March 27, 2023

Passover Through Play

Emily Fox Director of Jewish Educational Initiatives

Reposted from spring 2020, when my home literally became my daughter’s classroom during Covid. The ideas are still relevant  today when, the truth is, our home is always a classroom for our children.

With Passover just a week away, I’ve been developing ways for my daughter to experience parts of the story of Exodus through her play. I keep the ideas simple, using only what I have in my home. Of course, sometimes I plan and then she takes it to a whole different place!

Pictures of Pyramids
After bedtime one night, I put up pictures of pyramids in the corner where we keep her block set, wondering if they would inspire her to build her own pyramid. I sat with her the next morning as she checked them out. At first she worked on a pyramid, and then started building a playground!

Baby Moses in a Basket
This is one of my favorite activities for young children! I put one my daughter’s baby dolls in a basket and told her it was Baby Moses. She played with him for hours, and we even pretend played this story (using a blue sheet for the river):

Pharaoh wanted to send away the baby boys, so Moses’ mom asked his sister Miriam to put him in a basket and send him down the river. The princess finds him, and wants to keep him, but needs help taking care of him. Miriam offers that her mom can help! Moses grows up as a prince, but later finds out who he really is, and helps save the Israelites (as the Jewish people were called then).



Frog painting
Most of the plagues are hard to talk about with young children (and not necessarily developmentally appropriate), but they love learning about the frogs! This fun activity required a deep breath before getting messy, but sure was worth it to hop around like frogs! We even sang “Frogs” by Shirley Cohen Steinberg as we did it!

One morning when Pharaoh awoke in his bed,
There were frogs on his bed and frogs on his head.
Frogs on his nose and frogs on his toes.
Frogs here, frogs there, frogs were jumping everywhere!

Parting of the Sea
Since the Sea of Reeds is sometimes called the Red Sea, we just went with it for our science experiment. We mixed red food coloring with the water, then poured equal parts red water and non-colored oil into an empty water bottle. We shook it up, and watched our “sea” separate! We’ll probably bring it to our seder to share with our family.

Crossing the Sea of Reeds This one is my favorite, and if you get into it, you can make it really dramatic! We placed two sheets on the floor to be the sea (if they’re both blue, great, if not, your child can use their imagination). I told the end of the Exodus story as we began to walk into the sea. We took turns pretending to be Moses (because we reenacted this many, many times!), planting a stick into the ground as the waters (sheets) opened for everyone to run through! I placed musical instruments like drumsticks and a tambourine on the other side, and once the waters return as closed we played the instruments and sang and danced to celebrate our freedom!

Click here to see a list of all the PJ Library books that can help you tell this part of the story (and other parts too)!