Just in the last few days we've seen the first signs of spring and new life in our backyard - daffodils blooming, bushes and trees budding, and bugs darting through the air. Not only do these things herald the new season, but they also remind us that Easter is near.
Easter is my favorite holiday, and over the last few years we've collected several family traditions that have helped us to stop and reflect on Christ's ultimate sacrifice for us. I love the fact that our young children, with their fresh, uncluttered minds and hearts, are so receptive to the Resurrection message. They eagerly anticipate and join in as we celebrate God's love for us. One of their favorite activities (and one of mine too) is the telling of the Easter story through the use of Resurrection Eggs.
In case you've not heard of them, Resurrection Eggs are a set of twelve plastic eggs, each one containing an object symbolizing one of the events of Holy Week. There are Scriptures that go along with each egg to tell the story of that particular symbol. I purchased a set from Family Life Ministries years ago, and a preschool teacher made a set for my oldest when he was four. The children love touching and handling the different objects so much that I think I'm going to make a set for each of the girls this year. I thought I would post a list of items along with the appropriate Scriptures for those of you who might be interested in making a set of your own.
Here's what you need:
-one dozen plastic, colored Easter eggs (12 different colors)
-one empty, clean egg carton
-markers and stickers if your children would like to decorate their carton
-a copy of the Scriptures and what each symbol stands for (You can download one here.)
Item: piece of palm branch (You can cut one from foam or cardstock.)
Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11
Message: Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people waved palm branches.
Item: 3 dimes or plastic “silver” money
Scripture: Matthew 27:3
Message: Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Item: small communion cup; or use clay to form a small bread-like shape
Scripture: Matthew 26:17-19
Message: Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples.
Item: Praying Hands (can be cut from foam or cardstock)
Scripture: Mark 14:32-42
Message: Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane
Item: Leather strip (small piece of leather shoelace)
Scripture: John 19:1-15
Message: Jesus is beaten with a whip.
Item: toothpicks or Popsicle stick cut and glued in a cross form; or a small plastic cross from a Christmas ornament, necklace, or keychain
Scripture: John 19:16-22
Message: Jesus carried His own cross and was crucified on it.
Item: one die (or a piece of burlap)
Scripture: John 19:23-25
Message: Soldiers parted Jesus' garments and cast lots for His coat.
Item: a small piece of sponge
Scripture: John 19:28-30
Message: They gave Jesus vinegar mixed with gall on a sponge to drink.
Item: piece of linen (You can use gauze.)
Scripture: Matthew 27:57-61
Message: Jesus' body was wrapped in a clean linen cloth and buried in the tomb.
Item: a small rock
Scripture: Matthew 28:1-2
Message: The stone covering Jesus' tomb was rolled away.
Item: empty egg
Scripture: Matthew 28:5-8
Message: The tomb was empty. Jesus is risen!
Item: piece of batting or a cotton ball
Scripture: Luke 24:51-53
Message: Jesus ascends into Heaven.
Here are some optional items/Scriptures you can use to replace any objects that you don't have on hand:
Item: spear (a small lego or other toy spear, or you could make one by gluing a cardstock spearhead to a toothpick)
Passage: John 19:33-34
Message: The soldier pierced Jesus' side with a spear.
Item: 7 or 8 whole cloves, or other whole spices
Passage: John 19:38-40
Message: Spices to prepare Jesus for burial.
Passage: Mark 15:16-18
Message: The soldiers placed a crown of thorns on Jesus' head.
I started using the Resurrection Eggs with our oldest when he was four years old, and the objects captured his attention so that he would sit long enough to do two or three of the eggs each day. Even at that young age he grasped quite a bit of the symbolism, and asked to hear the story of the eggs each day leading up to Easter.
That same year I also purchased a video from Family Life Ministries called Miss Pattycake's Eggstravaganza. It was produced to go along with the Resurrection Eggs and is filled with lively songs and Miss Pattycake's presentation of each of the eggs and their story. This is a truly delightful video that does an excellent job of introducing young children to the story of Easter.
Each year, the symbols and the Scriptures have become more and more meaningful to my oldest and now to his younger sisters. The objects inside the eggs really help children make connections with the Scriptural truths and cement them in their memory. Last year I purchased the book Benjamin's Box by Melody Carlson, which tells the story of a young boy in Jerusalem who witnesses the events of Jesus' life in the days leading up to and including his crucifixion and resurrection. The story is written to go along with the Resurrection Eggs and is a beautiful way to enhance them. My children love the book as much as they do the eggs.
There are several ways to present the eggs to your children. You can do one or two of them a day beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Saturday, and then do all twelve in one sitting on Resurrection Sunday. We did this last year when we read Benjamin's Box.
You could hide all of the eggs, let your children find them, and then tell the story of all twelve eggs in one sitting, if your children's attention spans allow. You could also have them take turns telling the story of the different eggs after they've heard it a few times.
However you choose to do it, just make sure you keep the eggs and the stories in the order of when they happened between Palm Sunday and Jesus' ascension. I like to have a copy of the egg colors, items, Scriptures, and messages printed out in front of me when I'm going through it the first couple of times. This helps me to remember the correct order of the eggs. (Tomorrow night I'll try to put one together and upload it to Homeschool Launch so that you can download and print it out for your use.)
You can order the Resurrection Eggs and the other resources I mentioned either individually or together in a bundle at Family Life Ministries. I'm not an affiliate. I just love these resources, and I also think that Family Life is a great ministry to families. :)
If you use the Resurrection Eggs with your family, I'd love to hear about your experiences with them. Also, please let me know if you decide to use these for the first time. They make a beautiful family Easter tradition!