Note: This post originally appeared on 4Nannies.com and is reposted here with their permission.
Passover can be a difficult holiday for children to understand. The Seder (traditional Passover meal) can be long, and children don’t often understand why certain foods (leavened foods) are prohibited during the holiday. Here are a few activities to keep your children as involved as possible during Passover and the Seder.
- Create a Haggadah – Have your child draw pictures of the different aspects of Passover. They can draw themselves reading the 4 Questions, create a picture of the Seder plate and illustrate looking for the Afikomen. Put them in order together and bind with rings or string. Kids can use their own Haggadah at the Seder to help them be involved on a level that they understand.
- Create a Seder plate together – Have your children help arrange the Seder plate with you, explaining what each item represents. You can also print off a child-friendly Seder plate here. Kids can color in the Seder plate while the family is sitting around the table.
- Talk about the Seder – Talk with your kids about the Seder, which is typically held on the first night of Passover. Discuss how the Israelites were redeemed from slavery and given the gift of the Torah and explain why the symbolic foods are out on the Seder plate.
- Read the 4 Questions together – It’s tradition that the youngest child reads the 4 Questions at the Seder, starting with the first, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Reading them together, in English and in Hebrew, will familiarize your children with the questions and the answers that will be asked at the Seder. Helping your child understand before the Seder will prepare them to be active in the Seder.
- Read or tell the Passover story to your children – Reading or telling the story will help familiarize your children with the reasons that Passover is celebrated. The Israelites left Egypt quickly and there was no time for bread to rise, which is why eating matzah (unleavened bread) represents the time when people were forced quickly out of their homes. Passover also reflects a time for cleaning to rid houses of hametz (anything leavened).
- Discuss the plagues – The 10 plagues are an important part of the Passover story and you should discuss them with your children, taking time to explain their importance. You can have your children act out the story or draw pictures of the plagues to add to their Haggadah.
- Afikomen – The afikomen (or half of a piece of matzah) is hidden by the head of the household, and when it’s time for dessert it’s tradition that the children hunt for the afikomen and return it in exchange for money or a small prize. The afikomen helps children stay involved (and awake!) during the meal, knowing that their part in finding the afikomen is coming soon and that there is a reward for it once found – a prize and dessert!
Children don’t have to be bored during the Seder, but to ensure that they aren’t it’s important to be prepared with activities for them so they can participate during the meal. Have your children help prepare the house, the table and the food for Passover. Encourage them to use this time to ask questions and make statements about their Jewish heritage. This can be a wonderful learning experience for everyone involved!