I was searching around on Pinterest last night and found this Countdown to Easter to help children understand the real meaning of Easter. I really love it and hope that you will too!
Day 12: mini playdoh … “The name of Jesus”
Read the story of the Angel coming to Mary in Luke 1. Talk about what the name of Jesus – Immanuel “God with us” means. Talk about the meaning of our own names. Read Philippians 2:10 together and discuss. Use the playdoh to spell out the name of Jesus.
Day 11: swedish fish candy and a cracker … “Jesus feeds the 5000”
See how many times we can break the ‘bread’ and ‘fish’. Read the story in Matthew 14, Luke 9, or John 6. Talk about what it might have looked like and note how everyone got enough to be full and not just tiny pieces.
Day 10: toy boat … “Jesus calms the storm” (I found a tiny boat at the party store this year for a dime… but last year decorated a piece of mulch with a sharpie… no joke)
Read the story in Matthew 8, Mark 4 or Luke 8 and talk about why this is so amazing. Make a storm in a bottle (with a liter bottle oil water and food coloring) with your toy boat or storm in the bathtub and try to calm it instantly, which can’t be done.
Day 9: blindfold … “Jesus heals the blind man”
Lead them in a few activities with the blindfold on. Talk about how hard it would be to live life that way and how you’d feel if you were healed. Read about the healing in John 9. Note how the blind man reacted when Jesus told him who He was. How does God reveal Himself in our lives… how should we react?
Day 8: paper crown and a travel soap … “Jesus washes feet”
Talk about the meaning of royalty and the things that kings, queens, princesses are supposed to do. Explain how Jesus is the King of all Kings and what that means. Then read the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples in John 13 and how he came to serve and not be served. Is that what you’d expect the King of Kings to do? Take turns putting on the crown and washing each other’s feet talking about how we can serve the way Jesus did.
Day 7: sample perfume or scented lotion … “Mary Magdalene and the perfume”
(I did this one because Lily is obsessed with perfume… feel free to substitute) Read the story of Mary pouring the perfume on Jesus’ feet from John 12. Talk about how expensive this was back then and what a big deal it was for her to do it. Discuss some other things are important to us now and how we can give them as an offering to God…. time, money etc.
Day 6: 4 quarters … “giving/ Rich young ruler”
Talk about what they’d like to do with the 4 quarters. Read the story Jesus tells of the rich young ruler from Matthew 19 or Luke 12 and then Acts 20:35 when Jesus says it is better to give than to receive. Now revisit the quarters and talk about what they’d like to do with the quarters.
Day 5: TWO small treats or candy … “Jesus visits Zacchaeus”
Read the story in Luke 19. Talk about why people didn’t like Zacchaeus back then and how cool it is that Jesus not only saw and acknowledged him, but wanted to spend time with him… and how it changed the man’s life. Lead them to think about some people that they (or the world in general) haven’t been ‘noticing’. Invite them to seek out the person and share the extra treat and play with them.
Day 4: Time Coupon … “Jesus loved the children”
Read the story in Mark 10 . Talk about adults in our lives that obviously love children. How do you know and what do they do to show it? How do we think Jesus showed it? How would you like me to show you that I love you and value spending time with you? Fill out the time coupon together. (Although I’d like to steer her into wanting extra hugs or going on a walk together… I can already tell you that I am going to be in for 20 excruciating minutes of Barbies with this one. )
Day 3: Tearjerker gum … “Jesus wept.”
Read the story of Jesus healing Lazarus in John 11. Talk about how Jesus was a real person with real emotions like us. Note how he was sad, but never lost hope. He knew God was going to use Lazarus’ story for His glory. Talk about times when we feel sad, hurt, scared at times and how awesome it is to have hope like Jesus did in this situation because God is behind us and hears our prayers.
Day 2: Crayon and a slip of paper … “Jesus died for us”
Read the story of the crucifixion in Matthew 27, Luke 23 or John 19 and talk about how must have felt to love Jesus and be there that day… and how it might have felt for those who didn’t love Jesus but saw what happened. Write the word that you feel on the piece of paper and put it inside the egg for the next day. Bury the egg somewhere nearby.
Day 1: the egg is empty … “He is RISEN!”
Go find the egg (which has now been unearthed, broken open and is empty.) Read the story in Matthew 28, Mark 16 or John 20. Talk about how God gave us the most special gift ever when he gave us Jesus: Himself in a body to love us and show us how to live and to ultimately give his own life so that we could have an eternal relationship with him…. not because we deserved it at all… but because He loves us that much.
This is kind of how I worked the ‘Easter Basket’ in last year:
“All good things that we do are God’s grace at work in us because of our salvation in Jesus. One of these is how Dad and I enjoy giving you and Eli gifts to show our love… just like He does. Since this is a special day as we are celebrating Jesus’ victory over death…. I ‘ve made a special basket of gifts for you. If you can find it… you can keep it!”
This great countdown was created at Shauna Lynn Blogspot