Discovering Our Own Bravery Through Dramatic Play: Nursery and JK Students Retell The Story of Megillat Esther
Rena Grosser, N/JK Jewish Studies/Judaic Atelierista
The Nursery and JK students have been diving deeper into some of the big ideas and elements of Purim by investigating what a Megillah is and what we notice about it. Some students shared how the Megillah looks like a Torah because it unrolls or how it is different from a book. We even explored how long the Purim story is by unrolling a Megillah from the beginning to the end, while also sharing about the Purim story and identifying the major characters mentioned. These discussions continued throughout the week and we continued to give praise to Esther and Mordechai, our brave heroes in the story. This also fostered opportunities for sharing how we might relate to these characters and how we’ve encountered our own moments of strength and bravery. 
Early childhood students naturally connect to stories through dramatic play in and out of the classroom. Dramatic play and use of imagination is valued as one of The Hundred Languages that children use to make sense of their world, especially when trying to understand some of the foundations of the Jewish holidays. Through dramatic play, children explore perspectives and roles of others and act out what they experience or observe in their lives. The development and exploration of problem solving, creative thinking and collaboration are seen in the play of a rich dramatic play environment. These concepts have been embedded in our students' everyday learning by taking on the different characters and roles from the Purim story. They demonstrated bravery by acting as Mordechai and Esther, exercised their forceful voice as Haman, and were draped in royalty garments as King Achashverosh. 
On Purim, the students will tell the story of the Megillah by putting on a Purim play and sharing their perspective of the story. We will discuss what we would need to put together a play and the different roles involved. Each child will have a role or contribution to the play either by acting as the characters or by helping to create castle and Shushan scenery, holding signs, helping with lights, collecting tickets, and being a part of a listening audience. We will explore how to act out the Megillah story and the different characters with costumes and props.
The students are very excited to create this together and we plan to record and share with all the families. It is so much fun seeing the Judaic Atelier transform into Shushan!

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