Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian faith but is easily overshadowed by the excitement of Easter egg hunts and chocolate bunnies. This year I wanted to offer a way to stay focused on Jesus, how he lived a perfect life, died on a cross and rose again to redeem the world from sin. I thought it would be fun to do a daily countdown from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday with my girls.
My plan is to have them hunt for an Easter egg each day. Once found, the egg will be opened as a family to reveal an Easter truth. We will then read scripture and engage in an activity together to focus our minds and hearts on the importance of the item. It's easy to put these eggs together. I used some items from my set of Resurrection Eggs (donkey, cup, praying hands) and added some items of my own (cloth, light, rock, cross). This set can easily be put together with items from around the house or use pictures.
I've included a plan with links to activities and music. Take the following suggestions and tweak them to best engage your kiddos (my oldest cringes at the songs but my younger girls love them).
Get the whole family involved and have fun!
Day 1 - Palm Sunday – "Donkey"
Scripture: John 12:13-19
Summary: Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem and many people saw him and hoped that he would become their new king, they waved branches and shouted Hosanna which means "save us now".
Activity: Make palm branches from green paper. Act the story out. Be the donkey and let the kids take turns being Jesus and waving branches shouting “Shout Hosanna”
Day 2 – Monday – "LED Light or Tea Light"
Summary: Jesus had referred to Himself as the Light of the World. Then after he rode through Jerusalem on a donkey he tells His disciples, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you still have the light. Do this before darkness catches up with you. Anyone who walks in the dark will not know where he is going. While you have the light, put your trust in it. Then you can become sons of light." When we follow Jesus we are in the light, when we don't then we are living in the darkness.
Activity: Turn off the lights. It's so dark. Turn on the led light or tea light. Crazy how a tiny light can illuminate the whole room and help us see. How can we be a light in the world? How can we be light to those around us? Most importantly how can we lead others to the Light (Jesus)?
Day 3 – Tuesday – "Cloth"
Scripture: John 13:1-17
Summary: In Jesus' time being a foot washer was the worst, lowest class job. It required a person to wash feet covered in dirt, mud and even poo. Ew!! Jesus surprised his disciples by washing their feet. In this act, Jesus was selfless, showing them how to serve one another in action. How can we serve one another in love?
Activity: Wash your kids feet; let them wash your feet.
Day 4 – Wednesday – "Cup"
Scripture: Matthew 26:26-29
Summary: The cup reminds us of a special dinner that Jesus had with his best friends, the 12 disciples. Jesus knew he was going away soon and that this would be his last supper with his friends. While they were eating, Jesus took bread and gave some to his disciples and said, "Take this and eat it. This is my body." Then he took a cup of wine and said, "All of you drink from it. This is my blood of the new covenant. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many. Here is what I tell you. From now on, i won't drink wine with you again until the day I drink it with you in my Father's kingdom." He didn't mean they were actually going to eat his body and drink his blood. It was a symbol of his broken body and shed blood (his sacrifice) and the promise he was making to them and to all people.
Activity: Take communion as a family with grape juice and crackers if your kids are already Christians and fully understand and have accepted what Jesus did for them.
Day 5 – Thursday – "Praying Hands"
Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46
Summary: Why are these hands folded? What do you think they are doing? These hands remind us of what Jesus did after the last supper he had with the disciples. The bible says, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray because he was sad about what was going to happen on the cross. "My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But it's not as I want but as you want, may your will be done." Do you ever feel sad? You can always do what Jesus did and pray and tell God exactly how you feel. He always listens. Jesus wanted to do what God asked of him. Jesus said Yes.
Activity: Listen to this song. Hold hands and pray together as a family. What is God asking you to do for him?
Day 6 – Good Friday – "Cross"
Scripture: Matthew 27:29-50
Summary: From the beginning God loved us and wanted each of us to be his child and live with him forever. But because of sin, the bad things we think and do, we were separated from God. He wanted to make a way to be with Him. Jesus came as a human being and led a perfect life, then was crucified on a cross. We know that because Jesus is the Son of God that he could have stopped the men from crucifying him but he let them because he was taking the punishment for all the wrongs that anyone had every done. This includes you and me.
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Everyone sins, even mommy and daddy & everyone needs to seek God's forgiveness. If we ask, he will forgive and wash our sins clean.
Activity: Cross Craft
Day 7 – Saturday – "Stone"
Scripture: Matthew 27:59-66
Summary: After Jesus died, his friends wrapped him in a cloth and put his body in a tomb. The Pharisee's were worried that Jesus' friends would take his body so a big stone (probably as heavy as a car) was rolled in front of the opening. Special soldiers stood guard. It was a sad day for Jesus' friends.
Activity: Take turns wrapping each other up in toilet paper; reenact the story.
Day 8 – Easter Sunday – "Empty"
Summary: God's angel caused an earthquake and the stone was rolled away. The guards were so afraid they fainted. Remember how heavy the stone was? It was no match for God's power. People call Easter 'resurrection day' which means "back to life" or "lives again". Just like the egg was empty, the tomb was empty. Jesus was alive! That was the promise Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper. He told them He would die but would come back to life to show those who believed in Him that he was the Messiah and that they would live forever with Him. Do you believe in Jesus? Explain to your kids when you made the decision to follow God and make Him the treasure of your whole life.
Activity: Dance and follow the actions in Mighty Resurrection Day. Get crazy with the kids, somersault whenever they sing "stone was rolled away!"
Make Empty Tomb Resurrection Rolls together:
Here is one more catchy song for preschoolers that helps summarize the Easter Story: