Passover is a great opportunity for young children to get involved with the planning and preparation of the seder. While we’re still dealing with Zoom seders, here are some ideas to make the holiday fun for the whole family.
To begin, go on a family chametz search. You need a wooden spoon, a feather, a candle — or flashlight — and a paper bag.
Explain to the kids that chametz is a Hebrew word derived from the verb “to sour or ferment” and refers to any food made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives that has come in contact with moisture or water and has been allowed to leaven or rise.
Don’t forget to check under the couch cushions, the car seat and your snack bags. Have the kids sweep up the chametz into the wooden spoon, then dump it into the paper bag. The morning of Passover, take the bag outside and burn it. You can use the candle.
The anticipation of a Passover seder can be as much fun as the seder itself.
Your kids can create Passover place mats or place cards for the seder table.
Practice the four questions. Some children ask them in English, others in Hebrew. Some sing them. Some memorize and some read them. Even young children can learn the refrain: “Ma nishtanah halaila hazeh mikol halailot?”
Take out your PJ Library books about Passover to kick off a conversation and build excitement about what children can expect. Make sure to read the flaps of the books for conversation starters, craft ideas, recipes and more.
When it’s time to start cooking, have the kids put on their PJ Library apron and help out. They can be mixers, tasters and tryers. Get their five senses going. Kids love to be involved in the kitchen, and this is a wonderful opportunity to discuss the symbolism of each item on the seder plate.
Passover gives parents an amazing opportunity to discuss feelings and emotions with their children. Ask lots of questions to get the ball rolling: Do you think the Jewish people were happy or sad? Do you think Moses was brave? Did King Pharaoh make good choices? What makes you happy or sad? When have you felt brave? Do you make good choices?
The table is set, pillows are on chairs, the chametz is burnt and now it’s time for the seder. But it’s still a long time before the gefilte fish and the Matzah ball soup. Luckily, there are so many ways to keep the seder fun for the kiddos and meaningful for the adults.
You can keep a stash of Legos or Duplos and have them create Moses in the basket, a pyramid, a frog or any of the plagues or other Passover symbols. Create puppets of Moses, King Pharaoh, Miriam or the plagues to “act out” while reading aloud. Keep your PJ Library books close by and see if they can match what is happening in the Haggadah in one of their books. Print out Passover coloring pages found on the PJ Library website.
Dinner has been served, eaten and it is almost time for sponge cake with strawberries with whipped cream and candied fruit jellies. It’s time for the afikoman hunt. The kids will look high and low for that valuable piece of hidden matzah. If they are having a hard time finding it, you can always use the hot, warm or cold method or the red, yellow and green light method.
Once it’s been found, what do you buy it back with? In my family, it was always a crisp two dollar bill.
Now it's time to let Elijah in. Who can open the door? Who can watch the wine glass to see if Elijah drinks anything? Meanwhile an adult bumps the table to make the wine move. Did you see him? What did he look like? Do you want to color a picture of what you saw?
The seder concludes with “Next year in Jerusalem.” You can now incorporate some geography into the seder. Where is Jerusalem? Let’s get out a map (or go on Google maps) and see how far we are from there. If you have been to Israel, get out your pictures and show your family. Tell them about your experience.
If you ordered a PJ Library Passover bag, most of the items mentioned above are in your bag. If you didn’t order one, not to worry. You can find everything and so much more on the PJ Library website at pjlibrary.org/Passover. JN
Marcy Lewis is the director of PJ Library in Phoenix.