Arts and Crafts Projects
Some grandchildren learn best by using their hands, and you may want to engage those grandchildren in arts and crafts projects. There are many Passover items that can be made at home such as seder plates (that contain the various foods that are used in the ritual seder meal), a Kiddush cup (for wine or grape juice), or other decorations. Creating arts and crafts projects together provides you with a great opportunity to talk to your grandchildren about Passover.
You should also consider your own preferences when choosing a holiday crafts activity. Do you currently display your grandchildren’s artwork around your home? Do you already own arts and crafts supplies? Do you still have the Passover arts and crafts projects your adult children made when they were young? If so, arts and crafts projects may be a good way to share Passover with your grandchildren who are living in intermarried/interpartnered households.
1. Make a Seder Plate
A seder plate (special plate for the symbolic foods used during the Passover seder) is an easy project to make with your grandchildren from intermarried households. The activity of creating a seder plate helps them connect to Passover through their hands and their creativity. It also provides you with an opportunity to talk to your grandchildren about Passover.
You can implement this activity with very young grandchildren (toddlers or preschool age grandchildren) by including only the coloring/drawing component of the project. You can also modify this activity to be appropriate for grandchildren who are in elementary school by adding discussion to it. Both options are detailed below.
In order to make a seder plate, you will need the following supplies:
- A paper plate;
- Markers or crayons;
Provide your grandchildren with the supplies, and work with them to draw each of the traditional seder plate foods on the paper plate. Make sure you buy large plates, so there is room for all the items.
The traditional seder plate items are:
- Karpas. A green vegetable, usually a piece of parsley;
- Beitzah. A roasted/hard boiled egg;
- Charoset. The mixture of fruit, nuts and wine;
- Z’roah. The small bone, usually a shank bone;
- Chazeret. A bitter vegetable, often a piece of romaine lettuce;
- Maror. A bitter herb, usually horseradish.
Some seder plates have spaces for five items since they contain only one “bitter herb” instead of both chazeret and maror. Other items that are traditionally included in a seder include a bowl of salt water and matzah. Instead of being placed on the seder plate, the matzah is often placed in a container designed for this special purpose. The salt water may be placed in its own bowl or in a container designed for it. If you would like to more information about the seder plate, click here to be redirected to JOI’s How We Celebrate page.
If your grandchildren need artistic inspiration for their seder plate, you may want to show them a seder plate you already own. Once your grandchildren have completed their plates, you may want to laminate the plate in order to preserve it as a keepsake. If you want to make a usable plate, then you may want to invite your grandchildren to a local pottery studio to paint a seder plate.
If you are implementing this project with older grandchildren (elementary school age and older), you can engage them in discussion as you work on the seder plate. You may wish to speak to them about the following:
- Why you chose that project.
- The symbolism of the items on the seder plate.
- Karpas represents the renewal of spring.
- Beitzah symbolizes fertility.
- Charoset represents the mortar for the bricks that the ancient Israelites used for their work.
- Z’roah represents the sacrifice offered by the ancient Israelites on the eve of their exodus from Egypt. It also represents the strong and outstretched arm that God used to bring the Israelites out of slavery.
- Chazeret and maror symbolize the bitterness of slavery.
- Can you think of any other meanings for the traditional symbols on the plate?
- What other items might be appropriate to add to your family’s seder table? For example, some individuals add an orange to represent disenfranchised individuals. This was started as a suggestion by feminist scholar Susannah Heschel in the 1980s to symbolize the disenfranchisement of the gay and lesbian community, as well as others who feel marginalized by the Jewish community.
2. Create Other Passover Ritual Items
There are many ritual items or objects used for the seder you can make with your grandchildren. Described below are two projects: making a Kiddush cup and making a pillowcase. The instructions for each project are immediately followed by suggestions for things you can discuss with your grandchildren while making the arts and crafts projects.
Create a Kiddush Cup
On Passover, it is traditional to drink four cups of wine (or grape juice). There is also a special cup of wine (juice) that is used for Elijah. Elijah is a biblical prophet. It is a reference to the fifth promise of redemption – part of the Passover narrative. His cup represents the Messianic days when there will be no war and people will not have to be afraid of one another. In a traditional seder, individuals place a fifth cup of wine for Elijah on the table.
