, etc.  We suggest shpeiling should be done by one person or no more than two per turn. In the case of a duo, they will be improvising off the top of their heads in tandem.  If they beg to consult, give them 20-30 sec. tops to discuss with each other quietly to the side.

If you are working on the Purim story, or facts related to the chag / holiday, write these up on cards to put in a hat or pull from a deck, etc.  The shpeiler/s get one card and start talking about the subject, character, fact-set, story, etc. to the rest of the group.  The longer, sillier, more embroidered, the better.  Again, their goal is to falsify details and get away with it.  The audience's goal is to try to catch them at the error or falsehood (silly dramatizations aside, e.g. "I knew Mordechai way back in kindergarten", or "he lived in my neighborhood back in Shushan", or "he was a real basketball star first- no one shot hoops like him"… "Falsities" like that don't count).  As soon as anyone catches a mistake or big basic lie on topic material, they respond with graggers or other noisemaking.

a liar with a long nose The nuttier and bigger the falsehoods, the better!

Examples of topics to shpiel on might be: 

  • Present the four mitzvot /obligations for Purim.
  • Customs of Purim in Israel.
  • Things we eat and why.
  • Go over So-and-so (and his/her actions and roles, etc.) from the story.

"Three strikes yer out!":

  • After three noise-accompanied catches and students making the corrections, you are on to the next shpeiler/s. 
  • The teacher has to be alert to anything not caught, by the way, and should bring those corrections up immediately.  Those corrections do not count against the shpeilers. 
  • A shpeil can be allowed to run from like a minute to a few, depending on age and level of difficulty going on with this game and your class' study level and attention capability.

***You can alternatively have as the mission- to do a shpeil that requires including x number of words in Hebrew in it- chosen randomly from hat/deck- like masecha, mishloach manot, seuda, Esther (e.g. 2 to 6, depending on the level of your class study- a day school can obviously do much more than a weekly class). The shpeilers can also make errors purposely in the Hebrew for the class to catch.  But we remind you that the teacher must immediately correct anything the class doesn't catch.

For younger children: Reverse it: The teacher/youth-leader/parent etc. is the shpeiler. The kids try to noisily catch the errors. They love correcting you anyway ;-) . If one wants to try the shpeiler role later, great, and if not, no pressure (do keep the topics very simple or let them do anything connected to Purim at all).

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How Purim Makes me Feel

peula activity (also slightly artsy)

a kid wearing funny goggles

1.    For young ones through middle school:

Class discussion for about 10-20 minutes:

"Purim makes me feel ________." Happy, silly, excited, like Esther the queen/brave hero, like I want to have the coolest costume ever seen, like freedom needs to be carefully guarded…


"Purim makes me want to________". Jump and dance, smile to my ears, laugh and sing, be a hero like Mordechai, help others celebrate that would be missing out….

You can also share past experiences, ideas to make this Purim "even better", etc.

Provide each child with a handout with a simple U outline of a face, neck, ears.  Include the first line given in quotes above on this sheet too, for them to fill in if they want.  They draw the facial features, headgear, etc. however they choose.  Put the sheets up as a Purim gallery.

2.     Same basic concept for middle-school / high-school…

  • But use a bulletin board that would be put up a couple weeks before the chag / holiday, or a long sheet of butcher-block paper taped up in class or the hallway.  Put the lines given in quotes at the top of the board.  Encourage students to write their thoughts and replies over this time period on the board /sheet.
    Tell your students it's like good graffiti, or a pen and paper version of Twittering ;-)  . 
  • Another alternative is to make this one of a few questions and fill-ins over a couple weeks leading up the the chag / holiday - see discussion suggestions under "LET'S TALK ABOUT IT" to help generate some ideas. You can then go over these posted notes together and hold a more fleshed-out discussion as a class, you see.
  • If your class has a Facebook page, you can post these there for students to reply to.  Or maybe its time to start a page (if you can’t beat them, sometimes it's useful to join 'em).
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Catch the Ozen Haman

peula activity

The tiny tot set through maybe grade 2.

We'll bet you thought all these years it was Duck, Duck, Goose.  Think again.
Remember we spoke of the typical filling flavors in Israel of the central goodie?

The top three are:

shokolad (chocolate)
pereg (poppy-seed)
tmarim (dates)
egozim (nuts) or shzif (plum/prune) are the runners-up, take your pick.

Have the children discuss the flavor they think sounds the best.  And maybe the one they think they would least like.  List the flavors on the board for easy reference if the kids are reading already.  Either way, repeat them constantly.  Chant them.  Jump up and down, spin around etc. in a goofy do-what-I-do & repeat-after-me exercise...

Kids then sit in circle.  One kid, the designated head-tapper a.k.a. the "ozen haman", goes around the circle, tapping each child in turn on the head.  Each "ozen haman" gets to choose his own personal most and least favorite flavors  S/he will state those two preferences before starting, and then use the least favorite / un-liked flavor to say instead of duck when tapping heads.  Goose is replaced by that kid's most favorite flavor.  The child that gets tapped with the favorite flavor has to catch the "ozen haman" running around the circle before he gets to her spot.  And so on….

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Eze Ta'am? / Which Flavor?

peula activity

Kindergarten through lower school.

Same flavor vocabulary as in CATCH THE OZEN HAMAN  <:-0  (or choose any Purim vocabulary you prefer), bit different but familiar game. This time arrange the kids in a circle in chairs.  Tap each kid down the line- designating each one as a flavor, just repeating the list of flavors like you would 123 (or more; it depends on the number of kids in the class or party or whatever).  One child is in the middle of the circle with no chair.  Start off each time by saying "Eze tam?".  When you call a flavor, everyone with that designation must switch seats.  No child may get up and return to his previous seat, by the way.  Someone ends up in the middle with no seat, of course. Continue with a different flavor, etc.

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"Matanot le-evyonim" / "Giving to the Poor" Social Action

proyekt project

Please go to our section "Let's Talk About It".
Under item #5 you will find a few suggestions for carrying out this mitzvah.

We hope what we have offered here is informative, useful and fun.  Check back next year for more additions, updated links and suggestions.  We also love to hear from you.  If you have ideas to share with our "library" visitors or photos of either ours or your own ideas and peulot / activities in action, send them in and we will post them in part of our "Explore" section.

Purim Sameach from Learn Hebrew Pod.  We wish you a silly, crazy, delicious, delightful chag / holiday!