Purim is a Jewish holiday honoring Queen Esther saving the Jews from being killed by the Persians with the help of her cousin Mordecai. Despite the heavy premise, Purim is often celebrated as one of the most joyous and fun holidays of the year, filled with noisemaking, costumes, and treats. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to remember principles of courage and loyalty. I hope these Purim activities help kids and families of all ages learn about the holiday and celebrate in a respectful, fun way.
This guide is intended to help you appreciate and avoid cultural appropriation as you learn with and teach your children. It also directs you to resources created by those of Jewish heritage, and provides ways to support Jewish creators as we benefit from the gift of their traditions. I’m especially thankful to my friend N who provided insight, resources, and made sure the information was accurate.
Purim Activities and Family Learning Guide
Purim Books For Kids
The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale by Eric A. Kimmel (Author), Jill Weber (Illustrator)
Purim Picture Book Read Aloud
Featured Purim Book for Toddlers
Not For All the Hamantaschen in Town by Laura Aron Milhander (Author), Inna Chernyak (Illustrator)
Purim Books for Preschoolers: Picture Book Read Aloud
Other Purim Children’s Books
You can find these saved in my Bookshop.org shop, as well!
Purim Activity Books for Kids
- Esther, who was the wife of the king and revealed Haman’s plan to kill the Jews, is honored on Purim.
- The king’s first wife was Vashti, who he sent away because she refused to come when he called her.
- Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, warned her about Haman’s plan and asked her to speak to her husband, the king.
- The scroll of Esther is known as the Megillah. It is chanted at synagogue on Purim.
- Jews celebrate Purim with 4 special mitvahs, or commandments.
- Haman was in the king’s court and led the plan to try to destroy the Jews. His plan was exposed and defeated by Esther.
- A gragger is a noisemaker that is used at synagogue on Purim. They’re especially used, along with boos and hissing, whenever Haman’s name is mentioned. It’s fun and raucous!
- Children often dress up for Purim, to remember that Esther originally hid the fact that she was a Jew to her husband, the king.
Purim Crafts for Kids
Purim Gragger Craft
I love this project because it’s super simple, and even very young children can participate!
- Styrofoam cups
- Popsicle stick
- Dry beans
- Masking tape or electrical tape
- Paint & paintbrushes
- Stickers, jewels, sequins, pom poms, glitter glue, etc.
Place about 1/4 cup of dry beans in one cup. Put open ends of the two cups together, sliding the popsicle stick partway in between (leave it sticking out for a handle). Masking tape along the edge and around the opening for the popsicle stick.
Paint your gragger. Let dry. Decorate however you like. Use to shake and hiss when you hear Haman’s name.
Other Purim Activities for Kids
- Illustrate your own Megillah with the story of Esther using this incredible template from the Jewish Museum of London
- Decorate a printable Purim mask from JewishBoston
- Here are some amazing Purim coloring pages for adults, and some for younger kids
- You could also make fabric Purim masks
- These mini Purim puppets are perfect for recounting the story of Esther
Featured Purim Recipe for Kids: Hamantaschen
There’s no more traditional food for Purim than hamantaschen. One story says that the 3-pointed dessert resembles the evil Haman’s tree-pointed hat, and one destroys Haman by eating the treat. This style of hat wasn’t popular during that time, however.
The more likely explanation is that the tradition came from a German pastry called Mohntaschen, which means poppy seed pockets. Jews later started calling these Hamantaschen, or Haman’s pockets, perhaps alluding to the fact that Haman likely accepted bribe money.
Wherever the tradition originated, this little cookie is a delicious way to celebrate and a perfect Purim activity with kids!
Purim Activities for Kids: How to Celebrate Purim with Kids
Purim has 4 special mitzvot (plural of mitzvah), or commandments, to honor the holiday. Big thanks to Chabad.org for providing much of this information.
Mitzvah #1: Hear the Purim story (Megillah)
One of the most important parts of Purim is to hear the Megillah, or the book of Esther. Synagogues have special readings from a handwritten scroll, and adherents listen to the story twice – one on the eve of Purim, and once on Purim day. You can use your graggers (noisemakers) to make noise anytime you hear Haman’s name, and don’t forget to boo and hiss! This is all intended to be joyful and loud.
Children often dress up in costumes to hear the Megillah. There is often a purimspiel, or a Purim play with a dramatization of the story of Esther and Mordecai, with children dressed up as the various characters. They might also have children dressed as other modern characters and have a costume parade. Here are some book-inspired Purim costumes!
- How would you describe Esther? What did she do that was courageous?
- How would you have reacted in Esther’s situation?
- What is a hero?
- Can you tell me about a time you were brave?
Mitzvah #2: Give to the those in need (Matanot L’Evyonim)
Purim is a time for Jewish unity. Haman tried to separate and kill the Jews, and they overcame by sticking together. Now they celebrate together and support one another, and ensure everyone is able to celebrate the holiday. I love this beautiful tradition known as Matanot LaEvyonim.
In remembrance of this, Jews give money to at least two people in need during the daylight hours of Purim. Synagogues collect money, or you can give to anyone else, as well. Even children participate in this mitzvah! And on Purim, it is good to give to anyone who asks. This makes for great Purim activities for the whole family.
