We’re thrilled to be participating in Multicultural Kids Blogs first annual Passover for Kids series. It’s a great way to gather ideas for all ages and all kinds of celebrations — photos, recipes, crafts, video/book reviews, activities, kid-friendly background information and more! Check out the Passover for Kids website and Pinterest page. Or follow the fun on Twitter via #MKBPassover!
The term, Passover, comes from the 10th (and final) plague in which the Lord struck down all the firstborn humans and animals in the land of Egypt. The Israelites, however, were given special instructions so the “angel of death” would pass over them. For adults, the plague part of the story can give rise to all sorts of theological issues. Did the plagues really and truly happen? Were they actually sent by God? Why was God so mean? We assume kids will have the same misgivings or that those questions are somehow wrong, so we focus on bitter herbs, matzoh, and lamb shanks instead. The Passover seder, itself, is an amazing tradition, but the truth is that kids love the Moses story — all of it — the baby in the basket, the burning bush, the reluctant leader, and those pesky plagues. For them, it is a story about a stubborn king who keeps changing his mind about doing the right thing. The Pharaoh needs convincing — like all of us do from time to time — and God is there to make sure good triumphs over evil. It truly is the stuff of legends, and what better time to let kids know that it’s never wrong to wonder about who/what God is.
If you want to try teaching about the plagues, there are a few resources already available. Here are a couple of books we’ve used and a couple of craft projects we’ve done with kids in our interfaith Sunday school program at Jubilee Community Church in Asheville, NC.
|Let My People Go!
Author: Tilda Balsley
Illustrator: Ilene Richard
This fast-paced book, published in 2008, takes readers through all 10 plagues. Many of the plagues are described in rhyme. Words are also printed in 5 different colors to allow for a readers-theater approach. The downside, from our perspective, is that it ends rather abruptly with the 10th plague without linking it to Passover in any way. A more trivial complaint is that occasionally the rhyming seems a bit forced.
|The Story of Passover
Author: David A. Adler
Illustrator: Jill Weber
This is the new book on the block, even though the author is widely known. It recounts the entire Moses story, from Israelite slavery through the parting of the Red Sea. The prose is short and very much to the point, but the illustrations definitely show people in distress. It also ends without linking the story to the Passover holiday although an extensive author’s note on the last page provides a fair amount of additional information.
[Check out PJ Library Passover Books for a long list of other Passover-related books for kids]
Craft #1: Plague Hat
This hat focuses on plagues 1-9 which were: water turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, sick livestock, boils, thunder/hail, locusts, and darkness.
Paper (any kind) cut/taped to make a 2″ x 22″ strip. (Lighter colors work slightly better.)
Red, black, and white markers/crayons
Animal templates (frog, gnat, fly, locust, livestock such as cows, camels, goats, or sheep)
Pipe cleaner pieces (a few inches long)
Hole punch and tape
(Variations: Use small pre-cut red and white circles/stickers. Simply draw the animals or use animal stickers/stamps. Tape templates to the hat band.)
The point is to depict the various plagues on the hat. For this version, we used wavy red lines for water turned to blood, store-bought red dot stickers for the boils, small pre-cut white circles and glue for the hail, and a crayon drawing of a small black box with white eyes peering out for darkness. We used upside-down livestock stickers to represent the sick animals. We used small coloring page templates for the frog, gnat, fly and locust and attached them to the hat using the pipe cleaner pieces. Once the hat is complete, simply tape the ends together so it’s the correct size.
Craft #2: Israelite House during the Passing Over
During the 10th and final plague, the Israelites were given special instructions so the “angel of death” would “pass over” them. Specifically, the Israelites were told to put the blood of the lamb, sacrificed for their final meal, over the doorposts and window supports. This craft enables kids to visualize that process.
Piece of cardstock/cereal box with “house” outline drawn on it (4½” x 4½” square)
10-12 popsicle sticks
Scrap paper for making a door, a window, and a roof (any color is fine)
Red glitter glue or watercolor paint with a small paint brush
Use the liquid glue and popsicle sticks to create the house using the square as a guide. Tear or cut shapes for a door, window, and roof and add them to the image. Add the red glitter glue/paint around the windows and the door.
The Israelites’ escape from Egypt is a fundamental myth in the Jewish tradition. Thus, the Exodus story is often very well-known to Jewish children taking part in the Passover celebration. For non-Jews trying to offer interfaith or cross-cultural opportunities for their children, the full story underlying the seder often gets short-shrift. Luckily, there are some resources out there for families interested in teaching a bit more about the life of Moses and the plagues that preceded the actual exodus. Our experience indicates that kids love this story, and the themes are both meaningful and timeless.