Holidays Parenting Passover Passover Songleading Young Children

Step Up Your Seder: Personalized Strategies for Meaningful Connections

So- you want to throw an awesome seder? Me, too!

Hosting a Passover Seder can be an intimidating task, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. By aligning with your participants’ needs, incorporating music, and borrowing principles from curriculum design, you can create a personalized and meaningful Seder experience for everyone

SETTING YOUR SEDER GOALS: Aligning with participants’ needs and desires

In order to step up your seder, increase your intention. Articulating the goals helps organize thinking so that the goals immediately become more achievable.

Start by determining the goals of your Seder. Think about the key elements you want participants, especially children, to retain from the experience. Ask yourself questions like “What do I want participants to walk away with after the Seder?” This will help guide your planning and tailor the experience to your attendees.

Example Goals of Seder

  • Bring family and friends together in a social, celebratory setting
  • Involve each individual participant in a way that honors their individuality 
  • Observe central mitvot (commandments): tell story, drink 4 cups, eat matzah, eat maror
  • Sing & share traditional and contemporary songs & blessings 
  • Expose, explore and explain seder rituals to kids and guests in meaningful, memorable ways
  • Prepare and enjoy Passover food: family recipes and updated classics

So- seriously- what is the big idea here?

In early childhood learning, the concept of a “big idea” refers to a central theme or main concept that is meaningful to the learners. This key concept helps teachers (and parents) focus on the most important aspects of a learning experience, ensuring that the content is relevant and engaging for the young audience. Identify one or more big ideas to emphasize to help your youngest learners make meaning.

Example Big Ideas for Seder:

  • All people should be free to make their own choices.
  • We enjoy freedom because the people who came before us worked for it. 
  • Jewish people tell stories of our history to connect our community to our history.

Be Responsive and Flexible in Meeting Your Participant Needs

When I host (personally or professionally), I strive to make each guest feel like we prepared to welcome them (specifically). Our tradition teaches us to “Educate the child according to his way; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6), so tailoring the experience for your littles is sacred tradition (and is most definitely not treating them like snowflakes or fostering entitlement). What customizations or supports might your seder crew enjoy?

For example:

  • I use a screen during my seder, and lead from a slide deck- but I also provide printed copies for those who feel more comfortable with that medium
  • I created this Kadesh Urchatz Seder Order placemat for a participant who benefits from visual schedules
  • I provide this Passover Playlist ahead of time because I know it can feel anxious guests feel more confident about participation

Seder KWL Chart

One simple instructional strategy you can borrow is using a KWL chart. It breaks down information into three categories: what you Know (K), Want to Know (W) and Learned (L). A common practice in early learning environments, you might be surprised by what your kiddos share discover with the Seder KWL framework in conjunction with your seder celebration. Here’s my SEDER KWL chart. We’ll work on it as a group just before Seder commences and again at dessert!

Make it Musica!

Infusing music into your seder experience helps create a bond among participants, tapping into the power of melodies and lyrics to evoke positive emotions and connect generations through shared Jewish traditions. By incorporating music, your seder pays homage to the past while fostering unity and togetherness in the present.

  • Set the mood with festive on theme music playing as folks enter.
  • Put bowls of shaker eggs on my table and provide tambourines to each guest!
  • Make and share a Passover Playlist to curate a collective repertoire.
  • Play Passover Name That Tune using that playlist!

Reflect in Connection

Reflecting on our experiences allows us to evaluate what has worked well and identify areas for growth, ultimately leading to continuous improvement year after year. By engaging in thoughtful reflection, we can better understand the strengths of our seder experience, address challenges, and adapt our approach to foster deeper connections and meaning in our celebrations.

The appropriate ‘reflection’ differs from person to person… 

  • In order to assess my kids’ understanding of matzah and maror, I might invite my 5 year old to explain it to a non-Jewish friend during a playdate. 
  • In order to gauge the understanding of passover story, I might give my kids these sequencing cards while we prep dessert to see if they can re-tell the story we shared during seder 
  • In order to evaluate my goal of serving delicious foods, I might text the attendees the following day ‘Looking for feedback for next year’s menu- which two dishes should be included again?’

There are plenty of articles about seder schtick (check out 4 Hacks To Make Your Seder More Fun by yours truly)  and there is room for all sorts of celebratory shenanigans within your Seder. I hope you choose wisely and carefully- as you decide what HaGaddah will guide you or which props you might want to add to your table. No matter the people, the food, or the minhag around your table, I hope your intention setting guides you towards a joyous and meaningful holiday.  If you are looking for more engaging strategies, check out Passover Songs for Kiddos!

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