- Why do we give to the those in need on Purim?
- Who can you think of who is in need? Are there needs other than physical needs?
- What are other ways we can show unity with others?
Mitzvah #3: Send food gifts to friends (Mishloach Manot)
Again, in remembrance of Jewish oppression, Jews celebrate and honor the importance of community and friendship. They remember they can be united, not divided. To do this, they send gifts of food to friends. This is called Mishloach Manot. Here are some great ideas for Mishloach Manot!
- Why do we celebrate friendship on Purim? Who is a friend you appreciate?
- Why do you think it is important to build a strong community?
- To whom do you think we can take Mishloach Manot?
Mitzvah #4: Feast (Seudah)
A festive Purim meal, or Seudah, is a staple of more traditional celebrations of the holiday. This is a wonderful opportunity for families and friends to have a merry and joyful meal together. In many families, instead of a full meal, Purim is simply an opportunity to indulge, often in sweets.
Note that when Purim falls on Shabbat, the festivities typically take place earlier in the day.
Here are links to some traditional Purim recipes!
- Why do we feast together on Purim?
- Do you think it’s important to celebrate joy?
- With whom do you like to celebrate?
- What is your favorite Purim food?
How to Celebrate Purim with Kids: Avoid Cultural Appropriation and Support Jewish Heritage
An important part of avoiding cultural appropriation is to financially support the cultures from which we learn and borrow. It’s important compensate those from those cultures so that the culture can continue to thrive.
Here are some ways you can support those of Jewish ancestry:
Buy hamantaschen from a local grocer
Instead of searching a big supermarket or even making it yourself, consider supporting a Jewish grocer. You may want to purchase other things while there, as well. Or perhaps buy some for yourself, and take some to a friend!
Learn the story of purim and dress up in a costume
Part of the reason to dress up is to publicize being Jewish, in an effort to make it more difficult for people to be willing to eliminate Jews, as Haman wanted to do. Learn the story of Esther and Mordecai and dress up as a Purim character – or just a different and fun character!
Buy authentic Purim craft templates
There are so many craft templates out there. Be sure to use (and pay for) ones that come from Jewish creators. Here’s a great bundle of Purim craft outlines!
Attend a Virtual Purim Celebration
You can check with your local Jewish community or even just search Eventbrite or something similar. Expect to be welcomed, no matter your religion, as long as you’re respectful and/or interested. Here’s a list of livestreams of Purim readings, and below is a Megillah for kids!
Learn about the history of Purim and why it is celebrated.
While it’s fun to celebrate, it’s important to understand the religious significance behind the holiday. There are number of books listed above that provide a basic explanation of the Purim story, and here’s a great article on teaching toddlers about Purim.
Don’t forget to boo, hiss, and loudly use your graggers anytime you hear the name of Haman!
Study Jewish history and culture
Purim is a perfect time to learn more about Jewish history with kids. Deeply saddening events like the Holocaust are important to remember and to teach our children. It’s also important to remember Jewish joy! Share stories of happiness, success, and everyday life that feature Jewish children and adults.
Here’s a list of children’s books about religions from around the world!
Sign up for an online Jewish cooking class
This is great way to support Jewish chefs and creators. Here are several virtual Jewish cooking classes you can do right from the comfort of your own home!
Purchase a Jewish cookbook
It’s easy to Google recipes, but it’s also wonderful to support Jewish (or Jewish-American) cookbook authors. This cookbook, though older, is a staple and a treasure trove of history and recipes. If you prefer more modern food, this one is one of my favorite cookbooks ever. (You can also find it on Bookshop.org.) Here are some others that I personally have loved!
Purim Writing Assignment: Purim for Kids Language Arts Activity
Draw pictures or write down some of the Purim celebrations.
Draw a picture of foods (Mishloach Manot) that a friend might appreciate in a care package.
Older Elementary School/Middle School
Read a book about Purim and learn about the 4 mitzvot. Draw a picture for each one and write about the significance of each.
Write a letter to a friend or grandparent who knows nothing about Purim and describe what it’s about.
Traditions across generations are important in celebrating Purim, especially to remember coming together. Do you have any traditions in your family? What traditions would you create if you were a grown up? When is a time your family worked together as a team to support one another?
Religious freedom is an important part of Purim. Is it still important today? Why or why not?
Giving to the those in need (Matanot L’Evyonim) is an important part of Purim. Do you think we should redistribute resources to create greater equity? Or do you think that each person should need to work hard for themselves?
Kids Purim Music
Purim Activities for Kids: Discussion Questions
- What challenges have you faced in your life, and who helped you?
- Have you ever experienced fear? How have you overcome it?
- Who are some heroes in our modern world, or in your life?
Thanks for learning about Purim with kids with us!
We’ve loved putting together this resource with Purim activities for kids. We’d love to hear if you do any of these activities!
We hope to inspire curiosity and connection through exploring and learning, and we hope this guide helps you and your families. Please share any activities you do with us over on our Instagram. And we’d be delighted if you passed this Purim with kids resource along to others, as well!
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