A lightning fast seder is a great way to engage children in the Passover holiday. Young children have great capacity for understanding but very short attention spans. And they get hungry!
For very young children, here are some of our suggestions on how to create a short but satisfying Seder for the entire family. We think of it as the Lightning Fast Seder.
The Four Questions
Have the youngest child sing the four questions in either English or Hebrew. Sing along with the child if that helps overcome shyness.
I enjoy helping my kids practice this in advance of the Seder and then involving the youngest kid and all the other kids in the singing of the four questions.
The Key Highlights of the Seder for Kids:
The Seder Plate
Explain the elements of the Seder Plate. Let each child touch the things on the Seder plate as you describe them. Use this opportunity to tell the story of Passover – in brief!
Afikoman Magic Trick
I like to ask for volunteers to help me. I ask the volunteers for three ordinary pieces of matzo. I roll up my sleeves and shuffle the three pieces of matzo. Then I say abracadabra and I break the middle piece of matzo to make the Afikoman. “I just turned an Ordinary Piece of Matzo into an extraordinary piece of Matzo!”
The Four Sons
Have the children act out the parts of the Four Sons. The Wicked, Wise, Simple, and the one who can’t ask a question.
One way to think about the Four Sons is to point out that there are “FOUR” sides to each of us. Talk with the kids about the idea that there is no single right path to understanding. That we are each sometimes wicked, wise, simple and often don’t know how to ask the right question.
Note: this doesn’t have to be the Four Sons. It can be the Four Children, or even the Four Daughters!
Opening the Door for Elijah & Elijah’s Cup
You can ask the kids to open the front door to see if Elijah has come. Do this before saying the blessing over Elijah’s Cup of Wine, and then say the blessing together.
By welcoming Elijah, we welcome goodness and help for the needy into our Seder and into our hearts.
We have finger puppets for the kids to share in acting out the Ten Plagues as we sing them. Please remember not to lick your finger when you dip into the wine. You are not supposed to lick the ten plagues into your mouth! The kids love this warning!
Give the children finger puppets or small toys to act out the ten plagues.
Give each child a small glass of “kid” wine. Have them dip a finger in the glass and place a drop on a plate for each plague as you recite the words in English and/or in Hebrew.
The Afikoman Hunt
Hide the Afikoman, or get a child to steal it.
At the end of the meal, have the kids find the Afikoman, or bring it back to you so you can end the service. Give a reward to all of the children for finding it.
The Seder Dinner Discussion
Choose one kid-friendly discussion topic and try to lead a short discussion during the meal with each child and adult sharing their answer to the question.
Treasure Hunt for Afikoman
Two Schools of Thought:
One school has the kids hide or “steal” the Afikoman and then they ransom the Afikoman back to the leader of the Seder. One school has the parents hide the Afikoman. In our family, the leader of the Seder hides the Afikoman and then the kids find it.
I give the same prize to ALL of the kids for returning the Afikoman. Many Families only reward the actual kid who found the Afikoman. This is particularly sensitive for me because I NEVER found the Afikoman when I was growing up.
I like to give a special coin as gifts. You can buy silver plated coins, or Israeli coins from a local pawn/coin shop in your area. Or find a small sentimental gift that you can give to each kid.
Final answer: All are good. Just make it fun and meaningful for the family. You get to establish your own traditions for your own family.
Sharing the Afikoman: To conclude the Seder, everyone takes at least a tiny bite of the Afikoman. This is a good moment to sing a rousing Passover song as a concluding activity.