Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Passover Tips & Tricks

So we've had our Passover seder.  25 people came over, enjoyed food, wine, singing and making a mess.  I'll post photos tomorrow, but for now I wanted to go over my 5 best tips and tricks for making any other seders you have go their best.

Family Seders (aka, not at your house/geared towards kids)
  1. This book for your toddler:  
    No, I'm not being perked, but this specific book really helped.  It's got great pictures, there's really nothing to explain.  It goes through all of the steps of the seder, so it's easy to follow along, flip through the pages as you get there, and it's got both Hebrew and English.  It's by Rite Lite, who make lots of really great items for Jewish kids.

  2. Jumping Frogs. 

    Especially if you can buy the kind that come with a game design, and have something for you to 'aim' for.  These are my absolute favorite of our frogs.  They jump really well, they are fairly easy to use and they hold up really well to kids, pets, adults and time.  It's possible to get the adults involved in this as well, but with just the little one she was able to dump them, line them up, stack them, and generally help herself to being entertained.

  3. Have a designated parent.  This could be the designated driver.  Or it could be a different parent based upon the moment.  But it's really key to have one person both designated as the 'more sober one' and the 'officially watching' one.  It's likely that a diaper change will happen at the worst time, or your child will spill their crayons all over the floor just as the soup course is coming around.  But having one of you really dedicated means that you can both enjoy those moments away a little bit more.

  4.  Coloring Cards.  I downloaded a BUNCH of options, but the ones that I ended up liking the best are these from Chabad.  The images might seem a bit dated, and they certainly were to complicated for little Exuberant Girl (EG) to do on her own, but I liked that I could give her a new one based upon what was happening in the seder, and there were a lot of pages to keep her entertained.

Seder's At Your House:
  1. Go CRAZY with the plagues.  Even before we got to the part of the service where we went through the plagues, giving all the kids plague elements definitely kept them entertained.  No, you might not be talking about the wild beasts, but they can play with the objects before you get there.  I'll show you what we gave each child in their little baskets, but I think it worked really well to keep them all engaged with at least something holiday related. 

  1.  Lots of Songs.  I downloaded a BUNCH of options, but the ones that I ended up liking the best are here.  And honestly, I didn't really need to play many of them, as they are known to the audience I was engaging with.  Each time we would sing a song, all of the kids would pay attention and really engage with us.
  1. Don't sit at the table.  This is the second year where we've avoided the table until it was actually time to eat.  It's worked out really nicely.  Sitting at a table, being strapped into a chair really limits a child's ability to engage, and with force of habit, makes them think that dinner is imminent even when it isn't.  Keeping everyone on couches or the floor and allowing the kids free movement really helped them keep their energies in check.

4.      Dramatic story-telling.  You know those people who do magical things with their words?  When you are telling the story of Passover really get into it.  It’s a dramatic story with burning bushes, evil Pharoah’s, etc.  Making eye contact, hand gestures and really being in the moment can help to show the kids how magical it is, and keep them engaged in the evening.

 I know some people will have seders on Friday, and we're also attending one on Saturday.  Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you to have the best seder you can, especially with your young ones.  Try to remind those who you are with about the reasons behind having the youngest ask the questions- everyone else might know the stories and the songs, but how are we passing that down to the next generation?  How are we ensuring that our kids have that experience and can really engage with the seder in a meaningful and appropriate way? 

Good luck, and Chag Sameach! 

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