One of my favorite reasons for working in Children's Ministry is learning fun ideas on how to share Jesus with kids. With us being in the Lenten season, there are so many creative ways to teach our children about Easter in the church and at home. Here are a few fun crafts, baking, and stories about Easter that parents can share with their kids at home:
Bury the Alleluia
This craft was shared by one of our wonderful volunteers, Mandy: "I know the Traditional Church service does traditional Lenten music during Lent but it's tradition that you don't sing Alleluias during Lent because it's a time of reflection and it's supposed to make it that much more impressive when you break forth with all that music and alleluias on Easter Sunday." One activity for parents to do with kids at home to reflect on this tradition is to have your kids each make a banner - using yarn and triangles of construction paper - each triangle has a letter from the word Alleluia or Hallelujah - however you want to do it - then tell them to hide it (you can make one and hide as well) and Easter Sunday they can find it and hang it somewhere prominent like their front door or on their bedroom door. On Easter Sunday, make a game out of how many alleluias they hear the church saying or singing.
Draw Jesus' Empty Tomb:
This idea from Totally Tots is simple and easy (the kind of crafts I love!). Make a picture showing Jesus’ empty tomb! Draw two half circles (one small and one large) for the tomb. Draw a circle for the stone that was rolled away. Let your little one cut out the pieces. Glue to tomb onto construction paper and attach the stone with a brad.
My girls love goldfish, and I’m sure your children do too. Purchase a clear, plastic bag from the party section of your home goods store and tape the back so it is in the shape of a cone. Fill the bag 3/4 full with goldfish. Tie it off with some pretty green ribbon and your child has their very own carrot snack to enjoy!
To make fruit a bit more fun, try cutting it out with some Easter-shaped cookie cutters. I found a mini cookie cutter package filled with shapes such as eggs, crosses, bunnies, flowers, and ducks at my local craft store that made the perfect size treat for my children. Let your child pick out the shape that they want and help them press the cutter into their favorite fruit. We used cantaloupe, pineapple, and honeydew as our fruits and they were just as much fun to eat as they were to make!
This is another wonderful idea shared by our volunteer, Mandy: "One of the traditions of lent - which some religions still practice - was fasting. This was very strict in the Middle Ages." Tell your children the story of how the pretzel began (see below). You can either make dough and let them make home-made pretzels, buy them soft pretzels or a bag of the regular kind and pass out.
A very long time ago, (in the early 600’s) there was a man who worked for God. His job was being a MONK. A MONK does everything in his life for God. He lives in a special place with other MONKS, who pray and read the Bible many times during the day. They usually live in a building or group of buildings for this purpose. It is called a monastery. MONKS usually make and/or grow their own food.
This MONK had been in the kitchen where other monks were baking a special bread for LENT, and he saw some leftover pieces of dough. This monk decided to use the leftover pieces of dough for something special. The Monk formed the dough into thin strips crossed into a looped twist to be like the folded arms of children in prayer.
Look at the picture. You will one of the few people who know which way is really UP! That was how children held their hands to pray in those days.
Let’s all try crossing our arms like the children in the early church. (Like a pretzel for prayer.)
This treat was given to the children as they learned their prayers. They began calling the treat "Pretiola", which means "little reward" in Latin. (a common language of the monks) (a different version of the story calls them bracellae, a German word that eventually became pretzel.)
Soon it was known the world over as a pretzel. The simple shape of the pretzel, arms folded in prayer, reminds us to pray every day. Every time you see a pretzel, remember prayer! What do we do with our hands and arms when we pray? We should fold our hands and bow our heads! Would it be ok to pray with our arms folded? Yes it would, but some people who do not know what you know might think it was strange!
photo courtesy of athenasplichta.com
The pretzel really has its origins as an official food of Lent. Lent is known as the 40 days before Easter. Lent is a time when we should be thinking of what Jesus gave up for us – his body and blood – his life – so we could go to heaven. Lent is a time when we could think of what we could give up in honor of God or Jesus. Long ago, in some churches, you had to decide on something to give up for the 40 days of Lent. (A personal sacrifice) Some ideas would have been chocolate, or candy or cookies or pizza!
The monk in our story lived in a time when you could not eat meat or milk or eggs during Lent! So he and his brother monks had to figure out a special bread that did not use eggs or milk. The monks were preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and salt – which is what pretzels are still made out of today. Pretzels then began to be enjoyed by all people. They became a symbol of good luck and long life. They were also a common food given to the poor and hungry. They were cheap and easy to make and satisfied hunger.
- Have you ever had a pretzel like this?
- Who can tell what it tastes like?
- If you were asked to give up a favorite food from now until Easter, what would it be? (Ask each child)
- Would it be easy or hard not to have that food until Easter?
Let’s pray with our arms folded like the pretzel:
We thank you for your son Jesus. We thank you for caring about us and loving us. Amen.
This video is from the Jesus Storybook Bible about God's Wonderful Surprise. Perfect to watch with your kids on the iPad before bedtime!
Trail to the Tree is a devotional book written by Ann Voskamp full of devotions, how to make your own Jesus tree, and teachings about Lent. Great to share around the dinner table (especially with older kids!).
I hope you can share some of these Easter ideas with your kids! Do you have any Easter traditions that you can share with all of us?
Till next time, let your light shine!