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Special Section: All Things New

Carmen Kamrath and RoseAnne Sather

Spring into Easter with 13 ideas celebrating God's creation.

Spring is in the air -- birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and the cool air of winter turns warm. Kids love it when the dead of winter transforms into the new life of spring. While all of God's natural creation is born anew, we also celebrate the new life given to us because of Jesus' resurrection.

Yes, spring time is a wonderful time of year -- a time when God makes all things new. So let kids celebrate the new life happening all around them this Easter with these 13 ideas designed to welcome the season and remind children of our new life -- thanks to Jesus.

Grow, Flower, Grow!

Kids celebrate spring's new life by creating their own "growing" flowers.

Stuff: Medium-size paper cups, brown construction paper, green felt, 1/4-inch size wooden dowels, green paint, paintbrushes, assorted colors of craft foam, 1-inch pompoms, scissors, and a low-temperature hot glue gun.

What to do: For each flower, paint a dowel green and set it aside to dry. Cut a flower shape from craft foam, making the diameter of the flower 1/4-inch larger than the bottom of the paper cup. Cut a small hole in the center of the flower and slip it over one end of the dowel. Glue the flower 1/8-inch from the top of the dowel. Then hot glue a pompom on top of the dowel in the flower's center. Add craft foam leaves to the dowel just below the flower.

Cover the cup with brown construction paper. Turn the cup upside down on green felt and trace a circle. Cut the felt circle about 1/4-inch larger than the traced circle. Cut a large X in the center of the felt circle and hot glue the circle to the cup's top rim. Poke a hole in the bottom center of the cup large enough for the dowel to slide through.

To finish, gently poke the bottom of the dowel through the X in the green felt, then through the hole in the bottom of the cup. Push the dowel all the way down until the flower disappears beneath the felt into the cup. Kids can push the dowels up from the bottom and watch their flowers grow to remind them of the new life and growth we have in Jesus.

Blooming Crowns

These flower crowns help kids remember a different crown Jesus wore on the cross.

Stuff: Green paper plates (available at party supply stores or online at www.oriental

trading.com
), construction paper, scissors, and glue.

What to do: Cut eight flower shapes from construction paper. Cut a slit in the center of each paper plate and then cut it in triangle slices like a pie. Bend the triangle shapes up to form leaves. Glue the flowers onto the tips of the leaves. Have kids talk about how their flower crowns are like and unlike the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross.

Twiggy Vase

Kids make these vases and fill them with fresh flowers as a reminder of new life in Jesus.

Stuff: Clean, empty soup cans; a low-temperature hot glue gun; lots of twigs; and fresh flowers.

What to do: Take kids on a walk outdoors to collect as many twigs as they can find (if you don't have access to twigs, use toothpicks instead). Use a hot glue to attach twigs to the soup cans. Then fill kids' vases with fresh flowers as you talk about how the twigs are like our lives before Jesus (dead and broken) and how the flowers represent our lives with Jesus (new and alive).

Baby Lambs

Kids can make baby lambs to remind them that Jesus is the Lamb of God.

Stuff: Large plastic eggs, cotton balls, miniature spring clothespins, white paint, paintbrushes, black markers, black pompoms, black felt, googly eyes, and glue.

What to do: Coat the outside of one half of a plastic egg with glue and cover it with cotton balls. Paint the clothespins white and then color the bottom tips black to form hooves. When the glue is dry, clip four clothespins around the bottom of the egg for the lamb's legs. Glue the black pompom to one end for the sheep's head. Cut small ears from black felt and glue them to the sides of the head. To finish, glue googly eyes on the head.

Read aloud John 1:29, and tell kids to place the lambs in their rooms to remind them every day that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away our sins.

Garden Stones

Kids create garden stones with this outdoor project while remembering the stone that was rolled away on Easter morning.

Stuff: Round aluminum tins, quick-setting concrete mix, a large tub, a wooden stick for stirring the concrete, craft sticks, and items to place in the stones for decorating, such as pebbles, shells, or small toys.

What to do: Have an adult mix the concrete outdoors in a large tub according to package directions. Pour the concrete into round tins, filling them 3/4 full. Have kids use craft sticks to write, "New Life In Jesus!" in the concrete. Then kids can add small items to their concrete stones to personalize them.

Let the stones dry at church over several days. Send the stones home the following week, and tell kids to remove the tins and place the stones in their backyards or gardens as a reminder of the stone that was rolled away from Jesus' tomb on Easter morning.

Spring Watercolor

Celebrate spring's new growth with nature and watercolors.

Stuff: White construction paper, small spray bottles, liquid watercolors, and newspaper. (Liquid watercolors are available at Discount School Supply; 800-627-2829; www.discountschoolsupply.com.)

