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Ten Ways to Make Your Family Seder Accessible for All Learners

Meredith Polsky

Passover is multi-sensory, MatanThe Purim costumes are hardly off our children. The smell of cotton candy and popcorn lingers in the air. We can still hear the melodies of favorite songs used in schpiel parodies. And it might be weeks until we clean up the last of the hamantashen crumbs. And yet, within days of Purim it is time to be thinking ahead to Passover. As with all things that make inclusion successful, an inclusive Passover seder requires planning and intention. Here are some wonderful ideas to get you started.

Passover is an ideal holiday to explore multi-sensory ways of reaching every type of learner at your seder. You can incorporate activities that engage participants not only through visual and auditory information, but also through touch, taste, and smell. Whether your goal is to keep everyone’s attention, help individuals understand the story or encourage participation from every guest, below are ten of our favorite ways to keep the seder interesting, active and fun!

1. Use a Seder Tracker to maximize children’s attention. In the Matan Seder Tracker, children add each step of the seder as it is completed.

2. Kadesh: Give your child very small cups so that they can drink a full cup at each of the 4 times during the seder.  If they don’t like grape juice, don’t worry. You can fill their cups with water so that they can participate in drinking from their cups 4 times.

3. Urchatz: Have your guests share a way they prepared for Passover and do not forget to include the kids! They can share something they did at Hebrew School or if they searched for crumbs in their house, they can share the funniest place they found something. This is a good activity when people are busy washing their hands.

4. Karpas: Have your child make the salt water. They can do this during the beginning of the seder or before it starts. During the seder, they can keep adding more salt as an experiment – how much salt do they need to make something float?

5. Maggid: Telling the story of Passover is typically the longest part of the seder. Consider setting up stations in your home. You could have a pyramid station where there are legos, Lincoln logs and anything else they could use to build pyramids and a dress-up station with towels and bathrobes so that they might pretend to be Pharoah or the slaves. Stations allow children and other participants an opportunity to get up and move rather than sit through the whole seder, increasing their ability to attend during times when they must sit. You could make pyramids at the table, too. Provide sugar cubes or marshmallows and toothpicks and see how high they can make their pyramid.

pyramid for the seder, Matan6. Download Matan’s visual Ten Plagues so that everyone at the seder knows just how much G-d was helping the Jewish People to get out of Egypt!

7. Maror: Talk about things that are bitter in the world. Ask the kids (and adults!) to share something “bitter” they would like to fix in the world.

8. Barech: Blessings after the meal – a great time to have your kids tell you something they are thankful for.

9. The song “Who Knows One” is very popular at many Passover Seders, but for some kids it can be difficult to keep up and remember which number goes with what. Print Matan’s visual version “Who Knows One” so that everyone at your seder can have fun participating!

10. Play Passover Seder Bingo! A favorite of children and adults alike, give a bingo board and stickers to every person at your seder. When they hear each part of the seder, they find it on their board and put a sticker on it. When the whole card is filled up, the seder is over!

Remember, a seder is only as successful as the youngest participant’s ability to engage and find meaning. Successful inclusion requires planning. Whatever elements you decide to incorporate this year, have fun!

Written by Meredith Polsky of Matan, a version of this post originally appeared on the New York Jewish Week’s The New Normal in April, 2014

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