Make Your Seder Fun!
The Seder on Passover night is the most important and memorable night of the Jewish calendar. ( Download the Seder Guide)
It is up to us, however, to create the unforgettable shared experience for our children that the Seder has the potential to be. The Torah tells us that the Seder is meant to be all about the children.
In fact, the Talmud (Pesachim 109a) teaches us that there is a special mitzvah to ensure that the children enjoy and stay awake throughout the seder.
Below are some of our tried and tested Pesach ideas for creating a fun, exciting and memorable Seder for your children and guests. For convenience, the links below will take you directly to the item for purchase.
If you have other ideas for games, activities, themes, etc. please post in the comments below.
Children are our guests of honor
At the Seder, children aren’t bystanders. They are our guests of honor!
Instead of seating children at a kid’s table, either sit them surrounding the person leading the Seder or seat children between their parents. This allows parents to focus on their children.
The pictures and explanations in a children’s hagaddah are far more relatable for children than those in the free Hagaddahs you get at the grocery store. On the other hand making sure everyone has the same book will help keep everyone on the same page. A nice compromise is to use a nicely illustrated regular Hagaddah that will engage children and adults alike.
I recommend the Katz Hagaddah (I don’t get a commission from them, I promise!) It contains gorgeous and vivid images that will leave you looking forward to the next page. It is an investment that you can use for decades. They also come with laminated pages so that they will withstand the inevitable grape juice spills.
Encourage a dialogue
The seder is crafted through questions and answers because questions are the seeds of learning.
Keep a stash of kosher for Passover treats at the table. Encourage children to ask questions. Each question is “rewarded” with a special treat. I give 1 treat for a good answer and 2 for a question.
Encourage children to dress up at the Seder. They can even prepare their own costumes ahead of time. You can have a box of items that children can use to put together their own costumes on the spot. They can dress up as one of the characters from the Pesach story or as a royal princess or prince, after all tonight we are all royalty!
Decorate your table or dining room with things from the Exodus and Pesach story. Children should sense that things tonight are different and they should be prompted to ask questions.
Create personalized place cards that can be elegant, eclectic, fun or part of an activity.
Consider using a theme for your seder and use that theme in the decorations and throughout the seder. The most important thing is to transmit the story of the Exodus and what it means to be part of the Jewish People. The theme should make the story come alive, not take away from its importance.
Have activities planned for parts of the Seder that may be less exciting for children. From pyramid building competitions, to a reenacted splitting of the sea, there are many activities that will keep children engaged! These activities bring the story alive! See below for ideas that you can do at the table with everyone and/or in a side room while the adults eat.
Songs are an amazing way to engage and connect people. Check out these traditional songs that you can find in your Haggadahs and these original songs or try The Four Questions Dr Suess Style! to tunes you already know! And also check out The 4 Questions Dr. Suess Style!
Check out many great seder activities at Aish.com as well as some great Passover Resources.
- The most classic Seder game, is still the best! Hide the Afikomen around the house and be sure to have a prize for the person who finds it! It is always good to have several different toys to choose from depending on the child’s age.
- Adults can use this Passover Play, to make the story come to life. You can give to guests ahead of time and assign roles or just distribute at the seder. Make sure to provide costumes for each of the parts.
- After telling the Exodus story, have the children come up with a play on their own to present!
Splitting the Sea
- Blow up a ton of blue balloons and put them in a hallway in your house. Have the kids walk from one side of the hallway to the other.
- Put up an ocean themed shower curtain and have the children run through the sea
- Before Pesach, build a free standing sea splitting frame that children can run through or ride their tricycles or little toy cars through. This can double as an outdoor toddler car wash during the summer!
- When children get through to the other side have them receive a prize like shell necklaces, etc.
- Have the children build a pyramid using cups or blocks!
- Have the children play Jenga and explain how the Jewish people were forced to build building on quicksand so they would constantly crumble as they were building.
- Blow up hammers can be used to show how hard we worked to build these pyramids.
- Download and print these bingo boards and let each child cover the squares with a candy as they participate in each part of the seder.
- Purchase Passover Bingo
- Put the name of a character on a headband. Each person gets a headband and can’t see who their character is. They then need to ask questions to determine who their character is!
- Waive red and orange pom poms
- Sticks with red, orange, and yellow tissue paper hanging from them. Dad hides behind and plays the part of G-d.
- Use ribbon dancing ribbons to create a “fire” for the burning bush
- Have someone answer the toy phone and play talking to G-d
Egyptian Nightly News
Ahead of time get the older kids to prepare a news report about the Ten Plagues and the Crossing of the Red Sea.
As part of the “broadcast” they can interview some of the guests as Pharaoh, Moses, Aaron, etc.
These characters can be totally improvised or described on an index card that you hand to the guests. For example: “You are Pharaoh. You have just been woken up in the middle of the night by your adviser who has told you that there is no water to drink in the whole of Egypt, only blood. The radio reporter wants to hear your statement about what you’re going to do.”
The Story Bag Game
This humorous game reveals how creative and clever participants are in connecting random items found around the house to the Passover story. The game can be played at different intervals throughout the Seder, in between reading the text. It requires very little preparation.
Collect a bag full of small items from around a house – almost anything will do. For example: duplo man, plastic animals, a plastic crown, etc.
Pass the bag filled with the items around the table and get people to pick out an object without looking. Now each person has to connect the item in his hand to the story. This game gets young and old involved and is a lot of fun.
The plagues are often the most anticipated part of the Seder for children (second to the Afikomen, of course).
Ideas to Make the Plagues Come Alive:
- Prepare kosher for passover strawberry Jello ahead of time in a disposable wine glass and try to put these on the table when the children aren’t looking. When the plague comes up, they are surprised to notice that their water turned to “blood.”
- Place kosher for passover red food coloring at the bottom of each child’s water glasses. When you go to fill their water, it magically turns to “blood”.
- Have Mom walk out of the kitchen with an apron smeared with “blood handprints“.
- Make chocolate frogs, prepared with chocolate molds.
- Purchase chocolate frogs.
- Buy squishy frogs, plastic frogs, or leaping frogs for the children to play with during this plague.
- Gooey, googly eyes that can stick to glasses and other table-top items are always a hit!
- Use all kosher for passover white jelly beans as lice.
Wild Animals (Arov)
- Plastic lions, tigers, bears, oh my! Foam animal masks are also a fun way to engage children. Each one gets a different animal.
- Before Pesach, place an animal sticker on the front of each of their cups. When it’s their turn, they will act out the animal on their cup!
Children have to drop to the floor to impersonate dead animals. But not for long! Because the next plague will wake them right up again!
Candy buttons on tape are a fun way to portray boils! You can throw in some dramatic tickles and itches, for effect.
Dozens of ping pong balls flying all over the room is always fun! Have children run after the balls trying to collect them.
Grasshopper hand puppets or plastic insects can be purchased online.
Suction cup grasshoppers are always a hit!
You can either purchase or make sleep masks for each child.
Each guest has a pair of sunglasses at their seat that they wear for this plague!
I prefer to talk about this plague, rather than provide any prop.
If you prefer props, tiny plastic coffins and skeletons are perfect for this plague!
March 22, 2017
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