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Easter is a tricky festival to celebrate with children.
On the one hand, there is so much joy – we are celebrating the ultimate pivot point of all of history!
But on the other hand, there is a whole load of sadness and gory stuff which happens beforehand. For our adopted children, especially, Easter can trigger all sorts of shame-based emotions and horrible guilt.
Yet this is precisely why we really need to emphasise the excitement and the victory of Easter Sunday!
Easter gives us hope that one day there will be an end to all suffering. Easter reminds us that Jesus – and only Jesus – has defeated evil, once and for all. And Easter reminds us that there is eternal life for all of us – a life secure in heaven, God’s Kingdom, with no pain, tears or sickness ever again.
This is a hope that our children – and we – need to hear!
And the good news is that there are loads of super quick ways you can make Easter Sunday really special.
Enjoy the build-up
Starting on Palm Sunday, why not have a set time each day when your family does something special around the Easter story? It can be as simple or complicated as you like.
- use a children’s bible to tell a little bit of the story each day
- read an Easter family devotional like The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross
- do an Easter craft together
- make an Easter bake together
- read a favourite Easter story book
I’ve shared plenty of ideas (30, in fact) in my blog post 30 Simple Lent Activities for Families.
Whatever you do, your kids will quickly get into this fun-building habit, and start to look forward to which new Eastery thing they’re going to be doing each day!
I’ve written before about our Advent basket, and I know many of you do the same. Why not gather all your Easter books and resources to make an Easter basket?
And if you don’t yet have any or many Easter story books, I can highly recommend:
- Heaven’s Big Secret (beautiful picture book for under 7s, following the story of two little angels as they explore what happened to Jesus)
- The Tale of Three Trees (a different way of teaching the significance of Easter)
- The Story of Easter (the book which caused my eldest, now 10, to turn to Jesus aged 3)
- Jesus Enters Jerusalem/He Is Risen (two books in one! Read about Jesus’ death, then turn the book round and read about his resurrection!)
There are so many fun ways to tell the Easter story. And the fun thing is that there are events for pretty much every day of Holy Week:
Sunday – Jesus arrives in Jerusalem
Tuesday – Jesus clears out the Temple
Wednesday – Judas agrees to betray Jesus
Thursday – the Last Supper; Jesus’ arrest; Peter’s denial
Friday – Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and death
Sunday – Jesus’ resurrection! The women at the tomb, the walk to Emmaus.
Why not act these out as a family, write newspaper articles, poems or acrostics?
Or perhaps you could gather some Lego or Playmobil figures and create small-world Easter scenes for some or all of the days above?
An idea which our kids love every year is resurrection eggs. In fact, as I’ve been writing this blog post, I’ve lifted our Easter boxes down to check my recommendations, and our three youngest kids have taken great delight in rediscovering the resurrection eggs!
This blog post shows how you can make a set. It doesn’t take long, and if it’s hard to source the egg contents, simply draw small pictures of the required objects and pop them in instead.
Very small children may appreciate a sensory Easter story-telling – let them eat bread and ‘wine’ (grape juice!), roll some dice, smell some vinegar, do some hammering with a toy hammer or a pair of claves…you get the idea.
Or simply use a decent children’s Bible or Easter story book. Bob Hartmann is an amazing storyteller and I’m hoping to use his Easter Stories with our older two at bedtime during Holy Week.
Basically, go with your child’s interests and have some fun!
Pinterest is a minefield when it comes to actually finding decent, workable Easter crafts for your family, but the following have always gone down a treat with our family:
* creating an Easter garden using a tray, soil/compost, pebbles, stick crosses, flower-pot tomb (or a potato works well too)
* masking tape crosses – simply use masking tape to make a cross shape, filling the paper, then paint bright colours over it. Leave to dry and remove the masking tape.
And you could always make Easter cards for friends and family too – your kids get to do something fun and Easter-themed, while those you love receive something special from you in the post. Win-win!
I love Easter cooking with kids – there are so many lovely things to make!
We always make Easter egg nests – they’re pretty much a given. (Melt chocolate, mix with cornflakes/rice crispies/shredded wheat, spoon into cupcake cases and fill with mini eggs. Refrigerate until set.)
Edible Easter gardens are also fun: use a flat base like a digestive or rich tea biscuit, or a Scotch/American-style pancake. Cover with green icing (or sprinkle with green dessicated coconut if you like it). Use edible biscuits or sweets to make a tomb and stone – An Oreo and a mini egg work nicely, as do a mini chocolate doughnut and a mini Oreo! Add a ‘He is risen’ flag for extra impact.
(And if they don’t turn out well, who cares? You can eat them straight away and no one will ever know.)
Resurrection cookies are so cool, as you make them on Easter Saturday night, leave them in a very low oven overnight, and they ‘rise’ on Sunday morning! There are different bits of the Easter story to share with every step of the recipe. I’ve always wanted to try these, but we’ve never quite been around at the right times to make it work. This year, though…
Our final piece de resistance, which has become a Rycroft family tradition, is making a resurrection cake! Any cake will do, but make a simple Easter scene on top using Matchmaker or chocolate fingers for crosses, edible pebbles (not essential but a nice touch!), and – the important thing – a large hollow chocolate egg to act as the tomb. After Easter Sunday lunch, the kids smash this open with spoons and remember that the tomb was EMPTY! Hallelujah!
Easter Egg Hunts
The simplest way is simply to hide small, wrapped eggs around your home or garden (or a nearby park) and invite your kids to try and find as many as they can.
But it’s also fun to go on a bit of a treasure hunt. And, because we’re all up to our eyeballs, I’ve saved you some work by creating three clue-based Easter egg treasure hunts that will work in any home.
One is a rhyming Easter egg hunt, another is based on the Easter story and the third one uses single word clues, ideal for any child who is just learning to read. You can find them in my Family Easter Printables Bundle! Muchos fun.
I love this guest blog post from Victoria ‘Godventure’ Beech about the richness of a family Passover meal, and am so excited to try it this year with our family. Check out her online Passover Workshop too.
On the day itself, make it as special as you can muster. Why not share an extravagant breakfast together before you head off to celebrate with your church family?
When it comes to your main meal, have whatever your kids will consider a great treat. If that’s pizza and chips, go for it! If a takeaway makes life less stressful, order with my blessing! Don’t bust a gut over roast lamb if no one’s going to appreciate it.
How about watching an Easter movie in the afternoon? The Miracle Maker is a great choice, or The Prince of Egypt (because of the parallels in the two stories).
However you celebrate Easter this year, I hope that you and your family draw closer to God doing it. I hope that all of us will understand Jesus’ victory in a more powerful way. And I pray that the foundations we’re laying down now will pay dividends in our children’s lives as they grow up with Jesus by their side.
(P.S. Don’t forget to check out my Family Easter Printables Bundle!)