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How to Have the Coolest Passover Ever With the Kids

Jewish 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.)

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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.

Whether 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.

Image via Baby's Not in a Corner

Frog Hat

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.

Image via AlphaMom

Orange Is the New Parsley

In 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.

Image via The Kitchn

Jam to Bruno Marskovitz

Passover 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."

Image via YouTube

Bell Pepper Frogs

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.

Image via The Foodies

Matzoh, Matzoh Man

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 people around.

Image via Flickr

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Prunes, Prunes, the Necessary Fruit

Matzoh can be constipating, and Passover always has many families singing, "Let my people go" … to the bathroom. Make sure you're all getting a boost of fiber with some crockpot veggie chili, raspberries (8g fiber per cup) or prune-vanilla applesauce. Having trouble getting the kids on board with prunes? Ask them to help you half-dip them in melted chocolate.

Image via AusPrunes

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