I cut dogwood limbs from the tree in the front yard. Knobby grey buds are still tight, not yet ready to open. Taking my distressed blue stool that my husband found discarded along the side of the road, I tuck it into a corner of the dining room. Pulling my earthenware pitcher down from the shelf, I place it on the stool. The dogwood limbs go into the jug, along with some water.
The branches are now ready to decorate. We’re getting ready for Easter.
As my children have grown I’ve looked for ways to involve them in celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection in tangible, hands-on ways. Ways that build up to Easter morning, so that they have a clear idea as to why we celebrate. The following are some ideas that have become traditions in our home that our kids look forward to every year.
A Resurrection Tree
For those of you familiar with a Jesse tree, a Resurrection or Jesus tree is the same idea. It is simply a collection of bare branches collected from your yard and put into a vase or pitcher. On the twigs we hang ornaments that remind us of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection. They usually correspond to Scripture readings that lead us through the Easter story. We created our ornaments from the free printouts of great master paintings that came with the Trail to the Tree download from A Holy Experience. It is still free to download, although you have to sign up to get access to it in the Free Tools section located under the “Freebies” header on the website. Another free printout option for ornaments are these two versions: one color and one black and white.
The Messiah Mystery
Last year we used The Messiah Mystery devotional during Lent. The kids loved the mystery concept incorporated into the Bible readings. The kit includes a magnifying glass with which to look for “clues” to who the Messiah might be. The kids then record these clues by taking notes or drawing pictures in little notebooks. It is an interactive way to start thinking, preparing, and building anticipation for celebrating Easter morning.
Create an Easter Mountain
The week of Easter I usually have the kids make an Easter Mountain. It’s a messy hands-on activity they love! I first read about the idea in Noel Piper’s Treasuring God in Our Traditions. It is especially a great way to involve younger kids in talking about the resurrection story. Basically, the idea is the kids make a play dough mountain, which after baking, is painted. On top you put a cross made out of sticks, and a tomb hallowed out from the mountainside. This mountain represents both Golgotha where Jesus died and the tomb from which he arose. You can find the directions to make your own Easter Mountain here.
These are some of the simple activities we’ve done as a family to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of resurrection morning. I hope they will be inspiring to you, if you are looking to create new traditions of your own.
If you already have family traditions for celebrating Easter, please considering sharing them in the comments section!