Activity idea: Read or listen to the whole story and create your own short version.
The first, and most important thing we need to do in exploring Passover is to read the Exodus story as the whole of Passover really hangs on it.
Traditionally at a Passover meal the story will be told over the meal. If you plan to do a Passover meal, you’re probably going to need a shortened version of the story, so this will help you create one to use at your meal.
Read or listen to the whole Exodus story from the Bible
First, let’s read or listen to the story, preferably the whole thing from the Bible. This might sound massive (it’s Exodus 1-15), but it should only take about 1 hour 10 minutes. (That’s shorter than most children’s films) (See the bottom of this post to see the times for reading individual chapters.)
Here are some links to different Bible versions – I find it helps me to read from different versions as I notice different things. You could read it online, or cut and paste it onto a document and print it out for easier access. Most of these versions are also available on the Bible app.
NIrV – great for emerging readers
CEV – great for reading aloud – we’ll be using this one for reading it as a family
AMP The Amplified
NLT New Living Translation
If you’ve got children under 5, you might want to use a children’s Bible story book version, although I’ve found an audio version of an adult Bible translation is amazingly accessible even for quite young children. Books we’ve enjoyed at this age include the Big Bible Storybook, the Jesus Bible Storybook and the Children of God Storybook Bible. (I always find it an interesting exercise to compare different ways the story is told.) We’ve also used books like Sammy Spider’s First Passover or if you’d like a DK sticker book, this one. If you have children age 5+, you could all choose a version to read it from together (all together or reading separately, if you know what I mean), or you could each choose a Bible version and do a spot the different or compare and contrast when you chat about each part.
There is only one question to think about as you read or listen and make your re-telling: What would it have been like if we were there? When Jews celebrate Passover they celebrate it as if they were the people who experienced the first Passover, saying things like “When God brought us out from Egypt… When God redeemed us…” Start to imagine – what would it have been like to actually be there.
(If you’re really keen and want more questions, here’s a few: What do you notice? Look at the instructions for Passover. What stands out to you? How might this relate to the Easter story?)
Create your own short version of the Exodus story
Once you’ve read or listened to it, you’re ready to create your own shorter version, preferably about 5-10 minutes long.
I find a good way to do this is to make story boards, creating 6-10 boards, one each for each of the major parts of the story. You could do this on separate piece of paper, or fold an A4 sheet in half three times, which will give you 8 spaces. If you’re doing this as a family, this is something you could do together, or give each person different ‘jobs’ to do as part of the whole exercise. You might find it helpful to use the Bible headings when creating your storyboard.
Another way of making a shortened version is to create something for each chapter of the story – a sentence, a picture, a set up of toys. You could do this as you go along, reading or listening to one chapter (3-5 mins) then creating your sentence or picture or model afterwards. Again, this helps to chat and think about what’s the important part of this part of the story. Where is God in this part of the story? What part makes the biggest impression on me? I’m hoping to do this with Play Mobil this year so watch out on the Facebook group for pictures! You could even do a mini photo book like this. I’ve made books of various stories using FreePrints PhotoBooks, an app on my phone where I can upload pictures. For the words, I simply create pictures of the words then upload them along with the pictures we’ve created.
Other ideas for your own version of the story include:
- Acting it out using cloths to make simple costumes (you could film it!)
- Using toys tell the story – we often use play mobil but you could (again you could take photos, make a photobook or film it)
- Writing it out as a story
- Making it with blocks, lolly sticks, loose parts like shells/stones/pine cones
I find the best way to choose how to re-tell your story is to think about what you enjoy doing as a family and do that. Do you like singing? Do that. Do you like dancing? Do that. I like making books, so we often do that 🙂
Short of time?
If you can only do one small bit of the story, do the section all about Passover, which is Exodus 12.
Another way you could get inside the story is to watch the film Prince of Egypt, although it will take you as long as reading it in the Bible! I found this was a great way to get me back into the story as I looked to see which bits were in the original Bible story and which were added.
Other films and DVDs we’ve watched over the years, many of which we re-visit each year are:
Moe and the Big Exit by Veggie Tales
What’s in the Bible Volume 2: Let My People Go features Buck Denver and is made by the same people as made Veggie Tales. It’s fast paced and funny, and probably best for slightly older children than Veggie Tales works for, maybe 6+
Lion of Judah – The lamb that saved the world – This is a U, and is about Easter not Passover, but does feature the lamb as the main character, and so explores Easter from the lamb’s perspective. He meets Jesus which is quite cool, and we see the temple and the priest preparing for the sacrifice, which is a bit scary – especially for the lamb! There are some very humorous talking animals, who are kind of unnecessary but definitely funny.
Friends and Heroes – Episodes 37-39 feature the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, His last supper arrest, trial, death and resurrection. Again, definitely Easter rather than Passover, but good for finding the links between the two stories.
For adults, we’ve found Risen a great Easter film. Again, not about Exodus, but the story is based in 33 AD, where a Roman Tribune in Judea is tasked to find the missing body of Jesus Christ, whose followers are claiming has risen from the dead. We found it great for getting us thinking about what it would have been like to be there, and the significance of Jesus’ death for us.
If you find good films or documentaries, do share them on the Facebook group!
Time to read Exodus 1- 15 = 71 minutes
Chapter 1: 3 minutes
Chapter 2: 4 minutes
Chapter 3: 5 minutes
Chapter 4: 5 minutes
Chapter 5: 3 minutes
Chapter 6: 5 minutes
Chapter 7: 4 minutes
Chapter 8: 6 minutes
Chapter 9: 6 minutes
Chapter 10: 5 minutes
Chapter 11: 2 minutes
Chapter 12: 9 minutes
Chapter 13: 4 minutes
Chapter 14: 5 minutes
Chapter 15: 4 minutes