What makes a child-centered Seder special for children? It should be fun for your family as you prepare for Passover. The planning and preparations help your children take an active role. Try to encourage your child to ask you questions as you prepare, and create experiences they will remember at the Seder. Most importantly, create a “sensorial friendly” evening!
• Each child should have a Seder plate. As part of your planning, show them where the items belong on the plate.
• A Haggadah with lots of pictures of the order of the Seder helps your child stay involved.
• Create a Velcro poster board of the parts of the Seder. Each child gets a turn putting the next part of the Seder on the board.
During Passover, children have opportunities to smell new foods. One of the most interesting smells is the maror- horseradish root. Buy this fresh in the grocery store and grind it in your blender. Stand back! It is really strong and authentic. Also, buy different spices and let your child(ren) smell these when you make soup, salads, side dishes or when you add cinnamon and honey to your charoset.
The Seder is a wonderful learning experience to have fun, touching new foods and making puppets to use at the Seder. Having children use puppets enhances spoken language, increases social play, promotes pro-social behaviors and allows children to express themselves creatively. Passover puppets can be made from a variety of materials, socks, popsicle sticks, paper towel holders, or spoons. Each puppet can be a plague or someone in the Haggadah. Your child can pretend to be Pharaoh, Moshe, Miriam or one of the Jewish people making matzah. Grab a prop box and fill it up with sheets, shirts, sunglasses, hats, wild animal masks, aprons or matzah covers. Ask friends and family members to add to your prop box before Pesach and, have the adults dress up for fun!
Children love to hear and sing Passover songs. Try and practice the songs before the Seder, so they are familiar with the tunes and verses. Hand out song sheets for family and friends so they can sing along. Check out the Dr. Seuss version of the Four Questions at jewishfood-list.com/komedy/4quesdrseuss01.
This can be tricky, especially if you have a picky eater. There are many different foods eaten on Passover. Have a taste testing contest before and see which foods your child(ren) might like—such as matzah, charoset, horseradish, romaine lettuce, celery with saltwater etc. If they tell you they don’t like it, you won’t feel obligated to have them try it at the Seder.
Don’t delay! Start early with your children and create a memorable moment!
Dawn Kreisberg M.A. is the Early Childhood Director of Olam Jewish Montessori Early Childhood Center and educational leader in Jewish education.