easter in the desert household

I’ve just been checking last year’s Easter blog, to make sure I don’t repeat myself or, worse, contradict . (But then again, that’s human nature, isn’t it? Embrace the contradictions!) The kiddoes and I have been having fun preparing for, and chatting about, Easter – so I thought I’d share some more ideas.

Firstly, Lent is a long time – especially for small children. So we’ve gone gently. We started with our Lent prayer tree, and this was pretty much all we did for the first few weeks. It’s been going well – the kids love pulling out a new photo each morning, and thinking about how we can pray for that particular friend. And our tree has come into bloom!

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I didn’t get our Easter play figures out until last week, figuring three weeks was more than enough time to be playing out the Easter story. Every day, the figures are in different formations and groupings, and I have no idea what is going on. For example, what is Jesus whispering to the Roman soldier here?

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And I love it that Jesus’ female friends are stopping to admire the photo of baby Missy – but am slightly confused as to why.

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But, then again, we’re talking about the household where you can be walking along the landing and spy a doll doing a handstand:

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Isn’t this the great thing about play, as opposed to just reading the facts? You can stop and wonder, and imagine what’s being said, or thought, or felt. You can ask ‘what if…?’ and you don’t have to get things right. It’s tempting to move our Easter figures back to their ‘right’ positions each night, but actually I’m letting the kids (primarily Mister) control this one.

That said, of course it is absolutely great to find brilliant Christian books for kids, and over the years we’ve built up a little collection of Easter things which I’d love to tell you about – apologies that the recommendations are probably no good to you this year – I was intending to publish this blog post last week 😦 Sticker books are really popular with my kids, and are a great way of interacting with the story, as you can hunt for the right sticker while you tell the story – a great way of engaging little ones who can’t always sit still for a whole story! We like this one and this one and this one.

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This book is great, and a total bargain. (In fact, have you noticed how everything I’m recommending is a bargain? Yet what a priceless gift for our children, to teach them what happened at Easter! Much better than plastic tat and chocolate bunnies!) A few years ago, we bulk-bought this book and gave one to every family who came to a preschool Easter outreach event. We chose it for its careful wording and bright pictures – and I still use our copy with my kids now. This book was the one which moved Mister so much last Easter, the one which had a profound effect on him. Of course I’m recommending it here!

And guess what? The kids’ wonderful Aunty Carol sent them a surprise Easter gift last week. Two brilliant books – but Dave the donkey is the Easter story taken from the donkey’s perspective, and is already a hit with all of us! A really clever, and moving, way to tell the story.

For the first time, we’ve been watching The Miracle Maker. I’m late to the party on this, so I expect you’ve all already got it – but I just wanted to mention it in case you haven’t, because it is totally as amazing as everyone says it is. And, again, great to have a different sort of resource to use with our kids! (As a rough age guide, 4-year-old Mister loves it – 2-year-old Missy isn’t bothered. Not sure whether Mister would have been ready for it last year, but I think some kids would. So 3/4 upwards-ish?)

In addition to our prayer tree, Easter books and play figures, we have (of course!) been singing “Easter bells” – and Mister’s now trying to come up with his own verses! We’ve also just got out the resurrection eggs, with two weeks to go, using these to tell the story in a more interactive and memorable way. (Doubtless there are many different versions available – mine is a little different from the link I’ve given.) As we look at the different objects, and turn them over in our hands, it’s much more likely that we’ll remember the different aspects of the Easter story than if we just hear what happened. And, for the record, I don’t shy away from the gory aspects of the story (within reason). Mister, at 4, is very much into blood and guts – and because he doesn’t really understand the nature of violence and abuse yet, it actually works OK to tell him that the soldiers put nails through Jesus’ hands, or that Peter cut off the High Priest’s ear. Clearly you need to gauge this, depending on how sensitive your child is, and I would spare the really shocking details such as the whipping or the suffocating – but I don’t think we need shy away from the fact that Jesus suffered.

Last week we had friends round (from our Mums’ cell group), and did some fun Eastery things altogether. We made these yummy snacks:

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What a great idea! Obviously not mine…but you can find it here 🙂

We also made Easter gardens. I have great memories of making these as an older child, but with good preparation, and a bit of support, it seems that toddlers can do a pretty good job after all!

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This week, as our prayer tree ended on Sunday, the kids have an Easter basket to open each morning. In it, are some materials for making something that day which will help us remember the Easter story. On Monday, we made Easter cards – yesterday we made chocolate Easter egg nests (OK, so this is pushing the theme a little, but you try finding 6 Christian Easter crafts for preschoolers). Today we will be making empty bread tombs with Easter dips, and tomorrow hot cross buns (both from Bake through the Bible).

How do you and your family celebrate Easter?

5 Replies to “easter in the desert household”

  1. Oh thanks Lucy, this is really helpful. Big thanks for your research on books, videos, figures, Easter baskets etc – you’ve given me Easter prezzie ideas for my goddaughter.

    With Freddie (my son who’s just turned 4, for those that don’t know us) we did the Lent prayer tree too – thank you so much for the idea. He liked opening the box to find out who was inside. Actually praying was less interesting to him! I was grateful to have the chance to make the Easter garden and edible tomb at desertmum’s house, and to hear her wonderfully tell the story there using the egg-opening method, and at toddler group using larger-scale props. F has had great input at the church crèche too – he made paper donkey ears there on Palm Sunday! I always love it when F hears a bible story from someone other than me – so he knows God isn’t just mummy’s crazy idea! Being part of a wonderful church helps me no end in this regard.

    I am telling F the crucifixion and resurrection story most mornings, using the wonderful Alice at playontheword.com’s scripts. We’re using the Easter garden we made with desertmum as our main story prop, alongside the various paper figures F’s made at the church crèche over the years (they weren’t all made as part of Easter stories, but their first-century Palestinian appearance helps us pretend!) We’ve been blessed with lots of Easter egg hunts, bunny hopping races(!) etc organised by other people, particularly the Very Young Friends of Rowntree Park in York http://www.rowntreepark.org.uk – not Jesus-y, but mucho fun. F’s now at my mum’s in the midlands for a few days, where it’s unlikely anybody will talk to him about Jesus terribly much, but when I join them at Easter weekend I plan to make resurrection cookies with him and I can’t WAIT! See http://www.lemonademakinmama.com/2011/04/resurrection-cookies-recipe.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+LemonadeMakinMama+(Lemonade+Makin'+Mama)&m=1. I will also show him a CBBC video of the resurrection using sand – it’s no longer on the bbc website but can be found on YouTube here http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ0vXBX3SK0. We’ll also eat hot cross buns and talk about the cross, and pitta pockets to prompt conversation about the empty tomb. If my family do go to church on Easter Sunday, it’ll be one where “kids’ work” will involve me hiding under a staircase at the back feeding F chocolate to quiet him – but hey, God’s grace is limitless. Paradoxically, the week after Easter when I have F to myself again will be when we’ll talk about Jesus more naturally as we play. Does anyone else’s peculiar family set-up mean they do that?!

    1. Izzy, I LOVE these Easter ideas! Thank you so much. You always inspire me with your detailed planning and how you think about how to communicate Biblical truths to Freddie. I’m so glad that Easter Sunday ended up being more Jesus-focussed for you all than you were anticipating when you wrote this message 🙂 xx

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