Easter is my favorite holiday. It always has been. And I love seeing how much my kids love it too. I know they love it because of the colors, the candy, dying Easter eggs, and the Easter egg hunt that comes with the celebration, just as I did when I was a kid. Although I still love these things, I want them to know that Easter is more than this. That the real gift of Easter is that we have salvation!
But how do you really teach kids about Easter?
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A few years ago, when our oldest child was two, we decided not to include the Easter bunny in our Easter celebration.
Besides the fun of it, we couldn’t think of a reason why the Easter bunny is part of Easter. This opened up new doors for me as I thought about what family traditions we would start. We knew we wanted to teach our kids about Jesus’ death on the cross and our salvation, but how in the world would we teach them this!
So how do you teach kids about Easter?
I wanted some kind of visible representation of what Jesus did for us on the cross, without being too intense.
So here’s what we do,
On Good Friday we read about Jesus’ crucifiction. (If you are looking for a great resource, check out the Jesus Storybook Bible. It really illustrates what happened in a way that even young kids can understand.) I then get out a big basket. It’s just a big picnic basket that we lovingly refer to as the Easter basket.
We tell our kids that Jesus died because the people on Earth were not making good choices (I’m a teacher and we always use lame phrases like that when talking about bad behavior, but you can use any verbiage you want) and God knew people would continue to make poor choices. God loved us so much that he wanted to take away all of our sins so we could live forever with him. We talk about how everyone sins and will continue to sin, but that all we have to do to live forever with God is give those sins to God, ask him to forgive us, and try to become more like Jesus each day.
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Throughout the day, we add our “sins” to the basket.
You can do this however you want, by saying them out loud and symbolically adding them to the basket, by writing them down on paper and putting them in the basket, or writing them down, putting them inside Easter eggs and having something more tangible to put in the basket. Whatever works for your family will work just fine. If you want a free printable for this part of the activity, sign up below!
As your kids get older, I suggest allowing them to do this more privately as we all go to God privately as adults, and they should learn that this is ok. Remember this activity is not about you being able to learn about the bad things your kids have done. As soon as it turns into that, you will lose the purpose of the activity. They need to be able to trust that they are giving these things to God, not confessing to you.
Right now, since our kids are young, they will add things like, hitting, saying mean words, not listening to mom and dad, etc. I love to hear them communicate the things that they deem as sins.
That night, we cover the basket with a blanket.
Kind of symbolically showing that the whole earth went black, Jesus was dead, and our sins were buried with him.
Then on Easter morning, we read the story of the resurrection and how it is a celebration that Jesus was not really dead, he had risen!
We take the blanket off and instead of our basket of sin, we find our Easter baskets with small gifts and treats. We tell the kids, that our salvation is a gift given to us freely and undeserving, just like our Easter baskets. Just a gift for no reason other than our love for them. Just like Christ’s love for us.
They of course love getting their Easter baskets and we love being able to give them. I hope as they grow, this family tradition will become more and more meaningful and truly teach them that Easter is about the gift of salvation that God gives us freely.
I would love to hear about some of your family traditions and how you are teaching your kids about the resurrection. Please leave them in the comments below. If you haven’t seen the Jesus Storybook Bible, take a look. It has become our very favorites. I love how the Bible stories really come alive for them.
Sign up below and get a free printable to go with this activity! Happy Easter and may God bless your family!