Counting the Omer: Make it Fun for Children
Discover creative ways to count the Omer from Passover to Shavuot with your children. Whether through crafting a colorful Omer countdown or introducing a 'Number of the Day' during bath time, here's how to make the Omer count an interactive and memorable experience for your family.
If you’re looking for a creative way to count the Omer from Passover to Shavuot with your children, here’s a few ideas I think you’ll enjoy!
Starting the first night of Passover, the Bible says to count fifty days, or seven weeks, leading up to Shavuot – or most commonly known as Pentecost to Christians.
Then you are to count from the morrow after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering, seven complete Shabbatot. Until the morrow after the seventh Shabbat you are to count fifty days, and then present a new grain offering to ADONAI.Leviticus 23:15-16 TLV
In Judaism, we count the Omer each night for fifty nights and sing the traditional blessing along with it. Here’s an example:
“Tonight is twenty-six nights of the Omer, which is three weeks and five days.”
“Baruch attah ADONAI, Eloheinu Melech ha’Olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer”
“Blessed are You, ADONAI our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to count the omer.”
Learning through Rhythms & Cadence
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about Jewish Sensory Activities for Babies and Toddlers, I’m always looking for ways to help my daughter grow, learn and explore through her senses in a way that is meaningful to her faith in God. And if there’s one thing that Little Baby Bum has taught me over the last few months it’s that children often learn numbers, shapes, and colors with rhythm and cadence through engaging and educational nursery rhymes.
“The ants go marching ten by ten, ha-ra, ha-ra…”
“Five little ducks went swimming one day…”
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, once I caught a fish alive…”
“Five little monkeys jumping on the bed…”
“Ten green bottles standing on the wall…”
Are you singing them in your head yet?
Connecting Faith with Learning
When my daughter was a newborn I didn’t know any nursery rhymes. And to be honest, I didn’t like any of them either. So I sang Hebrew liturgies to her for hours and hours because those were the only songs I knew by heart. (I still sing my daughter the Sh’ma in the morning and the Havdalah melody to put her to sleep every night. She also loves the v’shamru!)
It wasn’t until my older sister — who not only has degrees in music performance but music education for children as well — taught me exactly how nursery rhymes develop a baby’s learning skills and why they’re so vitally important. Blew my mind. I’ll share them (and my sister!) with you sometime. So having learned all of that, I’ve started looking at numbers, shapes, and colors as games, puzzles, and melodies.
I encourage you to take this opportunity of counting the Omer to teach your children something. Whether you teach your older children why we do this every year, or you teach your young children how to count or name colors. There’s always a way to connect faith with learning!
How we’re counting the Omer with our daughter
Instead of running to the craft store to buy all kinds of things to make a really fancy Omer countdown, I took an inventory of what I owned instead. Less thrilling, but probably more wise.
I found a previous crochet project I started and used it to hang cut up pieces of colored cardstock that have numbers drawn on them with a sharpie. Not very creative, but I don’t think my toddler is looking at it going, “Wow, Mom. #Nailedit.” I think she’s looking at it and thinking to herself, “I know those colors. And what are those? Numbers? Why are we singing at them every night? Hmmm..”
Not very creative, right? But it works. And I did it. And it’s finished! And it’s special to us. And now every night we’ll count the Omer together with friends and family, put up a new link, and take a photo together!
Here’s a photo of my daughter counting the Omer with Grandpa at our Family Altar.
And since we’ve been watching Sesame Street, I decided to give our bath time a “Number of the Day”. I have so much fun doing this. She gets into the tub and stares at it like, “What in the world does my Mom keep doing?” but THAT’S what I hope my daughter will remember years from now: that Mom did everything she could to make things real for her.
Here's a photo from another year - 50 days means it's SHAVUOT!
I asked my followers on Instagram if they were counting the Omer in a creative way and this is what they shared with me.
@orotchicago made this one – I LOVE those beads!
@juliasandoval10420 is doing something similar – but these beads have numbers on them and now I’m obsessed. <3
The TLV Bible Society created a printable for counting the omer. It’s available for a direct download on the TLV All-Access Bible app.
And if you’re looking for additional reading on the spiritual significance of counting the Omer, read this recent blog post written by my sweet Mother-in-love at the Tree of Life Bible Society: https://www.tlvbiblesociety.org/articles/the-fullness-of-aviv-why-we-count-the-omer-from-passover-to-shavuot
How are you counting the Omer? Share a photo in the comments below or reach out to me on Instagram at @BrittniGreenberg!