More than Just the Easter Bunny
I don’t know about you, but I want my children to grow up knowing the true reason for the Seasons. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE surprising my children with special goodies on Christmas and Easter morning, but I also try to incorporate the faith and what the season is all about in whatever ways I can. This is especially important with Easter, the Feast Day which defines our beliefs as Christians. We are a Resurrection people and Easter isn’t limited to one day or to a bunny who delivers special surprises. So here are some ideas to get you started on your own Easter traditions
Easter Activities for Holy Week & the Triduum:
Resurrection Garden – Children are visual learners and I love this hands-on, inexpensive way to help them visualize the Resurrection. We went shopping at Lowes today and purchased our materials for less than $15. My three year old loved doing it and the project sparked all kinds of discussions about Jesus’ death, burial, and Resurrection.
Now there are tons of different ways to do this on Pinterest, but you can see how we chose to do it in the picture. I purchased a terracotta tray to use as our base, although something plastic would have worked fine. I used planting soil we already had to cover our terracotta pot (which became the tomb). Then we planted some desert flowers and shrubs. We collected our rocks from our own flower bed and around the neighborhood. And then finally we made three crosses with toothpicks and a hot glue gun. Come Easter Sunday we’ll roll away the stone and there will be a special surprise for the kids inside.
Washing of the Feet Ceremony (Holy Thursday) – Children, especially toddlers, are experiential learners. The Holy Thursday liturgy at our parish doesn’t even begin until 7:00 p.m., which is a bit late for my kiddos. So instead, we’ll read about and discuss the last supper and then we’ll have a family washing of the feet ceremony to help them visualize/experience what Jesus did for his disciples. I’m sure it will get a bit messy, which is why I plan to do that part of our evening in the master bedroom.
Veneration of the Cross (Good Friday) – Using our Resurrection Garden, various library books, our children’s Bible, and other resources we will discuss Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on Good Friday. Then, we’ll have our own veneration of the cross service where we each reverently kiss Jesus’ wounds on the crucifix, place the Cross in a prominent place within the house, and then pray together as a family.
A Family Decade of the Rosary (Sorrowful Mysteries) – Recently, we’ve been praying a decade of the Rosary with our children at night before bedtime. I can’t tell you what a blessing this has been for our family. Little man (22 months) goes a little crazy, but my sweet Anne eagerly gets the rosaries for us and then sits between her Mommy and Daddy praying the prayers with us. Since we’re in Lent, we’ve meditated on one of the Sorrowful mysteries each night. We also always begin with prayer intentions, making our prayer time even more intentional.
Easter Carnation Experiment (Good Friday) – another great way to help the kids visualize how Jesus washed away our sins through his own sacrifice is through this neat little experiment. Basically, you purchase a white carnation and soak it in water that has been dyed red (representing the blood). Watch you kids’ amazement as the flower soaks up the dye and turns read. For more details on this check out this Teaching Children About the Atonement post.
Easter Sunday and Beyond:
Easter isn’t limited to one day. We get to celebrate the joy of the Resurrection for forty days leading up to Christ’s Ascension and Pentecost Sunday. Here are some great games, ideas, and activities to keep the Easter spirit alive in your house over the upcoming weeks.
Easter Bingo – This variation of bingo is a fun game that your little ones will enjoy. As various symbols are called, use that as an opportunity for a brief discussion on Easter itself. To get your free download visit Rachel Wojo’s blog http://rachelwojo.com/easter-bingo/
This ABC fill in the blank is well suited for older kids. This would be a great resource for a middle school or Sunday school teacher or just an activity to do at home.
I LOVE this Resurrection Set from the Catholic Icing. Made from leftover toilet paper rolls, it’s another great way to help kids visualize the scene of the Resurrection. I know my three-year-old will love making and playing with these.
For older kids, these Easter Pop-Up Scenes are an older version of the Resurrection set. I know my middle school students would have loved making something like this and again it’s a great way to help them visualize the Scriptural scenes. On the website, you’ll find templates for Palm Sunday, The Resurrection, The Road to Emmaus, and the Miraculous Catch.
Wee Little Miracles has a great idea of creating an Easter Story Wreath. All you need to make the craft are scissors, paper, a printer, cardstock or cardboard for your wreath base, and some glue. Simple and fun for your little ones.
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