Alleluia! He is Risen!
If children are in the home, include them in the planning and preparation for Holy Week. This may mean something as simple as deciding who will lead prayer or proclaim the readings of the day. You can use the daily readings at usccb.org/readings or find the stories in a children’s Bible for younger children. Depending on their ages and your situation, it can include planning how to prepare the worship environment, deciding what meals you will share or what activities to participate in each day. Talk about each of the days of Holy Week and ask them what symbols come to mind. Have them gather or create the symbols, possibly assigning the preparation for each day to each child. The symbols can be displayed on the dining table or on a designated prayer table on the appropriate days.
Palm Sunday - Leaves, branches
Holy Thursday - Bread, cup. Basin, pitcher, and towel
Good Friday - Bare cross, crown of thorns
Easter Vigil - Candles, water, Bible, bottle of oil, bread and cup of wine
Easter Sunday - Cross with draped cloth, flowers, butterflies, eggs
Family Activity Ideas
- Easter Lessons for Kids
My daughter once asked me, “Mom, what is the best thing that’s ever happened to you?” I immediately answered with what most parents would say, “Well, of course, the day you were born!”
I often ponder that miraculous event that took place in my life. Of all the events of my life, the birth of my children remains the most powerful and beautiful in my memory. But of course, as Christians, we know even something as miraculous as childbirth actually pales in comparison to the single most important event in human history; something that has happened to all of us and the most important truth and proof of our Christianity — Christ’s resurrection. It is that which has given us “a new birth into a living hope.” (1 Pt 1:3) But, of course, at her young age, I could have never expected my daughter to grasp the significance of Christ’s resurrection, right? Surely a reference to her own birth is a safer and more understandable response. I’m certain it makes more sense to wait for her to be a bit older before I bore her sincere question with some heavy response about human salvation.
Or does it?
It should never be too early to make the reality of our Christian inheritance known to children. I know that we are better able to grasp theology as our minds develop into adulthood, but children are smarter than we think. With the right tools and delivery, we can start them toward a better understanding of the most important, and beautiful, part of our life — our relationship with God.
One such way is to bake “resurrection rolls.” I wish I would’ve known about these when my daughter was much younger. These little gems are not only a great way to teach younger kids about the resurrection, but also a quick and delicious sweet roll to make for any Easter gathering. How delicious? Well they aren't going to be “the best thing that ever happened to you,” but they will rank highly on your list of Easter treats — and they certainly reference well the best thing that ever did happen to all of us!
1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated crescent rolls
Package of large marshmallows
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Marshmallow – Body of Jesus
Butter – Oils used in burial
Sugar and cinnamon – Spices used in burial
Dough triangle – Cloth used to wrap Jesus
Baked roll with empty center – Empty tomb
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or parchment paper. You may also use a cupcake tin. Separate dough into eight triangles and set aside. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Dip each marshmallow into bowl of melted butter and roll in cinnamon-sugar. Place on each dough triangle. Pinch dough around marshmallow, sealing all edges. Make sure to seal well to prevent marshmallow from leaking.
Brush tops of dough balls with remaining butter and dip in cinnamon-sugar. Place roll with the sugar side up on baking sheet (or in muffin pan).
Bake for 13-15 minutes. The marshmallow melts into the dough and the result is the appearance of an empty tomb upon breaking one in half. Best when served warm.
- Palm Sunday
Read the Passion aloud together, assigning the speaking parts. Process with palms or homemade palms around your home or yard, as weather allows.
- Holy Thursday
Read the Mass aloud, share a meal, wash each other’s feet.
- Good Friday
Pray the Stations of the Cross aloud together, taking turns reading. Use pictures or symbols to mark each station and place around your home or yard. Sing “Were You There” as you process from station to station. Print and video resources are available online.
- Easter Vigil
Color eggs together. Eggs are a symbol of new life.
Make Victory Crosses. Decorate crosses to celebrate Christ’s victory over death, not just for Him, but for all of us. Use craft materials you have at home. Crosses can be made from craft sticks, cardboard cut into shapes and glued together, or plain paper. Decorations for the crosses can be stick-on or glued-on items, cut-out symbols, copied and colored, or drawn by hand. Symbols can be:
- The Sun – source of light and warmth, light overcomes the darkness.
- Water – necessary for all living thing.
- Heart – symbol of the love God has for us and love we are called to share with others.
- Vine/branches – symbol of our connectedness to Jesus and each other.
- Bread – Jesus is the bread of life, nourishing us in the Eucharist.
- Grapes – the fruit that becomes the blood, sign of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
- Dove – sign of the Holy Spirit, who remains to lift and guide us as disciples of Jesus.
- Butterfly – sign of transformation from life to death and the glorious resurrection into a new life that never ends.
Process outside after dark, light a candle or bonfire, and talk about the significance of the Paschal candle. Talk about how Jesus is light and hope for people, even when they feel alone, or lost or surrounded by darkness.
Pray the Exsultet together, taking turns reading aloud. Sing a joyful song!
Have an Easter Egg Hunt or Egg Roll. The egg represents the stone being rolled away from the tomb.