seder is a highly structured activity with participants of many ages,
representing multiple generations. Each person comes to the seder with
his or her own set of expectations and experiences of previous family
seders. It would be wise to consider each participants expected
attention span for the evenings program. Some school-age children
may surprise the adults by their enthusiastic participation.
following section serves to guide those preparing for the seder which
is attended by young children. Several of the suggested activities can
be performed at the childs home in advance of the seder; some of
the arts and crafts work are to be taken to the seder itself and subsequently
used. Our list also includes many impromptu activities for the evening
on the age spread and the childrens knowledge and previous involvement
with the seder it could be arranged to set-up a Pesach Play room
at the home of the seder. This will give the younger children a place
to spend some very special time when the seder itself becomes too cumbersome
for them. We suggest creating activity centers adjacent to the seder table
or in an adjoining room. Children of all ages can spend time here before
the long sit-down seder begins while the adults are busy making last-minute
arrangements. Alternatively, the younger participants can have their own
Pesach educational activities in their Pesach Play room, while the majority
of the adults and teenagers participate in the more serious symposium-like
aspects of the Haggadah beginning some time after the Four Questions.
Setting up a special area for your children may inspire them to ask that
most important question: What is the difference between this night
and all other nights?
Play Room Suggestions:
Dramatics: Transform the room into a stage set for the story of
baby Moshe, for the adult Moshes confrontation with Pharaoh or
for the ten plagues. Provide dress and props, such as gowns, crowns,
snakes, staffs, throne, wicker basket and ten plagues. Children and
parents could research illustrated books on ancient Egypt and the descriptions
in the book of Exodus so all the props are authentic to the time period.
Arts and crafts projects (before the seder) can enhance the Oscar-winning
costume design of the entire family.
Display and Story Reading: Ask each guest to bring illustrated Bible
books of the Exodus and display them on a table. The early arriving
guests can read stories to the children and point out the different
versions of the same story and the variety of illustrations of the same
with Puppets: Sock puppets, paper cutouts pasted to popsicle sticks,
brown paper bag puppets provide hours of fun preparation before the
seder and many more hours of high drama during the seder as Moshe, Miriam,
Aaron, Pharaoh and some of the Ten Plagues walk on stage. Stretch a
sheet across the room at waist level and ask parents and children to
create the dialogue as they display the puppets above the stage line
of the sheet for the rest of the guests.
Egypt and the Exodus: Just about every household with children features
a collection of building blocks, Lego, Duplo, and small figurines. Children
of every age delight in building their version of the story as it is
told to them by their older siblings, their parents or grandparents.
Buildings could stay on display for several days after the seder so
as to add afterwards the splitting of the Red Sea on the last day of
presentations: In recent years a wealth of childrens audio
and video tapes on the Jewish Holidays have been made available through
the local Jewish bookstores and the synagogue giftshops. Listening and
viewing educational shows is a nice quiet activity before the holiday
starts and during the hours before the seder gets on its way.
- The childs
with Pesach symbols (such as matza, wine cups, Elijahs beaker,
maror), Pesach figures (such as Moshe, Miriam, Pharaoh and Pharaohs
daughter) or paper cut-outs of the childs own family present at
bag dramatics, hand puppets
covers and pillow cases for reclining, made from a variety of textiles
books, fold-out books
to our seder door signs
cards for each guest at the seder. The cards could be written in English
as well as featuring the persons Hebrew name.
cards for the various sections of the seder to be displayed on a large
Games (to be prepared in advance):
ask an older child or a talented parent to prepare these simple games
for the seder night.
Cards with a picture of a seder object or activity that match an identical
picture or the name of that object, either in English or in Hebrew (for
example: the word Afikoman and a picture of a hidden matza
on a matching card).
in order: Cards for each of the 15 activities on the seder agenda
(Kadesh, Urchatz) that must be put in order.
Use four differently colored sets of cards. Each set consists of four
items of the seder agenda (the four cups, the four children, the four
questions, four foods on the seder plate, four names for Pesach).
