In less than two weeks it will be Passover and we will sit down for the first seder. For many of us, that is a very special time: good food, interacting with friends and family, and a meaningful ceremony in which everyone at the table is invited to celebrate freedom-especially the children.
The rabbis explain that the seder is above all else an educational activity, a time to teach children the importance of the Exodus from Egypt to the Jewish people. The Haggadah, which provides the basic “script” for the seder, serves as a kind of teacher’s manual with varied activities—singing, tasting, movement. Still, sitting through the seder is challenging for children, especially children who already face challenges in learning.
This year, Rachel Sommer is using the Passover Resources available from Gateways to help her children prepare for and enjoy the seder and the holiday. Joshua, her eldest, is 6 years old and participates in the Gateways Sunday Program. Included in Gateways’ Passover Resources is an assortment of visual supports, such as picture schedules and illustrated song sheets, which utilize the same Mayer-Johnson picture symbols used in Joshua’s public school. “Joshua’s brain is very busy, and the pictures help him focus,” she explains.
The resources are also inviting to younger children who do not have learning challenges. Rachel’s 4-year-old daughter, Eva, is using a file folder activity of the order of the seder to help her learn and keep track of what happens in the seder. (File folder activities are simple, educational games that you can make at home with a manila file folder and velcro- and Gateways makes it easy by providing printer-friendly kits.) Other resources help children learn the Passover blessings and songs through pictures, picture symbols, and easy to read transliterated Hebrew.
Rachel plans to print out the file folder activities and have her children assemble them before the seder. “They may play matching games as part of the seder or put things in order,” she says, feeling good about the way this year will go. “Last year the kids just went off and played during the seder. This year they will have something fun and meaningful to do.”
Gateways is proud to share an assortment of free resources for Passover. Browse and download illustrated versions of the Passover story (including multiple versions in Boardmaker symbols), Passover songs and blessings with visual supports, visual schedules for the Passover Seder and more!
Gateways’ online resource center offers an array of free downloadable materials and activities that enliven and support Jewish education for children of all learning styles. Our easy-to-use resources are based on current educational best practices and include prayers and blessings with visual supports, customizable social stories, crafts, make-your-own file folder activities and so much more.