Last year we had our first toddler seder, which mostly consisted of toddlers eating cream cheese on matza. This year we challenged ourselves to make a more engaging seder that actually tells the story.
We wrote the kids names on paper bags and placed the following in each:
4 Colorful Band Aids
4 toy frogs
2 black/brown bugs
2 green bugs
1 small wild animal (lion, tiger, bear, giraffe)
3 ping pong balls
2 blue tablecloths with the plastic-y top spread out on our floor.
Two bubble guns.
We used wooden blocks with Hebrew letters on them.
Seder Plate: Enhanced!
Besides making the seder plate according to the Maxwell House Hagaddah instructions, we also offered extra karpas:
Kedem Organic Grape Juice
Small neon-colored shot-cups
Hard boiled eggs
Matza ball soup
Chicken with herbs
Roasted potatoes with leeks
The Toddler Seder
We brought out the building blocks and asked the kids to build a tower. As they began building I said:
A long time ago, our people were builders in Egypt.
It was hard.
The Egyptians were mean.
We cried: Let us go!
Pharaoh said: No!
So there were 10 plagues to change his mind.
The Ten Plagues
1 – Blood: Parents and toddlers put on the neon band aids.
2 – Frogs: Asked kids to ribbit, and hop around like frogs. One parent knew a frog song.
3 – Lice: Two of the bugs in the bag.
4 – Wild Beasts: Each kid got a different one.
5 – Pestilence: Way too long a word.
6 – Boils: I wanted to give out red markers so they could make dots on themselves. But we felt that parents may not be keen about marking up their kids. Round red stickers would have done well, but there were none at the dollar store.
7 – Hail: The kids threw around ping pong balls.
We skipped the death of the first born.
And we left Egypt in a hurry. So the bread didn’t have time to rise, so we ate matza. And then we reached the water!
I removed the two bubble guns from a drawer and started shooting off bubbles. I asked the kids to march through the bubbles to simulate walking through the sea. Another parent gave each kid a fish sticker.
At a recent tot-shabbat at Kol Tzedek we picked up a nice twist on a toddler Dayenu. Instead of the actual words, we gave the kids “happy-and-you-know-it” directions:
Everybody clap your hands
Clap your hands
Clap your hands
Everybody clap your hands, Dayenu…
Everybody stomp your feet
Stomp your feet
Stomp your feet
Everybody stomp your feet, Dayenu…
The Seder and Meal
I told our guests that there are three things that one must say at the seder. As I said each thing, I raised it up so everyone could see:
I made a full kiddush, washed, and then broke matza, distributing it to kids and parents alike. We then ate the horseradish with romaine lettuce and some charoset. We then went straight into the meal:
Home Made Gefilte Fish with Home Made Chraiine. (I’ve never written chraiine before. Not sure about the spelling. It’s horseradish and beets…)
Matza Ball Soup
Guests brought fruit and passover cookies.
I broke out our killer macaroon collection.
Overall, it was a great success.
We called the Seder for 4:30 with the assumption that the meal would be over at around 6:30. That would make it possible to get the kids home at 7:00 and into bed at a normal bedtime. We were pretty much on schedule throughout.
The kids really enjoyed the bags. It was a much more fitting gift for the kids than some kind of Afikoman present. The traditional Afikoman play is a form of extortion, and toddlers aren’t quite savvy enough for that kind of exploitation. But they love opening bags of things. And band aids. And bubbles.
Notes for next year:
Send parents the menu and the program ahead of time.
Make sure to put out the blocks before the bags.
Don’t burn the brisket.
Open the second bottle of wine when the first one is down to 1/3.
Assign someone to take pictures and video.