The children can help mark the progress of the seder for everyone. Prepare
a large tag board entitled Seder. At the beginning of the
seder, distribute cards to the children with Hebrew, English and picture
names of the key signposts of the evening. For example, use the names
of ritual activities (kadesh/first cup; urchatz/hand washing) or key
texts of the Haggadah (four questions/ma nishtana) listed in the table
of contents. As each activity or text is reached, the leader calls on
the three holders of the English, Hebrew and the pictorial name card
to attach them to the tag board (by Velcro or large paper clips).
for everyone at Ma Nishtana: School age children will enjoy quizzing
the older children and the parents in the following way. Prepare index
cards with Pesach questions on one side and the answers on the other.
Each child chooses a partner to whom s/he poses the questions. For example:
I am made from chopped nuts, apples and wine. Who am I?/
Charoset. Questions can be posed on many different levels
of difficulty, depending on the participants age, knowledge and
curiosity. Each question earns the child one nut or candy if answered
correctly and two if the adult is stumped. Adults may also buy hints
from the child for nuts or candy.
ended questions on cards: It is even more interesting to pose open
ended questions such as: When you were a slave in Egypt, what
was the most unpleasant part of your life? or What was your
favorite memory as a child from the seder? What is your
favorite seder song? Which one of the ten plagues is the
worst for you?
is a time-honored activity among Jewish families, so here at the seder
we add some more action to Ma Nishtana. Parents, grandparents,
teachers, seder guests can all prepare in advance various forms of quizzes
for the younger ones. Even an adult quiz will be a welcome addition to
Said to Whom from the story of Exodus (chapters 1-12).
Scrambles: For example: SAPEHC, SLEIAHJ PCU.
of the Ten Plagues.
Mathematics: For example: how much are The Plagues (10) times The
Cups (4) minus the Matzot (3).
Trivia in teams with points. Teams can be comprised of families,
age mates, left side of table against right side.
or Not: Make a list of difficult items such a spaghetti, beer, noodles,
crackers, potato chips, latkes, hamantashen, kneidlach, muffins, lasagna,
whiskey, blintzes, pancakes, kreplach. Each correct answer receives
a point, each incorrect answer receives a promise to receive that food
as a gift after Pesach.
Who I Am: Place a headband on each participants head with
a slot for a word like Moshe, matza, frogs, locust, chad gadyah,
dayenu. Only the person him/herself does not know who or what is
written. By asking yes/no questions each one
guesses their own identity.
word puzzles prepared at various levels of difficulty.
are a traditional food on Pesach, many regular games and sports can feature
nuts instead of the usual coins, peons or dice. Special concern should
be taken that the smaller children are not endangered by eating nuts;
they can be compensated by special Pesach foods.
that can be played with nuts are:
nuts into boxes or pyramids with various values.
nuts in bunches throughout the house. Before the nuts can be eaten,
the children have to answer questions, perform a small task or sing
can be given as prizes for answering the quizzes correctly or for helping
the parents in preparing for the seder.
The Ten Plagues Revisited:
stores buy stickers or plastic representations of frogs, wild animals,
insects, darkness, etc. for each one of the ten plagues. Distribute the
plagues to the children and prepare a tag board with a large picture of
Pharaoh. As each plague is read off during the seder, invite one child
to plaster Pharaoh with the appropriate stickers or tape on
the plastic figures or by throwing Ping-Pong balls (hail) at Pharaoh.
Traditional religious observance does not permit the use of tape on a
holiday, therefore this activity is appropriate before the seder starts.
for Older Children and Adults:
the story of Exodus, embellishing as you go, then stop and hand the baton
or matza on to the next storyteller to continue where you
Shows with Pesach Topics:
(guess the question from the answer)
- To Tell
get ready to plan your childrens participation at this years
seder, you should consider using the following resources:
your local Jewish book store, the synagogue gift shop and contact the
Bureau of Jewish Education in your community.
- You can
order directly from publishers such as Kar-Ben, Torah Aura, Alternatives
in Religious Education, Behrman House, the Melton Center at JTSA (Conservative),
CCAR (Reform) or Artscroll (Orthodox).
- In case
you have family in Israel, you can ask them to send you the latest audio-
and video tapes, stickers, workbooks and kits for crafts projects.
with your childs JCC pre-school staff, Hebrew School or Day School
teachers. How did the children prepare for Pesach at school, which projects
did they participate in, how can the home enhance the learning at school?