lent: devotions for families, week 7

Unbelievably, it’s already time for the final installment of this Lenten devotional.  As you spend this last week preparing for Easter, you may want to take a quick glance through my last post for ideas of extra activities (singing, acting, baking, crafting) to heighten the anticipation for your kids.

This week’s readings begin tomorrow, on Palm Sunday, and bring you all the way through Easter Sunday.  I hope they will be a blessing to your family!



lent: seven activities and crafts to prepare kids for easter

Easter is nearly here, and in our house, we are best-prepared for the things that we spend the most time anticipating.  With that in mind, I’ve taken some time to write out some of the crafts and activities we’ve used from year to year to heighten our anticipation of Easter.  The activities below can all be done by preschoolers (with help!), but I’ve done them with third- and fourth-graders with equal success because they are the sorts of things kids can do at-level, with the outcome matching their ability.  The top three items are pretty broad, while the last four are specific crafts with instructions.  Without further ado, here are my suggestions.

Prepare To Worship
Are there certain songs sung in your church every Easter–or can you at least guess at a few likely candidates?  Find them on YouTube and play them a few times between now and Easter.  I don’t know about you, but I’m always more excited to sing songs that I know, and I’ve seen the way my kids’ faces light up when they feel like they are really participating in church.  What better way to make their Easter memorable than by making sure they can participate in the jubilant celebration?
[This is a space.  The editor refuses to honor my space, no matter what I do, so here is my solution.  I can’t stand when the formatting looks wrong.]
Act It Out

There’s no better way to learn something than by doing it yourself, and Bible stories are no exception.  From the triumphal entry (paper or foam palm branches, anyone?) to the Last Supper (footwashing and flat bread!) to the empty tomb (where you can peek into your couch-cushion-cavern!), there are plenty of exciting moments for your family to get a taste of.  By performing some of these scenes, you’ll allow your kids not only to hear the stories, but to see them and experience them, reaching across three of the most prominent domains of learning.



There are lots of options for Easter fun in the kitchen.  From bread without yeast to celebrate the Last Supper (this is our go-to easy bread recipe that we’re going to try without flour this year!) to Hot Cross Buns to Pretzels and Easter Cookies, there are lots of options that will get you thinking and talking about Easter with your favorite kitchen helpers.


Crucifixion Diorama

PlayDoh or clay (and green paint or food coloring, if it’s not already green)
A variety of small sticks and stones
Thread or hot glue to secure twigs in the form of three crosses

  1. Using PlayDoh or clay (homemade or purchased), form a hill.  (Paint or dye it green if it isn’t already that color.)
  2. Atop the hill, push in three crosses made of sticks. (Parents can have these pre-made for little ones!)
  3. Press your thumb into the side of the hill to make a cave for the tomb.
  4. Place a rock in front of the entrance to the tomb.
  5. Add twigs, rocks, fake greenery, or other decorations as desired.
  6. On Easter, roll the stone away to reveal the empty tomb!


EasterArt1Stained Glass Adhesive Window Cross

Clear Contact Paper
Colorful tissue paper

  1. This craft is simple enough for preschoolers but appealing for a broad variety of ages.  The concept is one I stole from a third grade teacher I worked with. Prepare for your project by cutting several kinds of brightly-colored tissue paper into small squares roughly .25″ on a side–a handful of each color per child.  Precision is not important, nor is the number of squares; you just want enough for them to cover their cross shape with a few extras to allow for color choices.  (Older children can do this step themselves, but little ones will be happiest if their supplies are all ready to go before they sit down for the project!  For my preschooler, I have to do all the prep; he can take over at step 7.  My older kids still need help with step 5, but they can do the rest on their own.)
  2. Take a piece of clear Contact Paper and trace a generous-sized cross shape on the paper backing.  (Around 4-6″ wide by 8-10″ tall is plenty large.)
  3. Cut your shape from the unused Contact Paper, leaving about an extra inch of paper all around your pencil lines.
  4. Tape the edges of your Contact Paper shape, backing side up, to your work surface to hold it flat and still.
  5. Open a scissors all the way, and use one point of the scissors to score the paper all along your pencil line.  The scissors will tear at the paper, but it will only stretch the Contact Paper if it even manages to hit it at all.
  6. Using your scored lines, peel away the paper inside the cross shape, leaving it blank and sticky.  Leave the outer border covered by paper.
  7. Using small squares of colored tissue paper, cover the cross shape. (For little ones, a smaller cross shape or larger tissue paper squares help the project get done within the limits of their patience.)
  8. Once the cross shape is completely filled in with color, remove the tape that holds it to your table, peel off the remaining paper around the cross, and use this sticky edge to hold your stained glass cross in a sunny window.


