Update: this Haggadah was a hit when I made it seven years ago, however you might prefer to check out this new updated Sensory Haggadah template blog post!
The Passover Seder is all about passing things on to the children. The “Haggadah”, or the guide book to the Seder, literally means “telling”. Involving even the youngest in a hands-on way is a priority among Jewish families around the world.
While M will most likely be sleeping for the Seder, he will celebrate the rest of the holiday along with us. I wanted him to have a way to join in the conversation on his own level. I also wanted it to be durable so that he can use it next year again.
This Haggadah simply takes him through the fourteen stages of the Seder in a tactile way. I gathered all the junk I had lying around my house to find as many different textures as possible. I did it spontaneously, with little planning.
Originally, I wanted to include the Hebrew word for each part of the Seder. Eventually, I decided not to, since he does not recognize any letters anyway. I wanted to limit it (mostly) to shapes and forms that he can identify. I had already done a few, so I kept those intact. I will include the Hebrew text below in case you want to include that as well.
Supplies list for the sensory Haggadah for toddlers:
Raid your house and craft room to see how many things you can find! Start with what you have around. Here are some essentials (for building the book) and some of my favorites (links are affiliate links):
- Four sheets of (approximately) 9×12 inch felt
- Thin ribbon, plus any scrap ribbons you have, in every texture and fabric, including burlap.
- Detail scissors
- Hot glue gun (best for gluing fabrics, and other porous materials)
- e6000 glue (best for gluing smooth and non-porous materials)
- Tacky glue (for gluing simpler materials)
- Puffy paints – I would have used this more, but since I was doing it last minute did not have time to wait for it to dry. It creates a lovely, durable, smooth texture. It’s perfect for adding details or text.
- Fabrics in all sorts of textures – satin, polyester, cotton, denim, flannel, etc. I also had scrap vinyl lying around.
- Duck Brand tapes of all types – washi, duct, glitter, fabric, etc. I also really enjoyed having thin washi tapes in solid colors handy for details.
- Plenty of sharpies for details, marking, etc.
Making the sensory Haggadah for toddlers:
Step 1: Layer the 4 sheets of felt one on top of the other, and fold in half to mark the center.
Step 2: Mark four holes going down, as pictured, on the top layer.
Step 3: Cut out these holes, going through all eight (folded) layers of your felt. Use detail scissors for this (unless you have a hole punch that can do the job.) I only marked the top layer with a Sharpie, and made the others visible by poking the detail scissors through. This ensured that they were aligned.
Step 4: Create your pages (below), bearing in mind not to go past the holes. If you are including Hebrew, bear in mind that Hebrew text goes from right to left. Hebrew books open from right to left. That is the direction that I did my Haggadah in.
Step 5: Cut four pieces of ribbon and thread them through the holes from the outside, one layer at a time. Tie in a bow on the outside, and glue the bow to secure it.
Sensory Haggah Pages:
The pages in the photos are right to left.
HEBREW TEXT: הגדה של פסח
I simply outlined the text in Hebrew using the puff paints. I enjoy drawing Hebrew letters, but you can definitely write “Passover Haggadah” if you don’t want to tackle the Hebrew.
Page 1 – Kadesh
HEBREW TEXT: קדש
The ritual blessing over wine (or grape juice) starts off the Seder. This is the only holiday where the entire family makes this blessing, and drinks the entire cup, not just the head.
I made this using a piece of burgundy fabric, with half a plastic cup placed over it. M loves the ridges on the cup, and it bounces back well after he squishes it. The wine bottle is denim (from old jeans) and felt.
Page 2 – Urchatz
HEBREW TEXT: ורחץ
Hands are washed using a washing cup. I used vinyl scraps for the washing cup and glitter tape (which has a rough texture) for the water. Any time you use tape, I do recommend gluing it on as well (besides for the duct tape). The washing cup was drawn on the back of the vinyl, then cut out.
Page 3 – Karpas
HEBREW TEXT: כרפס
A vegetable is dipped into salt water to commemorate the tears our ancestors cried while enslaved.
I used washi tape for the carrot, burlap ribbon for the leafy part, and fabric tape for the bowl parts. I love the different textures on this one, especially the burlap.