Some families also choose to place another cup on the table and fill it with water. It is called Miriam’s cup. This cup honors Miriam’s (Moses’ sister) role in the Exodus story and highlights the contributions of women in the Passover story. The cup is filled with water because, according to the narrative of the desert journey of the Israelites, Miriam’s well of water accompanied them and sustained them.
Since the Kiddush cup is used four times during the seder, consider making one with your grandchildren.
Design a Pillowcase
During the seder, it is traditional for attendees to recline on pillows. This is possible because the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery, and individuals celebrating Passover are now able to relax and freely enjoy the seder. When introducing this project to your grandchildren, tell them that they can slouch and lean back on a pillow during the seder!
Work with your grandchildren to decorate a pillowcase with the Passover story. You will need the following:
- Plain white pillowcase;
- Fabric markers;
- Fabric pens;
- Scraps of fabric;
- Fabric glue.
Let your grandchildren be creative, and provide them with ideas for decorating the pillowcase. For example, you can tell them about the ten plagues, and ask them to draw the story about the plagues on the pillowcase. Or you can suggest that they draw the crossing of the Red Sea.
As you create the two projects detailed above, you may want to discuss the following with your grandchildren:
- Why you chose that specific project.
- Did you make Passover arts and crafts projects as a child? If so, which ones? If you made any Passover arts and crafts projects when you were the same age as your grandchildren, make sure to tell them that story because grandchildren love to hear stories about when their grandparents were their age!
- Did your children (their parents) create Passover arts and crafts projects? (They may have made seder plates, wine cups, decorations, or something else.) If so, make sure to bring those projects out for show and tell!
3. Ten Plagues Project
Work with your grandchildren to create a plague kit (a set of ten items or toys that represent the ten plagues). Give your grandchildren a list of the ten plagues, and spend some time brainstorming items you could use to represent each plague. Possibilities could include:
- BLOOD: Red food coloring/dye;
- FROGS: Toy frogs;
- LICE: Plastic bugs;
- CATTLE DISEASE: Toy cows (plastic or stuffed animals);
- WILD BEASTS: Animal masks;
- BOILS: Band Aids with red dots on them;
- HAIL: Ping pong balls or cotton balls;
- LOCUSTS: Toy grasshopper;
- DARKNESS: Dark sunglasses or a blindfold;
- DEATH OF THE FIRST BORN: Stickers with sad faces or tear drops.
Remember you can always draw any plagues that you can’t find or make something to represent them. In addition, if you are unable to make the plague kit, then you can buy a plague kit by searching for “Passover bag of plagues” at Google.com. (Since store bought or homemade plague kits may contain toys you should decide if you feel comfortable with using toys to represent plagues since your grandchildren will inevitably start playing with the toys.)
If you are having a seder, make sure to bring the plague kit to your seder. If you are not hosting a seder, then you can introduce the plague kit to your grandchildren while telling them the Passover story. As you discuss the plagues, give them the appropriate item from the plague kit. Being able to see and touch the items in the kit will help your grandchildren make a connection to the plagues.
As you discuss the plagues with your grandchildren, you should be prepared for different reactions. Some grandchildren may feel uncomfortable with the Egyptian’s suffering or may be upset that the tenth plague involved killing people. Acknowledge those feelings, and let your grandchildren know that they are not alone in their feelings. In fact, many families take a drop out of their wine cup when each plague is mentioned during the seder to symbolize that they can never be completely happy while others are suffering.
If your grandchildren are older, then you can use the plagues as a way to encourage further dialogue. You might want to talk about the following:
- If you had to come up with a list of modern plagues, what would be on that list? Pollution? Global warming? (Try to brainstorm ten modern plagues, although don’t worry if your list has fewer than ten on it.)
- What do your grandchildren think about the suffering of the Egyptians? Pharaoh only let the Israelites leave Egypt after all the plagues, so some people argue that the end (freedom) justifies the means (death). What do your grandchildren think?