How it all went down:
We had a blast! We will definitely do this in the future. All in all, it probably took about an hour to go through the story with the kids. We started as soon as Daddy got home from work:
- Slavery in Egypt: We pulled out the Mega Bloks and built a “pyramid” together while explaining that the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt and had to work very hard. They enjoyed building with Daddy although we had to work fast since the little one was more focused on deconstructing than building. The pyramid was knocked down soon after completion!
- Birth of Moses: Our son loved that we used his teddy bear for baby Moses and spent the rest of the evening calling him, “baby Moses”! We explained that when baby Moses was born his mommy had to hide him because soldiers were trying to find him so we put him in a basket (box) and hid him in the Nile River (a blue blanket). Then we “discovered” him as Pharaoh’s daughter and had to run as Miriam around the table in the kitchen to find his mommy. In the future maybe we could take assigned roles, but it didn’t bother anyone this time to play all the roles.
- Calling of Moses: Daddy continued to tell the story of how Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house but then ran away to become a shepherd (this is an abbreviated version, as they get older we can be more detailed), while I stepped out to grab the burning bush. I had envisioned some wonderful Hollywood effects (fan, costumes, lights) but the crinkly paper and flashlight through the vellum paper was exciting enough for toddlers! Keep it simple!!!
- Plagues: I wanted to continue a repetition of a conversation between Moses and Pharaoh for each plague – “Moses said, ‘Let my people go!’ and Pharaoh said, ‘No!’”. We remembered to do this between plagues sometimes, but forgot sometimes. I hope next year to be a bit more consistent with this exciting reinforcement!
Plague 1 – Water to Blood: I added a few drops of red food coloring to the bottom of my glass and poured water in. Amazingly, it turned red! The amazement was lost on my eldest who immediately said, “I want to drink that. I want juice!” So, moving quickly along to plague number 2!
Plague 2 – Frogs: They had a lot of fun playing with the paper frogs! They would have played with them quite a bit longer if I stopped there. I just left them all out and moved along with the plagues.
Plague 3 – Gnats/Lice: skipped
Plague 4 – Flies: My flies got a few smiles from the boys and my two year old leapt into action to catch them (he’s so fast!), but the frogs were still so much more fun…
Plague 5 – Livestock diseased: skipped
Plague 6 – Boils: Hmm… apparently this one was pretty scary. There were some tears when I attempted to put a sticker on my two year old’s arm. Maybe I should have given him the sticker to put on me. I put a few on my arm and we moved along. He wanted a sticker on his arm later, though.
Plague 7 – Thunder and Hail: We dumped out all the “hail” on the boys. They loved it! This was one of the highlights of the day. They threw the paper up in the air and had a lot of fun with it.
Plague 8 – Locusts: skipped
Plague 9 – Darkness: I lit a candle and commented that although we are enjoying playing as we learn about the Exodus, it was a time when many people were suffering a lot. This of course went over their heads but maybe in the future this would open up some discussion about what happened.
Plague 10 – Death of the firstborn: We quickly put the paper on the wall beside our door and squeezed a bit of paint into the disposable cup. Our two year old enjoyed some highly supervised painting beside the door as we told about the Passover lamb and the tenth plague of the death of the firstborn. The little one was very curious about what we were doing and did a little finger-painting! So, we quickly grabbed the wipes and cleaned some fingers, moved the papers up higher, and Daddy told the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, being followed by Pharaoh, and being trapped by the Sea of Reeds while I quickly set up the hallway.
- Sea of Reeds: I broke the crepe paper holding back the streamers to allow them to fall across the hallway, quickly stuck the pictures of fish on the wall, and laid the sheet on the floor. The story of the parting of the waters was barely finished when my two year old came barreling through the streamers, giggling in delight as the waters parted for him. Then again, and again, and again… he loved it! The little one enjoyed pointing at all the fish on the wall, but he was a bit leery of going through the streamers. He would back up to it, but that’s as far as he got on his own.
- Sinai: While they played in the Sea I scooped up a bit of ice cream with honey. The little one will have to wait till next year, but the two year old was quite happy to sit down for a cold treat. We finished the story telling how Moses led the Israelites to Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah from God. We retold the whole story while we finished up our treat and then they played with the props while I cooked dinner.
All in all it took us about an hour to tell the story to the kids once we started. As they are older and want to interact more with each piece and discussion might happen more I expect this could take longer. But we absolutely want to do it again. It was a lot of fun and they enjoyed interacting with the story. The parting of the sea was the favorite part. It lasted about half an hour (which I was really amazed by!) until our son pulled down the streamers, to the great relief of our little one! They then put all the streamers in the living room and made another “sea”. We told the story again at dinner and at bedtime since he was really excited to talk about it again. Then we cleaned up all the remains of the evening. It was a great way to remember the Passover and we look forward to doing something similar next year!