Use these Easter ideas to celebrate Easter with children.
A New Dozen
Easter eggs are a great way to tell about Easter. The filled plastic Easter eggs can be opened at home on different days of Holy Week, used to tell the purpose of an egg hunt, or illustrate a sermon on Easter morning. Keep the surprise element year after year by changing the contents of the eggs and the details of the Gospel story that you focus on. Here, along with the classic contents, are new items that are sure to keep your kids’ interest piqued. Because of the small size of these items, use them only with children ages 4 and older.
- Gray fleece or a tiny donkey to represent the donkey borrowed by Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:2-5);
- Palm branch or a doll’s coat to represent the reaction of the crowd in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:8-11);
- Three silver coins or 30 dimes to represent Judas’ payment for his betrayal (Matthew 26:14-15);
- A strip of terry cloth fabric to represent the towel Jesus wore as he washed the disciple’s feet (John 13:4-11);
- A miniature cup or a broken piece of matzo to represent the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-29);
- Miniature praying hands to represent the praying hands of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42);
- A watch to represent Jesus’ question to his disciples about watching and praying with him (Mark 13:37);
- A rooster figure or a feather to represent Peter’s denials (Luke 22:61);A piece of rope to represent Jesus’ arrest (John 18:12);
- A leather strip to represent when Jesus was beaten (John 19:1);A small piece of soap to represent Pilate washing his hands of Jesus’ sentencing (Matthew 27:20-24);
- Thorns or a piece of a rose bush to represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore (Matthew 27:29);
- A cross or two sticks to represent the cross Jesus carried and was crucified on (John 19:16-22);
- Three nails to represent how Jesus was nailed to the cross (John 19:16-22);A toy soldier or dice to represent the soldiers who gambled for Jesus’ clothing (John 19:23-24);
- Color the inside of one egg with a black permanent marker to represent the darkness that fell at noon (Luke 23:44-45);
- A piece of sponge or a cotton ball soaked in vinegar to represent the gall offered to Jesus (John 19:28-30);
- A toothpick-end dipped in red paint and dried to represent the piercing of Jesus’ side (John 19:32-37);
- A shattered or split rock to represent the earthquake that occurred when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51, 54);
- Purple cloth to represent the torn curtain in the temple (Matthew 27:51);Gauze or strips of muslin to represent Jesus’ grave clothes (Matthew 27:57-61);
- Cinnamon stick or a tiny bottle of perfume to represent the burial spices the women prepared (Luke 23:55-56);
- A rock and chunk of paraffin to represent the sealed tomb (Matthew 27:65-66);Empty egg to represent the empty tomb (Matthew 28:5-8);
- An angel or a gold chenille stem twisted into a halo (John 20:12);
- A chick or a flower bud to represent the new life we can have in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17);
- Cotton batting to represent Jesus’ ascension through the clouds (Luke 24:51-53);A tiny Bible to remind kids to tell others the wonderful story (Luke 24:46-50).
A Living Cross
Construct a 6- to 8-foot cross from lumber. Then cover it with chicken wire. Mount the cross on your church lawn. Fill the chicken wire with palm fronds from Palm Sunday. Invite your children and adults to bring fresh flowers on Easter morning to place on the cross. Have classes take turns putting their flowers on the cross as they recite John 3:16. This living cross reminds children that Jesus is alive, and it creates a great background for family photos on Easter morning.
Susan Grover San Juan Capistrano, California
Jesus Covered My Sins
Construct a 6- to 8-foot cross from lumber, and mount it on a base so it stands upright. The week before Easter or early in the Easter worship service, give each child a piece of red paper. On their papers, have children write specific sins they’ve committed or just their names as they remember a sin that needs to be confessed. Play music as children walk to the cross to tape or nail their red papers onto it.
Next, give each child a dozen white tissues and a white chenille stem. Show children how to fold the tissues like an accordion fan, tightly wrap the chenille stem around the center of the tissues, then fan out the layers of the tissues to create a large white flower. As you play or sing praise music again, have the children put their white flowers on the cross, covering all the red papers to celebrate Christ’s gift of forgiveness. Afterward take photos of the children in front of the cross.
Anthony Guynes and Jan Kraushaar Irvine, California
Easter Gospel Cross Garden
As children enter your worship area on Easter morning, give them each two wooden paint-stirring sticks. Direct the kids to an area where an adult will help them hot glue the sticks to create a cross. After telling the Easter story, have children each use a permanent marker to write on their cross what it means to them that Jesus is alive. Then take the kids out to your church’s front yard where they’ll press the crosses into the dirt to create a garden of crosses. This is a wonderful surprise gift to your congregation in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection.
Susan Grover San Juan Capistrano, California
Light From the Broken Pieces
Theme: Christ’s Exaltation As KingText: John 1:4
Preparation: For each child, you’ll need a 1-inch piece of cardboard tube (from a paper towel roll), spray-painted gold; scissors; several sequins or small plastic jewels; glue; one-half of a clean shell from an extra-large egg; and a votive candle. You’ll also need an uncracked egg, one-half of a clean shell from an extra-large egg, a bowl, a completed crown (see directions below), a votive candle, a match, and a Bible.
