Let’s Celebrate Easter!
Easter is always an exciting time for kids. Many families have Easter traditions that kids eagerly await. Even the local church has special Easter traditions that help us set this day aside as something out of the ordinary.
Children think concretely. They understand Easter in vivid, literal images. They understand that God brought Jesus back to life in a literal way, but from that point on the story gets abstract. What does it mean that Jesus now lives forever with God? What does it mean that Jesus is now always with us? These are abstract ideas that we must be careful with when dealing with the Easter story.
Easter egg hunts, new clothes, Easter baskets, and lots of other distractions can take away from the good news of this day. Children need help experiencing what Easter is about. As we teach them, we must not ignore their questions about Easter. Even when they ask those unanswerable questions, we can still help them deal with the reality of Easter.
God did something incomprehensible. Through God’s power, Jesus defeated death. Everything we are as Christians is held together by the impact of Easter. The empty tomb was God’s final statement that we are His children, and not even the finality of death is more powerful than faith in our risen Lord. What a reason to CELEBRATE!
IDEAS YOU CAN USE
Celebrating Easter: Resurrection Eggs
Many of you have seen the plastic “Resurrection Eggs” that are used to tell the story of the Christian Easter celebration. Did you know that these can easily, and economically, be made at home?
First, purchase 12 plastic Easter eggs, the kind that you can open and fill. I recommend the size that can fit in a Styrofoam or cardboard egg carton. You can reuse one that you bring home eggs in from the grocery. This makes for easy storage so that you can use these many times without losing any of the bits and pieces.
If possible, try and have each of the 12 eggs a different color. This makes it easier as well. If having 12 different colors isn’t an option, use a permanent marker to write the number 1 through 12 on each egg and then put them in the egg carton.
Into each egg place the item and scripture reference written on a small piece of paper.
Message — Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people waved palm branches.
Passage — Matthew 21:1-11
Item — Piece of palm branch. Another option for those of you with extra Lego parts or plastic novelty beads would be to place a small plastic leaf in the egg.
Message — Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.
Passage — John 12:2-8
Items — Small perfume sample or cloth with perfume or a piece of cotton with cologne on it
Message — Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples.
Passage — Matthew 26:17-19
Item – a piece of Chex cereal; or take clay and make a small bread-like shape
Message — Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Passage — Matthew 27:3
Item — 3 dimes or plastic “silver” money
Message — Jesus carried His own cross.
Passage — John 19:17
Item – toothpicks or Popsicle stick cut and glued in a cross form; or, a small plastic cross from a Christmas ornament or necklace.
Message — Soldiers placed a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head.
Passage — John 19:2
Item — Small thorny branch, or a large thorn all by itself.
Message — Soldiers parted Jesus’ garments and cast lots for His coat.
Passage — John 19:23
Item — Swatch of burlap and a nail. I’ve also seen miniature dice used for this one.
Message — Jesus was nailed to a cross and pierced in His side.
Passage — John 19:18,37 & John 20:25-29
Item — A nail
Message — They gave Jesus vinegar mixed with gall on a sponge to drink.
Passage — Matthew 27:34
Item — A small sponge
Message — Spices to prepare Jesus for burial.
Passage — John 19:40
Item — 7 or 8 whole cloves, or other whole spices
Message — The stone covering Jesus’ tomb was rolled away.
Passage — John 20:1
Item — A small rock
Message — The napkin around Jesus’ head was lying separately from His linen clothes. He was not there. He has risen!
Passage — John 20:6-7
Items — A scrap of linen-type fabric
Note: I have seen these done slightly different or using slightly different items. If you have to substitute and use different items, that’s OK. The point is to get the story across from the point that Jesus rides into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (now celebrated as Palm Sunday) to when it is discovered that is no longer in his tomb but has Risen (Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Day).
Photocopy and give this Easter Week devotion plan to the families in your church.
- Palm Sunday—Read aloud Mark 11:1-11.
Make palm-leaf cookies. Cut frozen cookie dough into 2 X 1/2-inch strips. Place aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Roll the cookie strips and shape them into an outline of a palm leaf on the foil. Close all edges in the outline. Crush green candies in a bag with a hammer, and sprinkle to fill in the cookie center. Bake at 375 degrees for about eight minutes. Contrast the sweetness of the cookies with the harshness of breaking the candies with a hammer. Tell your children that this was a sweet day for Jesus, but he knew that soon he would be broken–or would die–for our sins.
- Monday—Read aloud Mark 11:15-18.
Tell your children that this area of the temple was the place non-Jews could come to pray, but it had become a dirty, noisy, un-worshipful place. Together, decorate a worshipful space in your home for Easter Week. Include a Bible, candles, and an area to display the items you’ll use this week. You can review these items at the beginning of each devotion. A small, bare tree branch laced with white Christmas lights makes a nice backdrop. Light the candles or turn on the lights only during devotions to keep it special and meaningful.
- Tuesday—Read aloud Mark 14:3-9.
This woman gave Jesus a gift that was very precious. We can give gifts that come from our heart, too. As each child shares something he or she can do to honor Jesus, spray perfume into the air or on the child. Decorate a beautiful piece of paper and form a cylinder around the perfume bottle for display at your family worship space.
- Wednesday—Read aloud Matthew 26:14-16.
