Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter Traditions for Preschoolers (and their grumpy mamas)

Easter Week is here, and it's a good thing--because I have been super grumpy lately!  I am looking forward to this week of fun, spring, peace, and Jesus.

For a few years now I've wanted to do some simple, spiritual Easter traditions and lessons with Noah, but I just haven't found/made the time.  (Plus I was pregnant and super sick last year, so I get a pass, right?)  There are so many great ideas on the Internet for spiritual Easter fun with kids--I just needed to take an hour to click around and make a plan.

So I did it on Friday.  And the irony wasn't lost on me that I was incredibly crabby with Noah as I was doing it.  (I think Mom may need these lessons about Christ's life much more than Noah.)

I thought I would share my ideas (which are not actually my ideas because I found them all online, mostly here and here) on this blog, so if some mom out there reading this doesn't have an hour to click around on the Internet, she can just take my list and go with it. You can do these activities/discussions in any order, and they don't have to be elaborate.

I want to give this disclaimer, though, about my Easter traditions:

I was going to start on Saturday with a visit to the beautiful grounds of our temple here in Twin Falls and a discussion about how Christ cleansed the temple in Jerusalem and how we can feel close to Christ in the temple--but Saturday was a crazy day and it didn't happen, so I decided we would start on Sunday.

And then yesterday, we were going to walk to church and gather blooming spring branches for an "Easter tree"and come home and find our favorite pictures of Christ online and print and laminate them and hang them on our Easter tree--but that didn't happen either.  You see, I insisted on taking some photos of the kids before we left for church, and this is how that turned out:

And of course because of my (very successful) photo shoot, we cut it too close on time and couldn't walk to church, and when we got home I had to rush to a pharmacy to get some penicillin because, lo and behold, I contracted strep throat AGAIN and all of the pharmacies close early on Sundays, and by the time we'd had dinner, there was no time for Easter tree, so we cleaned up and got the kids to bed and then collapsed in our bed and wasted time surfing Facebook.

So.  All that to say that your Easter traditions don't have to be perfect, so don't stress or get mad at yourself if these activities don't happen according to plan (or happen at all).  This is real life we are talking about.  And real life is messy and busy and unpredictable.

Okay, so here are a few ideas that I plan to make happen this week:

Easter Walk

Tonight for Family Night we are going to start our Easter Week (so help me!), and we will kick it off with an Easter Walk.  (I got this idea here.) You read the clue from the scriptures, and then each child has to run and find an object to match.  If you can't keep the attention span of the little ones long enough to read the actual verse, you can also just tell them about each part of the crucifixion and resurrection story in your own words.  Here are the clues:

Clue 1: Mark 15:17 - Find something pointed and sharp to represent the crown of thorns.

Clue 2: John 19:17-18 - Find something made of wood to represent the cross.

Clue 3: Luke 23:46 - Find something dead to represent the Savior's death.

Clue 4: Luke 23: 44-45 (Bible), 3 Nephi 8:23 (Book of Mormon) - Find something dark to represent the darkness in Jerusalem and in America.

Clue 5: Mark 15:46 - Find something hard and round to represent the stone placed in front of the tomb.

Clue 6: Matthew 28:5-6 - Find something alive to represent that Jesus Christ is alive again.

Washing Feet

One day this week, we will talk about how Christ's whole life was about service, and then we will wash each other's feet in a soapy basin, like Christ washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper. We will sing the Primary song "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" as we do it. :) We will also watch this short animated depiction of Christ's act of service.  As corny as the video is, I just know Noah will be completely glued to it, and, hey, it gets the message across.

Last Supper

One night we will have a very simple version of the "Last Supper."  (Maybe Thursday night since that is when it happened during the first Holy Week?)  We will have pitas, cheese, and grape juice--maybe some lentil soup because I actually have some frozen.  (Score!)   We will talk about how Christ instituted the Sacrament and what the bread and wine (or for us Mormons, water) represent.  We will talk about how we can be more reverent during the Sacrament each week at church, as we remember Jesus and what He has done for us.  Maybe I will even set a Biblical-looking table for dinner that night.

Atonement, Crucifixion, Ressurection

This will be the heavy doctrinal day, but we will try to keep it simple.  We will briefly explain each of these key events in the Easter story, and then we will watch these sacred events depicted in videos that will help Noah visualize.  We will explain what is happening as we watch:
            -Garden of Gethsemane video (we will probably start about 4-5 minutes into the video because it's long for a three year old)
            -Crucifixion video (we will start about a minute into the video because I don't want Noah to see the entirety of the scourging scene--painful to watch)
            -Jesus in the Tomb video (we will watch until about 2 mins--when the angel tosses the stone-- because it's long)
            -Resurrection video

**Someday I would like to do more with the Garden of Gethsemane--perhaps take him on a hike  and then talk about the significance of the Atonement and repentance, but he is too young now to grasp the significance of that sacred, infinite act.  I'd also like to teach him this beautiful children's song--maybe next year.

Visiting a Cemetery 

We might make a visit to a cemetery and talk about how the grave has no power over us because of Christ's resurrection.  If we were living in Colorado, I would totally take the kids to the cemetery where my mom is buried to have this discussion.  We might even let go of some Easter-colored balloons to send up to her in heaven.  (Maybe I should still do this here in Idaho?)  If we were living in Buffalo, I would totally do an Easter egg hunt in Forest Lawn Cemetery--which may sound morbid, but honestly you have not lived until you have walked the grounds of that insanely spectacular cemetery.  This cemetery visit would be fun to do on actual Easter morning if the weather is cooperating.

Easter Vigils: Lanterns, Luminaries, Sky lanterns

Saturday night, we will have some sort of "Easter Vigil" on Easter Eve.  We might make these darling Easter lanterns, but I don't think our tree is sturdy enough to hold them, so maybe we will just use the luminaries we have left over from Christmas or even the sky lanterns!  That would be awesome if it's not windy.  We will discuss how Christ is the Light of the World (perhaps using Mosiah 15:9?), and we will go to bed with our lanterns burning bright, waiting for Easter morning to come.

Easter Day Fun

Sunday morning we will wake to some awesome religious music like the Hallelujah chorus and special Easter hymns.  We will watch this seven-minute video which beautifully depicts the entirety of Holy Week and hopefully will recap and tie things together for Noah.

Then we will have a yummy breakfast (maybe this ah-mazing coffee cake with fruit and hardboiled eggs?), and then we will watch our church's annual General Conference. It will have some beautiful, inspiring sermons, if anyone is interested!   (General Conference is the first Sunday of October and the first Sunday of April--it just so happens to be Easter weekend this year.)

I'm sure we will have Easter baskets and an Easter egg hunt that day, and I'd also like to deliver some springy flowers (daffodils? tulips?) to our neighbors.  We have several new neighbors whom we haven't met, and it's about time!

With Easter dinner (and who knows what we will make for that--we aren't exactly gourmet chefs around here), we may have some simple symbolic foods along with our main course.  I'm not going to do a full-out Seder dinner like this post recommends, but I may pull a few of the ideas from it and use it.

Who knows what else this week will hold!  I will try to make it special for our family.  And if all havoc breaks loose and it's not as peaceful as I'm imagining, I will not get crabby with my children.  And if I do get crabby with my children, I will repent and think about Jesus.

Happy Easter Week, Friends!  I hope you have some special moments with your families!


  1. Enjoy the holidays Rachel and family! In the first photo it looks like Sally is praying!! So cute!

  2. I'm putting up cutesy ideas tonight. Next year I want you to tweak this a bit and put it on my site so there will be a more serious week layout plus my 38 cutesy ideas. :)


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