Your family may be geared more to the preschool or primary school ages, so our previous Bible adventure titled JESUS – GOD’S LAMB wasn’t doable. Here are a few possible activities to choose from for inserting biblical truth into the traditional ways we observe Easter with our children. I hope these ideas will create even more that will work well for the ages of your kids this year.
A. Seed cup plantings. It’s too late to plant bulbs, but you could still plant flower seeds to sprout before the end of the month. Label a paper or plastic cup for each family member and let each one plant seed/seeds in his own cup. Talk about the fact that even as the seed is buried in the potting soil, if it’s watered, it will send up a sprout that will become a plant. Point out to children the biblical principle that new life comes out of death. When the seed “dies” something new, entirely different, grows up. Lots of truths to take away from this analogy.
B. It happened in a garden. Combine two pizza boxes to make a sturdy enough container for a layer of gravel or sand. Work together to make a diorama of the gardens in the Easter story. It might be where Jesus prayed, where he was arrested, or where his tomb was located. Use materials around the house to create structures, plants, the cross, clay or play dough for figures. Use this throughout the month to encourage the children to tell their favorite parts of the Easter story.
C. God cares about our clothes. Jesus was stripped of his blood-stained clothes on the cross, but he appeared after the resurrection in a glorious garment. (Ps.45:3) Our new clothes can represent our being clothed, through faith in Jesus, with character qualities which, though internal, show themselves outwardly to others by our actions and attitudes. Prepare a cardboard sketch of some piece of clothing. Draw enough of them for the character qualities listed in the following verses, printing one quality to each sketch. (See: Proverbs 31:25; Col. 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5) At a family session, pass around the cardboard sketches explaining that new clothes are fun and we’re grateful for them, but God looks on what is inside us and wants what can be seen outside (like a new dress or shirt)to show off what is inside. Let each person take at least one sketch to explain how he wants this characteristic to be true in his life. Perhaps a prayer request? We are clothed by Christ whose indwelling life makes us new creations. (2 Cor. 5:17)
D. A Jesus Basket. Put together an Easter basket for Jesus. Use hollow, plastic eggs that open on hinges. Find small items that fit inside the eggs to represent parts of the Bible story. Here are some suggestions – I’m sure you can think of others: ~ two dimes, ~sword, ~piece of a stem with thorns, ~ nails, ~ cross (try gluing two toothpicks into cross shape), ~ cloves, ~swatch of white cloth, ~ smooth stone, ~ leave one egg empty to represent the tomb on Resurrection Day. You can think of many ways to use this with young children.
- Gather round and let each child pick an egg, open it and suggest what the item has to do with the Easter story.
- Make two identical sets of eggs and play a matching game, always commenting on the meaning of the contents when a match is found.
- Give each participant his own, empty egg. As he chooses another from the basket and tells what role the content plays in the Easter story, he takes the item and puts it into his own egg with the words, “Jesus did all this so that my sins can be forgiven.”
E. Jelly Beans. Open a bag of multicolored jelly beans and pour contents into a pan or shallow bowl. Each person chooses five different colored beans, decides on what each color represents in the Easter story, and places the jelly beans in his own plastic egg. When everyone has a plastic egg with jelly beans, each player takes a turn explaining to the others what his colors stand for. End with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving…and eat the jelly beans, of course!
F. Create a Worship Center. Even if your children are too young to take them through all the scripture passages in our last entry, you could still make a center piece that incorporates this idea. With everyone in the family contributing to the project, make your own visual Easter centerpiece. Here are some ingredients to choose from that you can probably find around the house: toy lamb, large wooden cross, (made in proportion to the lamb and from wooden pieces you can find in the garage and/or yard) purple colored scarf, (the color of royalty), palm frond and a toy donkey, (even one made from play dough/clay) wine glass and broken piece from flat bread, and so on. As you work on this, making decisions as a group, arrange your pieces on a tray large enough to hold them all. Consider including a candle on a stand that you can light to symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit (He is always present; we welcome Him into our midst) as you worship with gratitude and praise for all Jesus did in obedience to our loving Heavenly Father.
G. The Internet. Use your favorite search engine and look up something that is associated with Easter. I asked, “Why is the rabbit a common part of Easter celebrations?” and I found many interesting sites. www.whyeaster.com/fun/recipe-cookies.shtml has the recipe for Easter Story Cookies. Great!! http://www.The Rabbit Haven.org/easter contains a plea not to buy live bunnies because adult rabbits don’t make good pets and often are simply abandoned…interesting.
H. The Central Idea. With a little time and some ingenuity you’ll think of many Christ-exalting activities that fit into your family’s already-established traditions this time of year. The main point is to intentionally incorporate things that put Jesus in the center of your celebration. Influences outside your home, with the exception of your church family, will not do this.
I. Finally. Remember John 3:16. Our Heavenly Father loved the world so much that He gave His only Son. The message of the cross and the empty tomb is being carried to the ends of the earth by faithful followers of the Lamb Who was slain for the forgiveness of our sins. With your family, plan ways to support efforts to proclaim God’s Kingdom where it has not yet been made known. Invest in agencies that minister to needy children near at hand and far away. So, so many of them will never have an Easter basket, or hunt eggs, or wear new clothes, much less hear about Jesus, unless we reach out to them with a message that’s sweeter than chocolate candies and more nourishing even than daily bread.