Would you like to teach your children about the true meaning of Easter?
If you’re anything like me, you may want to do this–but even the idea makes you feel stressed out and exhausted. Do we really have to turn Easter into another overwhelming holiday?
No, we don’t. We can teach our children about the life of Jesus during this special time of year without any added stress for Mom.
Last year, I planned some Holy Week traditions for my three-year-old son that required almost no prep for me. All it took was setting aside time each evening to gather as a family and talk about Christ. I got most of my ideas from two wonderful blog posts (Our Easter Week and A Delberiate Mother’s Guide to a Christ-Centered Easter), and I’d like to share them with you.
Instead of being a stressful week for me as a mom, this was a really fun, rewarding, and spiritual week for me as a mom! Here is what we did:
For our weekly Family Night, we went on a simple Easter Walk with some friends. (I got this idea here.) You read the clue from the scriptures, and then each child has to run and find an object to match. If you can’t keep the attention span of the little ones long enough to read the actual verse, you can also just tell them about each part of the crucifixion and resurrection story in your own words. Here are the clues:
Clue 1: Mark 15:17 – Find something pointed and sharp to represent the crown of thorns.
Clue 2: John 19:17-18 – Find something made of wood to represent the cross.
Clue 3: Luke 23:46 – Find something dead to represent the Savior’s death.
Clue 4: Luke 23: 44-45 (Bible), 3 Nephi 8:23 (Book of Mormon) – Find something dark to represent the darkness in Jerusalem and in America.
Clue 5: Mark 15:46 – Find something hard and round to represent the stone placed in front of the tomb.
Clue 6: Matthew 28:5-6 – Find something alive to represent that Jesus Christ is alive again.
Another evening, we talked about how Christ’s whole life was about service, and then we washed each others’ feet in a big bowl of soapy water, like Christ washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper. My son Noah was beyond thrilled about this super simple activity. We sang the song “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” as we did it, and we will also watched this short animated depiction of Christ’s act of service. As corny as the video is, Noah was completely glued to it, and, hey, it gets the message across.
Flowers to our Neighbors
As a follow-up to our discussion about serving others and “washing their feet,” we took spring daffodils to all of our neighbors one evening and wished them a Happy Easter.
One night we had a very simple version of the “Last Supper.” We had pitas, cheese, grape juice, and some microwavable Madras Lentils packets that I bought at Costco. We talked about how Christ instituted the Sacrament and what the bread and wine (or for us Mormons, water) represent. We talked about how we can be more reverent during the Sacrament each week at church, as we remember Jesus and what He has done for us.
Atonement Video and Song
In order to help Noah visualize that Jesus suffered for our sins, we watched this sacred event depicted in a video, and we explained what was happening as we watched: Garden of Gethsemane video (we started about 4-5 minutes into the video because it’s long for a three year old). We also listened to this beautiful children’s song, and I want to help him memorize the song this year.
Crucifixion and Resurrection Videos
This is all heavy doctrine, but the videos really help! And it was amazing how much my three-year-old seemed to comprehend. I wanted to do Crucifixion and Resurrection on the same evening so the “happy ending” was revealed and my son wouldn’t be left worrying. We started the Crucifixion video about a minute in because I didn’t want Noah to see the entirety of the scourging scene–painful to watch. We followed that with a video of Jesus in the Tomb video (we watched until about 2 mins, when the angel tosses the stone, because it’s long), and we ended with a Resurrection video. My son asked so many questions and wanted to watch the videos over and over.
Visiting a Cemetery
We took Noah to a nearby cemetery and talked about how the grave has no power over us because of Christ’s resurrection. If we were living in Colorado, I would totally take the kids to the cemetery where my mom is buried to have this discussion. We might even let go of some Easter-colored balloons to send up to her in heaven or bring some springy flowers to put on her grave.
Easter Vigils: Lanterns, Luminaries, Sky lanterns
We had an “Easter Vigil” on Easter Eve. We made some of these darling Easter lanterns, but our tree wasn’t strong enough to hold them, so we just put them on our porch. Anything with light would work for this tradition–candles, luminaries, a bonfire, sky lanterns, even flashlights. We discussed how Christ is the Light of the World (we used Mosiah 15:9), and we went to bed with our lanterns burning bright, waiting for Easter morning to come.
Easter Morning Music and Video Recap
Sunday morning, we woke up to some awesome religious music: the Hallelujah chorus and special Easter hymns. We then watched this seven-minute video which beautifully depicts the entirety of Holy Week and recapped and tied things together for Noah.
After a yummy breakfast (this ah-mazing coffee cake with fruit and hardboiled eggs), we got all dressed up and headed to church for some beautiful sermons!
It was such a peaceful, happy week for us as a family, and I hope these easy teaching ideas can bring your family closer together during this special season as well.
If you enjoyed this post then be sure to check out this post of 35 Christ-Centered Easter Activities for Kids.