Passover’s coming, and your students are oblivious to the famous story of the Exodus. How can you teach it to them in an engaging way? This preschool theme on Passover will give you some hands-on ideas about how to introduce students to the story of Passover.
Read About It
To begin read a book about the Exodus from Egypt, such as Out of Egypt, by Shazak. Discuss what happened to the Jews in Egypt and why they wanted to leave so badly. Then talk about who the Egyptians were and how they acted to the Jews.
Act It Out
Divide the children into groups of Egyptians and Jews. Have one Egyptian act as Pharaoh and one Jew act as Moses. Give the Jews blocks, and have them start to build big towers to symbolize the cities that the Jews built for the Egyptians. Then have the Egyptians come by, make mean faces, and knock the towers down. Ask the children who built the towers how they feel. Then have Moses and Pharaoh act out the scene where Moses asks for permission to take his people out.
You can also act out the part of the story where the Jews bake matzah and leave Egypt, and then the Egyptians run after them. Give two groups of children small sheets and have them wave the sheets like they would wave a parachute in gym class. Explain that the Jews were scared to go though the sea, but that God told them to, so they stepped in. (Show children how to step between the two parachutes. Then instruct the children holding the two parachutes to move apart from each other to make the sea “split." Let the Jews walk through. When the children representing the Egyptians chase after them, have them get “swallowed up" by the parachutes. Give the children acting as Jews tambourines and other musical instruments and have them dance and sing “We are free! We are free!"
Tie It to the Seder
Hand out tiny pieces of fresh horseradish and have the children smell them. Explain that this is marror, or bitter herbs, which we eat on Passover. Ask the children if the marror smells like it would taste good, and make sure they understand that it would be bitter. (Children may understand the concept of “sour" like lemons more easily, so you can compare the two tastes.) Explain to the children that when the towers were knocked down in the previous activity, they probably felt “bitter" too. Tell them that we eat the marror on Passover to remember how bitter things were before we left.
Then show them a small amount of charoses, and explain that it is red, just like the bricks of a building. Explain that the charoses helps them remember that the Jews had to build tall buildings made from bricks.
Then ask them what their tears taste like when they cry. Explain that tears are made of saltwater, and that we dip a vegetable (such as parsley or potatoes) in salt water on Passover to remember how the Jews cried when the Egyptians were mean to them.
Make a Seder Plate
Hand out photocopied diagrams of a seder plate, just the right size to fit into the inside of a plastic disposable plate. Have students use art supplies to decorate each section of the seder plate. For example, they might use a green feather for the chazeres (lettuce leaf) or red glitter for the charoses. Laminate each project or cover it in contact paper and tape it to the center of a plastic plate. Finish up this preschool theme on Passover by discussing the various items on the plate and reminding children what each one symbolizes and why we eat it on Passover.