EasterArt2Stained Glass Cross Painting

1 piece watercolor or other heavyweight paper
2 strips of masking tape or painter’s tape
watercolor paint

  1. For this simple craft, give each child two pieces of masking tape to form a cross on a sheet of painting paper.  (Regular printer paper will warp horribly and tear easily.  You’ll want to use something labeled at least 70 lbs or “heavy weight”.)
  2. After sticking your tape to the paper, use the bowl of a spoon (or anything similarly hard) to rub all over the tape and press it firmly down—you don’t want any paint to seep under the edges of the tape and ruin your cross shape.
  3. Use watercolors to paint all the exposed paper.  Putting two wet colors against each other will cause them to bleed and blend with one another, which is typically a problem for young painters but actually achieves a nice effect in this project.  The darker the colors, the better, so don’t water them down too much!
  4. When you’re finished painting, wait for the paint to dry and then carefully remove the tape to reveal a stark, white cross amidst the beautiful swirl of color.


Stained Glass Window Silhouette

1 coffee filter (the kind that can be flattened into a large circle)
Washable markers
Water, preferably in a spray bottle
Black construction paper

  1. Trace around the filter on the black construction paper, then set it aside for later.
  2. Flatten the coffee filter and scribble all over it with the washable markers.  Leave a little bit of white space between your lines for best effect—but not too much.
  3. When you’re satisfied with your scribbles, place your coffee filter on a plate and spritz it with water.  The water will cause the washable marker to bleed across the filter, making some wonderful swirls of color.  Let your filter dry.  (This will take quite a while—you’ll need to get rid of excess water on your plate and prop your filter up so it gets more air movement.  Gently blow-drying can help speed up this process.)
  4. While your filter is drying, you’ll make a construction paper frame.  You can choose to leave the outside of your frame precisely the same size and shape as the filter outline you made earlier, or turn your frame into a square, a wiggly shape, or anything else that appeals.  Draw a slightly smaller circle inside your traced circle. This is the space through which your “stained glass” will be visible.  You can add a cross—or three—if you’d like, blocking those out in the center of your smaller circle.
  5. Cut around your frame—outside first, then inside.  If you manage to botch your cross-cutting, you can always use a glue stick or add a few dots of glue and attach them later.  (A few dots of glue may be necessary, anyhow, to keep your crosses standing.)
  6. Once your filter is dry, attach it to the frame using a glue stick or some tape.  (Wet glue will leave wrinkle marks in the paper frame, so only use that if absolutely necessary.)  These look lovely hanging in a window with the sunlight shining through.

lent: devotions for families, week 6

Another week has flown past, and it is time yet again to post the next installment of stories from the life of Jesus.  This week we walk to Jerusalem with Jesus and witness some of his final week of life, listening to the things he thought were important to say as his death drew near.

With only two weeks left before Easter, we will be doing some extra activities in order to increase our anticipation.  I’ll try to drop by again in the next few days with a list of some of the crafts and other activities we plan to do, in case you, too, are looking for ways to increase your family’s anticipation of the Resurrection.

Without further ado, here is the PDF of the readings for the week starting on Sunday:

lent: devotions for families, week 5

LentInProgressThis is the fifth of seven installments of daily stories from the life of Christ.  Even if you didn’t read through any of the previous weeks’ material, however, it’s not too late to begin preparing for Lent; while Week 1 started with Jesus as a boy, there’s no reason you can’t jump in and follow our Lord in the rest of his journey to the cross. Below I’ve linked the PDF for the week beginning with this coming Sunday.