or not, every parent inherently loathes the 10 Plagues. Hail sends us scrambling for a day's worth of occupying indoor
activities, lest our home turn into a "Lord
of the Flies" re-enactment. Our
heart drops when even a hundred kisses won't ease the sobs from a bloody skinned knee. Nobody enjoys
stumbling into her kid's bedroom at 2 a.m. because he's suddenly freaked out by
the dark. And we all dread the doomsday
"You've got lice!" phone call from the school nurse.
It's nothing a glass—okay, three—of Manishewitz can't fix. But for kids,
Passover can sometimes be a little bit boring (long Seders), a little bit
constipating (all that matzoh) or even a little bit scary (See: Blood smeared on doorpost.)
Thankfully, I grew up in a family
headed up by a mom and grandma who both taught Jewish preschool and Sunday
school, so no expense was spared when it came to creative, fun Passover
festivities. Plastic frogs were sprinkled across the Seder table; my brother
and I played matzoh brei sous chef and we got to design our own foil-wrapped
Kiddush cup. And of course, there was always the promise of making a little
bank if you found the afikomen.
you celebrate Passover hardcore (i.e. go full Atkins) or just use it as an excuse
to eat your weight in macaroons, here are seven fun, fresh, kid-friendly
activities to get everyone in a Pesach frame of mind.
Sensory Seder Plate
The Seder plate is packed with ideas for creative
sensory play. Encourage your kids to smell the horseradish (which
represents the bitterness of slavery), taste the salty water (the tears of the
Jewish people), feel the slippery hard boiled eggs in their hands (eggs are a
symbol of renewal), tickle their cheeks with some feathery karpas (parsley is a
symbol of Spring) and break apart some crumbly matzoh.
If Pharrell can rock a
Smokey the Bear "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" hat, you can certainly walk around with a
frog on your head and not feel ashamed. Google "frog coloring pages" (my mom likes this one),
print out your kid's frog of choice and let him color it in. Glue Kermit to a
paper plate and, once dry, trim the plate to fit the frog. Wrap a thick band of
coloring paper around his head, marking and gluing accordingly. Affix the frog
to the center of the paper ring and, once dry, put on some "Jump" (by Van Halenstein) and dance.
recent years, my feminist grandmother (go Jean!) began adding an orange to our family's Seder
plate, explaining that a rabbi had been overheard telling a feminist that "a woman belongs on the bimah (the podium at the front of a
synagogue) like an orange belongs on the Seder plate." While the pro-orange
gesture is a lovely girl-power sentiment, as it turns out, this is something of
an urban legend. According to Susannah Heschel, a professor of Jewish studies
at Dartmouth College (and the feminist at the center of the tale) the conversation never happened. Rather, Heschel says she began placing an orange
on the Seder plate in the '80s— the height of the Jewish feminist movement—as
an anti-homophobia statement. "When we eat that orange segment, we spit out the
seeds to repudiate homophobia and we recognize that in a whole orange, each
segment sticks together," she wrote on forward.com.
The fruit is "in
recognition of gay and lesbian Jews and of widows, orphans, Jews who are
adopted and all others who sometimes feel marginalized in the Jewish community."
What an incredible lesson to incorporate at the Passover meal.
parody songs are everywhere right about now, and some of them are downright
catchy. I'm a big Bruno Mars fan, so I'm partial to "Passover Funk You Up," but your "Frozen"-crazed kiddo might prefer "Let Us Go." (Sample
lyrics: "The sun beats down on the desert
today, there's no water to be seen. We're in Egyptian isolation, and not a
single Jew is free."
Because I know you're
sitting around twiddling your thumbs all day, wishing you had something to fill
your free time, why not painstaking hand carve a few red, yellow, orange and green
peppers into edible frogs?
I kid. But seriously, this
would be a creative way to entice your kids into eating fresh veggies, and they
can be in charge of painting some dried beans to be used as frog eyes.
Have the kids decorate a large square of brown
construction paper with a silly face. Then cut another sheet into four strips
and accordion fold each strip. Tape to the face for arms and legs. Punch a hole
in the top, thread a string through it and have fun "walking" your matzoh