Page 4 – Yachatz
HEBREW TEXT: יחץ
A Matzah is broken in half. The larger one is chosen as the Afikoman, to be later “captured” and hidden by the children (a game designed as an incentive to motivate children to stay awake for the entire Seder). The smaller is put back on the Matzah plate, to be eaten later.
I used a soft, furry fabric for this. Had I been designing this a year later, I may have made it more obvious which is bigger, to make the Haggadah more interactive for the child. The duct tape underneath adds an extra texture to the page.
Page 5 – Maggid
HEBREW TEXT: מגיד
This is the “main” part of the Seder where the entire story of the exodus is told. The primary commandment that is required to fulfill the entire Seder, is to mention three things: The Passover lamb, the Matzah, and the bitter herbs. While there are many angles that can be taken with this single page, I chose this angle. Alternatively, you can focus on the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, the four sons, or anything else.
I made the lamb by drawing on a remnant with a Sharpie. I glued on top a cotton ball. The Matzahs are wooden circles,. The bitter herb (horseradish in this case) is made of burlap fabric and washi tape (glued on). This page is very fun for M as there are many, many different textures to explore.
Page 6 – Rachtzah
HEBREW TEXT: רחצה
Hands are washed again, this time ritually for bread.
The washing cup is silver foil, the water is made from matte, metalic card stock, and the hand from the reverse side of flannel (nice ‘n soft). I left the frayed edge of the flannel for extra exploration.
Page 7 – Motzi Matzah
HEBREW TEXT: מוציא מצה
We finally eat some Matzah!
The mouth is made out of sandpaper. I wanted to include this extra rough texture, but in a small amount. This was the perfect place for it. The Matzah is a coffee filter. It was a bit of a challenge to find so many different materials to use for Matzah to avoid being overly-repetitious, but a little creativity did the trick.
Page 8 – Maror
HEBREW TEXT: מרור
Bitter herbs are eaten. While in many homes this is actually romaine leaves, I decided to go with the traditional horseradish root.
The horseradish is once again burlap ribbon (I wanted to use this somewhere in a larger quantity). This time I made the leafy part from soft stretch fabric. If you have an old green t-shirt that is perfect for this.
Page 9 – Korech
HEBREW TEXT: כורך
A sandwich is made from the Matzah and bitter herbs. This time I did use the “romaine leaves” as my herb.
I made mine using more vinyl as Matzah, and more burlap fabric as the romaine leaves.
Page 10 – Shulchan Orech
HEBREW TEXT: שולחן עורך
Here is where the actual holiday feast is eaten.
The tablecloth is a piece of satin ribbon, with a washi tape runner. The vase is more fabric tape. The flower is a stemmed flower, intended for floral projects. The cutlery was made out of silver foil.
Page 11 – Tzafun
HEBREW TEXT: צפון
This is where the Afikoman is eaten. The children, who have captured the large half of the Matzah during “Yachatz”, usually barter with the parents for a prize in exchange for returning it. Each family member eats a piece as “dessert”.
The Matzah is the fuzzy fabric used on my Yachatz page, to create a connection. The bag is cut from a burgundy bandana.
Page 12 – Barech
HEBREW TEXT: ברך
The grace after the meal is recited.
I created a simple “prayer book” with a duct tape cover, as prayer books are often leather bound. I accidentally glued it down so that it reads from left to right. A traditional prayer book normally reads from right to left.
Page 13 – Hallel
HEBREW TEXT: הלל
The “Hallel” prayer of praise is recited. This includes lots of songs, sung together as a family.
I chose to portray this as a treble clef. My first attempt flopped, so I covered the entire page in duct tape and tried again. This gives the background a smooth ‘n shiny + bumpy feel instead of the usual soft felt. I glued on a piece of pearl trim (you can use an old fake pearl strand) in the correct shape.
Page 14 – Nirtzah
HEBREW TEXT: נירצה
The “finale” of the Seder includes various songs in various themes. I decided to focus on the most age appropriate one – the “numbers” song. This song teaches the signinficance of various numbers in the Jewish religion.
I glued ribbons of varying textures in the shape of numbers 1-5. I admit, I did mess up a little on 5, but M is not up to learning numbers yet in any case…
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