Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian calendar. Teaching your little ones about the Resurrection of Christ as the central point of our religion can seem more daunting than involving those same little ones in Christmas.
After all, everyone can understand the birth of a baby, and the giving of gifts to celebrate, but it is more difficult to understand the mystery of Christ fulfilling scripture by rising from the dead.
I found that the key to working with little ones is to simply teach the story directly from the Bible and reinforcing its importance in doctrine with the general celebration of the holiday, all the while explaining the Christian viewpoint on the secular trappings, as we do at Christmas.
Easter Basket—eggs, jelly beans, chocolate. All of these also have various cultural traditions behind them, sometimes just that the Lord’s word is sweet, sometimes more than the rabbit and the egg are symbols of new life, of spring—new life in Christ, the resurrection of the world from its winter sleep.
Keep the explanations simple, adding more detail as the child is older. We also took the opportunity to include Children’s books on the true meaning of Easter in the Easter basket.
As the children get older, lower and upper elementary, encourage them to read the scripture in reader’s theatre style for the rest of the family, acting out the parts of the women coming to the tomb and talking to the angel. I’ve done this with Sunday school students.
Puppets are another way to present the story. For the very youngest, perhaps the adults could act out the reading using puppets. Slightly older elementary students can make stick puppets and read the story, using the stick puppets as the actors—this is especially good for those who are more shy.
Singing – During Christmas, hymns and carols are sung everywhere. Easter does not enjoy this diffusion into the popular culture. Sing your favorite Easter hymns together as a family.
Church and Talking about the Holiday – Many churches offer sunrise services—try to attend one.
If your church offers services on the other days of Holy Week, especially Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday (for the first time Communion was offered) and Good Friday, (the commemoration of Christ’s death on the Cross), attend if you can, as a family.
This helps reinforce the importance of the occasion of Easter by establishing its relationship to these other days. Talk about these festivals with your children.
Do these things each time Easter comes around. My heart was filled with joy when after years of these practices, I heard our daughter tell one of her friends that she could not wait for Easter because it was the most important holiday of the year.
Easter Dinner – whether you serve lamb or ham, be sure to open the meal with a bit more than the usual pre-dinner prayer. Read from the account of the first Easter, coming to find the tomb empty.
While the children are waiting for the meal to be ready, print out some Bible worksheets with the picture of the empty tomb for them to color.
by Joan Leotta
Slowly, slowly comes the light
appearing between two trees, from the tomb
Son’s glow signaling end of sin’s eternal night.
Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She is a poet, essayist, journalist, playwright, and author of several books both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is also a performer and gives one-woman shows on historic figures and spoken word folklore shows as well as teaching writing and storytelling.
Joan lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband, Joe.
www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973