Log onto Purim games, recipes, costumes for kids

The month of Adar is already here and that means Purim is just around the corner. There is no holiday more geared toward kids (and the kid in all of us). So this week, let's look at Purim sites for children.

Start your tour at the Virtual Jerusalem site, www.vjholidays.com/purim. This large section has everything for children: from a history of the holiday and its traditions, to several quizzes and games. My favorite page at Virtual Jerusalem also has a great title: "The Abridged Abbreviated Annotated Scratch & Sniff Megilla, A Cuckoo Condensation." You'll find it at www.vjholidays.com/purim/cookoo.htm.

This is a wonderful holiday storybook complete with hilarious sound effects. Just follow the story and every time you pass your computer's cursor over a picture of a grogger, it will make the appropriate sound effect. Hear the booing when Haman is promoted to the king's second in command; then cheer along when the Jews are saved.

The Cyber Purim Play, at www.shemayisrael.co.il/purim/purim_play, is really two treats in one. It's a 16-page holiday coloring book that you can print out. But it's accompanied by an audio play that tells the story of the holiday. It's great for kids who can't yet read. (You will need the free Shockwave plug-in to hear the site.) Be prepared to stay awhile. This is a large site that takes time to download. Also check out Aish HaTorah's coloring pages featuring the ubiquitous Monty Mermeltashen, at www.aish.com/holidays/purim/coloring_pages.asp.

Over at Torah Tots — Purim Fun and Games, there's a lot going on. Check it out at www.torahtots.com/holidays/purim/purim.htm. You can solve the secret message at Purim Letter Link, look for hidden words at Purim Word Find and find out about Purim Around the World. And there are even two versions of the Purim Megillah Story, one in English and one in Yiddish, at www.torahtots.com/holidays/purim/purshpl.htm. Or you can watch — and listen to — a slide show on your screen tell you the story of Purim, at www.tzivos-hashem.org/yomtov/purim/slideshow/slideshow.htm. It's corny, but effective.

Need help with your costume? At Purim on the Net, www.holidays.net/purim/costumes.html, print out masks of King Ahasuerus, Queen Esther and Haman, ready for coloring. I'm not quite sure of its historical accuracy but over at Purim: A Festival of Gladness, http://ezra.mts.jhu.edu/~rabbiars/purim, you'll find out how to make an origami Haman's hat.

If you want to try making a real crown, you can find detailed illustrated instructions online for a beaded crown. The project calls for glow-in-the-dark beads that will make your favorite Queen Esther beam; check it out at www.chadiscrafts.nu/fun/crown.html. There's also a king's crown.

You can find more Purim links at Jewish.com, www.jewish.com/search/Holidays/Purim, and at Maven, www.maven.co.il/subjects/idx127.htm.

Could anything be more appropriate than a hangman game in which you hang Haman? That's what Nurit Reshef has dreamed up in her Purim Games section at www.bus.ualberta.ca/yreshef/purim/purimindex.html. There is a huge assortment of games here including word search and a game in which you can smash that villain. After you've let it out on Haman, you can print out the Hebrew crossword puzzles and a story in Hebrew, writing your own ending.

Your computer can help your kids brush up on some of the basic Purim vocabulary in Hebrew. And you won't even need to install Hebrew fonts. It's at Zigzagworld, www.zigzagworld.com/hebrewforme. Zigzagworld also has a lovely little game that lets you build a mask or crown on your desktop while teaching words in Hebrew. Check it out at www.zigzagworld.com/mask. (Please be patient. These games takes quite a while to load.)

The Aish HaTorah site has a large selection of activities geared toward kids and parents at www.aish.com/holidays/purim. Jewish Heroes is a series of three workshops designed to stimulate discussion about heroes and heroines. And if you're a mom or dad who doesn't mind letting your kids turn your house upside-down for a bit of fun and education, then take a look at the detailed instructions for the Purim Scavenger Hunt. By the time your kids have scoured your house for the 15 clues, they will have learned a great deal about the holiday without even realizing it.