In the hope of trying to create an inspiring, interesting and educational leil Pesach, we have often attempted to create activities that can be used to keep the kids (and adults) awake and involved. Please share with us any creative ideas, thoughts or activities that you have used at your seder or seen used at other seders.
Any contributions geared to any age group and/or ability or learning level will be great.
Please try to indicate weather the idea is best for pre–school, elementary school, high school, adult or all ages and/or weather it is best for beginner, intermediate, or advanced level.
Include as much detail as possible so that we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.
Here’s a starter from Aish: Family Fun with the Ten Plagues.
We have the children go out the door and knock. The we ask them ‘who are you’, ‘where from’, ‘where to’, etc.
Every one at the seder (adults and children) gets a backback or travel bag with matzah in it, and a walking stick. We hurry through the house announcing the we left Egypt hastily and with great mercy from Hashem (B’vahilu v’rachimu yatzanu m’mitzrayim),and we left with awe and mercy .
Either way, every age group seems to appreciate it.
Thanks for reminding me about that Hagadah! When Rav Chait came to WITS in Milwaukee for a graduation/performance, they were selling all of his books and I bought them all. I put the Haggadah aside and forgot all about it. I went throught it this past Shabbos and so did my 9 year old son. The pictures are great! Lots of stuff to show the kids but I suggest you have a good look at it before the seder to maximize how you’re going to use it.
Hakaras HaTov to Rav Boruch Chait’s illustrated Hagadah (along with his illustrated Megilas Esther, 39 Shabbos Avos Melachos, Midos, etc) This has made learning a lot of fun for the kids!
Keeping adults interested in the Seder is often more difficult than keeping kids interested.
When deciding how to keep adults interested, it’s probably a good idea to keep the following points in mind:
1. Don’t bend over backwards to keep the adults interested at the expense of the children. Remember that there is an imperative to teach (your) children on the night of the seder.
2. The first thing anyone being asked to speak or present something should ask is: who is the audience? You should try to get an understanding of the makeup of your seder participants. How religious are they? How old are they? Can they read Hebrew? Is this their first seder? Would they be interested in preparing something (short) to share and would you and your other guests be interested in hearing it?
3. (Shameless plug) Handout Mark’s Seder Guide to those who will benefit.
Also, I keep a bag of treats by my chair and any child who asks a question or explains something gets a treat (usually thrown across the table).
A few years back, we bought 4 stuffed wine glasses which we give to the youngest children to place on the table when we reach each of the four cups.
There is a minhag wheren you place the matzah in a cloth and put it on the back of the child. We do that and ask the children “Where are you coming from?” “Where are you going?” “What are you carrying on your back?” (Hopefully we get the right answers, sometimes some pretty funny ones)
Steve’s idea above is a great one. I would add one caveat, if you have more than 2 or 3 children at your seder, this can get a little crazy.
I try (if possible) to have each kid coming to the seder tell me, in advance, 2 or 3 areas of the hagaddah that they really want to discuss. I mark them in my haggadah to make sure I don’t forget at the seder. This helps to keep getting bogged down in one particular area and also helps to keep the children excited waiting for their turn.
Every yeshiva covers Pesach and the Haggadah, in particular as part of its curriculum. One of the nicest ways of having the entire family participate is simply asking your kids what did your rebbe or moreh say about the Haggadah.
I always ask my kids what they would bring with them if they left Egypt, and why. It’s interesting to hear what they say. I’ve also collected stories from grandparents about memories of when they were growning up or stories of Torah personalies from countries/towns of origin. For a child growning up in a BT family, it’s nice to hear, “Rabbi So-and-So, from Bubbie’s town, once said…”
I highly recommend getting a copy of the Haggadah created by Rabbi Boruch Chait. The illustrations are amazing. Warning: they may frighten very young children.
Here’s the link and you can order it from Amazon:
An easy and important step is to use the same haggadah as the kids (perhaps in addition to your own) so that you can make sure everyone can be helped to follow along.
Another tip is to look at the haggadah in advance to find the parts that aren’t as easily understood by children. Then create your own example that makes that more understandable. Example: during the part of the haggadah that states that Hashem himself took us out, lo al yedei malach… (not through angels, agents or emissaries but Hashem himself brought us out), I explain to my kids how when you put out the garbage for collection the Mayor doesn’t come to pick it up. He appoints a sanatation commissioner who has a district commander who tells the area supervisor who instructs the neighborhood captain who tells the particular truck to pick up your garbage. That is because the Mayor is very important and has very important things to do. I then explain to the kids how Hashem is, obviously, more important than the Mayor and has many more things to do but He loves the Jewish people so much that he wanted to take them out of Israel by himself so that they would feel safe and know how much he loves them.
Lots of people do shtick when it comes to the 10 makkos but it is still woth mentioning that one can act out the makkos, either have an adult do it or include the kids or whatever works best for the family.
I have acted out dayenu by giving each kid a prop. When it comes to their phrase in dayenu, they can hold up the prop and sing it. Again it has to be modified for each family but the idea is there.
Another idea is to make up bingo boards ahead of time. As the kids sit there they have to listen to the seder and see if they can fill up
their bingo board based on the words that are mentioned at the seder. This could be done on many level. Pictures for pre readers, easier
phrases for beginner readers and harder phrases for better reader.