Celebrating the Passover – Part 3: Day of

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:

Building a pyramid
Building a pyramid
  1. 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!
  1. 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.

    "Baby Moses"
    “Baby Moses”
  1. 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!!!
  1. 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!

Frogs!
Frogs!

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.

Painting the doorpost
Painting the doorpost

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.

Parting the Sea
Parting the Sea
  1. 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.
Ice cream with honey... mmm...
Ice cream with honey… mmm…
  1. 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!

Celebrating the Passover – Part 2: Preparation

We wanted to tell the story of the Exodus through a toddler-friendly, hands-on, active experience for our children. Many of my ideas came from biblebeltbalabusca.com. The prep work probably took me about three hours. I wanted to do as much as possible before hand so the story would flow smoothly and quickly (short attention spans!). Here’s what I did:

Preparation

1. Slavery in Egypt: Make sure the Mega Bloks are in one location for quick access for building.

2. Birth of Moses: Check to make sure we have a blue blanket and a box accessible in the living room.

My burning bush with tissue paper
My burning bush with tissue paper

3. Calling of Moses: Create a “burning bush”. I cut out a cereal box and glued some green tissue paper to it. I also had some red vellum paper from Joann’s that made lovely “tongues of fire” that I cut and taped to the back of the bush and individual tongues of fire to the front of the bush. I had a flashlight on stand-by for some “special lighting effects”.

4. Plagues: I decided to pick and choose on the plagues to represent since some of them are a bit harder to pull off (maybe in the future), so here’s what we chose:

Plague 1 – Water to blood. I used the ol’ “food coloring in the bottom of the glass” trick. My prep work was to put the food coloring vial in the glass so I would have it available to grab.

Glass with red food coloring on stand by!
Glass with red food coloring on stand by!

Plague 2 – Frogs. There are lots of tutorials for folding index cards into frogs online. We folded about 15 and put them in a bag. When the kids are older they can help make these.

Origami frogs
Origami frogs

Plague 3 – Gnats/Lice. We skipped this one.

DSC_0737
Flies with pipe cleaner and tissue

Plague 4 – Flies. I twisted a couple of pipe cleaners around a dowel, cut them in two, and added tissue “wings”. Then I tied them to the dowel with a string. All ready to plague my kids!

Plague 5 – Livestock diseased. We skipped this plague. Maybe in the future we could have some stuffed animals get sick.

Plague 6 – Boils. I pulled out some “dot” stickers to have ready.

Ready for quick application
Ready for quick application

Plague 7 – Thunder and Hail. We wadded up a lot of paper (filler paper from some online orders we had made earlier) and put it in a box. I’m sure in the future the boys would be happy to help make “hail” with me.

Crumpled paper for hail
Crumpled paper for hail

Plague 8 – Locusts. We skipped this one.

Plague 9 – Darkness. Since the kids go to bed early we would need to go into the garage or a closet to achieve some darkness. I decided instead to have a candle and match ready to represent this plague.

Ready to apply beside door and paint
Ready to apply beside door and paint

Plague 10 – Death of the firstborn. We cut out large patches of butcher paper to put beside our door. I put painter’s tape on the back so it would be ready to quickly slap in place. I also had some red paint, a small paper cup, and a paintbrush ready.

 

 

 

 

5. Parting of the Sea of Reeds:

Crepe paper across hallway: I’d purchased some crepe paper to hang in our hallway. We have a lovely overhang between our hallway and kitchen that is just perfect for a “wall of water”, so I measured the length and cut pieces of crepe paper to attach to painters tape and hang across the hall. It helped a lot to have some assistance with this so we could roll the crepe paper back and forth to attach it to the tape and cut it at the right length. I then “parted the waters” and used a bit of extra crepe paper to tape it up high since I didn’t want them to play with it until Daddy came home from work the next day and we could tell the story together.

Crepe paper across hallway for Sea of Reeds
Crepe paper across hallway for Sea of Reeds
Parted and taped up high until we're ready
Parted and taped up high until we’re ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish: I printed some fish and colored some of them with my toddler the day before. We didn’t color all of them since there were quite a few. Maybe next year I can start coloring a while before the holiday. I put painter’s tape on the back so I could quickly put them on the wall in the hallway.

Fish papers ready to put on wall with tape
Fish papers ready to put on wall with tape

Sheet: I had a white sheet ready to put on the floor in the hall for a different textual experience. It felt nice and cool to walk on.

6. Coming to Mt. Sinai: This was the final event of the story and we had some vanilla ice cream (to represent the mountain) and honey (to represent the Torah) on hand.

Ok, ready to go!

Celebrating the Passover – Part 1: Intent

The holidays celebrated in the Bible provide insight into God’s character, context to Jesus’ teachings, and are a wonderful opportunity to highlight stories from the Bible. We’ve chosen, for this reason, to celebrate many of the traditional Jewish holidays alongside our other celebrations during the year.

Passover snuck up on me this year! I circled it on the calendar and was thinking, “oh, it’s late April”. Days passed and I suddenly realized, “it’s the day after tomorrow!” Thankfully I had already put a bit of thought into what I wanted to do as I prepared for Easter last month. Normally Passover and Easter will be close together but this year they were a month apart. Passover follows the lunar Jewish calendar, and Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (however, the Eastern Orthodox Church requires that Easter always follow after Passover, so the date is frequently later in this tradition).

Since Passover and Easter are so closely knit together and usually fall in the same week I’ve chosen to focus on only one major celebratory meal that week. We celebrate a kind of Seder meal at Easter. Maybe in the future we’ll explore doing a light Seder meal during Holy Week as we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, but I rather like the idea of focusing on the events of the Exodus (salvation from slavery in Egypt) prior to focusing on the fulfillment of salvation from slavery to sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus.