This Easter Sunday school lesson from Group Publishing’s Dig In Sunday school curriculum teaches kids that Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. Pick and choose the sections to create the perfect lesson for your classroom.
Dig In to the Bible
- Read: Matthew 27:27–28:10
- In This Passage: Jesus takes on the punishment for everyone’s sins and dies on the cross. But three days later, he comes back to life! Jesus came back to life so we can live forever with him. When we accept his gift of forgiveness, we will have eternal life with him.
- Bible Point: Jesus came back to life so we can live forever.
- Summary Verse: “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him” (1 John 4:9).
- You’ll Be Teaching: Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. This message is the core of the Bible. On this special day, you may have visitors. Teach this story and Bible point assuming there are kids who’ve never heard it before. Make sure all of your kids walk away understanding this important Bible Point!
- Think About: What does it mean to you that Jesus conquered death so you can live with him forever?
Dig In to Prayer
- Pray that Jesus will open kids’ hearts to accept his gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.
- Be ready to answer kids’ questions about faith and eternal life. Follow up with kids who have more questions. If you feel unsure about what to say, don’t hesitate to call on your children’s pastor or director. Let parents know that their child has inquired about eternal life so they can follow up at home. Give kids the Friends With God Story Bible and Friends With God Devotions for Kids to celebrate their faith journey. You can find both resources at group.com or your local Christian bookstore.
Easter Sunday School Lesson for Elementary Kids
Opening (5 Minutes)
- Thank kids for coming.
- Just for fun, have kids jump up and say “Jesus is alive!” to two friends.
- Make announcements.
- Introduce new kids.
- Celebrate birthdays by having kids do a birthday cheer, starting with “Give me an H!” to spell “happy.”
- Collect the offering.
Introduce the Lesson
Say: Today we’re going to learn that Jesus died. But we’re also going to learn that Jesus came back to life so we can live forever! When you believe in Jesus, you can know for sure that you’ll live in heaven with Jesus forever. That’s something to look forward to!
Tell kids about something you’re looking forward to in the next month or so.
Have kids form pairs and tell their partners about something they’re looking forward to in the next month or so.
After partners have discussed, ask two or three kids to share with the whole group what they talked about with their partners.
Open a Bible to Matthew 27, and say: Today is Easter! It’s a day to celebrate that we can look forward to living forever in heaven because Jesus is alive! Let’s learn more about Jesus’ death and resurrection from the Bible. The Bible is a very special book that helps us know God. One of the ways God talks to us is through the Bible. God is ready to talk to you right now. So let’s listen and talk with God.
Pray, thanking Jesus for coming back to life so we can live forever.
High-Energy Game: On a Roll Relay (10 Minutes)
- plastic eggs (1 for every 6 kids)
- file folders or pieces of card stock (1 for every 6 kids)
- upbeat music (optional) • music player (optional)
If you used the Music Video block, consider repeating the songs from today’s lesson during the game. You can find the album here.
Roll an Egg
Say: In our Bible story today, things didn’t go the way Jesus’ friends thought they should go. Jesus died, and when they went to his tomb they couldn’t find his body! I’ll give you a chance to experience a little of that feeling with this wild game.
Form teams of about six kids, and have each team split up so that half the team is lined up on one side of the room and half is on the opposite side. If you have fewer than 12 kids, form two teams but have kids take two or three turns each. On one side of the room, give the first person in each line a file folder. Set a plastic egg in front of that person.
Say: When I say “go,” use your folder to fan the egg straight across the room to the first person in the line across from yours. You can’t touch the egg unless it rolls into a wall or gets stuck. When it reaches the other person, he or she will take the folder and fan the egg back across the room to the next person on your team. When everyone on your team has had a turn, sit down.
Begin the game. If you’d like, play music as kids play. This is a great opportunity for kids to call out encouragement to each other, cheering on their teammates. When all teams are seated, gather kids together.
Talk About It
Say: Those eggs didn’t always do what you wanted them to do or what you hoped they’d do!
- In the game, how did that make you feel?
- In real life, how do you feel when things don’t go the way you’d hoped?
Say: When Jesus died, his friends may have felt [repeat some of the words kids shared, such as frustrated, disappointed, or afraid]. Things seemed out of control for them. But even though Jesus’ death and resurrection seemed out of control to Jesus’ friends, the ending was better than they could’ve imagined! Jesus is alive! We don’t have to feel hopeless because we have the hope of living forever with Jesus. Jesus came back to life so we can live forever.
Core Bible Discovery (20 Minutes)
Easter: Jesus Dies and Comes Back to Life (Matthew 27:27-28:10)
- Sour Patch Kids candy (1 piece per child)
- dry-erase board
- permanent marker
- colorful washable markers
- spray bottle of water
- paper towels
- shower curtain liner (optional) (see Tip below)
- masking tape
- unlit glow sticks
- large box
- powerful lantern flashlight
- a thick blanket that blocks light
- contemplative music (optional)
- music player (optional)
- Use a permanent marker to draw a large cross outline in the center of the dry-erase board. (Don’t worry, we’ll tell you how to get it off after class.)
- Use the shower curtain liner or paper towels to protect your walls and floor. (See Tip below.)
- In a corner of the room, make a tomb by setting a large box on its side. Turn on the lantern flashlight, and place it inside the box. Cover the box with a thick blanket so kids can’t see the light inside.
- When you spray the washable marker, it will run down the dry-erase board. If the dry-erase board has a tray for markers at the bottom, line it with paper towels to absorb the water. If there’s not a tray at the bottom, tape the shower curtain liner to the bottom of the board so it hangs down to protect your wall and carpet from the colored water.
Taste Sour, Taste Sweet
Give each child a Sour Patch Kids candy. Say: Today’s true Bible story starts out sour like our candy. Have kids eat their candy. As they do, say: But also like our candy, our Bible story turns sweet! Let’s see how something that was sour for Jesus turned into something that was sweet for us.
Show kids the cross on the dry-erase board. Say: In Jesus’ time, a cross was used to punish really terrible criminals. When someone had committed a bad crime, that person would be killed by being hung on a cross.
There were some people who said Jesus was a criminal. That wasn’t true at all! In fact, Jesus was the only person who ever lived a perfect life. But even though he never sinned, Jesus was willing to take the punishment for the sins of everyone else.
Before they put Jesus on the cross, the governor’s soldiers did some awful things to him.
Read Matthew 27:28. Ask a child to use a red washable marker to draw a robe near the cross.
Read Matthew 27:29. Ask a child to use a brown washable marker to draw a crown of thorns over the cross.
- Tell about a time someone made fun of you. Share your own example first, and then have kids share in trios.
- How do you feel knowing people made fun of Jesus?
Read Matthew 27:30. Ask a child to use a brown washable marker to draw a stick near the cross.
Say: Next, the soldiers made Jesus carry his cross until he couldn’t carry it any longer. Then a man named Simon had to carry it the rest of the way. After that, here’s what happened.
Read Matthew 27:35. Have a child use a washable marker to draw nails on the cross.
Read Matthew 27:37. Have a child draw a sign over the cross that says “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Read Matthew 27:38. Have a child draw two more crosses, one on either side of the first cross.
Say: The other people on the crosses were real criminals. Jesus died to forgive even them! And he died to forgive us. We’ve all done wrong things or failed to do what’s right. Think about something you’ve done wrong this week. Then come up to the whiteboard and write one word that represents what you’re thinking of, or draw a picture to show what you mean. You might write “anger,” “lying,” or “left out a friend.”
Set out washable markers, and allow time for kids to come up and write on the board. Start it off by writing your own word.
Say: We aren’t criminals, but we’ve all sinned. We all needed Jesus to die on the cross for us because sin separates us from God. It’s like this.
Have kids sit several feet back from the whiteboard. Use masking tape to make a line between kids and the board. Say: Because God is perfect and we’re not, sin is like a dividing line between us and God that we can’t cross. Our sin keeps us away from God. Before Jesus died, this separation was shown by a curtain in God’s Temple. Behind the curtain was a special, super holy room where ordinary people couldn’t go because we’re all sinners.
Jesus Died on the Cross
Say: But listen to what happened to that curtain when Jesus died on the cross.
Read Matthew 27:51. Rip the masking tape up off the floor, and throw it away.
Say: We’re not separated from God anymore because Jesus died on the cross for us. And that’s not all that happened when Jesus died.
Have kids move closer to the board, crossing where the tape line was.
Use the spray bottle to spray water all over the whiteboard. All of the sins kids wrote, as well as the symbols they drew, will drip down the board. Encourage a somber atmosphere, and allow time for kids to quietly watch the water dripping. If you’d like, consider playing contemplative music. Then use a paper towel to wipe up the board so the only thing remaining will be the cross.
Say: When Jesus died on the cross, it was sad. His friends must have cried. The water that dripped down the board can remind us of those tears.
- The day Jesus died is called “Good Friday.” If it was such a sad day, why do you think it’s called “Good Friday”? What’s good about it?
Say: When Jesus died on the cross, he made it possible for our sins to be forgiven. Just like the sins were washed away from our board, Jesus made it possible for our real sins to be washed away. That’s really good news! And the story wasn’t over…Let’s see what happened next.
Visit the Tomb
Say: After he died, Jesus was buried in a tomb—a grave in a cave.
Read Matthew 27:57-60.
Say: Jesus’ friends were sad that he died. So on Sunday they went to his tomb. They planned to put good-smelling spices on his body. But they were in for quite a surprise.
Lead kids to the tomb you made before class. Make sure everyone can see, and then lift off the blanket to reveal the bright light inside.
Say: First there was a huge earthquake. Let’s shake! Pause for kids to shake.
When they got to the tomb, it was open. An angel had rolled the stone away and was sitting on it. When Jesus’ friends looked in the tomb, Jesus wasn’t there! Let’s hear what the angel had to say.
Read Matthew 28:5-7.
Say: The angel told the women to go tell Jesus’ disciples about the empty tomb. And that’s just what they did. They spread the news that Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. And to think, we celebrate Easter today because they got the word out that Jesus is alive!
Say: Let’s see how quickly we can spread the news! Make a pile of unlit glow sticks by the tomb. Assign the two kids sitting closest to the pile to be the two who’ll take glow sticks from the pile. They’ll pass them to others, who’ll keep passing them until everyone has one. As kids pass the glow sticks, they’ll say the Bible point: Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. Challenge kids to pass the glow sticks quickly. When everyone has a glow stick, have kids crack them and hold them up high.
Say: Let’s wave our lights to celebrate that Jesus came back to life so we can live with him forever.
Lead kids in jumping and chanting “Jesus is alive!” as they wave their lights. Then have kids sit down.
- What can you tell someone that you are happiest about because Jesus came back to life?
Say: When Jesus’ friends found his body missing, they cried. It was like the water dripping down our whiteboard. But their tears turned to tears of joy when they realized Jesus came back to life so we can live with him forever! It’s the best news ever!
After class, to erase the cross from the dry-erase board, draw on top of the permanent marker with a dry-erase marker. When you use a rag or eraser, it will erase both the permanent marker and the dry-erase marker.
Deeper Bible: If Jesus Died for Us, Why Do We Still Die? (15 Minutes)
- plastic eggs (1 per child)
- small, individually wrapped candy (1 piece per child)
- crepe paper
- double-sided tape
- Put a piece of candy in each egg. Wrap double-sided tape around the seal of each egg, and then wrap crepe paper around the egg so it sticks to the tape.
Talk About It
Say: We’re learning that Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. But what does that really mean? We probably all know someone who didn’t live forever.
- Tell about someone you know who died. Share your own story first.
Say: Some of those people might’ve believed in Jesus, but they still died. We talk about the fact that Jesus died for us, yet everyone still dies. Why is that? Let’s dig in to that.
First, we need to learn what death really means.
- What would you say death means?
Say: When most people think of dying, they think of the end of life on earth. But when the Bible talks about death, that’s not always what it means. Death also means being separated from God. Because of Jesus, we don’t ever have to be separated from God. Your body on earth is like a shell, holding the real you. Your body dies, but when you believe in Jesus, the real you never dies. You’re always with God, and when your body dies you’re even closer to him, in heaven.
Say: Let me show you what I mean. Distribute the prepared plastic eggs.
Say: Your egg has a piece of candy inside. Crack your egg and take it out. Allow time.
Say: In order to get your candy, you had to break the seal on your egg. That’s kind of like when our bodies die. Our earthly bodies will die, and they won’t come back to life. But listen to this, and eat your candy as I read these verses.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:42-44.
Say: When the seal on the egg was broken, it’s like the Easter egg died. But there was something great inside—the candy. The real you is inside your body, just like the real treasure was the candy, not the egg. When we die, our bodies “break,” but our inner selves move from our current bodies to heavenly bodies!
- What do you think a heavenly body is like?
Say: Let’s read on to find out more about our heavenly bodies.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.
Say: We don’t know exactly what our heavenly bodies will be like. But we know they’ll last forever, and they’re much better than the bodies we have now! Let’s think again about the people we know who’ve died. We usually get sad when someone dies because we won’t see that person any more on earth. But listen to what’s happened to people who believed in Jesus.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.
- How does this verse give you hope?
Say: The Bible talks more about Jesus’ victory over death. These verses celebrate that we don’t really die. Let’s read those verses as a praise to God. When I point to all of you, repeat the line I just said.
Read these verses from 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.
Say: “ ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Point to kids. O death, where is your victory? Point to kids. O death, where is your sting?’ Point to kids. For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Lead kids in this cheer:
That’s our cry!
Say: Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. Death has no victory over us! We’ll never die, we’ll just transfer from one broken body to a much better, permanent one when God says it’s time.