You’ll need 30 dimes. Tell kids that Judas betrayed Jesus for about 120 days wages. Let the kids count the dimes and place them at your family worship space. Ask, “Was Jesus’ life on earth worth more than 30 pieces of silver? Why or why not? What was the true value of Jesus’ life to our family?”
- Thursday—Read aloud John 13:1-5.
Jesus washed feet to show his love. Have a bowl, a bar of soap, and paper towels ready. Take turns washing each other’s hands and drying them as you express love to each other. Display the soap at your family worship space.
- Friday—Read aloud Mark 15:21-39.
You’ll need two horseshoe or carpenter’s nails, light gauge wire, and a shoelace for each child. Help children lay their nails across each other like a cross, then start wrapping the wire around the point where the nails intersect to bind the nails into a cross. Crisscross the wire in the center. Have the kids recall an event of the Crucifixion with each wrap. Wrap more wire around the top and make a loop to hold the shoelace.
- Saturday—Read aloud Mark 15:42-47.
Take turns wrapping each other in toilet paper just as Jesus may’ve looked when prepared for burial. Talk about how the disciples might’ve felt when all their hopes seemed destroyed when Jesus died. Ask, “How would you have felt if you had been there when Jesus died? What would you have done?”
Talk about how the burial isn’t the end of the story, but that it was a very sad day for Jesus’ friends.
- Sunday—Read aloud Luke 24:1-9.
You’ll need cupcakes and a trick re-lighting candle. Light it and talk about how Jesus came to be the light of the world. On Saturday, it looked like the light had been blown out. Blow out the candle and wait in silence while the flame is gone. When the flame comes back, celebrate! Point out that nothing can ever snuff out Jesus, the light of the world.
To be made the evening before Easter.
You will need:
- 1c. whole pecans
- 1 tsp. vinegar
- 3 egg whites
- a pinch salt
- 1c. sugar
- zipper baggie
- wooden spoon
- Preheat oven to 300
- Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.
- Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.
- Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.
- Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.
- So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.
- Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
- Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.
- Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. Read Matt.27:65-66.
- GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
- On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
The story of Jesus tells us of Jesus’ greatest miracle. He rose form the dead. Read the story to the children and have them follow along with the actions.
Some men in power hated Jesus (Children shake fists in anger.)
He was arrested. They placed a crown, made from thorns, on his head. (Children place hands on top of head, cupped like a crown.)
They placed Him on a cross to die. Friends took His body and placed it in a tomb. (Children stretch out arms and look towards sky.)
A large stone was placed over the opening to the tomb. (Children sit on floor quietly.)
On Easter morning some women went to the tomb. The heavy stone was gone. An angel was there and said, “Jesus has gone! He is alive! Go and tell His disciples He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.” (Children jump up smiling, filled with joy.)
Jesus stayed on Earth for several days so His disciples could see Him and know God was really His Father. Then one day while He was talking to the disciples, He disappeared into the clouds. God took Him back to heaven.
That is how we know Jesus was God’s Son. That is why we love and worship Jesus on Easter morning and on every day of our lives. Jesus lived on Earth to tell people about His Father in heaven.
Type this poem on card stock (arranged to be like a card with the fold on the top) and allow the children to decorate the card stock with Easter stamps. They put jellybeans in a Ziploc bag and then staple the card onto the top of the baggie.
RED is for the blood He gave.
GREEN is for the grass He made.
YELLOW is for the sunflowers so bright.
BLACK is for the dark of night.
WHITE is for the grace He gave.
ORANGE is for the sun He made.
PURPLE is for the hours of sorrow.
PINK is for our new tomorrow.
A bag full of jelly beans, colorful and sweet.
It’s a prayer, a promise, and a child’s treat.
May the risen Lord Bless you this Easter and always.
HE IS RISEN Laced Paper Plate Craft:
What you will need: Paper plate, scissors, markers, crayons, or stickers, hole punch, yarn, tape, (Optional) construction paper and paper fastener
What to do:
- Cut a paper plate in half.
- Cut a half circle out of the bottom of one of the plate halves.
- Use markers or crayons or stickers to decorate the plate halves with bright flowers.
- Hold the two halves of the plates together and punch holes 1″ apart along the curved sides.
- Tape one end of a piece of yarn to make a needle and knot the other end. Holding the halves together, lace around the curved sides. Attach the yarn end to the back with tape.
- Write “He is risen” on the inside behind the cutout half circle.
- Hang up your project with a loop of yarn.
Other ideas: Cut a construction paper circle for the stone and glue it to one side of the entrance.
Draw an angel inside the tomb and the two Mary’s on the outside.
Easter Surprise Packages Craft
When talking about the surprise Jesus’ friends must have felt about the empty tomb have the kids make surprise packages. You can also use this as an outreach tool. Hand out these gifts and in the inside put candy and a message explaining that Jesus gave us the greatest gift off all, eternal life, by dying on the cross for our sins.
What you will need: Toilet paper tubes, wrapping or tissue paper, tape, chenille wires, index cards, markers stickers, small candies, gum or toys.
What to do: Have each child print a bible verse (Easter related) on an index card and then decorate the card. Fold or roll it to fit in the tube; then fill with candy and wrap with paper and tie ends with the chenille wires (like the English cracker style). Have them give it to someone to surprise them. Then you surprise your students with one for them that you made the night before.
Originally printed as the Volume 9, Issue 3 of the CM Newsletter, March 2005, Contributing Editor: Bess Croyle