Original article printed HERE.
March 4, 2016
Knowing that Easter is not about bunnies, baskets, and egg hunts, and wanting my kids to understand the same, I looked online for ideas to focus the holiday more on Jesus Christ. A few years ago we started making these resurrection rolls on Easter Sunday. I found that it was a fun way to teach my kids about the significance of the Savior’s sacrifice and the miracle of His Resurrection. And the kids look forward to it every year.
If you’re like me and you’re looking for new Easter traditions focused on the Savior, here are some quick and easy ideas to try.
Walk through Holy Week
I found this day-by-day breakdown of Easter week on mormon.org to be really effective in teaching my Primary class. They liked that it was visual, it was short, and it helped them understand what happened leading up to the Savior’s death and Resurrection. At home, you could use the site to spend 5–10 minutes each day (maybe before family prayer) talking about what happened on that day more than 2,000 years ago. For my family, the pictures and short synopses were good springboards for my kids to ask questions and for us to look up the answers in the scriptures. It also gave my husband and me opportunities to bear testimony of the Savior and why His life, death, and Resurrection still matter today.
Make a Hosanna Palm
For young kids, a story with a craft can go a long way in teaching a gospel principle. A fun way to teach your kids about “welcoming” the Savior into their lives is by making these “hosanna palms.” Teach your children about the Savior’s triumphal entry on Palm Sunday by reading Matthew 21:1, 6–11. Emphasize how Jesus’s followers welcomed Him as a king by waving palm fronds and shouting “Hosanna!” Have your kids make their own palms by cutting five or six handprints out of green paper (or use white paper and color them green). Glue them to a craft stick so that they look like palm fronds. On the back of the cutouts, invite your kids to write this sentence and fill in the blank: I can welcome Jesus more into my life by __________________.
Focus on the Sacrament
A good way to make the tender, spiritual feelings we experience around Easter last all year long is to remind our families that Jesus gave us the sacrament so we could always remember Him. Read Luke 22:1, 14, 19–20 as a family and then invite your family members to make a list of words that remind them of the things Jesus has done for them. Put that list in their scriptures so that they can look at it during the sacrament each week.
Remember Christ with a Candlelight Dinner
I came across an idea in the Ensign that could be done to remember the Last Supper or just the solemnness of the Savior’s night in Gethsemane. On the Saturday evening before Easter, this family holds a candlelight dinner in which they read the Book of Mormon account of the three days of darkness before Christ’s visit to the Americas. They use the time to discuss the blessings of having a Savior of the world.
Visit a Cemetery
Because of our Savior Jesus Christ, death is not the end. The time around Easter is a good time to teach that lesson to your kids by visiting the graves of loved ones. If a visit to a cemetery is not possible, talk with your kids about family members who have passed away and express gratitude for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Teach with an Easter Bag
Object lessons are the best, and this one is a great family home evening for the Monday before Easter. Start with the song “He Sent His Son.” Put the following items in a bag: (1) three coins, (2) small cup, (3) knotted string, (4) soap, (5) small piece of red fabric, (6) small toothpick cross, (7) white cloth, (8) cinnamon stick or other spice, (9) small stone, (10) folded white cloth, (11) picture of Jesus. As you read the scriptures below, have your kids take the matching items out of your Easter bag. It’s a different way to talk about the Resurrection, and it provides yet another opportunity to share your feelings of gratitude and gladness for a Savior.
- Matthew 26:14–15
- Matthew 26:36, 39
- Matthew 27:1–2
- Matthew 27:22, 24
- Matthew 27:28–29
- Matthew 27:31
- Matthew 27:59
- John 19:40
- John 20:1–4
- John 20:5–7
- John 20:10–20
Try More Christ-Centered “Egg-Stuffers”
Instead of filling the eggs for this year’s Easter egg hunt with candy and jelly beans, find more Christ-centered “egg-stuffers” that can help remind kids about the true meaning of Easter. For example, this printable booklet from the March 2008 Friend called “The Story of Jesus Christ” can fit inside large plastic eggs. You can also fill eggs with written testimonies of the Savior gathered from family members, small pictures clipped from the Friend and Ensign magazines, or short Christ-centered quotes that can help bring the focus of the holiday back to where it should be.
Irinna Danielson is a Florida native and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in print journalism. She is a wife and mother to four beautiful children and embraces all of the craziness that comes with that.