What to do: Take kids outdoors to collect new signs of growth, such as grass, leaves, and flowers. Then cover a table with newspaper and fill the spray bottles with different spring colors of liquid watercolors.

Arrange nature items on a piece of white construction paper and gently spray the paper with several different paint colors. Allow the papers to dry before removing the nature items from the paper. The shapes will remain on the paper, creating a beautiful spring watercolor.

Edible Nests

Kids make these sweet nests to display Easter candy and enjoy as a snack.

Stuff: A mixing bowl, spoon, aluminum cupcake pans, chocolate chips, shredded wheat cereal, a microwave, and jelly beans.

What to do: Crumble 11/2 cups of shredded wheat cereal into a mixing bowl. Have an adult melt 1 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave, then mix the chocolate and shredded cereal. Place two spoonfuls of the mixture into each hole of the cupcake pan. Have kids form the mixture around the hole, leaving an indentation in the center. Place the nests in the refrigerator to cool for 10 minutes, and then let kids fill their nests with jelly beans for a yummy take-home Easter treat.

Squishy Butterflies

Kids create these colorful butterflies to celebrate how Jesus makes all things new.

Stuff: Various colors of tissue paper squares, resealable sandwich-size plastic bags, chenille wire, and wooden doll pins.

What to do: Fill a bag with colorful tissue paper squares. Wrap a piece of chenille wire around the round top of the clothespin to create antennae, and push the bag through the slats of the clothespin to form wings. Remind kids that just as wings give butterflies the freedom to fly, Jesus freed us from our sins when he died on the cross and rose again on Easter morning.

Butterfly Windows

Kids spread the good news of Easter and celebrate spring time with this window craft.

Stuff: Washable liquid paint, pie tins, a teaspoon, and liquid dish soap.

What to do: Place a variety of paints in pie tins, and mix one teaspoon of liquid dish soap with each color for easy window cleanup. Have kids place both palms in paint, then press them to the window with their thumbs together to form a butterfly shape. After the prints dry, paint a butterfly body and antennae on each child's handprints. Add the words, "Jesus Brings New Life!" at the top of the window. For extra impact, include a special invitation with the date and time of your church's Easter service.

Signs-of-Spring Hunt

Kids discover the beauty and newness of God's creation with this fun outdoor spring time activity.

Stuff: Paper, pens, and an outdoor area.

What to do: Make a list of signs of spring, such as birds' nests, flowers, leaf buds, or ducklings. Have kids form groups, and give each a list. Tell them to explore the outdoors and try to find as many signs from their lists as they can. Encourage kids to add spring signs they see that aren't on their lists. Afterward, discuss how God creates new life every year at spring time.

Forgiven Tag

Kids play this different version of Tag to remind them that Jesus forgives everyone.

Stuff: Masking tape and an activity area.

What to do: Tape a boundary one foot from the wall on two opposite sides of your activity area. Choose one child to be It, and have the remaining kids stand behind the line on one side of the room. At your signal, kids try to make it across the line on the other side of the area without getting tagged. If a child gets tagged, he or she also becomes It and tries to tag other kids before they cross the line. During the game, leaders occasionally shout, "Forgiven!" and all kids cheer and get to go free. Choose another child to be It and start again.

Afterward, discuss how Jesus forgives everyone and how forgiveness gives us freedom.

Spreading Love

Kids learn how bees spread pollen-and how we can spread God's love to others.

Stuff: Talc-free baby powder, a plastic tub, and an activity area.

What to do: Empty containers of talc-free baby powder into a shallow tub. Tell kids when bees spread pollen, they gather it from one flower and then leave pollen prints everywhere they go after that. Kids can practice spreading pollen by taking off their shoes and socks and stepping into the tub of baby powder. When their feet are covered with powder, kids can run around so they see how their powder footprints spread. (Baby powder vacuums and sweeps up easily.)

Tell kids that just like a bee spreads pollen everywhere it goes, we can spread God's love everywhere we go, too.

Chrysalis

Kids wrap up in these cocoons so they can experience the forgiveness of sins.

Stuff: Toilet paper

What to do: Form pairs. Give each pair several rolls of toilet paper, and one child tightly wraps the other in a toilet paper cocoon, covering the child from head to toe and leaving the nose and mouth uncovered. Then kids burst through their cocoons. Partners switch roles and repeat the activity.

Talk about a butterfly's life cycle -- caterpillar, to cocoon, to butterfly. Discuss the differences and similarities to our lives before and after Jesus.

Carmen Kamrath is associate editor for Children's Ministry Magazine, and RoseAnne Sather is senior art director for Children's Ministry Magazine.

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