The Gospel Message: Jesus left his home in heaven where he was a king. (Show the crown.) He came to earth as a fragile human being, just like you and me. (Show the egg.) When people decided they didn’t want this man to be their king, they hung him on a cross, and his body was broken. (Break the egg into the bowl.) Jesus’ life was poured out, much like this egg is being poured out. What do we usually do with broken eggshells?
People planned to toss away Jesus too, but God had another plan. God took Jesus’ broken body, and gave him back his heavenly crown. (Set the clean eggshell half in the crown. Read the Scripture.) God raised Jesus from the dead and made him the light of the world. (Place the votive candle in the eggshell and light it.)
God replaced Jesus’ broken, empty shell with life and gave him power and authority. God wants us to share the light of Jesus with others. We’re going to make these candle holders to remind us of what God did with Jesus’ broken body to give us new life.
(Give each child a section of the cardboard tube painted gold. Have them each cut notches on one edge of the roll to create a crown. Have them glue on the decorations. Give the kids each an eggshell and a votive candle to put inside of the crown.)
Jesus Is Risen Rolls
To help children understand the meaning of Christ’s empty tomb, make this fun and tasty treat.
1 can refrigerated breadstick dough
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Preparation: Knead and press each breadstick into a flat circle. Place a marshmallow in the center of the circle and pinch the dough around the marshmallow. Roll the marshmallow-filled rolls into a round ball. Spray the rolls with margarine. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the rolls with the mixture. Place the rolls on a baking sheet with the pinched edges down. Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes until brown. Cool on a wire rack. While the rolls bake, tell the Easter story. Then pray, thanking Jesus for taking our place on the cross. Then enjoy a tasty Easter treat as you celebrate that Christ’s tomb was hollow, just as these rolls are hollow.
Susan Grover San Juan Capistrano, California
Chain of Praises
On Palm Sunday, put three brightly colored strips of paper (approximately 2 1/2 x 11 inches long) in each worship bulletin. During the service just before the offering, ask people to write a praise statement on each of their strips. When they’re finished, collect the strips. Have children write their praise strips during Sunday school so they have more time to think.During the week, staple the strips into loops and make praise chains. Make the chains about 8- to 10-feet long. Add sections of blank strips to stretch out the chains so they’re long enough to surround your congregation.
On Easter Sunday, have the kids march down the center aisle, then around the sides of the sanctuary, surrounding the congregation with the praise chains. Explain to your congregation what the chains are comprised of, then lead the entire group in a litany of praise, which includes the phrase “He is risen!” as a refrain. Each time the congregation says, “He is risen!” the kids raise the praise chains high in the air.
Jean Ballew McPherson, Kansas
Chocolate Egg Hunt
Hide hollow chocolate eggs instead of plastic or real eggs. Make sure there are enough eggs for each child to have one, and limit the hunt to one egg each. Gather the children and tell them that before they unwrap or eat their eggs, they need to know that each egg holds a special message just for them.
Count to three and have children each bite or break their egg at the same time. As the children discover that the eggs are hollow, remind them of Christ’s empty tomb. Have children each tell what Jesus’ resurrection means to them.
Terry Williams Brisbane, Australia
Use the traditional Easter egg hunt to give your kids an opportunity to search for treasure with one of these unusual hunts.
New Life Hunt — Hunt outdoors for signs of spring. For example, kids might find new green grass, a robin’s egg- shell, or a flower. To minimize environmental interference, have the children shout “New Life!” when they find something, and have all the children run to the child to see what’s been found without removing or disturbing it. At the end of a specified time, gather the children to discuss how each item is a sign of the new life we have in Christ.
Bible Verse Hunt — Write parts of a Bible verse on squares of brightly colored paper or Post-It notes. Hide the squares around your room or in an outdoor area. When all the squares are found, have the children put the verse together in correct order.
Hunt for Lunch — Pack simple lunches in paper bags. Hide the bags, then have children find them. After each child has found a lunch, provide drinks and enjoy a fellowship lunch with the children.
Friendship Hunt — Form two groups. Give the children pencils and paper strips. Have children each write their name on a strip. Then have both groups trade strips so each child has one strip. On the back of the strips, have children each write or draw something good about the child whose strip they have.
Have a volunteer hide the strips in another area. Then have children hunt for their own strips. At the end, have children read their strips to the entire group.
Helping Hunt — Plan ahead for a springtime food drive, culminating on Palm Sunday. In your publicity, ask church families to contribute items for a meal, such as a boxed-dinner mix, a canned vegetable, and a canned fruit; or tuna, crackers, mayonnaise, and cookies.
Early Easter morning, hide all the items. Form pairs, and give each pair a large grocery bag. Ask each pair to hunt for items to make one full meal. When they’ve selected their items, have them label the bag so the contents are identified, such as “lunch for two” or “dinner for a family.” Then have the partners work together to create a card with a mealtime prayer to put in their bag. Double check the bags to ensure that the food is evenly distributed. Kids can collect the bags for your church food pantry or a local shelter.
Mary Davis Montrose, Iowa