- What will it teach my children?
- Is it age appropriate?
- How much energy, effort, and money does it require?
- And most importantly, will it honor God and foster a love for Christ? If the answer to this question is no, then it's not worth my limited energy and time.
There are tons of fun Easter activities out there, but many of them aren't going to further our goals of imparting a love for Christ in our children. If I'm going to spend time and effort on something, I want it to be worthwhile. Whether the activity is fun or not is also important, but let's face it: for a three year old, almost anything is fun, if she's with her mommy or daddy.
We've gotten many of our ideas from Noel Piper's book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions, which is now available free for downloading on the Desiring God Website.
So without further ado, here are the activities we're working on for Holy Week:
Act Out Jesus' Triumphal Entry: We did this yesterday evening, on Palm Sunday. It took about 5-10 minutes and was loads of fun for Isabelle. I had collected large clippings from plants my husband had trimmed, and since they somewhat resembled palm fronds, we used them to reinact Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Izzy and I waited in the kitchen for Jesus (my husband) to appear. I whispered to her that Jesus was coming and got her very excited. As soon as he walked in, we started waving our palm branches and shouting excitedly, "Hosanna in the Highest!" "Save us now! Save us now!" "Hooray, it's Jesus!" We also threw our coats on the ground and let Jesus walk on them with his imaginary donkey.
Make a Playdough Mountain: Like many of these ideas, the playdough mountain came from Noel Piper's book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions. The mountain serves as one location to reinact the events of Holy Week using people made out of pipe cleaners. Jesus will even hang on a cross, which is placed on top of the mountain. Then He'll be buried in the tomb, which will be covered by a large rock. On Sunday morning, Isabelle will wake up to discover that Jesus is alive!!
Isabelle and I did this one yesterday afternoon as well. It was very simple to do and took about 20 minutes, start to finish, before baking (which takes 4+ hours). I'm sure having a stand-up mixer to do the kneading for me really saved time. I thought this would be a great hands-on activity for my 3 year old, but I was wrong. My girl does not like to get her hands dirty, so she refused to touch it. But she did enjoy making sticks and rocks talk to each other while I shaped the mountain.
I had an abundance of whole wheat flour and thought this would be perfect for making the mountain, and indeed it was. Noel Piper recommends painting or coloring the mountain with markers, but our mountain has such a nice sandy color and texture that there's no coloring required.
Resurrection Rolls: A college friend, Liz, shared this idea with me on my blog a couple of years ago, when I was soliciting ideas for a Christ-centered Easter. You can find in-depth instructions here, but essentially, you'll use a marshmallow to respresent Jesus. Roll the marshmallow in butter (embalming oils) and cinnamon (spices used in burial), and then wrap the coated marshmallow in crescent rolls (burial cloths). After you bake it, you'll break open the roll to discover that the cloths are empty; Jesus is alive!!
Jesus, the Lamb of God: We'll scripture about Jesus being the Lamb of God, who takes away our sin, and then make a simple lamb out of contruction paper and cotton balls.
Resurrection Eggs: Like the playdough mountain, the eggs are a part of our daily activities. They'll simply be sitting out at all times for Isabelle to play with. She's great at putting the little pieces back where they belong, except for the donkey, which she adores. I'm sure I'll find him hiding out with Winnie the Pooh or Strawberry Shortcake.
Lamb Cake: My husband requested that we start this tradition a few years ago. My mom found a beautiful lamb-shaped cake pan, where the lamb sits upright in a very serene manner. The cake is a simple but intentional dessert to remind us of the meaning of Easter.
Worship Music: This task belongs to my husband. He's creating an Easter Sunday playlist to create a joyful attitude in our home when we wake up on Resurrection Sunday. Bonus points for songs with the "He's Alive!" message.
We have a few other things that we may or may not do, depending on my limited time and energy, but these are a few activities that we'll be sure to include this week.
Izzy with our uncooked playdough mountain.
Our cross, wrapped with twine and a little dab of Tacky glue to hold it together.
Our playdough mountain, prior to cooking.
The cooked playdough mountain, ready for the pipecleaner people to join in reinacting the events of Holy Week. I couldn't decide how to "present" the mountain, so I'm settling for a metal platter on the coffee table. If the kids want to play with it during the day, they're welcome to do so.
What will you be doing this week to teach your children about the death and resurrection of our Savior?