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Insights from the Intersection of Childhood and Education

Thursday, March 22, 2018

21st Century Ways to Convince Pharaoh to Let the Jewish People Go


After reviewing the story of Passover, our Kindergarten teachers decided to give the discussion of the Ten Plagues a little 21st century twist, and posed the following question to the children:

"What could Moses and the Jewish people have done or said to Pharaoh to convince him to let them go free, only using the power of persuasion, and without the punishments of the ten plagues?"

Understanding that this question is rather deep and challenging, the teacher offered the following simpler question:

“What if the teacher decided that we stop going to the playground every day. What would you tell the teacher to change her mind?”

Elad: “We need to make our muscles stronger.”

Annette: “It helps our legs.”

Louie: “We need to let out all our power.”

The teacher paused for a minute and asked the children to think about the fact that we have circle time after the playground, and how are we expected to behave during this time. Might playground time help us?

The children commented that...

“...this will help us focus”
“...we can learn better”
“...we will not want to play anymore”

The teacher expressed her approval and moved on to the main objective, suggesting that the class act out this scenario: the teacher would pretend to be Pharaoh, and the children would be the Jewish people trying to convince Pharaoh to let them go. The children were very excited and accepted the invitation to act out the story.

Vinnie: “We will not listen to you any more and run away.”

Teacher: “I am the king, and you must follow my orders!”

Maddie: “Do you remember the golden rule, Pharaoh?”

Teacher: “Of course I do, I made it, and it is says that you need to obey my rules.”

The teacher paused and reminded the children that as slaves the Jewish people did not have the leverage to make ‘threats,’ or ‘speak rudely,’ and that more importantly, in the 21st century we use words and try to have a positive exchange of ideas. We also need to listen to others, and we need to make a persuasive argument and convince the other person. Moreover, we also need to ask ourselves:

“What would Pharaoh gain/ benefit from letting the Jewish people go?”

After a quiet moment, a few hands went up, and the dialogue/dramatization continued.

Louie: “We will pay you money, Pharaoh.”

Pharaoh (Teacher): “I like that, but this is not enough.”

Raanan: ”What if we made you a promise to finish building the whole city, would you then let us go?”

Pharaoh (Teacher): “This is starting to sound like something I can work with. Good thinking, slaves!”

Then the teacher said: “It is very important for me as the king to hear from every single person on the rug in order to be convinced,” and pointed to a boy who seemed to be wearing a shirt with a guitar on it.

Vinnie: “This is not a guitar on my shirt, it is a flag and this shirt is from the auto show.”

Pharaoh (Teacher): “Auto show……. What is that?”

Sylas: “Auto is a car”

Pharaoh (Teacher): “I still do not completely understand?"

Ari: “A car is something you go in and drive and go places.”

Teacher: “Aw…. that sounds like my horse and carriage.”

Elad: “But it is much faster.”

Chloe: “We can get you a big one, too.”

Stuart: “How about a golden one?”

Pharaoh (Teacher): “This is sounding much better all the time. I still would like to hear from other people.”

Tanvi: ”We can also cook some yummy foods for you. I can make you Indian food.”

Annette: “How about Chinese food?”

Maddie: “Tacos are good, too!”

Pharaoh (Teacher): “I love all these ideas and I think if you give me: money, finish building my city, a golden car and some good food, I will let you go!"


The children cheered and expressed how proud they were of their ability to convince the king only with four things to send the slaves to freedom.

Teacher's reflection:

This story opened the door for us as educators to really stretch the children’s minds, ability to think critically, and negotiate in order to get something they wanted. These life skills are critical to build a strong and solid foundation for our students to become people who think outside the box, citizens of the world who care and keep in mind that other people just like them have the right to have opinions and defend themselves and their ideas. Our hope is that students will grow up and possess skills such as empathy and openness to other cultures and people who think, look and sound differently than them.

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