Let’s face it. Just like Christmas or any other holiday, it’s all too easy for the world’s traditions to creep up and take over the most sacred of holidays—Easter, otherwise known as Resurrection Sunday. Everywhere we look, it’s a celebration of spring. Bunnies, chicks, baskets, and candy abound. Egg hunts and suits and dresses. Goodies and family dinners. Traditions around every corner.
And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, it’s easy to get sidetracked from the most holy of reasons we celebrate in the first place—the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ on our behalf.
Here, you’ll find a few age-based activities you can easily incorporate into your already full schedule during Holy Week to help reinforce the true focus of our celebrating!
For the whole family:
Resurrection Rolls (aka Empty Tomb Rolls)
Recipe adapted from Around My Family Table
For this activity, you will need:
- 1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (jumbo work best)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1-2 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 8 large marshmallows (1 for each roll)
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
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Making the rolls while telling the story:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a muffin tin (regular or jumbo) with nonstick spray.
- Clean a workspace at the family table. Gather everyone together there and read the story from Matthew 27-28, Mark 15-16, Luke 23-24, or John 19-20. The story is similar in each of the gospels, so pick your favorite! Families with mostly younger children may want to use a Children’s Bible. With mostly older children, you can read earlier beginning with the Triumphant entry (Palm Sunday). Share as much or as little as your kids can pay attention to! OPTIONAL: Split the story in half. Read through Jesus’ death and finish the story while everything bakes.
- Have everyone wash their hands!
- Allow a child to mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Ask an older child to unroll the crescent dough and separate into individual triangles.
- Explain that the marshmallow represents Jesus—perfect, spotless. Roll it in the melted butter (each child could take a turn doing this with remaining mallows).
- Roll buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon sugar, explaining how Jesus was prepared for burial with spices and linen.
- Place the spiced mallow on the widest part of the dough triangle. Comment that after his death, Jesus was placed in a tomb. Be sure each marshmallow is completely wrapped securely and sealed well inside the dough (if not, it’ll be a mess that won’t work!). Pinch it closed.
- Dip the tops of the dough balls in butter and cinnamon sugar and place one in each muffin cup. Bake for 13-15 minutes.
- While rolls bake, read the rest of the story that you might not have been able to finish before losing their attention.
- Give everyone a warm roll, pointing out how after three days, Jesus rose from the dead. There will be a fragrant cavity in the center of each roll—remind everyone how they found an empty tomb as you break open the rolls.
For families with younger children (preschool through elementary):
The night before Easter, try making Resurrection Cookies, as explained by Around My Family Table. This post has excellent step-by-step explanations with pictures and a beautiful explanation relating each stage of the cookie process to the Jesus story!
If you don’t have a Children’s Bible or other visually appealing Bible storybook to read from, consider Why Easter‘s illustrated version.
Activity adapted from Focus on the Family
Everything can be found lying around the house. This activity can be spread out over the course of the whole week leading up to Easter, or done all at once.
For this activity you will need:
- 6 plastic eggs, all different colors
- small sliver of bread or soup cracker
- small cross (a paper one works in a pinch!)
- small strip of cloth
- small rock
- piece of candy
Doing the activity:
- Place items inside 5 eggs, leaving one empty. It may be easier to mark the eggs 1-6.
- Read Luke 22:14-15 (more or less from 22:7-30 depending on kids’ ages). Open 1st egg (bread/cracker) and explain that Jesus ate a final meal with his friends.
- Read Luke 23:33 (more or less from 23:1-49 depending on attention span). Open 2nd egg (cross) and explain he was nailed to a cross and died for us.
- Read Luke 23:53 (more or less from 23:50-56). Open 3rd egg (cloth) and explain how they wrapped him in cloth and placed him in a tomb.
- Read Luke 24:2. Open 4th egg (rock) and let stone roll. Explain how the stone that blocked the tomb was rolled away.
- Read Luke 24:3-6 (more or less from 24:1-12 depending on ages). Open 5th egg (empty) and explain how the tomb was empty and they rejoiced.
- Open the final egg (candy) and share how Jesus is the sweetest gift. If spreading the story out over several days, take a few moments to review and ask them to tell you the story.
For families with mostly older children and teens:
Activity adapted from Courageous Christian Father
You, Sin, and Christ
For this activity, you will need:
- 3 clear glass containers
- 3 post-it notes. Label one “You,” one “Sin,” and one “Christ.”
- iodine or dark food coloring
Setting up Activity:
- Place a post-it label in front of each container
- Fill the “You” container about 1/3 full with water
- Fill the “Sin” container with about a cup of water
- Fill the “Christ” container with a 50/50 mix of bleach and water to about 1/2 full
- Add iodine or food coloring to “Sin” container so it’s very dark
- Consider safety glasses and gloves, using caution with bleach especially
Gather your kids and teens for activity:
- Talk about how sin is dark and ugly. Explain how we are born into this world and easily become contaminated by it, pouring in a drop or two from the “Sin” container into the “You” container.
- Ask them about sins they’ve committed or thought about committing. Talk about your own struggles. As everyone’s sharing, pour more “sin” into the “you” until “you” becomes quite dark.
- Discuss Christ’s perfect life, his willing sacrifice on the cross, and resurrection. Share how accepting Christ and choosing him as Lord takes away the stain of sin while pouring the “Christ” container’s fluid slowly and carefully into the “You” container until it becomes clear. Remind how in Christ, God looks at us and sees the purity of his son in us.
- Take some time to read the whole story together. Allow everyone a turn to read a passage or two.
No matter the activity you choose, enjoy some time with your family during this season. Find some way to celebrate the Gift of All Gifts, Jesus Christ, with those you love!
Love Jesus. Love each other. Love your city.
Harvest, go be the Church!
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