Friday, March 30, 2012

Meaningful (and Easy!) Easter Ideas for the Procrastinator

I dropped the ball this Easter.  I had grand plans of doing a bunch of meaningful activities surrounding the true meaning of this season and it didn't happen.  I have lots of excuses, but the bottom line is, it's a week before Easter and until now I've been feeling 2 steps behind on life and had no plans nailed down.  I came up with a plan that mainly uses supplies I have on hand and takes little to no preparation to execute.

I had hoped to do Impress Your Kids' Sense of the Resurrection activities (which I'll hopefully tackle in the future) because it's got some great ideas!  Since I ran out of time to pull that one off, I thought I would focus on the Holy Week or Passion Week (the final week of Jesus' life) since that's about all the time I have left.  I chose a few simple activities to do each day and wanted to share in case you were finding yourself in the same boat as me.  I'm hoping to go back in the future and do a more thorough job with this idea.

Chronology of the Passion Week

So here's the events leading up to Easter morning.  (As a side note, there are some discrepancies about the exact timeline of the Passion Week.  Some of it is most likely due to differences in the way Roman and Jewish calendars work.  The following is a pretty good picture of what took place and when it happened, though you may find some who disagree on little things here and there.  I liked this report for some helpful information.),

Sunday - Palm Sunday or The Triumphal Entry
Monday - Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Tuesday - Jewish Leaders Question Jesus (In response to his actions on Monday, the religious leaders question Jesus on Tuesday.  It ends with Jesus cursing the city and nation.  Surrounding this story is the story of the fig tree that Jesus cursed.  The significance of the fig tree is it's representation of Israel and the curse that the nation was under because of their rejection of him as the Messiah.)
Wednesday - Judas' Plot to Betray Jesus  (Note:  Some think this happened on Tuesday night.  Regardless, most consider this a day that Jesus probably rested and spent time with close friends.  Scripture doesn't really give us any concrete information).
Thursday - The Last Supper, Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet, Prays in the Garden and is Arrested
Friday- Jesus' Trials, Crucifixion, and Burial
Saturday - The Tomb is Sealed (The only full day that Jesus' body was in the tomb was on the Jewish Sabbath day... the day of rest.  As I've looked for some ideas of what to do this day, I've seen some cool explanations of this fact.  Just as on the seventh day of Creation God rested, this day was God's great Sabbath.  Just as in Creation he rested from the "good" work he had done, he rested on this Sabbath because it. was. finished.  He had accomplished man's salvation and now we can all enter into that Sabbath rest talked about in Hebrews 4:9-10.  Kind of a goosebumpy explanation if you ask me!)
Sunday - Resurrection!


Because I'm just now getting a plan together and because I want my own boys to experience this the week of Easter celebration, I'm just going to give you my game plan.  That means I won't have pictures of my adorable boys showing you how it's done and, if something's a major flop, I won't be able to warn you in advance.  Hopefully I can post some of this year's pics next Easter with a little more information.

Sunday - Palm Sunday or The Triumphal Entry
-Read Luke 19:28-40
-Make these little palm leaves (good for younger kids) or this palm leaf (would be better for those who are good with scissors).
-This coloring page for church.
-"Ride" Daddy like a donkey and talk about the story.
-Let the boys grab a rock from the rock garden as we leave for church and sing lots of praise music in the car on the way.  Talk about how even the rocks would have cried out if the people hadn't praised him.
- Resurrection Eggs:  Donkey

Monday - Jesus Cleanses the Temple
-Read Matthew 21:12-17 or Luke 19:45-46 (for a super short synopsis)
-Here's a pretty good lesson plan that addresses the issue of Jesus' anger and the fact that he did not sin as you explain it to preschoolers.
-I found an idea (from the above lesson plan) to glue craft sticks of some kind to a sheet of paper to make the frame of a house and have the words "My house shall be called a house of prayer" (Mt. 21:13a) on the sticks or page somewhere.
-Coloring page

Tuesday - Jewish Leaders Question Jesus and Jesus Curses Them
-Read Matthew 21:18-22
- Eat fig newtons as we read and talk about the importance of sincere faith (something the religious leaders and much of Israel did not have)
-Here's a bunch of images of figs and fig trees that came up in a Google search

Wednesday - Judas' Plot to Betray Jesus
-Read Matthew 26:14-16
-Use coin bag we made for Zacchaeus activity filled with 30 silver coins of some kind (probably quarters) OR you could use a sock or lunch sack or any kind of bag to hold coins
-Use coins to do the counting activity from 2 Teaching Mommies (to print template, click "single download" link and then click on the "Coin Bag" printable that comes up in the folder.)

