Also known as that festival during which we don’t eat leavened bread, Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew) is the Jewish celebration that commemorates the Israelites’ release from slavery in ancient Hebrew. It starts on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, and its secular date changes every year because the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar, not solar, cycle.
Pesach takes place for eight days, and this year it starts on the evening of 19 April. The festival begins with a service and meal called the Seder, and families read from the Hagaddah, which tells the story of Pesach where Jews were enslaved and then emancipated.
If you’re looking to give your kids some Pesach-inspired activities, here are some ideas. Simply choose the ones that you feel are age-appropriate for your kids, and enjoy!
1. Colour in
You can find some fantastic free downloadable Pesach-related colouring books here. The final product can be used as greeting cards for friends and family. Simply fold up a piece of cardboard, stick a picture on the front, and write your greeting inside.
2. Decorate a cup for Elijah
At the Seder, many families pour a cup of red wine for the prophet Elijah in case he comes in from his wanderings. Kids can decorate a glass for him – all you need is a plastic or glass wine cup (Mr Price Home has them), and liquid glue. You can use a range of items to decorate – from sequins and beads to ribbons and stickers.
3. Create Seder place cards
Get some cardboard and cut it into pieces that you can fold and use as place cards. Give your kids a list of names to write out using koki pens, pastels or markers. They can also add decorations such as glitter or gem stickers, and stick “elements” of the Seder onto each place card to add to the activity. For example, they can cut out a wine glass (with your help, of course) from gold or silver paper, and stick it onto each place card.
4. Make a book of the Four Questions
The reading for the Four Questions, or Mah Nishtanah, is a much-loved part of the Seder, and involves the youngest child asking the four questions. You can help your child begin to learn and have fun with Mah Nishtanah, by letting them create their own booklet. Get five pieces of A4 cardboard, colouring-in and decorating tools, and get them to write down one of the questions on each page (they might need to copy from a Hagaddah) and illustrate it. Create a pretty cover and staple together or, even better, punch holes and bind with ribbon.
“During the Seder, we sing or recite the 10 plagues, which God inflicted on the Egyptians so that they would free the Israelite slaves.”
5. Make matzah brei
Matzah brei is like French toast, but with matzah. If they’re old enough, let your kids make the whole dish while you supervise, or get little ones to help beat eggs and sprinkle cinnamon, for example. To prepare, use one sheet of matzah with one egg. Break the matzah into small pieces and place in a bowl of hot water. In another bowl, beat the egg/s and pour over the matzah. Melt some butter in a pan, and pour in the egg matzah mixture. Cook until golden brown on both sides, and then sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and even syrup.
6. Make a matzah pizza
Instead of using a dough base, use a sheet of matzah instead. Split up toppings into different bowls, and allow kids to make their own creations on top of cheese and a tomato sauce. Toppings could include mushrooms, tomatoes, basil, butternut, Ricotta, peppers, caramelised onions and pineapple – cater to everyone’s different tastes. Pop the “pizzas” into the oven, and enjoy.
7. Make chocolate matzah
This is such an easy dessert or sweet treat. Melt some chocolate (white or milk, or both) with some butter, and then drizzle over a sheet of matzah, or matzah squares. You can drizzle as much or as little as you want, then add your favourite kosher toppings – from chocolate chips and nuts to strawberries and sweets.
8. Create the 10 plagues
During the Seder, we sing or recite the 10 plagues, which God inflicted on the Egyptians so that they would free the Israelite slaves. Kids can “create” the plagues with coloured paper, crayons and koki pens, and during the Seder, they can hold up their pictures.
Allow them to interpret the plagues visually themselves, and be ready to help cut out their shapes if necessary. The plagues are: Turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock disease, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and death of the firstborn.
7 Pesach apps worth downloading:
- Let’s Get Ready for Passover
- Passover – The Journey to Freedom
- The Passover Story
- Moses – Kids Learn the Biblical Story
- Moses HD
- Passover – The Ten Plagues
- My Pesach
Tanya Kovarsky is a mom of two (Max, 8 and Rebecca, 1.5 years) and works by day in PR and communications, and by night as a blogger on Rattle and Mum. She loves Paris, Jelly Tots, pink things, makeup and sneakers, and running (she can tell her kids that she’s run 11 Comrades and 14 Two Oceans). She also has a personal blog, Dear Max + Rebecca.