Easter fills children’s minds with visions of eggs filled with jellybeans and bunnies made of chocolate. As parents, we want out children to understand and celebrate the real treasures of Easter, the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.
Set a goal for what you want your children to learn this year and consider ways to make that happen. Make it fun as you journey toward Easter.
1. Choose the Main Message(s) to Teach
Consider what you most want your child to know about Easter.
Your child may be young or sensitive and details about the crucifixion may be too much to share. That’s okay. They can learn a little more each year as they mature.
Start with the hope of Easter. Jesus came so we could live with Him in heaven when our time on earth is done.
Young children are not likely to understand the complexity of sin, sacrifice, or holiness—but they can easily absorb that Jesus loves us.
Consider what points to discuss and when. You might want to tackle one a day.
- Share how and why Easter happened.
- Chat about how people are not perfect and sin, so we all need forgiveness.
- Discuss what it means to sacrifice. Share how Jesus chose to sacrifice for us. He made a big sacrifice because he died for us.
- You can also share about a different sacrifice from long ago called the Passover that God used to free the Israelites from slavery.
- Let your child know that Jesus did more than die. He came back to life! He opened the gates of heaven. The sacrifice of the cross frees everyone who believes in Jesus.
Once you decide the main focus for this Easter, choose what activities will help you reach your goal.
Make sure you set aside time to carry out any ideas. Discuss activities done at meals and ask your children to share lessons learned. The feedback will help you know if the message has been clear.
2. Make Easter Learning an Adventure
Make the days and/or weeks before Easter an adventure of journey of discovery. Teaching about Easter begins with Lent and what happened before Easter. Talk about ashes and sin.
Share how Adam and Eve sinned and God’s words that we came from and return to ashes in Genesis 3:19: “By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food, until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken, for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Chat about people giving up things during lent, such as giving up desserts and giving money saved to the poor. Or giving up watching a favorite show to spend the time praying for people in need.
This is a type of sacrifice because it’s giving up something we like. It’s also about doing something for someone else
Prepare to celebrate the joy of Easter and new life. Spend time outdoors looking at plants and flowers that died during winter and search for signs of new life.
Talk about how Jesus came to die on a cross so we could live. On Good Friday make a cross by tying two cinnamon sticks together with a red ribbon. The red is a reminder of Christ’s blood. Cinnamon smells sweet and reminds us that death was sweet because it gave us forgiveness and eternal life.
At Easter, talk about the joy of Jesus coming back to life. Rejoice over anything new such as new clothes, flowers, and smiles.
Praise God to rejoice that Jesus is alive.
3. Give Praise
Share about praise and reasons to be happy for Easter.
One week before Easter many churches celebrate Palm Sunday when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. People waved palm branches and praised Jesus shouting, “Hosanna,” which means to save.
Have your own parade in your neighborhood with real branches or ones cut from paper. Wave the branches as you march to praise music and shout out reasons to praise Jesus.
Make a praise tree with green paper leaves. On each one write a note or word of praise. See if you can cover the tree with lots of praise.
Bring joy to family members too. Use an empty plastic egg for each family member and fill it with words on paper to show thanks and compliment the person. Thank God for each person.
Host a praise night where you sing your favorite worship songs as a family in your living room. Psalm 100:1 tells us to make a joyful noise to the Lord—God isn’t concerned with how good of singers we are.
On Easter Sunday use some empty eggs. Open each egg and yell out the tomb is empty! Jesus is Risen. He is Risen indeed? Or make resurrection rolls by rolling rough around a marshmallow and bake them. The insides will be empty.
Take an Easter walk and praise God for all creation and the beauty on earth. Praise God for heaven that you cannot see yet and how much more wonderful that will be to experience. Pause at any sign of new life to thank God for life now and eternal life to come.
As you take Easter photos, record messages from your children. Ask each child to share what makes Easter special and what he or she learned this year. That creates a spiritual Easter memory to save for years to come.