5 Reasons I Love Easter in the Preschool Rooms

I love Easter. Love it.

Like Christmas, love it.

And so, I love to make the most of every opportunity to help our lil HiSKidZ see God’s Big Story about Jesus as we draw near to the holiday that is truly a Holy-Day.

Along with 5 reasons I love Easter in the preschool  5 (or more) ways we helped lil HiSKidZ at our church learn about and love Easter, too!

placemat

1–We share things we know they won’t completely understand.

We know preschoolers won’t completely understand everything about Easter. But y’know what? Neither did the grown men who walked with Jesus. This month we taught that Jesus loved his friends so much that He tried to explain everything that was going to happen. He told them that He was going to go to Jerusalem, He was going to die and He was going to come back to life. They didn’t really understand at the time, but they would later, and it would mean A LOT when they realized He cared enough to try to explain it them.

Our lil HiSKidZ made this place mat to use at home so that just like Jesus’ Bible friends, He would be helping them understand what Easter is all about. It was so easy for them to just glue the pieces on, and then work with our leaders to watch the laminator do the magic!! (Kids love laminating!)

 

zaccheus tree  zaccheus snack

2–We teach God loves everyone no matter how small, no matter what they’ve done.

Next, we taught about Zacchaeus. Because on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus met this now infamous man and changed his life forever. Jesus showed us again that He loves everyone–no matter how small and no matter what they’ve done–and that only He has the power to save them and forgive their sins.

We made the fun snack, (Twix bars, Rice Krispie Treats and Teddy Grahams) and our little ones made the craft! In case you needed to know one more thing you can do with a paper towel roll, try making a sycamore tree! Zacchaeus climbs up the tree to see Jesus and when Jesus stops by, down he comes.

donkey and handprint palm branches    donut hole guys

3–We celebrate Palm Sunday.

This week we will reenact Palm Sunday complete with Jesus in, not on, a donkey and our own interpretation of “palm” branches! You can make a million kinds of animals out of boxes, and be sure to hit up your local home stores for paint sticks–they are great for so many fun things.

My favorite thing this month has been our snack for this week. I saw this idea made with real rocks, (but not for a snack, obviously) which made me think of the verse from the Palm Sunday story where Jesus says that if the people stop praising the rocks will cry out. So, donut holes, candy eyes, some toothpicks, little flags and Hosanna! We are rocking the snack this week!!

palm branches

4–We get to have real Palm Branches.

As part of Palm Sunday, we always buy Palm Branches! And, yes, I think they should be capitalized. We get them for HiSKidZ of all ages, and they all love them. Several years ago, I almost stopped. I’m not sure why. Maybe they seemed old-fashioned, maybe I wasn’t sure if the kids liked them.

But, then, one of our 5th grade boys commented the week before Palm Sunday, “Next week is Palm Sunday! I love Palm Sunday! We always get those Palm Branches and we get to act like we were there.” ‘Nuff said. I’ve been buying them ever since. When a 5th grade boy tells you that Palm Branches have become a spiritual marker in his life, you buy them forever!

We live in midwest, and our palms aren’t always the best, but this year they are so green, I can’t wait for the kids to see them.

angel owl   IMG_3057

5–The angel rolled the stone away, and Jesus is alive!

Like I said, I love Easter Sunday. I love saying, “He is Risen. He is Risen, Indeed!” I love singing Celebrate, Jesus, Celebrate, Rise and Sing, and Jesus is Alive Right Now with our bigs and Hosanna, 1-2-3 and Jesus is Alive with our littles. I love the power of the day, and the reason we celebrate. I love how God moves as we share who He is and what He has done.

One of the above angel bags will be our craft on Easter Sunday. I’ll let you guess which one!

The picture on the left represents one attempt at an angel bag. I know it looks like a bird–a very surprised bird, but it is an angel. The bag on the right, thankfully, was created by one of our amazing volunteers so our kids don’t think angels are owls, and so their parents will let the come back to church with us!!

What do you love about Easter in your preschool rooms?

 

 

 

How to Keep From Crackin Up This Easter Weekend–Tiny Tot Tuesday

paas easter egg2
Don’t know about your home, but around here it’s been crazy. I guess it always is, the American way and all that. So I think it’s important to remember that in the midst of schedules that really are sometimes out of our control, that it can be a lot of fun to have some quick spontaneous things to do lying around the house so that neither you, gramma, or the tiny tots go crackin up this Easter weekend.

At holidays kids get tired. They are out of their normal routine. Family may be visiting, or family isn’t visting and the kids are restless. You want to make everything spiritual, serene and holy, and they want to launch jelly beans at each other, and before you know it, things are just, well, they are just gettin’ crazy.

Here are a couple of ideas that may help with your tiny or not so tiny tots during your days of Easter break.

1) Make Sheep Pictures. All you need is paper, a crayon, some glue and cotton balls. Let the kids trace their hands, stick the cotton balls on and ta-da–instant sheep! Crank it up a notch by finding a Scripture to add to the bottom of the page, snap a picture of them holding their picture, repeat every year until they are 30.

2) Make Your Own Easter Grass. This one is genius and I wish I had thought of it. Find some color paper lying around your house, or your neighbor’s house, and run it through the paper shredder. Voila! Colored Easter grass. Then let the kids match up their eggs to the colored grass you have made. Have contests seeing who can match things up the fastest.

3) Make Some Peanut Butter Eggs. Just 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 powdered sugar mixed together is all you really need. Oh, well, and some chocolate chips. Mix the the first two and let the kids roll them into a ball. Then melt the chocolate with a smidge of shortening in it. Roll the ball into the chocolate, chill and you have instant stress release with minimal calories. This only makes about 10, but that’s really all you need for instant fun!

4) Dye Some Eggs. Seriously! It’s crazy how many kids are not doing this any more. Or if they are, they are doing some way over the top Pinterest form of egg decorating. Just go grab some Paas tablets at the store for $1.47 (that’s what I paid today)–don’t forget the vinigar and let ’em go at it. I still remember writing on our eggs with crayon, trying to make stripes and winding up with a gray egg, and the slightly unpleasant, yet at the same time, comforting smell of vinigar in the air as we watched our color tablets dissolve. Old school can be really cool!

5) Make Some Bird Feeders. Take your leftover plastic eggs, attach a string to them, cover them in peanut butter and bird seed and make an egg tree for your birds. The kids and the birds will love it. Try apple butter if you have someone in your group with a peanut allergy.

Sometimes it just takes a quick prayer and a look around the house to find all kinds of things you can do on the fly to keep from “crackin up” not only this Easter, but anytime the kids need a little focus and redirecting.

It’s really small things that make a difference. It’s really small things that make adventure, fun, magic and memories for a lifetime, and those really small people around our houses won’t be really small forever.

Happy Eastering!! He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!

Donut This Look Fun–Taste and See Sunday

taste and see tomb

Last week our church hosted a week of revival meetings. Some people think of it as a bit old fashioned to still have them. I’m not so sure. We could call it a conference or a seminar week, but the fact remains that no matter how you promote it, or what you call it we had the privilege of meeting together on 4 consecutive nights for some teaching, encouragement, presentation of the gospel and edification of the body of Christ–and we did this from ages 0-99. (Well, I’m not sure if anyone there was 99, but they could have been!) And it was great!!!

As a team, we did a lot of tasting and seeing that the Lord was good through evening and lunch meals together, a ladies’ luncheon and a men’s prayer breakfast, but it’s what we did in our preschool classes that has me excited today!

During the week, while our adults studied Philippians, and our elementary students centered in on lessons on prayer, our preschoolers were taught the Easter story. Each night they heard a different part of Jesus’ story in the order of its actual occurrence, and each night we had a super fun snack to connect to their teaching.

Jesus rode in on a donkey on Sunday night, and so we had sugar cookies baked by one of our awesome volunteers Diana. They were in the shape of donkeys!!! The kids loved them and had fun walking them across the table like Jesus riding into town (before chomping their heads off, of course!)

On Monday night, we learned about the last supper with biscuits (that we could break and share with each other) and grape juice (white, of course, to be careful of the carpets!)

Jef Puffed marshmallow eggs
Then on Tuesday night we shared those big Kraft marshmallow eggs that look an awful lot like giant (or tiny, depending on your perspective) tombstones as we talked about how the stone was rolled in front of Jesus’s tomb.

And we finished up on Wednesday night with the empty tomb snack you see above, prepared Gwen, another one of our awesome volunteers! She found the idea on, what else, Pinterest, but it was the perfect finish to our Easter lessons. As the kids put their snack together, they could retell the story of how Jesus did not stay in the tomb, but that He came out and He is alive!!!

I can’t help but love how we can use the goodness of all things God has created to remind us to “Taste and See” how good He is, and to help both kids and adults alike recognize and rejoice in the joy of Jesus!!