Craft: Resurrection Garden (20 Minutes)
- plastic tablecloths
- disposable pie pans (1 per child)
- potting soil
- 3-ounce cups (1 per child)
- grass seed
- slender twigs (a total of about 20 inches of twig per child)
- rocks the size of the cup opening (1 per child)
- fake greenery (optional)
- sturdy disposable plates (optional)
- Cover your craft table with plastic tablecloths. This craft can be messy!
- Make a sample craft to show kids.
Make a Garden
Give each child a disposable pie pan, and set out the remaining supplies. Have kids follow these steps.
- Fill the pie pan about half full with potting soil.
- Lay the cup on its side in the middle of the pan. This will be the empty tomb.
- Put a little dirt inside the cup and press down to help it stay in place.
- Cover the cup with potting soil, pressing it down to make a firm mound.
- Sprinkle the mound of dirt with grass seed.
- Press it into the soil and top with more soil. Pat down.
- Break the twigs into three tall pieces and three shorter pieces.
- To make crosses, pair each tall twig piece with a shorter piece. Wrap string diagonally around both twig pieces to hold them together, and then tie to hold the cross pieces in place.
- Stick the three crosses into the dirt behind the tomb.
- Set a rock to the side of the tomb entrance to represent the stone that was rolled away.
- Use pebbles to make a path in front of the tomb.
- If fake greenery is available, add it around the scene to further decorate.
Take kids to a sink to wash their hands. Wet wipes won’t be enough to get the dirt off their hands.
Also, show kids how to carefully pick up and carry their gardens. They’ll need to have one hand centered underneath the pie pan rather than holding it by the sides. You might prefer to have parents carry the gardens. Better yet, kids can place them on sturdy disposable plates for extra support.
Talk About It
- Close your eyes and picture Jesus’ empty tomb. How does your garden look like that? How is it different?
Say: When you take your gardens home and water them, you’ll see grass start to grow in a week or two. That grass can remind you that Jesus is alive. Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. The grass won’t live forever, but you will when you believe in Jesus.
Have kids take their crafts home and use them to tell their friends and family about Jesus’ resurrection and why we celebrate Easter.
Object Lesson: Up, Up, and Away (10 Minutes)
- helium balloons (approximately 5 for every 4 kids)
- small paper gift bags with handles
- To use fewer balloons, cut 3-5 inches off the bottom of the bag. It’ll now weigh less but will still stand upright when open.
- Be sure to test ahead of time to confirm how many balloons will lift your paper bags. When we tested, we needed 5.
Tie Balloons to the Bag
Form groups of four, and give each group a paper gift bag. Have kids write their names on the bag.
Say: At Easter, we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. Let’s see if we can make these paper bags rise into the air.
Show kids the supply of helium balloons. Have kids guess how many balloons it will take to lift their bag. Then have one group member tie a balloon to the bag’s handle. Encourage kids to have each group member add a balloon until the balloons rise and keep their bag in the air. For extra fun, kids can try to move the bags across the room by blowing them through the air.
Talk About It
- How many balloons did you guess you’d need to make your bag rise? How many did it really take?
- Our balloons used the power of helium, which is lighter than the air around it, to lift the bags. What do you think helped Jesus come back to life?
Say: Jesus had God’s power to come back to life. He’s more powerful than sin and death! He beat sin when he died, and he beat death when he came back to life. No other human being has brought himself back to life, but Jesus could do it because Jesus is God. And he never died again! And when Jesus came back to life, he gave us life, too. Point to names written on the bags.
- What does Jesus’ coming back to life mean to you?
Say: Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. He died for us, but death couldn’t keep him down! Just as the balloons lifted the bags, Jesus came back to life! Now we can live forever with him.
Life Application Wrap-Up: Seeing Forever (5 Minutes)
- hand mirrors (1 per child)
Say: Jesus came back to life so we can live forever. It can be hard to imagine “forever,” so let’s try to make an image that repeats forever.
Give each child a hand mirror. Have kids form pairs and try to aim one mirror into the other so they can see a repeating image of mirrors. Have kids try different angles to see how many repetitions of the image they can get. If you don’t have enough mirrors for each child to have one, kids can take turns experimenting with the mirrors.
Say: Keep your mirrors like that. As you look at the repeating image, silently thank Jesus for dying and coming back to life for you, and tell him what you look forward to about living with him forever.
Allow a minute or so for silent prayer.
Pray: Jesus, thank you that you died for us and came back to life so we can live forever. We’re excited about living forever with you! In your name, amen.
Collect the mirrors. Thank kids for coming, and encourage them to come back next week. Tell them to try the mirror activity at home and explain it to their families.