My favorite holiday as a child was always Purim. The reason I loved this holiday so much was the big carnival we had every year at my school that was run by students and the crazy costumes we were allowed to wear (Esther’s second name can be another reason).
As a teacher, I also favor this holiday but for different reasons. I definitely love the fact that we can dress up every year on Purim. I also like the fact that everyone joins the Purim spirit (Jewish or not). I enjoy watching the creative side of some of our students that create their costumes from scratch. I love the first day of learning about the Megilah of Esther and look at the students’ faces when they enter my classroom and see the decorated doorway and tables for our feast. My favorite part is putting together the Purim play that my students write and perform every year in the class. Not everyone is a performer or an actor from birth. I personally was terrified of the stage and my youngest son is a replica of me at this point of his life. I am still not comfortable performing in front of people, but I give my students the freedom to decide who they want to be and how they want to present the story every year.
This year we didn’t have too much time to prepare for our Purim play. The students worked in 5 different groups and spent only 45 minutes putting it all together. They divided the parts with no arguments at all and started to practice right away. The next lesson was dedicated for reading the parts fluently and they were already enthusiastic to use the green screen to record the play. I didn’t really have any time to record the play and the students suggested to come during their recess break. I had to honor this request and was able to film three skits out of 5 in less than an hour.
Dressing up and using props was a great addition to the experience. The students wrote, read and spoke in Hebrew during the process and I couldn’t have had a better formative assessment than this particular activity!
I encourage everyone to let their students decide for themselves what they want to write about and act it out. It can give every teacher a chance to get to know her/his students and discover things they may never had a chance to see otherwise.