It's almost Easter and the stores are filled with Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, and countless little toys and candies all in the name of celebrating Easter. Do you have that same annoyed feeling that I do? Do you feel frustrated that despite your best efforts your children naturally gravitate towards the worldly traditions of Easter? I decided this year that instead of fighting the worldly traditions, I would incorporate them into a powerful weekend that would highlight the true meaning of why we celebrate Easter. It involved Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, fresh air, and following the steps of Jesus. It brought His story alive for my kids and also gave them a few small treats to enjoy.
I'm going to share with you how we did this, but I'm going to be honest up front and say that unfortunately you won't be able to copy me exactly. The clues I wrote applied to our specific area. You would likely have to write your own clues but I promise it is well worth it! I've read Easter story books and picture books to my children but none have had the impact that this activity did.
I used the book of Matthew, starting at chapter 26, and broke the story into smaller sections. I viewed it as different scenes, almost as if you were watching a play of Jesus' last day. On Good Friday, in the morning, we sat on the couch and I talked to my kids about the Last Supper. I explained that it happened "last night". I told them that we would now pick up the story from what happened to Jesus during the night and on Friday. I gave them their first clue which was inside a plastic Easter egg, along with two chocolate Easter eggs.
Clue #1: Nanny has a garden fair, similar to where Jesus went in prayer.
Scene #1: The Garden of Gethsemane. Clue #1 led my kids to their Nan's garden. Once there, they searched for another plastic egg. They were not allowed to open it when they found it though. Instead they sat down and I read directly from the Bible Matthew 26:36-56. After reading and discussing, they opened the egg they had found, took out a chocolate egg for each of them, and read the next clue.
Clue #2: Here we gather for camp fire delight, but this gathering place for Jesus was a place of plight.
Scene #2: The Sanhedrin. Clue #2 led my kids to the camp fire pit. Again they searched for the plastic egg but did not open it. I read Matthew 26:57-68. We discussed it and then they opened the egg to find two chocolates and the next clue. Each egg along the way had two chocolates and a clue.
Clue #3: We come together to feast on food a plenty, but at this feast Jesus' death was made with certainty.
Scene #3: The Passover Feast. Clue #3 led my kids to the dining room. After finding the hidden egg, I read and discussed Matthew 27:1-2, 11-26. Then it was onto the next clue.
Clue #4: This is where we go to get dressed, but as Jesus put on a royal robe He was not blessed.
Scene #4: The Palace. Clue #4 led my kids to our bedroom. I read to them Matthew 27:27-31. This is a part of the Easter story that is often left out and my kids were shocked to hear it. But I believe the shock was good because it evoked feelings of empathy. They were being drawn into the story, which was my goal.
Clue #5: We walk along this path to see Debra, but for Jesus it led to Golgotha.
Scene #5: The Walk to Golgotha. Clue #5 led my kids to a pathway between our cottage and our neighbour's cottage. They searched along the path to find the hidden egg. Then I read Matthew 27:32-34. By this point I could see and feel that my kids had been pulled into the story. They were more excited about getting the next clue to find out the next part of the story than they were about the chocolate Easter eggs hiding with the clue.
Clue #6: Look around for the wooden cross, that we may be reminded of Jesus love and grace.
Scene #6: Jesus Being Nailed to the Cross. For clue #6 my kids just had to look around from where they were and eventually they spotted the wooden cross I had made and placed on a small hill. They ran to it and found the plastic egg. I read Matthew 27:35-56. The mood was quite somber at this point. Although we celebrate with joy Jesus resurrection, I wanted my kids to grasp what happened before the resurrection. It's okay for kids to feel this sadness because it makes the resurrection much more powerful!
Clue #7: We pull down the door to keep things safe, while Jesus slept the rock was rolled in place.
Scene #7: Jesus' Tomb. Clue #7 led my kids to the garage. They found the plastic egg and I read Matthew 27:57-61.
This concluded our Easter activity for Good Friday. I explained that Jesus rested in the tomb on Sabbath (Saturday). I told them that we would pick up the story on Easter Sunday and continue our "hunt" then.
Sunday morning the kids were anxious to continue hearing the story of Jesus death and resurrection. We started back in the garage (scene #7) where we had left off. This was the scene of Jesus' tomb. The kids searched for the hidden egg and then I read Matthew 28:1-8. The kids were definitely feeling excited as we moved into the joyous part of the Easter story!
Clue #8: Run along as Mary and Mary fled, to the place where you sled.
Scene #8: Jesus Meeting Mary Magdalene and Mary on the Path to Galilee. Clue #8 led my kids to their sledding hill. After finding the plastic egg I read Matthew 28:9-10.
Clue #9: On to Galilee they went, up on to the mountain top. Onward we shall also ascent, no matter what we will not stop.
Scene #9: The Mountain in Galilee. Clue #9 led my kids to the top of a really big hill. This was the last scene so I had a chocolate Easter bunny and two eggs for each child hidden. Once they found their treats, I read Matthew 28:16-20. We prayed, hand-in-hand, thanking and praising Jesus for the sacrifice He made so we can all go to Heaven one day,
With the help of their creative imaginations, my kids were able to get into the Easter story in a way they hadn't before. Truth be told, I did too! If I had of tried to read Matthew 26 - 28 to my kids while sitting on the couch, they would have been bored and they wouldn't have become a part of the story. Although it took some time and effort on my part to come up with the clues, it was COMPLETELY worth it! My goal of making the Easter story come alive for my kids was achieved. And they still got some yummy treats ;) It may take some creativity on your part to figure out how to make the scenes work. You could use your house and backyard, a park or conservation area, or maybe even a combination of places depending on your time frame and ability to travel around. I'm going to break down the scenes and verses so it will be easier for you to look over it and plan, without the distractions of my clues.
Scene #1: Garden of Gethsemane - Read Matthew 26:36-56
Scene #2: The Sanhedrin - Read Matthew 26:57-68
Scene #3: The Passover Feast - Read Matthew 27:1-2, 11-26
Scene #4: The Palace - Read Matthew 27:27-31
Scene #5: The Walk to Golgotha - Read Matthew 27:32-34
Scene #6: Jesus Being Nailed to the Cross - Read Matthew 27:35-56
Scene #7: (Friday) Jesus' Tomb - Read Matthew 27:57-61
(Sunday) Jesus' Tomb - Read Matthew 28:1-8
Scene #8: Jesus Meeting Mary Magdalene and Mary on the Path to Galilee - Read Matthew 28:9-10
Scene #9: The Mountain in Galilee - Read Matthew 28:16-20
Be creative! You probably can't take your kids to somewhere that really looks like the Sanhedrin or Jesus' tomb. But they can imagine! Give your kids a new experience this Easter by bringing the story of Jesus' death and resurrection to life!