Thursday, April 10, 2008

Passover Games

Passover is centered around the idea of telling the story of the Exodus to your children. The Talmud bring many ideas to get children interested and keep them engaged in this story telling, many of which now form the core rituals of the Passover seder: breaking the middle matzah, dipping vegetables in salt water, and so on. Even the songs at the end of the seder were added as an incentive to children to remain awake until the end of the meal.

Games are another good way to keep children engaged during the seder. You can bring a game out at an appropriate time during the story telling, when interest begins flagging, or as a reward for a lively interactive conversation.

There are Passover versions of games that you already know: Word Search, Jeopardy, Bingo, Slides and Ladders, Go Fish.

I created Four Sons as a story telling game to explore the idea of the four types of children. Let My People Go, Exodus From Egypt, and Exodus: The Game of Passover are three simple English Passover themed board games for young children.

Good Reading, Ltd created four Passover themed games for children under their "Egypt to Canaan" series in the 1970s: The Plagues of Egypt, The Wilderness Wandering, The Ten Commandments, and The Conquest of Canaan. I don't know anything about these games or where to find them.

There are also Hebrew Passover games for children, such as דיינו or פסח שמח, and many others. You can probably find Passover games in your language, whatever it is; drop me a line if you need help with this.

After the seder, there are many games for grown ups not specifically about Passover but set in ancient Egypt. Some of these games are excellent, excellent games, including Thebes, Ra, Amun Re, Mykerinos, and Scarab Lords, to name a few.

Additional games set in Egypt can be seen on this list of games on Board Game Geek.



David said...

I'm taking Thebes to my parents for the holiday.

What do you know about those games in Hebrew? My Hebrew isn't very good, but with the help of other family members we could probably manage. I wouldn't bother with the published English-language games you mention. Mostly knock-offs of mindless mass market games. Let My People Go looks like Candy Land. I've seen other games by the same publisher and it doesn't look like they put much effort into design. On the other hand, your Four Sons activity looks interesting. I forwarded it to my wife, who coordinates the seder supplementary educational activities.

Actually, my wife and I have talked about trying to publish a Jewish/educational game that is also a true thinking game. Some people wouldn't consider looking outside the specialty Jewish bookstore. And others think there isn't anything better in board games anyway.

Yehuda said...

I don't know much about the games, but you can call the site owner. I think she speaks English.

As for the "mass market games", remember that any game, even decisionless stupid games, are fun to play if the players bring the fun into the game with them. And they're usually easy to get even non-gamers to play.