Easter traditions and activities for children (minus the bunny)

Easter crosses

Easter is just around the corner and Lent has already begun. It’s time to start thinking about plans for this season if you haven’t already. I want to make more of Easter this year, considering the death and resurrection of Jesus is so important to the Christian faith, and yet Easter seems to creep up on me and not get the attention it deserves.

I have been going back over last years’ ideas¬†(here and here) and pinning a bunch of new ideas to try on my Easter pinboard on Pinterest. (If you haven’t discovered Pinterest yet it’s a great way to keep track of all those wonderful ideas you find on the web and want to get around to doing “some day.”)

The children are colouring one symbol a day during Lent for our wooden cross “Jesus trees” and reading the related story from a fairly detailed children’s bible. I bought all the stuff to make a living hill of Calvary last year and never got it started so that is next on the plan this year. I want to make the tomb cookies with the really cool story …. and the list goes on.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, the oranges in the photo above have no symbolism whatsoever – they just hold up the crosses really well ūüėČ

What are you doing with your children this year?

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Creating Christian Easter traditions

So much hype surrounds Christmas and with all the decorations, gifts and preparation we naturally spend quite a bit of time deliberately focussing on Jesus and the true meaning of the Christmas celebrations. Easter however tended to be very low-key and while we always read to the children about Easter in the bible we felt that much more could be done to mark this important Christian celebration than we had been doing. After all, Easter is when Jesus dies for our sins so that we may be forgiven and enabled us through His death to be judged fit to enter heaven. Probably the most important time in the Christian calendar and yet almost unnoticed for many families, other than a couple of chocolate eggs and a hot cross bun!

The following are a couple of ideas that we have begun and will extend upon over the following years in order to focus our children on the important meaning behind this time of year.

Decorations: We decorate for Christmas, why not Easter? We have started a selection of symbols, books and Easter resources that we use to make a display leading up to the Easter period. This year we are making a living Easter centrepiece that I found here: http://mustardseeds.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/03/tutorial-hill-of-calvary.html

Traditions:

  • We use a sand tray to re-tell the Easter story with a yoghurt pot tomb, rock to cover the entrance, pipecleaner people, popstick crosses, etc. and leave it out for the children to manipulate and play with.
  • On Easter Friday we re-tell the story again using a paper mache tomb that we made together a couple of years ago (in the picture above), wrapping a pipe cleaner “Jesus” in a bandage and sealing him into the tomb by rolling the stone over the entrance. On Easter Sunday we get up before the children, unwrap Jesus and leave the cloth laying in the tomb, roll the stone aside and place an angel figurine from our Christmas decorations on the top of the tomb. The first time we did this my then 5 year old daughter was stunned and stood gaping at the tomb saying in amazement “Jesus really HAS risen!!” We had to explain to her that there hadn’t really been any Easter pipe cleaner man miracle!
  • We do allow the children to have chocolate Ester eggs. For Christians wanting the focus to stay on Jesus at Easter, chocolate eggs can be quite¬†controversial. We decided as the children would more than likely be given chocolate eggs anyway, we would use the egg and teach them the Christian symbolism behind it. The focus is on the egg being a sign of new life (Jesus coming alive again) and being hollow inside like the tomb after he rose. We read stories like¬†“The Legend of The Easter Egg” by Lori Walburg which reinforce the symbolism behind the egg.

The Legend of the Easter Egg

  • We do have an Easter egg hunt on the Sunday. Instead of finding tonnes of chocolate eggs though, we use resurrection eggs. Commercial resurrection eggs are available online and in Christian stores and we do have a set of these, however we have made our own in a variety of forms over the last couple of years and used these. Resurrection eggs contain bible readings that retell the main events of Easter plus little symbols for each part.¬†We usually finish the hunt with one chocolate egg each.¬†This year our home-made resurrection eggs come from here:¬†http://www.annieshomepage.com/eastereggstext.html

  • We have also had a treasure hunt on the Sunday where clues on large paper eggs led from one location to another. Each clue egg had the next part of the Easter story on it which we read together before following the clue to the next paper egg. We finished the hunt with real china egg cups with a chocolate egg inside for each child.
  • “The Lamb” by John Cross is another brilliant book to read at Easter or anytime really. It begins with creation and makes¬†a clear identification between Jesus and the sacrificed lamb for forgiveness of sins. Each chapter starts with a review and has questions at the end to check understanding.¬†Included with the book is a 60 minute CD, providing a word for word narration. I have seen my three year old come ahead in leaps and bounds in her understanding of the gospel, however it was more than¬†sophisticated¬†enough¬†for anything up to teens to read on their own. An excellent resource for circle time, family devotions or just to read together.Only available in Australia here:¬†http://www.goodseed.com/products/lamb-eng-book/


More ideas for Easter traditions and activities coming over the next couple of days.