The days and week before Easter, also known as Holy Week, can be a wonderful time of encouraging children to understand the significance of the days before Christ’s crucifixion and the resurrection. While we are no longer bound by the law to observe rituals, there is value in not only teaching our children Christian history but also explaining the meaning of the observance of these Holy Days.
Many Christians honor the season of Lent, a 40-day time period, not counting Sundays, that starts on Ash Wednesday and culminates on Easter. These 40 days are meant to be a time of fasting (or giving “something” up) and drawing closer to God through prayer, similar to the 40 days when Jesus fasted in the wilderness (Mark 4) before He began his ministry of teaching. Holy Week, also known as Passion Week, is the week before Easter, beginning with Palm Sunday and ending on Easter.
The two best-known days of Holy Week are Palm Sunday and Good Friday.
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter. It is the day when Christians around the world remember the day Jesus died. Focusing on this particular week before Easter is a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for Easter, center on God’s love and make family memories together. Today we are focusing on teaching children to embrace Easter and Holy Week through these fun and thought-provoking activities.
7 Holy Week Activities for Kids
1. Make a Palm Sunday craft.
Celebrate and discuss Palm Sunday with this simple craft of handmade palm leaves. All it takes is green paper, scotch tape, a popsicle stick and a little hand tracing fun! Palm Sunday is a time when Christians remember when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to celebrate the Passover meal with His disciples. Crowds of people cast their clothing on the road and waved palm branches in the air. The palm branches were a symbol of victory and celebration. On Palm Sunday, some churches pass out freshly cut palm branches and wave them in the air in celebration. Many children’s ministries also have palm branch crafts for kids, but you can easily make these on your own!
2. Act out the Resurrection Story, or Passion Play, as a family
Gather props from around the house and assign characters to tell the story from their perspective. Possible characters: the disciples, a donkey, Pilate, Mary, the angel, Roman soldiers, and of course, Jesus. The website Sunday-School-Center.com has a few free skits, ranging in length (from 5-12 minutes) and age-appropriateness (from preschoolers to teens), that you can download for free if you want to put on a fun skit and act out the story with your kids.
3. Read the Biblical account of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
(Mark 14-16) You can highlight a few verses each night during Holy Week, or read it all at once with your kids. For younger children, The Story of Easter board book is a wonderful way to introduce the life of Jesus to young hearts. In The Story of Easter, the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is presented in a way that is just right for little ones, and it’s packaged perfectly for a child’s Easter basket!
4. Find ways to serve each other on Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, as Jesus did for the disciples before the Passover meal
The Thursday before Easter commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ. You can discuss with your kids how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper and how serving others glorifies Christ. Find ways to serve each other in your home anytime this week, but especially on Thursday, and look for opportunities to serve in your community.
5. Read the Passover story in Exodus 12
Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays, and there are many reasons Christian children should know and understand the significance of this event in the last days of Jesus. You can describe the significance of Christ as the Lamb of God, and how our Passover Lamb bought us our freedom.
6. Honor Good Friday with a somber and quiet evening
Good Friday, also called Holy Friday or Great Friday, is the Friday before Easter and the day when Christians around the world remember when Jesus died. Many churches have special services to remember the time when Jesus suffered on the cross. It is a time to pray and to remember that Jesus loved us so much He was willing to die for us. At home, you can have a dimly lit Good Friday dinner and leave the lights low all evening in observance of the death of Christ.
7. Create the Jelly Bean Prayer Poem and craft!
If your children have been in Sunday school or in a Christian education setting for some time, you’ve undoubtedly seen the rainbow jelly bean craft used to illustrate the Story of Jesus’ death and resurrection for kids.
Red is for the blood He gave, Green is for the grass He made, Yellow is for the sun so bright, Orange is for the edge of night…
I have to admit, I love jelly beans and this activity is one of my favorites for explaining Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection in a simple manner for my children. Over on my personal blog I’m sharing with you this Jelly Bean Prayer Poem free printable that you can use at home or attach and distribute with Easter baskets to share the story of God’s love with others through a gift packet of jelly beans. If you’re looking for other great ideas, Tommy Nelson Mommy blogger Tara Ziegmont shares on FaithGateway Family her step-by-step instructions for DIY Resurrection Eggs and Emily Elling collected a round-up of mommy friends’ ideas for Christ-Centered Easter Family Traditions.