-Resurrection Eggs:  Coins

Thursday - The Last Supper, Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet, Prays in the Garden and is Arrested
-Read Mattthew 26:20-30, 36-56
-Wash each other's feet as a family
-Buy some Matzah bread (found in pretty much any grocery store) and include the Jewish tradition of using 3 pieces of Matzah at your "Passover" meal.  Break one of the pieces, wrap it up and hide it somewhere.  At the end of the meal let the kids look for it.  When it is retrieved, talk about it's symbolism.  A great explanation is found here.  I want to do so much more with the Passover with our family in the future.  I think it adds such richness to our understanding of how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament prophecies and promises.  Ann Voskamp has an explanation of how her family celebrates a Passover Seder with some printables and instructions.  Maybe someday!  :)

photo credit
-Resurrection Eggs:  Cup, Praying Hands

Friday- Jesus' Trials, Crucifixion, and Burial
-Read John 19
-Using playdough and toothpicks, make a crown of thorns and discuss the physical pain that Jesus underwent on the cross (idea from 2 Teaching Mommies' Resurrection Eggs Lessons printable page 2)
-Taste vinegar and Jesus' cry that "It is finished."  Talk about the spiritual pain that Jesus went through.  (Amanda from Impress Your Kids does a good job of explaining it here.  There's also an excellent chapter about it in the book Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross that I HIGHLY recommend using in the future as you prepare your heart for Easter.  Jesus drank the bitter cup of God's wrath for our sins.  He prayed that the cup would pass from him because of the unimaginable pain he went through in taking the guilt of the world on himself and being abandoned by the Father.  Out of love for us and submission to the Father he fulfilled the prophecy found in Isaiah 51:7)
-I came across a very cool "cross" demonstration where you fold and tear an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and end up with a cross and the word LIFE when it's all done.  I think it will be a neat way to show the power of the cross.
-We did a tomb craft found in this post last year and did it again this year with our resurrection activities (that I'll share about in a few days), so I plan to get that out and talk about it and let the boys use a clothespin or stick of some sort to represent Jesus' body being placed in the tomb.  Then we'll roll the stone in front of the entrance as we read that part of the story.

-Resurrection Eggs:  leather whip, crown of thorns, cross made of nails, die, spear, linen cloth, stone

Saturday - Jesus in the Tomb
-Read Matthew 27:62-66
-"Seal" the tomb craft from yesterday.  We'll probably just use hot glue, but if I get ambitious and find myself with some extra time, I may try to figure out how to do it with wax or something.

Sunday - Resurrection!
-Read Matthew 28:1-10
-Before the boys wake up, remove the seal and the figure from the tomb so they can wake to find it empty!

-When the boys wake up act as excited as Christmas morning.  This is a big deal!  Jesus is alive!!!
-Resurrection Eggs:  Empty egg!

I hope some of these ideas help if you're in need of a little Easter week inspiration!  Next year I'll try to break this down into more manageable, day by day posts.

Procrastinators unite!  ;)

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  1. Thank you!!! I did such a good job with Advent last year and I am feeling like I've really dropped the ball here leading up to Easter. I work full time outside of the home and having all of these ideas pulled together for me is so helpful. At this point in the game, I just don't have time to come up with ideas on my own. I am so thankful. I just found your blog last week and I've already been so very blessed.

    1. Your comment made it all worth it that I was scrambling late last night to get this post finished up! Thanks so much for the encouragement!!!

  2. thank you for helping us (P's) but you did an awesome job and this will be helpful to my family

  3. Love your site, just wanted to throw this out..not that this changes anything as far as salvation...but since you put a timeline on your blog, you may not know this, but the feast of unleavened bread ends with a "high sabbath" which would have fallen on Friday that year. The day before Sabbath, Jesus crucifixion, would have been Thursday. (Hence 3 nights and days) which you cannot come up with if he died on a friday.

    1. Thanks for your input! I am actually familiar with the Thursday theory as well. While it's plausible, it presents problems of it's own and I lean toward the Friday theory (though I am aware that there are issues there as well). As I said, my above list is not embraced by all, but gives a good idea of how the week looked (at least the order anyway. ;)

  4. As u can see by my time stamp- def a procrastinator! :) Thx for making it so easy. This is only my 3rd year being a Christian and SOOOOO, my 4 year old and I learn together! LOVE your easy crafts!!! AND love (dunno if it was u or Jen) the post about the toilet rings. When that came to my email, it literally made me smile so big and it made my week! I LOVE YOU GUYS! (not trying to sound creepy! lol). You make a difference!

    1. Glad you can relate to my toilet rings! Haha! SO glad you're here and making a conscious effort to teach your child and learn yourself! That's awesome!!! And thanks so much for the encouragement. I don't think you're creepy, I think you're ridiculously sweet and I appreciate it so much!!! Happy Easter! :)

  5. I found you on Pinterest. Just wanted to let you know I also procrastinated this year. But better to start late than never. I will be putting a lot of your ideas to some good use. Happy Easter! Thank you!

  6. Hi - I was just curious, could you tell me which chapter in the book Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross were you referring to that describes the spiritual pain Jesus went through on the cross? I am planning to get the book - sounds like it would be a wonderful, contemplative read.

    1. Absolutely, Stephanie! The chapter I was referencing above is called "The Cup" (Ch. 4) by C.J. Mahaney. I think you'll find several of the chapters relate well to that subject. I pray that it is as encouraging to you as it was to me. I love things that help me appreciate the indescribable gift I've been given even more.



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