When we tell our children about the story of Passover, we tend to read books, specifically the Haggadah, in order for them to absorb its importance. We talk about Moses, and that we were not free, but there are so many different ways for young children to interact with the story of Passover through play. This past week I attended the Paradigm Project conference, and had the opportunity to discuss this very subject with early childhood educators from around the country.
As teachers know, children internalize all kinds of concepts through play. By interacting with manipulatives like sand, small bricks and action figures, children can script out the story of Passover in a tangible and concrete way. By creating provocations at our sensory tables, we allow for safe and open-ended exploration of materials and Jewish content. In this way, we are supporting children's creativity and critical thinking skills. We're also speaking a language that young children can understand. When you are playing next with your young child, perhaps you can set up some provocations at home to see how your little one interacts with the story of Passover. Perhaps they can even retell the story to you through play. This way Judaism isn't just something children do once and a while, but a way for them to access their heritage and identity through experience.