Celebrating Easter with kids
Learn about the meaning of Easter with these free Easter activities for kids
When it comes to celebrating Easter with kids, thoughts mostly turn to Easter egg hunts, hat parades, the Easter Bunny and hot cross buns. Some parents may buy Easter gifts for their kids, and books are released about lambs, chicks and springtime (even though it is autumn in Australia). It all sounds fun and sweet, but there is more to Easter.
Easter is when we remember Jesus’ death on a cross, which is called Good Friday. And Easter Sunday is when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. The entire weekend is a reminder to us that God loves us and wants to be our friend. “For here is the way God loved the world – he gave his only, unique Son as a gift” (John 3:16, TPT).
It can be tricky trying to share the real message of Easter with kids. The Salvation Army’s Kidzone magazine has got you covered, though. On their website are some fun Easter activities for kids and videos to get you started (see below). Plus, during the Easter week, you can pick up a free copy of the Easter Kidzone issue from your local Salvos church or Salvos Store.
The Easter story for kids
Many years ago, God sent Jesus (his son) into the world. Jesus lived a very ordinary life on Earth – a humble home, in a small town – but towards the end of his life, Jesus did lots of extraordinary things. He spoke about God’s love and healed people when they were sick. He had a lot of friends and followers, but many religious leaders did not like him. They did not believe Jesus was God’s son and didn’t like the things he was saying. Eventually, they got so angry with Jesus, they wanted to kill him.
They got a crowd of people to support their nasty plan. They went to the city’s rulers and called for his death. Jesus was whipped and laughed at then walked all the way up a hill where he died on a large, wooden cross. This is called crucifixion and is what Good Friday is all about.
At any time, Jesus could have asked God to stop it because he is strong and powerful. After all, he calmed the lightning, thunder and rain when it stormed, walked on water without sinking and made those who were sick better! But Jesus’ death was all part of God’s plan.
When we do bad things, we are separated from God and deserve punishment. But instead of being punished, God shows love towards us. When Jesus died, he took on our punishment because he loves us and so that we don’t have to be punished.
That’s not all, though! Jesus didn’t stay dead and buried in a tomb (grave). After three days, he rose back to life. His friends and followers found his empty tomb with angels announcing, “Jesus is alive” (Luke 24:23, NLT)! That’s called his ‘resurrection’.
Jesus showed that he has power over life and death. Because he rose back to life, we can be friends with him and have hope for new life. When we become friends with Jesus, he promises to always be there for us. We never have to feel scared, unloved or alone.
Sometimes in life we make mistakes, but God is always forgiving and gives lots of second chances! Jesus wants to help us make good choices to follow his good plan for our lives. Jesus also promises that when we become his friend, we can live with him in Heaven forever. That gives us a reason to celebrate and have joy!
This is why we celebrate Good Friday with hot cross buns and Easter Sunday with chocolate eggs and bunnies. The crosses on the buns represent the cross on which Jesus died. The bunnies remind us of hope and new life, while the hollow insides of eggs remind us of Jesus’ empty tomb.
Fun with the Easter story
God sent Jesus into the world to bring hope to everyone. That means no matter whether you are a famous sports player or movie star, a grown up with a fancy-sounding job, or a school kid – God sent Jesus for you! “God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life” (1 John 4:9, CEV).
God also loves everyone, has given everyone unique abilities, and has special plans and purposes for everyone’s life. “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, CEB).
God can also use people’s gifts, skills and abilities in all sorts of wonderful ways. The Easter story in the Bible shows us this. The story is full of interesting personalities: people who made mistakes, and people who helped Jesus. They all had a part to play. For example, a man called Joseph was very wealthy and used his money to give Jesus a tomb to be buried in. A criminal recognised Jesus could offer him forever life in Heaven. And a woman called Mary was often overlooked in life, but she was the first person to see Jesus after he rose from the dead!
While you’re on the Kidzone Easter website, look at the short comic about the women’s journey to visit Jesus’ tomb, and print the file to complete the crossword.
The path to hope – Easter family activities and more
Talking to kids about ‘hope’ can seem like a tricky conversation. But it’s actually something they talk about a lot. Consider these statements: “I hope it’s not raining on Saturday so I can play soccer” and “I hope I get better in time for my friend’s party.”
Kids understand the concept of looking forward to something good in the future. God promises us lots of good things for our future – both on Earth and in Heaven. This is ‘hope’, and it gives us something to hold on to when we are in a bad or hard situation.
On Easter Sunday, Mary and her friends walked to Jesus’ tomb, expecting to find his dead body. They were sad and confused. But at the end of the path – at the tomb – there was an angel, sharing the good news of Jesus being alive! The angel gave the women a message of hope!
Because Jesus died and came back to life, we can have hope for our lives. The Bible says to “hold on to the hope we have ... to tell people about it … [and to] trust God to do what he promised” (Hebrews 10:23, ERV). That means that when life is bad or hard, we can trust God to look after us and bring us through to better things. It also means we should encourage other people to have this same hope – and tell people about Jesus’ love for them.
Find a colouring sheet about the path to the tomb (or the path to hope) plus extra colouring sheets on the Kidzone website. Plus, there’s a fun activity – with video instructions – about making a resurrection garden. This is a great way to involve the kids in recreating the story of Easter Sunday morning and the hope that was found at the tomb.
Easter crafts for kids
To further explore the idea of hope at Easter, Mary and her friends’ journey to the tomb and Jesus coming back to life, the Easter Kidzone issue features a fold out board game called ‘Path to Hope’. In the mag, you’ll also find a recipe for ‘resurrection cookies’, Easter crafts for kids, a colouring competition, puzzles, stories and more. There’s lots inside Kidzone for kids and families to celebrate Easter together. Get your copy from your local Salvos church or Salvos Store on the Easter weekend.