I could not have asked for a better start to Holy Week. We had an amazing service this morning complete with a parade of palm branches waved by the preschoolers…including our little Maxwell. Tonight we experienced an incredibly touching worship concert titled “3:16…The Numbers of Hope”. I was moved to tears during the song Jesus Saves…and I am so immensely thankful that He does!
One thing we love about our church is the emphasis it places on the importance of parents teaching their children about the Lord. While the role of the church is important to our family, it isn’t the church’s job to be our children’s only spiritual guide…it is ours! God commands us in Deuteronomy 6 to teach His commands to our children. We take our role as parents very seriously in that the single most important thing we can teach our children is about the love of Jesus. This week is the perfect time to set aside special time to explain to our kids what happened when Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again and why it is so very important. There are many great resources and activities you can use that are age-appropriate to teach your children about the Easter story.
Our children are 5, 3 and 1 and a few years ago my mom bought them Family Life’s Resurrection Eggs. Now we all know I am not big on the Easter Bunny but this set is incredible and perfect for explaining Holy Week. Similar to Family Life’s “What God Wants for Christmas” set (which I would also highly recommend) it is a set of 12 plastic Easter eggs and each of them is a different color. The first 11 are filled with different objects that explain the Easter Story beginning with a donkey symbolizing Jesus entering Jerusalem and ending with a small rock symbolizing the stone being rolled away Easter morning. The last egg is empty…just like the tomb! Each egg has scripture in the accompanying book. It is such a great, hands-on tool for children! Our kids love it!
We also have a few board books that are really good for toddlers and preschoolers as well. For children ages 2 and 3 I would suggest The Story of Easter by Patricia A. Pingry. It is very simple and a great introduction for little ones. For children ages 4-7 I would suggest The Easter Story also by Pringry. We have both of these books (again…thanks to Grandmas) and they are perfect for our little tikes.
Something fun to do that I’ve heard about before and again today from my friend Chrissy are called Annie’s Resurrection Cookies…also known as Easter Story Cookies. They are made the night before Easter to demonstrate the real story that Jesus is ALIVE! Very cool! Click here for the link and be sure to follow the instructions explicitly! I think we will attempt these next year when our kiddos are a little bit older. Thanks for this great idea, Chrissy!
For older children, teenagers and we adults alike the movie The Passion of the Christ is a movie I have only watched once, but I will probably be viewing it again this week. Parents that we know that have allowed their older children to watch it did spend ample amounts of time preparing them. I can’t say I have an “appropriate” age as every child is different but it is very close to the biblical account of Jesus in his death on the cross.
A daily outline of activities and devotions for Holy Week can be found at ChildrensMinistry.com. They are as follows:
by Lori Niles
• 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 non-stick 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, unworshipful 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 have looked when prepared for burial. Talk about how the disciples might have 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.
If you have any other ideas of how to celebrate this Holy Week…please comment and share! I hope you have a wonderful Easter! He is Risen! Hallelujah!