The Passover seder is intended to be an engaging journey for people of all ages. How do we keep everyone involved—especially when some of our guests are 5 and younger? The first step might be to involve your child in the Passover prep, whether that means food shopping, cooking or picking out a special outfit.
On Passover, we’re supposed to recline in order to remember that we are now free. Go with it! Let your kiddos bring pillows, stuffed animals and whatever else makes them feel comfy at the table. (If you’re a guest at someone else’s house, just check with them first if you’re bringing more than a couple of items.)
Encourage the younger kids at the table ask questions, specifically during the Four Questions (which happens at the beginning of the seder). Typically the youngest child, or sometimes all the children at the table, will recite the Four Questions in the form of a song in Hebrew—and practicing them may be an important rite of passage. If they’re too young, simplify the questions so they can ask them, or turn it around and ask them a question.
Inspire children at the table to search for the afikomen (Greek for “dessert”). And even at a seder with no children, searching for the afikomen is really an opportunity to have some fun, regardless of age. It’s definitely an opportunity to get creative with format, hiding places and prizes. Here are some more details on how it may work:
Look to a variety of Jewish traditions for inspiration. Persian and Afghani Jews, for instance, tap each other on the back with green onions while singing Dayenu. Syrian Jews put matzah in a bag on their backs as if preparing to leave Egypt in haste. Some Sephardi Jews with roots in Spain hold the seder plate over the head of each guest during one of the opening readings of the Haggadah.
The options for creativity are endless. Use a paper tablecloth on your table and provide markers to guests for drawing throughout the evening. Create puppets or get toy animals or masks to illustrate the Ten Plagues. Some Haggadot even include scripts for making maggid (the storytelling section) into a play, while other families may write and perform their own skits during the seder (don’t forget to use funny voices!). Some people add folk songs about freedom or personal family stories to their storytelling rituals as well.
With a little innovation, there are infinite ways to make your seder engaging.