The lead up to Easter often gets the shaft for many of us. There is no pre-planned 2 week holiday and focused time of “Advent-esque” type preparation. The events of Easter, while no doubt as gory as childbirth in some ways, are not quite as packaged and polished as the Christmas story. Or at least as PACKAGED and POLISHED as Hallmark likes to make Christmas. Not too many Christmas cards are sold in the “scratch and sniff” stable variety.
So, as we approach Easter, it is easy to find it upon us before we realize it. And knowing how to share about the events leading up to Easter Sunday, without scaring our littlest munchkins, is something to think through.
Yesterday, with my MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers), we created Resurrection Egg kits. The idea behind resurrection eggs is to compile 12 objects that tangibly help children remember the key elements of the Easter story. You can purchase them here and a great book to use alongside them is Benjamin’s Box. They really aren’t too hard to make, though, and once I gathered the supplies, we each made our own kits within minutes. As I researched online, I found MANY different permutations of items to include. The one I settled on wasn’t even the same line up as used in the book, Benjamin’s Box. Nonetheless, it didn’t seem to bother Alex who was obsessed with them for hours yesterday—to the point of having a temper tantrum last night when I wouldn’t do the egg activity for the umpteenth time screaming at me, “BUT MOM, THIS IS ABOUT JESUS DYING. ABOUT HIM BEING NAILED TO THE CROSS!!!!!!!!!!!” Oh, Lordy Be. Pastor’s Kid. Screaming about wanting to talk more about Jesus dying on the cross. And I, model Mom, is pushing my own agenda…”LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE!!!”
For my youngest, approaching 18 months, the activity we created yesterday isn’t too useful….except for ingesting and wrecking havoc.
This developmental limitation did not stop my eldest from trying to use them with his brother….and surprisingly, the youngest seemed interested and was actually—wait for it———quiet. Yes, folks, Drew was….QUIET. And he “listened”. Our own modern day miracle.
I have found two books to be especially helpful when telling the stories of Easter with my eldest. When he was 2 1/2 to 3, we used the Read Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall regularly. They are very simple in regards to language, concept and illustrations. Volume 2, of the 4, has the story that ties into Holy Week. Here’s a snippet of it to give you a feel….
Soon, I assume we will start using these stories more often with Drew, our youngest….most likely when he stops trying to rip up every single book he gets into his sticky little fingers. For Alex, we have used the Jesus Storybook Bible for the last year (from age 4 on) and love the way Sally Lloyd-Jones shares the story of God’s grace and redemption, from Adam and Eve all the way through Revelation. It is truly incredible….not to mention the artwork by Jago. OH MY GOODNESS. I could seriously frame the entire book. Here’s a glimpse of the Holy Week through that book.
If you would like to create your own set of Resurrection Eggs, here is a PDF of the page we used for the cover label and here is a PDF of the explanation we used. There are two versions, one for using only six eggs, with younger kids, and great language that makes the story approachable. The second version uses all twelve eggs.
Last year we made resurrection rolls. Here was the result of that last year…the post’s title is “Jesus Fell Out of the Oven!” if that gives you a clue about how it went! Anyhow, it’s kind of a hokey activity, but I’m a sucker for hands on experiences and the message seemed to stick for my then 3 year old. We also used the amazing artwork Ann Voskamp shared on her blog for our Easter Tree. If you are interested in downloading the artwork and devotional for doing your own Easter tree, click here. The artwork is all gorgeous…some more familiar to our adult eyes than others. Some of the images are fairly real and a bit gory, but I love the conversations they seem to start with my oldest. A little less tame than the illustrations from the two books I shared earlier.
This year, I also found this post by the writer behind the blog “Mustard Seeds” to be really great. TONS of book recommendations which promptly went on my library order list and some other activities you could pick and choose from. One of my favorites was creating a little “tomb” diarama of sorts with Alex last year. The post I wrote about it, entitled “Apathy” of all UPLIFTING topics, showed some pictures in case you want to try something similar. These examples of that same concept are a bit more picturesque! Here and here.
Whatever methods you choose to share with your kids this year, I hope that deep down, the message that Sally Lloyd-Jones keeps intertwining and weaving into almost EVERY story she includes in the Jesus Storybook Bible is this, that the entire Bible points to Christ. That “every story whispers His name”. Over and over, throughout each and every story—–whether Adam and Eve or Jacob, Rachel & Leah or Moses or Abraham. Or us.
“God rescued them—no matter what, time after time, over and over again—because of his
Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”
That is the message that we hope, whether through Resurrection Eggs or Rolls, reading books, dying eggs, making a tomb, whatever conversations might arise, that THAT message….that God’s love for us never stops, never gives up on us, never breaks, and remains forever…..be embedded in their hearts.