A seder plate the size of a hula hoop—because it is a hula hoop—makes an unforgettable project and display. Kids can learn or review the symbolic foods and traditional placement thereof; work individually or in small groups; and create a teaching prop that gets noticed even in cavernous synagogue social halls.
The plate is a hula hoop stretched with paper and taped on the back.* Each symbolic food is represented on a disposable paper plate. Choose a method below.
Method: Quick or slow. If you have 30 minutes or less, kids sketch with pencil, color in with crayon (not marker) and then outline with dark Sharpie. (They can make labels too, if they have a model for how to spell each word. See last image below.) If you have more time, kids can collage the objects. If you have even more time, kids can make 3-D assemblages using scrap, junk, stuff. Trash Art!
How many symbols: 5 or 6? Both are “kosher.” The real question is how many will fit. Not all hula hoops are the same size, so figure out how many small plates can fit on yours. I can squeeze 6 cheap, scalloped plates (or strudier Chinet) around the edge of my hoop. For my class, I needed all 6 so we could dive into the whole Maror vs. Chazeret thing.**
PREP and WHAT TO HAVE IN THE CLASSROOM:
The real foods for reference, ideally (see below)
A real seder plate
A haggadah wouldn’t hurt, either
A printable coloring sheet with the right placement and spellings
Big paper (36″ wide) and tape
Materials you’ve already got stashed somewhere
THE SYMBOLIC FOODS:
Real Stuff: How can a kid re-present maror if he doesn’t know what maror is? Please have samples of the real foods on hand. Don’t expect even older kids to remember what the foods are and what they stand for. Ideally, you will have already done a Teaching the Seder Plate: Real Symbolic Foods lesson, but if you haven’t, it’s worth the trouble to whip up samples. I keep bones and Easter eggs in storage, so all I have to do is pluck parsley from our school garden tub, buy a horseradish root, and then grate half an apple to make a quick charoset. If you have the time, do all this with the kids before the hula hoop upcycle.
Fake Stuff: Here comes the meat of the lesson: how to symbolize symbols. Anything goes, as long as the symbol can be recognized. Ideally, you will use trash / snippets / junk. Keep weight in mind. Your hula hoop substrate is paper: it won’t be able to handle anything metal or glass or otherwise heavy. Sort materials by color or make the kids do it beforehand. Or not. Wing it according to your comfort level.
Craft foam scraps
Paper scraps, all kinds
Crumpled tissue paper
Masking tape (to cover stuff or to wad as sculptural element)
Fabric scraps (designer sample books are good)
Old buttons, beads, sequins
Bottle and jar caps and lids
Old marker caps
Floral stuff: plastic and silk
Yarn, string, ribbon
Cotton balls, pompoms, pipe cleaners, feathers
IDEAS, to get you started:
Maror / Bitter Herb: Grated root = chunky bits in beige or red; whole root = toilet roll wrapped in masking tape.
Zeroa / Bone: brown lunch sack twisted; paper towel roll painted to look scorched.
Beitzah / Egg: cotton balls or pompoms glued together; a flat, white cardboard collage; styrofoam balls, trimmed; painted foam football; white tissue covering wadded tissue.
Charoset: a mishmash of red, brown, purple, beige bits.
Karpas / Spring Veg: fake floral; green scraps; beige scraps (if representing a potato); green pipe cleaners with green pompoms.
Chazeret / 2nd Bitter Herb: green fabric or craft foam (for romaine or endive); shreds of beige or red (for grated horseradish).
Tell me what your kids use!
PLACEMENT of symbols: It matters. I didn’t realize this in the early days, but there is an order to the seder plate. See my post about where the symbols go. I made the guide out of desperation, because I seem to forget the details from year to year, and couldn’t find a good source to remind me.
TIPS and OPTIONS:
How to display: An easel is fine as long as the back support is taller than the plate (otherwise, it might break through the front).
Or, hang the plate by taping string to two equidistant spots on the top back of the hoop. Decide whether to hang it within or beyond the reach of little fingers.
*Use wallpaper, Tyvek, or heavy vinyl tablecloth on the hula hoop if you need something more durable than paper.
**Maror vs. Chazeret: both are bitter herbs. Maror gets its own eponymous step in the Haggadah (“Maror”). Chazeret is the second bitter herb, and not used until the “Korech” step of a seder, when we add it to the “Hillel sandwich.” So, if a plate has 6 symbols, Maror would look like the root (solid) and Chazeret would be depicted as the grated root/Chrain. Or, some people use romaine lettuce or endive as Chazeret.
***If you don’t have a supply of scrap, ask for junk donations. (Ask for hula hoops, too.) If you get more stuff than you need or know what to do with, your students will figure it out if allowed time to tinker on a designated scrap art day. All ages love scrap art. Never throw anything away!
P.P.S. The Dollar Tree sells dollar hoops, but they may be a seasonal item.
Below is a good sheet to show kids correct placement, spellings, and an illustration of each symbol (but they still need a real seder plate on view):