Making seders kid-friendly: A contest!


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i hate these

As Passover approaches, I’m seeking your best ideas for making the seder fun and meaningful for children. Last month I wrote a column for the PJ Library about our family’s re-enactment of the Exodus from Egypt. You can read it here.
What’s worked (or backfired) for you? Share your ideas – I’ll choose the one I consider the most creative and original and I’ll send the winner an autographed copy of my book A Mezuzah on the Door. A helpful hint: anything that involves joyfully tossing artificial boils or dead cattle across the table automatically loses.
The deadline for submissions is April 5th.

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posted March 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm


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Lisa Langer

posted March 23, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Ok, Amy, I have a few ideas to share:
1. My favorite idea — we have begun celebrating a supplementary seder (second or sometimes third seder) as a BRUNCH to better accommodate the schedules of children! They are GREAT! Everyone is awake, no one is rushed, the food includes some traditional seder foods, of course, and some yummy pesach brunch dishes! Everyone seems more relaxed and engaged — our family loves it!
2. We ask each family to write a song to sing during the seder by changing the lyrics of any song they choose to make it a Pesach song. Some years we assign a section of the seder, others we let them choose, and find out at the seder. We have considered suggesting one tune for everyone to use, but that doesn’t go over well with our crowd. It is always fun to hear the songs, to involve everyone (those who can read/memorize songs anyway, though often there is a catchy chorus that even the little ones can catch on to sing!) and to add some energy to the seder!
3. When telling about being slaves, have a building (pyramid or other structure) contest — by teams or individuals –using the same materials or a variety (legos, blocks, sticks, etc.). See who can build the tallest structure in the allotted time.
4. Play hopscotch with the order of the seder in the boxes. Throw the frog/stone each section as you get to it in the seder. It gets everyone moving throughout the meal!

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Sarah Buttenwieser

posted March 24, 2009 at 7:40 am

we do the brunch too. it’s brilliant (& all we do now).

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Sarah Burns

posted March 24, 2009 at 3:43 pm

We give the kids a sweet every time they ask a (sensible!) question.
We’ve also made various props including finger puppets for certain parts of the seder, so bits can be acted out.

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Bible Belt Balabusta

posted March 30, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Well, we do throw hail and rubber skeletons, but I won’t go into detail since you seem to be wary of such things.
We also dress up in costume. Everyone. I have boxes of Hebrew Slave clothes and boxes of glittery Egyptian clothes, and guests get to choose ethnicity. We usually fight over the storebought nemes headdress and Nefertiti headband.
The highlight is re-enacting the whole Let My People Go scenario, with the youngest theatrically-minded kid being Moses. We do the turn-the-water-into-blood trick, and all the other plagues follow.
But, the second biggest fun thing is the Afikomen Treasure Hunt. I’m sure lots of people do this, but ours are super fun because I take ages to think up the clues, create them, and hide them.
For example, the first clue could be a phrase cut into puzzle pieces, with each piece hidden inside an inflated balloon. Every kid has to stomp on his/her balloon to reach the clue, and then all the clues have to be pieced together to form a hidden phrase. This clue will then lead to the next…
Each clue has a different kid’s name on the outside of a wee envelope, and only that kid gets to open the clue and read it aloud. This prevents one eager player from hogging all the clues and reading them silently before racing to the next one. It also allows me to personalize the clue by the age or interest of each kid. It also draws out the hunt at a reasonable pace, and lets the interested adults overhear the action.
When I have non-readers, I use photographs or sketches of places (tub, mailbox, dog box, etc.) to indicate the destination.
When I have readers, I use rhyming clues, word puzzles, riddles, or fill-in-the-blank. Some clues need a red plastic screen to read the colored words, or a mirror to read backwards words. Some clues are written in invisible ink or in Hebrew.
I keep a file folder with each year’s clues so I never duplicate. Oh, and I make sure to make the clues do-able even for kids not super-familiar with our house.
The ultimate prize is, of course, the Afikomen which is hidden where the last clue leads. However, I do have a bag of little presents and everyone gets to pick one. Gifts are never more than a dollar each (Target dollar spot is a great source): frogs of every kind (my favorite are the ones that can stretch and fly), Egyptian tattoos, teeny notebooks, etc.
This take an amazing amount of prep, but it really is fun for everybody.

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