Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Week

When I read about Jen Lund's Easter traditions, I knew I had to follow suit. She uses the book, A Christ-Centered Easter by Janet and Joe Hales, so I purchased a copy.

I revamped my Resurrection Eggs, and added a few more symbols (and eggs - now we have 15). 

Sunday - The Triumphal Entry
The symbols for today are a donkey and some palm branches.

We sang Hosanna and talked about the meaning of the word (love this explanation, and Harvey really understood the swimming pool/lifeguard analogy). Then we made our own palm branches; we traced the kid's hands on green paper, cut and taped them to a popsicle stick.

Then we did a simple reenactment of the Triumphal Entry.

Monday - Cleansing the Temple
The symbols for today are a temple and a lamb - to represent the people that were selling animals there.

We talked about how special temples are while the kids each held a picture of a temple. Then I showed them some pictures of the inside of temples, and we talked about how clean they are kept. I told them the temple is Jesus' house, and asked how he would feel in our home. We talked about some things that we would do to make Jesus more comfortable here, and set goals for this week. (I found later, that one mom had her children write their goal on paper, then they crumpled them up and swept them out the door! I love the imagery and want to remember that for next year).

Another year we went to Temple Square and sat outside looking at the temple during the lesson. I asked the kids what they saw (clean, pretty flowers, etc.) and what they heard (reverence, quiet voices, birds chirping). Then we watched this Bible Video of Christ cleansing the temple, and I asked them the same questions (dirty animals, loud voices, irreverence). We talked about WHY Jesus was cleaning the temple - it was His father's house, and I asked them how he would feel about visiting our house. We each made a goal to work on this week to make our house more like the clean temple and drew a picture of our goal on paper.

Then I had the kids crumple them up and throw them in the garbage - so we would keep God's house clean. We walked through the North Visitor's center and lit up sections of the city of Jerusalem to see where the temple was, where he suffered in the Garden, where he was placed on the cross, and the tomb where he was laid for 3 days.

The kids were excited about that. Then we viewed the timeline in big murals of Christ's life and walked upstairs to see the Christus. It was perfect!

Tuesday - Teaching Parables (The Widow's Mite)
The symbols for today are 2 mites.

We talked about how it was (and is) a commandment to give back to the church. We talked about the wealthy men that gave lots of coins, and Harvey dropped a big handful of change into a metal bowl - making a "loud sound". Then we talked about the widow that only gave 2 mites (just like pennies in our day), and Avery dropped them into the bowl noticing that they made a "small sound."

I asked them which person gave more... and then we talked about Christ's answer to that question. I also showed them a tithing slip and discussed 10 percent with 10 pennies. Then I gave the kids 2 chocolate coins and told them that when we give, Heavenly Father gives us blessings. 

Wednesday - Decorate Easter Eggs
(There is nothing documented on this day in the scriptures, so we do our "commercial" Easter stuff on this day. Next year I'd like to do a lesson about the symbolism of spring and eggs and such.)

Thursday - The Last Supper 
The symbols for today are a metal thimble (cup), and a cracker.

We read a little book called "A Touch of Passover". It was perfect to explain to my children some of the traditions of the Passover without having to prepare a bunch of food that we wouldn't eat. The kids loved feeling the element on each page (matza, bitter herbs, sticky wine, etc). We talked about how Jesus introduced the sacrament to his disciples and how some of the symbols are the same. I made a Jerusalem style dinner with foods that Jesus and his disciples might have eaten. We had Lentil Soup, grapes, saltine crackers (matza), and grape juice (wine).

Harvey loved eating out of the wooden bowls and kept asking if he could eat more matza.

Another year, we ate fish, potatoes, grapes, salad (bitter herbs), "matzah" (Ritz roasted crackers), and grape juice (wine).

I had the kids taste each Passover symbol as we went through the book. After we talked about the sacrament, I asked them if we still eat lamb? (No, because Christ is the Lamb of God)
- Bitter herbs? (no, because Christ drank the bitter cup so we don't have to)
- Bread? (yes!)
- Wine? (We drink water now, because wine isn't healthy for our bodies)

The Garden of Gethsemane
The symbols for today are a red piece of fabric (representing Christ's blood) and an olive.

After dinner, we just did a simple little activity to demonstrate the atonement of Christ. Plus, our kids are so young it was better to keep it simple. We opened the egg, and read in D&C 19 where Christ describes his experience in the Garden. Then we filled a vase with water (symbolizing us), added some food coloring (symbolizing our sins), and then added a white flower (symbolizing Jesus Christ).

(I'm not sure if it was the purple food coloring, or the gerber daisys this year, but the flowers started to wilt after 3 days, and they were still white... not exactly what I was going for. Just a heads up. But the tulip we used another year worked really well - it had already started turning pink after about 45 minutes!)

As we partake of His atonement, He will take upon our sins. Also, I had the thought that after we repent - our sins would be gone, thus the water wouldn't be red. Maybe I should replace the water at bedtime to remove the "sin".

Friday - Jesus' Trials and Crucifixion

We had lots of eggs to open today....
Betrayal/Arrest: sword, rope, 3 dimes
Peter's Denial: red feather
Trials/Mocking of Christ: purple cloth, crown of thorns, soap
Crucifixion: cross, 2 nails
Soldiers Actions: 2 dice, sponge soaked in vinegar
Darkness/Earthquakes: 3 black stones
Burial: strip of cheesecloth, flat & round stone

As we opened each egg, we talked about the story behind each symbol. Some of the stories were over Harvey's head, but it was good to give him exposure. Then we watched the Mormon Message: None Were With Him by Elder Holland. Another great video to watch is: His Hands.

We tasted vinegar one year, when we got to the story where the soldiers give Christ vinegar after he says he is thirsty.


 The kids had real empathy for at least that portion of what he went through...

Saturday - Jesus' Visit to the Spirit World

The symbols for today are: spices and a white glove (to explain the body/spirit)

We talked a little bit about the women that came to the tomb to treat Jesus' body with spices. Then we talked about what happens to your body and spirit when you die. (Body stays on earth while your spirit goes to the spirit world). When I told Harvey that Jesus' spirit went to the spirit world he asked me if Jesus went to visit my dad. I had to explain the time difference, but it made me smile that he is understanding this doctrine. We talked about the message that Jesus had for the spirits there.

When my kids get older, I would love to take them to the temple to do baptisms for the dead, and discuss why family history and temple work are so important to the spirits that Christ visited (and the spirits that are there now!) We need to do our part to help Christ save them.

Sunday - The Resurrection
As the week progressed I added the pictures to the wall, and Harvey loved to review what actions Jesus took during his last week.
The symbol for today is an empty egg!

Harvey was disappointed the egg was empty; I had to explain that it was a good thing! We made Resurrection Rolls for an afternoon snack because we have 9 am church.

Sometimes Easter week seems stressful, or sometimes the kids are irreverent and I wonder if they are getting anything out of my lessons at all. But at the end of the week on Easter Sunday, I am always reminded at how much love Jesus Christ has for me and my family (and your families too) because I feel the spirit so strongly, testifying of the truth of what I have been teaching. Yes, he went through terrible things at the hands of men, he even gave up his life... but the most important thing of all? He rose again. He lives! And his hands are always outstretched for us. We can find Him, and come unto Him. 

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