As the Easter holiday approaches, grocery stores fill with decorations, eggs, candy, and more candy. Easter is my favorite holiday, and as such I find myself saddened to see that it has become just another “candy day”. In my mind, it’s fine for Halloween and Valentine’s Day to be that way, because they are primarily secular holidays. But Easter? There is so much more to Easter than candy. As Christians we know that but we don’t know any good ways to celebrate Easter with our kids and don’t want to deprive them of the annual Easter egg hunt. I’m not saying you have to deprive them of any of the secular traditions – my little ten-month-old is going on her first Easter egg hunt this year – but there are some other traditions that you could start that are based more in the reality of what Easter is about. I knew something like that had to exist, so I first searched Google and Pinterest but for the most part only found crafts and cookies related to bunnies, eggs, or crosses. Not that any of those things are bad, but I wanted something with more depth, something that would lead into discussions. So I wracked my brain for about a month over this, and these are the top 5 activities I felt deserved that description.
1. Empty Tomb Rolls
This is an Easter tradition that I grew up with, and have carried this tradition into my own family. The making of these rolls (also called “Resurrection Rolls”) is simple enough for kids to do with adult supervision, but the symbolism behind the different ingredients in the rolls is where the adults have to step in and explain. The Marshmallow represents Jesus’ pure body, wrapped in cloths; the cinnamon represents the spices put upon his body. The crescent roll represents the tomb – and before being put in the oven the marshmallows are wrapped in the crescent roll, but when they finish baking there is no marshmallow to be found (it melted)! Usually the crescent rolls break open in a way that may remind us of the open entrance to the tomb where Jesus was. I always found this to be a great visual to instigate a story. Below is the recipe and a picture of the empty rolls.
2. Watch “The Passion of the Christ”
I must add two disclaimers to this activity:
1) This movie is rated R for sequences of graphic violence. However, I believe that the graphic violence is necessary for the story of the crucifixion. So while it is likely inappropriate for your four-year-old, your twelve-year-old may benefit from it. We watched this movie at a church we attended a few years ago and it was mostly teenagers, but I believe the youngest there was ten years old. If you have concerns about the rating of this movie, I would advise reading the Parental Guide on IMDB.
2) You may need to keep in mind and assuredly remind your children that this is a movie, not an inspired account of what happened to Jesus. While the movie is quite accurate to the Biblical text, there are of course a few liberties taken as well as a few things left out. There is some debate as to whether the imaging of Jesus Christ is a breaking of the second commandment, but I leave that to your own conscience. Also, the gruesome torture and crucifixion of Jesus is depicted in the film, but the spiritual pain and suffering of being separated from his heavenly Father is not. Remind your children that even though Jesus went through so much physical suffering for us, he went through even much more spiritual suffering.
That being said, I think this movie can be a great tool in remembering just a glimpse of what Jesus did for us on Good Friday. I don’t want to recommend it simply for its “shock factor”, but to tell your children that what Jesus went through in that movie is a portion of what they deserve because of their sin is pretty powerful.
3. Seder Meal (Christian Passover)
After thinking of this idea, I was so blessed to find another blogger who keeps this tradition in her own home! Ann Voskamp, Christian author and mom blogger, has an excellent post on why her family celebrates a Christian Passover, and includes a menu and meaning with it! This may sound similar to the Lord’s Supper, but most churches do not believe children should partake or be involved in that sacrament; this is a way for your family to commemorate Jesus’ death together. The Israelites celebrated Passover to remember the night the Passover Lamb was slaughtered to protect them from the angel of death during their time in Egypt, and we as Christians with our families can celebrate Passover remembering our perfect lamb Jesus who was crucified for us so that we may not die but have eternal life!
4. Read Easter Story and Sing Songs
This may seem unnecessary since most churches have an Easter-themed worship service, but it is important for your family to have your own time of worship together! Read the whole Easter account as a family. If you have time, you can read it from all four of the gospels: Matthew 26-28, Mark 15-16, Luke 22-24, and John 17-20. Notice the differences between each gospel account. Then, sing Easter hymns together; here is a list of my favorites:
5. Visit Deceased Loved Ones
Jesus not only defeated sin, He also defeated death. If you have the graves of deceased loved ones you can go visit, take your children with you. Explain that if _______ (family member) was a believer in Jesus, they are now in Heaven with Him. There is no eternal death for them, but rather eternal life. Tell your children that though Jesus was in a different grave than we see today (above ground), He did not stay there long! Death has no power over Him. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our faith is futile, in vain. The Resurrection is incredibly important, and that is what Easter is about! This time of year provides a great opportunity to talk to your kids about death, and what it means for someone who believes in Jesus and someone who does not. Praise God that for the Christian, the sting of death has been removed!
I hope you have enjoyed reading through these activities to do with your kids. If you have any Easter family traditions or ways you like to remember Easter with your kids, please post in the comments!