Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Infants and toddlers to experience a multisensory Passover


Little baby Moses floating down the river. Toddlers at Chai Preschool float puppets in small containers as they experience the story of Moses in the basket. This is part of the Passover Experience at Orlando's Progressive Jewish Preschool.

As the Jewish world gears up for the annual Matzah crunch and Seder festivities, Orlando's Progressive Jewish Preschool is focusing on the youngest demographic. 

On Sunday, April 17, at 4 p.m., infants and toddlers from all across the city are invited to attend Chai Preschool's Passover Experience Hour. Children will be treated to a multisensory Passover program geared for ages 0-5, including songs, storytelling, and hands-on matzah baking.

"A child is never too young to learn," said Chani Konikov, Chai Preschool's director of seven years who believes firmly in the importance of Early Education. "The memories we create for them in their earliest years are often what shapes their identities and attitudes later on in life. When it comes to creating stimulating Jewish experiences, we begin with the infants and toddlers!"

Chai Preschool's approach to learning is play-based, and the Passover Experience is planned to be no different. Instead of being taught about the holiday, children will get to experience it on their own level. They will play with elements of the Passover story, dig their hands deep into matzah dough, dance to holiday songs, and tell the story of the holiday together with the center's experienced and dedicated staff.

Children do not need to attend Chai Preschool to join the program. In fact, organizers are specifically gearing the event for children who do not experience the Chai Preschool approach on a daily basis.

"Our kids will have been doing the Passover Experience for an entire month already," said Dini Druk, program director at Chai Preschool, "and we want to extend the opportunity to other Jewish infants and toddlers in town. As we speak, the sensory tables in our classrooms are filled with Passover items, drama corners are set as matzah bakeries and seder tables, and the block centers are full of children building Egyptian pyramids."

By the time Passover arrives, every Chai Preschool student takes home a photographed journal documenting their Passover experiences, helping them follow along at their family and community Seder tables. 

"We know we have something special here at Chai Preschool, and we want to share it with others," said Konikov of the eagerly anticipated program.

A Chai Preschool student pretends to bake matzah in his classroom's Drama Center.

Due to limited space, attendance at the Passover Experience is by RSVP only. Reserve online at ChaiOrlando.com/Passover or call the school at 407-232-7188. The cost is $5 per child, with parents and caretakers attending free of charge.

Chai Preschool, part of Chabad's international network of highly acclaimed preschools is unique in its ability to combine progressive educational practice with traditional, authentic Judaism.  The program is inspired by the Reggio-Emilia approach, and is impressive by any standard for its encouragement of child-centered education and play-based learning.  Children at the center enjoy a wide array of nature-based activities, sensory play, soccer instruction, music classes, gardening, and PE.  In addition, parents love the emphasis on Jewish holidays, Shabbat celebrations and the trademark Chabad warmth that is present in every aspect of the experience  For more information or to schedule a tour visit http://www.chaiorlando.com or call 407-232-7188.


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