Matzo is an unleavened bread that has a special role within the Seder meal of Passover. This activity is ready with very little planning or preparation and is the perfect opportunity to share some of the ideas of Passover and Jewish culture with the children in your setting. It is also a fun and simple baking activity, with a delicious finished product!
What you will need
Matzo is one of the easiest recipes you could possibly make in your Early Years setting, and you will almost certainly have the materials ready to hand, depending on if you wanted to make a kosher or non-kosher version.
- Flour- if you want the Matzo to be kosher for Jewish children in your setting then you will need flour grown according to kosher standards. However, you can also make non-kosher Matzo, then all-purpose flour makes a very yummy version of the bread! 2 cups are required.
- Water- room temperature tap water is best! 1 cup is needed
- A way of keeping time- you'll find out why presently!
- An oven (obviously!)
- A mixing bowl
- Baking sheets lined on 2 or more trays.
- Rolling pin/s
- Pastry brush
- Dinner fork
- Blunt butter knife
- A board to knead the dough on
Preparing the activity
Before you start, there are some rules around kosher Matzo bread:
If you wanted to ensure that your Matzo is kosher, you must ensure that the process is complete within 18 minutes- from mixing the flour and water to pulling it out of the oven. This may be unrealistic when doing it with children, so if you need kosher Matzo it may be wise to do an independent run of it before doing the activity!
For kosher Matzo buy specific kosher all-purpose flour. General non-kosher certified flour can be used, but be aware that you cannot guarantee that it is kosher, so if it is important to be sure, buy the specific stuff!
- Make sure that your oven is pre-heated to 475°F/246°C, making sure that little hands do not go anywhere near the oven itself!
- Line your baking trays with baking paper.
- Measure out the flour and water ready to mix- this will save you time in the rush to bake if you want to keep it kosher! There should be 2 cups of flour ready and one of water.
- Finally, set a timer if you can- from the moment the water and flour touch, if you are making kosher Matzo, you have 18 minutes! If you are not then there is less of a hurry, of course.
Doing the Activity
Explain to the children that you are making Matzo bread, which is a very important symbolic food to Jewish people during the festival of Passover. Highlight as you prepare that it is important to have the ingredients in the right quantities, demonstrating to them that you are using 2 cups for the flour and one for the water.
- Support the children in filling the cups themselves or, if less confident or there are more keen hands than cups available, they may instead want to count with you!
- Help the children put the water and flour together in the mixing bowl. If you are making kosher Matzo explain why the time is important, or if you are not it may be a good moment to explain that that is the normal way it is made.
- Giving the children a spoon, help them mix up the flour and water into a dough.
- With a small cup of flour, help the children sprinkle flour on a board or countertop and knead the dough with them. If the dough is sticky add tbsps of flour until the dough is soft. This normally takes 3 minutes, but little hands might need a tiny bit longer!
- Using a butter knife, cut the dough into 8-12 pieces, by cutting into quarters and thirds of quarters.
- Support the children in rolling out the blobs of dough into thin sheets- as thin as possible! Make sure their pins stay well floured as sticky dough adhering to the rolling pin can be frustrating for the children. Brush off extra flour before step 7.
- Transfer the thin sheets of dough onto the baking trays. You can try to keep them as traditional squares, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule for Matzo! The sheets can be bunched close together as they do not rise. Prick each with the fork to help them cook through, they won't have long in the oven!
- Bake until crisp- provided they were rolled thin enough this should only take about 4 minutes!
- You may have time, or extra flattened dough, ready to go in, so pop that in, being mindful if you are following the 18 minute rule!
Ask the children what they think about the bread, how it tastes and feels. They may not have had Matzo or flat bread before, or they may be very familiar with it! Either way, cultivate their observations and answer any questions they may have!
Tracking the activity:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships: “Demonstrates friendly behaviour, initiating conversations and forming good relationships with peers and familiar adults.”
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Self-confidence and self-awareness: “Welcomes and values praise for what they have done.; Enjoys responsibility of carrying out small tasks.”
Communication and Language: Listening and attention: “Is able to follow directions (if not intently focused on own choice of activity).”
Physical Development: Moving and Handling: “Uses one-handed tools and equipment, e.g. makes snips in paper with child scissors.”
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships: “Explains own knowledge and understanding, and asks appropriate questions of others.”
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Self-confidence and self-awareness: “Confident to speak to others about own needs, wants, interests and opinions.”
Communication and Language: Listening and attention: “Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity.; Two-channelled attention – can listen and do for short span.”
Physical Development: Moving and Handling: “Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control.”