What can be a meaningful way to keep our children involved, excited and interested during the Seder?
Our Rabbis of blessed memory, themselves, built into the Seder some elements to assist us. We do unusual and different things, such as dipping the Karpas or covering and uncovering the Qe'erah (dish) - all in order to arouse the children's curiosity, and to prompt them to ask questions. The method of interactive teaching, is not an invention of this century.
Many communities have different customs, which revolve around the children. "Dramatic play", an educational technique which enhances one's learning, is used in many Sephardi communities. The children, who take the role of the Jewish people coming out of Egypt, leave the room with massah tied on the shoulder of the youngest one. They return to the seder table and are asked by the adults where they came from, where they are going to and what they are carrying with them. Ashkenazim have the custom of hiding and finding the Afiqomen, in order to keep the children awake.
It is important to build up the anticipation of our children for this special night. We can teach the story of the Haggadah, learn how to read the Haggadah with a special tune and sing the special songs. Young children can color pictures connected with the story such as the ten plagues, the splitting of the Red sea and refer to it on the night.
I suggest involving the children in the preparation for the Seder. They can help preparing the Haleq/Haroseth, checking the lettuce etc. We can consult with them for creative ideas of setting and decorating the table to create a festive atmosphere.
Of course, older children who spend much time in school learning about Pesah should be encouraged to share their words of Torah. We can learn a lot from them and enhance our knowledge.
These are some suggestions. Once again, as nurturing mothers, we have a golden opportunity to give each child the chance to shine and connect with a glorious past which leads to a promising future.
Tizku Le'Shaneem Rabboth