Along with Christmas, Easter is arguably the most important Christian holiday. During Christmas, we celebrate God’s provision shown through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, being sent to Earth as the Savior of the world, and during Easter, we celebrate God’s love shown through Jesus’ death on a cross and His power shown through Jesus’ resurrection, overcoming sin and death forever.
A unique challenge that comes with teaching children about Easter is that the true biblical story involves heavy topics such as betrayal, abandonment, torture, and ultimately, public execution. Despite the challenges that arise when discussing such topics, as Christian parents, it is our calling to teach the truth of the Gospel, which is the truth of the Easter story, to our children. Since death is a hard topic for anyone to discuss and can be especially hard for children, especially children who have experienced trauma, we want to help guide you on how to celebrate and teach the biblical story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to the kids in your life as we near this Easter Sunday.
THE HEART BEHIND THE EASTER STORY
The age and mental development of your child will likely determine how you can best explain different parts of the Easter story. Regardless of how deep you go into the details, the heart behind the Easter story is always rooted in the two same things: God’s unconditional love and ultimate power. So, if your children are very young or if they are learning about Jesus’ death and resurrection for the first time, you may consider focusing only on how Jesus’ death was an act of God’s love for us, and His resurrection shows us how God is all powerful! As your children reach middle elementary years, they may be able to hear more about the terrible punishment inflicted upon Jesus before and during His crucifixion, which He ultimately endured because of His love for us (crosswalk.com). Hopefully, over time, the same details that were once too sad or scary to share with your children will be the same ones that allow them to grow the most in their understanding of God’s love for them!
Remember, repetition helps a child solidify something they are learning into their long-term memory. So, make sure to repeat the Easter story often, maybe incorporating creative methods—such as using books, songs, or activities to tell the Easter story—to help them grow and remember the truth about Easter. Of course, each child is unique, so you, as the parent, will need to gauge what is age-appropriate for your children and determine when they are ready to learn some of the harder details of the Easter story. When making this decision, make sure you do not skip any parts of the story, but rather limit the details surrounding Jesus’ death (familyeducation.com). Thankfully, because we know Jesus did not stay in the grave but rose on the third day, we can read the sad and scary parts about Good Friday and appreciate His love for us even more! He loves us so much that He was willing to endure unimaginable pain and suffering to be with us for eternity!
READ THE EASTER STORY
Ultimately, the best way to learn about and celebrate Easter is by reading the Gospel accounts of those days. The Easter story can be found in Matthew 26–28, Mark 14–16, Luke 22–24, and John 18–20.
If your child is still young, you may consider telling them the Easter story in your own words or reading them children’s books about the Easter story:
“The Jesus Storybook Bible: God’s Wonderful Surprise” by Sally Lloyd Jones
“The Story of Easter (Little Golden Book)” by Jean Miller
“Benjamin’s Box: A Resurrection Story” by Melody Carlson
“A Very Happy Easter” by Tim Thornborough
“What is Easter?” by Michelle Medlock Adams
“The Berenstain Bears: The Very First Easter” by Jan and Mike Berenstain
These simplified versions can help children grow in their understanding of the many events that take place in Jesus’ life during Holy Week. Whether you read the account from the Bible, recite the story from memory, or read it from a children’s book, take some time after finishing the story to ask your children some questions about what they just read. The time spent reviewing the story will not only help the details remain in their memory longer, but it will also allow you to correct any errors in their understanding, answer any questions they may have, or prompt you to define words they may not have previously known, such as sin, betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection.
Since you may be reading stories other than those coming directly from the Bible, remind them that Easter is not a fanciful story, even if The Berenstain Bears book portrays Jesus as a bear. Jesus is a real person, and all of the events surrounding His life, death, and resurrection are part of historical events that are recorded in historical texts (crosswalk.com)
Overall, the goal of reading the Easter story and books about Easter is to help create a firm foundation of truth in the hearts of your children, so they can grow in their understanding of who God is and, prayerfully, one day receive the gift of salvation and abundant life Jesus offers us (crosswalk.com).
SING THE EASTER STORY
Singing songs of praise to God helps us to remember His love in sending His Son, Jesus! Songs are also great in helping initiate conversations with your children about the specific lyrics of a song. When listening, your child may ask, “What is grace?” or “What does it mean when we sing, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain’?” Worship is a vital part of the Christian faith, so here are some songs to help get your Easter playlist started:
“Happy Day” by Tim Huges
“Glorious Day” by Passion, Kristian Stanfill
“How Can It Be” by Lauren Daigle
“This is Amazing Grace” by Phil Wickham
“Forever” by Kari Jobe
“Because He Lives” by Matt Maher
“Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship
“Ain’t No Grave” by Cageless Birds, Molly Skaggs
“Your Love Awakens Me” by Phil Wickham
“Say Yes” by Michelle Williams
ACTIVITIES FOCUSED ON THE EASTER STORY
A quick search online will show you there is a plethora of free spring and Easter-related activities to do with your children! In order to keep the focus on Jesus, consider choosing activities or crafts that specifically display the cross or the empty tomb.
If you enjoy painting Easter eggs, think about decorating the eggs with Christian symbols such as the cross, crown of thorns, or stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. If you enjoy the tradition of gifting your children Easter baskets, consider filling them with items such as a children’s book that tells the Easter story or a pack of seeds you can plant and watch grow into new life. Or, if you are planning to take part in an Easter egg hunt, you can fill plastic eggs with small pieces of Scripture that point us back to the real reason we celebrate Easter.
One of the best crafts you can do during Easter is decorating a family cross. It can be as simple as drawing pictures of a cross to hang on the fridge or as elaborate as everyone in the family coming together to paint/decorate a wooden cross to keep on display in the living room or in the front yard year-round. Whether the cross is hung on the fridge or on display in the front yard for all who drive by to see, a family cross helps serve as a reminder to everyone in the family that we can (and should) celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection each and every day of the year!
Teaching your children the truth about Easter isn’t easy, but these are also the very truths that are central to salvation. Your children may not understand every part of the Easter story right away, and that’s okay! Continue to faithfully bring up the stories about Jesus’ life and pray that one day your children will grow to know and believe the truth of His Word as well.
Whether your family chooses to keep things traditional and celebrate by going to a worship service on Easter Sunday or if you choose to celebrate through various activities and devotionals all throughout Holy Week or the Lenten season, the important part is you are remembering and celebrating Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection! It is our prayer that each year you celebrate, your children will grow in their knowledge and belief of why we celebrate Easter.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3