Use these 7 Easter ideas for your children’s ministry to open kids’ eyes to the wonder of Christ’s resurrection during the Easter holiday.
One week that changed history forever. One unselfish act that changes lives for eternity. It’s a week that reminds us that there’s no greater love than the one Jesus gives. Dazzle kids and impact them for eternity with these 12 new ideas for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter.
Palm Sunday Parade Rally Towel
Riding on a donkey and accompanied by his friends, Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem by a cheering crowd. People waved palm branches to honor Jesus and threw their coats on the ground as a sign of respect. Lead kids in celebrating the start of the Easter week with a modern palm branch, a personalized invitation, and a woven cross.
In Bible times, people waved palm branches to symbolize honor. In today’s culture, we show support for important people such as professional athletes or political figures by waving rally towels. Have kids create a Jesus rally towel to show him honor during your Palm Sunday worship services.
The Stuff: 11×18-inch pastel-colored fabric pieces and fabric markers
Create It: Tell kids to decorate a towel that communicates something about Easter week such as “He Is Risen!” or “Jesus Conquered Death.” During your worship time, recreate the streets of Jerusalem, lined with people cheering for Jesus. Afterward, have kids hang their rally towels in their bedrooms to remind them that Jesus gave it all, just for them, on Easter.
Palm Sunday Prayer Leaves
Kids can make these leafy magnets to place on the refrigerator as a reminder to pray for and invite a guest to church on Easter Sunday.
The Stuff: Green craft foam sheets, scissors, self-adhesive magnetic strips, and black permanent markers
Create It: Have kids cut out palm leaf shapes from green craft foam. Tell kids that Easter is often a time when friends who don’t usually attend church will visit with an invitation. Have kids write the name of a person or family they’d like to invite to Easter services on one side of the palm leaf. On the other side, secure a magnetic strip so the leaves can be displayed on refrigerators as daily reminders to pray that people accept the invitations and that their hearts will be open to the Good News of Easter.
Good Friday Experience: Nailed
It is finished. The darkest day in history occurred on Good Friday. The soldiers took Jesus before Pontius Pilate, who gave the order for him to be crucified. On a hill between two sinners, Jesus died on a cross so we could have eternal life. Good Friday is a good day to help kids discover the reality of laying their sins at the cross and finding the gift of forgiveness and grace.
Help preteens understand that Jesus took all our sins to the cross and that because of Good Friday we can be forgiven.
The Stuff: Hammers, nails, pens, scrap paper, and a wooden cross
Experience It: Place the cross and several hammers at the front of your room. Read aloud Mark 15:16-20. Give each person a piece of scrap paper, a pen, and a nail. If possible, dim the room lights.
Read aloud Mark 15:21-32. Tell preteens to spread out in the room and think about the reality of what happened on Good Friday. Then have kids each write something they need to ask forgiveness for on their piece of paper.
After enough time, read aloud Mark 15:33-41. Tell kids to silently pray, giving their sin to Jesus to take to the cross.
Instruct small group leaders to wait outside for their preteens and when all of them have exited the room, gather together for a time of prayer, thanking Jesus for making the ultimate sacrifice so we can live with him forever.
Good Friday: Wiped Away
Help kids of all ages understand that Jesus’ death wipes away our sins.
The Stuff: Newspapers, baby wipes, trash can, candle, and matches
Experience It: Have kids form a large circle, and place the newspaper in the center of the circle. Tell kids the newspaper represents the sin in our lives. Have kids grab a piece of newspaper and rub their hands with the newspaper until the ink has transferred to their hands. Read aloud 1 John 1:9. Remind kids that like the stain left by the newspaper, our sins leave stains on our hearts.
Place a baby wipe in front of each child and dim the lights. Have an adult leader light the candle and say: Jesus came into a dark world to be our light. Because of Jesus’ death, we’re forgiven and can live in the light forever! As you focus your eyes on the light, Jesus, use the baby wipe in front of you to clean your hands. Then drop your wipe into the trash can to remind you that when Jesus wipes your sins away, they’re gone for good.
When kids are finished, pray together, thanking Jesus for being a light in our dark world and for dying on the cross for our sins.
Good Friday: Wrapped in Forgiveness
Help younger children understand that because of Jesus and the cross, mistakes that left a mark on our hearts are gone when we tell Jesus we’re sorry and ask him to forgive us.
The Stuff: A white sheet, permanent markers, washable ink, and baby wipes
Experience It: Spread the sheet on the floor or table, and have children gather around the outer edges. Talk about how after Jesus died on the cross, they wrapped him in a special cloth similar to the sheet. Tell kids that Jesus died so we can accept his gift of forgiveness. When we do something wrong, we can tell him about it, say we’re sorry, and then he forgives us so we don’t have to worry about it anymore. Jesus takes that “sin” mark away.
Have children each use the washable markers to “paint” their finger and place their fingerprint on the sheet as a reminder that we all do things that make Jesus sad. Have adult leaders use the permanent markers to draw hearts around children’s fingerprints and print the child’s name under the heart. Then pray together, telling Jesus we’re sorry for the things we do wrong and thank him for forgiving us. Remind children to look for the sheet on Easter Sunday, to see that the fingerprint stain they left inside the heart will be gone because Jesus defeated death on Easter morning.
Afterward, take the sheet home and wash it. The washable ink will disappear, leaving the hearts and names of each child. Drape the sheet over a cross on Easter morning as a reminder to kids of Jesus’ forgiveness.
Easter Morning: Treasure New Life
On Easter morning, we celebrate the heart of our Christian faith-Jesus defeated death to save the world. It’s a day to rejoice: He is risen! These Easter discoveries include glittery eggs, a game with meaning, and a re-enactment of the Resurrection!
Kids will enjoy this new way to decorate eggs, a symbol of the new life we have in Jesus, as a reminder to treasure the Good News of Easter.
The Stuff: Hard-boiled eggs, glitter glue, and paper towel tubes
Create It: Before kids arrive, cut ½-inch paper towel circulars to place painted eggs on for drying. Then have kids use glitter glue to create sparkly jewel designs on their eggs. Point out to kids that Easter eggs remind us of the new life we have because of Jesus’ resurrection. Painting jewels on the eggs will be a reminder that Jesus’ gift of new life to us is something we can always treasure.
Easter Morning: Raised Up
Young children will delight in remembering that Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb but rose so we could live with him forever.
The Stuff: Helium balloons with ribbons attached (one for every child) and a large brown blanket or tarp
Experience It: Before kids arrive, place helium-filled balloons under a large “tomb” formed by a brown blanket or tarp. Gather children around the tomb and talk about how after Jesus died on the cross he was buried in a cave and the guards covered it with a large rock.
Remind them that on Easter morning, his friends discovered that Jesus defeated death and is alive! Then release the blanket so the balloons float to the ceiling. Remind children that just as the balloons rose from the “tomb,” Jesus rose from the grave so we could live with him forever.
As kids leave, give them a balloon to take home to remind them of the Easter message.
Carmen Kamrath has been a children’s minister for 20 years. She’s the former associate editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine.