I love Noel Piper's advent calendar for Christmas and so do my kids. My kids are very much at the visual, non-abstract stage of learning so I've been trying to think of something to do to teach them about Easter. Her book "Treasuring God in our Traditions" gives the idea of a resurrection tree, where you hang different symbolic items on a tree branch to tell the story of the Passion Week.
We put together a little packet for parents at our church of the Passion Week story broken down into days. I thought I'd share it with you and some links of activities to do with your kids this week. I hope it is helpful. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions of how to help teach kids about Easter, please share! For this, you can read it straight out or it can be a guide to talking about Easter.
The Bible says that when Jesus was a man on earth, He taught many people about God and healed people from their sicknesses. He also told people that He was God’s Son and that He there would be a time when He would die and come back to life. Many people believed Him and followed Him. Some people thought He was going to become their king and rule over the country. Just before our story starts, Jesus sat down with His disciples (friends) and told what was about to happen:
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man (Jesus) will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes (leaders); and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”
This is the story of how that came true. It is the reason we celebrate Easter.
Sunday Before Easter: The Triumphal Entry
On the Sunday before Jesus died, He and His disciples (friends) were coming into Jerusalem. The disciples brought a donkey for Jesus and laid their clothes on it for Jesus to ride into the city. As He rode in, a large crowd laid tree branches and their clothes on the road, like they would if a king came through town. They celebrated and shouted, “Hosanna!” because they felt sure He was their long awaited king. The disciples knew that Jesus was a King, but not just of one country. He was the one who would make peace for all people.
Older Children: Read Matthew 21:1-11. Who did the people in the crowd think Jesus was? What did they think He was going to do? You can also incorporate Luke 19:41-44, which shows that Jesus was saddened by their lack of understanding.
• Go outside to find tree branches and act out the triumphal entry of Jesus, shouting “Hosanna!”
• If you don’t have tree branches, make palm branches with green construction paper. After you’ve acted out the story, hang them somewhere in the house for an Easter decoration.
Monday Before Easter: Jesus Cleanses the Temple
After His kingly parade, Jerusalem was buzzing with talk about Jesus. What would He do next? Because He was a teacher about God, the first thing He did was go to the temple (place to worship God). What He saw there made Him very angry! Instead of people praying to God, He found people selling things in a dishonest way. They were not interested in loving God or loving people, but just making money. Jesus told them to leave and even turned over their tables. He reminded them that the temple was a place to pray and worship God.
The people who had been so excited to see Jesus come into their town were not excited anymore, especially the temple leaders. They didn’t like that Jesus was trying to change things and were jealous because so many people followed Jesus. They began to talk about how they could hurt Jesus.
Older Children: Read Mark 11:15-18. Why was Jesus so angry in the temple? Why did the religious leaders dislike Jesus?
Color a picture of Jesus clearing the temple. Talk about the story as you color. You can find one here.