Over the past 15 years, we've cataloged various questions (almost 200!) and games we've played at our seder (and other meals on Pesach).
My wife and I *cannot* take credit for most of this stuff, our children were intimately involved in all the creativity and we've used things we saw on various websites as well.
As everybody knows, the most important thing is to keep the children interested. This generally cannot be done without a *lot* of forethought and planning. My father, A"H, use to give us money for every "good" question we came up with for the seder night. I still remember sitting down with my siblings days before Pesach (and specifically the afternoon of Erev Pesach) thinking of and writing down "good" questions (see below).
Enjoy and may we all be Zoche to see Mashiach Tzidkeinu Bimheira Veyameinu!
Miriam & Ephrayim Naiman and Children!
For many years we asked each child to come up with 2 questions for
each of their siblings. During Maggid, every 5-10 minutes,
we would stop and hand out a question to each child. Once they
had all their questions answered, they received a piece of the
Afikomen which they could "redeem" for a present at Tzafoon.
I've broken up the questions our children came up with into
"Easy" and "Hard", but that is relative, since it depends on the
child's age. I've listed the answers to most of them :-)
One year we put the questions in a format that we handed out
as cards. Various different style questions are very important
for older children, such as "What doesn't belong?", "What is the
common theme?", Multiple Choice, Jeopardy, etc.
Check out: http://www.simchatyechiel.org/Pesach/Cards.pdf
Finally, here is a list of "Which Makka?" questions (in Hebrew)
based on Midda Kenegged Midda. In other words, based on the particular
torment, or pain inflicted, the Egyptians received a particular Makka.
This could also be played as a Charades game (see below).
(This list is compiled in "MiTa'amei Hashulchan", where there are almost 100 of them!)
(The answers are left as an exercise to the reader :-)
2. 20 questions
Tie a scarf around person's head and put a piece of paper in between
the scarf and the forehead. The paper should have a Pesach related
noun on it. The person has to guess the noun on his/her head.
The people around the table who can see the noun can only answer
yes or no, but often some will say yes and others will say no
(lots of fun) and other times the answer isn't yes or no.
This game should *not* be limited to just the children - it's
fun when the adults have to guess as well!
You typically start out with "Is it a person?", "Place?", "Thing?".
This worked out *very* well, great for all ages
(pick nouns that are age appropriate).
See Scarf attachment: http://www.simchatyechiel.org/Pesach/Scarf.pdf.
Have children come up with various number trivia.
4. Grab bag
Another very fun game. Put lots of interesting stuff in a bag (about 10).
Davka older kids like the creative nature of choosing unique items.
Every once in a while in Maggid we would pass the bag around and
pull one out and say how the item was connected to Pesach.
This worked out *very* well, because after the person answered,
the original person who picked the items would say why they thought
it was connected, often not the same answer!
Then other people gave their reason and it generated good conversation.
We had things like a sneaker (leaving Egypt in the middle of the night),
teddy bear (Arove), stuffed dog (the dogs didn't bark),
fruit, toy sheep, gold/silver/jewelry, red item, band-aid,
plastic cow (Devver), keys on a ring (can't remember :-), etc...
This is wonderful for younger kids (or grandkids :-).
Make up a card, 5 by 5, of words from the Hagaddah, and give
each kid 25 marshmallows. Whenever they see or hear a word
on their bingo card, they cover that word with a marshmallow.
When they get a bingo, of course they get to eat the marshmallows!
And when they finish all 25 marshmallows, they get some other prize
(or we used give them a piece of the afikoman which they redeemed
later on in the seder for a present).
Don't worry - they generally don't eat all 25 marshmallows, but if
you think they might ... :-) - then give them different "healthier"
items for each row, like carrots (or whatever you use for Karpas!), etc...
Make a picture at the end of the row, so they remember which item to use.
Even better, we had our older siblings spend time before
Pesach making up the bingo cards for the younger kids!
For pre-readers, use pictures of familiar words mentioned throughout Maggid,
such as: Frogs, Mitzrayim, Horses, etc...
Words that younger children will recognize and know the pictures of...
Make sure to emphasize the word while you're reading them to catch their attention
Also use chocolate chips - smaller and less sugar content than marshmallows.
(Thanx to Zecie Maltz for these last ideas.)
Younger kids prepare charade scenes before Pesach and the adults have to
guess what the scene is about. Keeps them busy for hours before Pesach.
Or kids & adults can play a speed game version, using these cards:
The even pages are the "back-side" of the cards.
If you don't have a double-sided printer, then just print the
odd-page numbers ("subset" field in the PDF print dialog box).
You can then re-insert the pages and print the even-page numbers.
(Thanx to Donna Zeffren from echinuch.org for typing them in.)
Playing Charades of the 50 Miracles on the Yam Suf is also a great way
to envision what is was like to be there:
(These 50 Nissim are elaborated in the Meam Loez.)
7. Interviewee guessing game
Basically, the person interviewed had to guess who he was,
based on the questions he was being asked. For example,
if the interviewee was: "The last person in line in Yetziyat Mitzrayim".
The questions were things like "So, could you see the Mitzriyim over
your shoulder?", etc. Or: "Pharaoh on his day of retirement".
Only worked with much older children.
If your kids ever get into Taboo, have them make up cards related
to Pesach and have their friends do it too - then you switch sets
of cards so nobody knows the words. This game is lots of fun!
Do it at Shoolchan Orech, or on Shabbos Hagadol or Shabbos Chol
Hamoed (we found it too much fun - and disruptive - during Maggid :-).
Depending on the mood, we had each team say something about one of the
cards they won. This is also a great game to foist on guests :-)
Depending on the paper, you may be able to see the text through it,
if so, you can print the following on the back-side of the cards:
(Thanx to Donna Zeffren from echinuch.org for all the typing.)
ImaginIff is a great game - highly recommended.
To setup the full game and instructions, see: http://www.buffalogames.com/fileadmin/content/pdfs/175-INST-06.pdf
10. Treasure hunt
Setup a treasure hunt with 5 clues for each child.
Have a break every 10-15 minutes during Maggid and let the younger
kids search for the next 1 or 2 clues. The last clue brings them
to a piece of the Afikoman which they "redeem" for a present.
This worked great when our kids were much younger.
An idea we used for our Purim Seuda, which could be used for the Seder
is to put together Jeopardy questions. Here are some sample categories:
Personalities, Numbers, Places, Emotions and Dates.
12. Fill in the Blank ... NUMBER!
Thanx to a bunch of people - we've put together 25 "number" trivia questions about Pesach.
Have fun everyone!
Hand out to each child/couple one or two categories/phrases before Pesach.
They then have to come up with a:
Tie the category/phrase into Pesach some way!
They can use Haggadot, friends, google, whatever - but challenge everyone at the Seder!
Here are some starter ideas:
This is a variation on Categories. Instead of giving categories, give a list of Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives and Prepositions and have each person choose 2-3 from each pile and make a Headline connected to Pesach.
Lots of fun for the creative writers in the family!
http://www.simchatyechiel.org/Pesach/Pesach_Headlines.pdfOr just make your own; the point is to imagine what it would be like to live then.
15. Letter Rip
Split the table into 2 (or more) teams and throw out "generic" questions (see below). Each team alternates with answers.
Here are some sample questions (use Hebrew or English letters, depending on your Seder's participants - or both!):
+ Name chametz items that start with the letter "d" or "s"
+ Words connected to freedom that have the letter "l" or "b" in them
+ Emotions felt at the Seder that have the letters "n" or "t" in them
+ Food associated with Pesach that begin with an "f" or "m"
+ Fundamental words associated with Pesach that begin with a "Mem"
Here's a list of "Mem" answers:
The game Compatibility is such a fun game that we made up our own Pesach version.
This game is excellent for a small classroom setting or to keep your older kids busy before Pesach and get them thinking about Pesach.
Or fun for everyone to play together on Pesach afternoon or on Chol Hamoed.
You can print out the Player Cards - 1 set for each player.
Also print out the Personality Cards and the Topic Cards.
If you'd like for each team to have different color decks (easier for sorting), you can download 6 different color decks instead of the templates.
Play is in teams of two. Each person has a deck of picture cards. Each deck has the same set of pictures.
There is also a deck of either Pesach Topic cards in English or Pesach Personality cards s Hebrew. A Topic or Personality word is chosen and each player chooses 5 cards from their deck, arranging them in preference order.
Teams score 1 point for choosing the same picture; and score 1 extra point for a picture that is in the same preference spot.
17. Avoid the Plagues!
The 5 Senses and the 10 Plagues.
The accompanying table will generate lots of conversation and allow you to feel like you are there!
(Thank you Rav Simi Sherman for adding the pictures.)
Pick someone at your Seder, maybe an older sibling, or a sabba/savta combination, whoever it seems most appropriate.
Have them fill out before Pesach which sense was affected for each plague.
It's not as straightforward as you think.
So you think Makkat Bechorot affected all 5 senses?!? Because they were dead?
Uh uh!! Who was the Makka for? Those afflicted? What?!? Devver was for the animals that died?!
Now think again - what senses were affected? From the beginning till the end of each Makka and sometimes past the end! (Hint, hint :-).
At the seder have the person who thought it through present the makkos - it's a great way לראות עצמו!
How about these ...
Which Makkos affected the most senses? (Bet you'll be surprised!)
Which Makkos affected the Egyptian’s food and/or ability to eat?
Which Makkos affected the Egyptian’s ability to sit?
Which Makkos affected the Egyptian’s ability to sleep?
Which Makkos imprisoned the Egyptian’s in their houses?
Which Makkos caused some sort of death to the Egyptians?
Have fun! And keep the questions coming!