Muffin Tin Mondays on Tiny Tot Tuesday

I asked my friend Leah to guest post today because I absolutely love this thing she does with her kids. She calls it Muffin Tin Mondays. I’ve seen these around the web on all kinds of days of the week, but Leah is my friend so she is my guest!! Anyway, I love lots of things Leah and Dave do with their kids, but this is really one I wish I would have known about when my guys were little. They would have loved it. I would have loved it, because like Leah, I’m all about fun and creativity, and when I can use those things to help kids see God, well, that’s just the sauce on the BBQ!

So Leah says:
I think it’s important to not only teach God to your kids in the big ways like going to church, praying before meals and reading your Bible, but to also bring Him into your life in smaller ways as well. As a mom of three small children (ages 1, 4, and 7), I try to look for little ways to keep God in our forethoughts. In the spring, we go on listening walks around town where we walk quietly and try to focus on each sound that we hear, which leads to some good discussions about how if God cares so much about every bird that we hear, he must care about us even more (Luke 12:7). We were driving one day and saw a rainbow, so I pulled over and took a picture and we talked about how God gave Noah a rainbow as a sign that he keeps his promises (Genesis 9:12-16).

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For those of you who know me, you know that I love to be creative with, and for, my kids. Something I do pretty often is to make themed lunches for them. With Easter coming up, I thought it was a perfect time to show you another of the simple ways I brought Jesus into our day. I made this meal last year after the kids brought home palm leaves after Palm Sunday at church.

Easter

I often use these lunches as a way to sneak in something that may not be a kid’s favorite, but they’ll try when it’s presented in a fun way. Thus, the broccoli, A.K.A. palm branches. The pretzels represent Jesus’ crown of thorns that he wore while on the cross. Our cross is made out of a cookie. I happened to have a package of refrigerated cookie dough, so I just used a knife to cut a rough cross shape. It turned out a little rounded, but nobody complained. 

The peanut butter and jelly Uncrustable sandwich is the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb. I used string cheese to represent the strips of linen cloth that Simon Peter found when he looked for Jesus in the tomb. For a little treat, I included a cotton candy cloud. Acts 1:9: “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”

The kids loved their meal and it was a fun way to hear how much they knew of the Easter story and to fill in the parts they weren’t as sure of. Try to find some ways to bring Jesus into your home this week! Once you start looking, you’ll find that they’re all around you.

When she’s not trying to keep up with her three busy kids, Leah Zanolla is the Senior Editor for http://www.wdwinfo.com, an unofficial Disney trip-planning site. In her “spare time,” she also writes about her themed meals in the column “Making Meals Memorable” on foodietales.com. You can find Leah’s column with other great Muffin Tin ideas at http://foodietales.com/category/foodietales/making-meals-memorable/

Tis the Season–Tiny Tot Tuesday

easter story

Yesterday I was spending time with some of the junior high students from our Christian school when we got to talking about March being “Easter month.” We discussed how things might be different if we spent as much time getting excited about Easter as we do Christmas.  Even if one of the reasons we get excited about Christmas is the gifts, the fact remains we spend a month or more talking about Jesus being born and yet, we decided, it seems that Easter is really more of a last minute thing that doesn’t get as much notice.

So. . . . of course, that means I’ll be spending the rest of this month sharing some ideas for you to do with your tiniest of tots–at church, school or home in hopes that we might help them to understand the awesomeness of Jesus and what Easter really means.

There’s Old School
PalmSunday
In this digital age, don’t overlook the simplicity of coloring with your kids. http://www.kidsundayschool.com is a great place for coloring pages and resources like the one above. Some are available for free and some come only with a membership. Start early coloring with your kids and hanging up that great Easter artwork as a reminder to help you talk about Easter all month long.

There’s Hi-Tech
toddler bible2
There are some sweet Ipad Easter books available for about buck. I like both “The Toddler’s Bible Easter Story,” and “The Easter Story.” These interactive books allow you to read them to your child or have your child listen to them over and over as the narrator reads. Either way is a win!

There’s Backyard/Basement/Living Room Fun
palmleaf
Get creative and take a bench, ottoman, chair, saw horse, hay bale or sibling (tee-hee) and make your own donkey for Jesus to ride into town on. With paper and crayons, or green paper cut out palm branches to lay on the ground or to raise and cheer for Jesus while singing “Hosanna! Hosanna!” (I found this template at http://www.sundayschoolresources.com

And There are Kitchen Creations
resurrection rolls
Resurrection Rolls are an all time favorite. I have used this recipe I got years ago from allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
1 (10 ounce) can crescent rolls
8 large marshmallows
1/4 cup melted butter
2 TB cinnamon
2 TB sugar

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease a baking sheet.
2.Separate crescent rolls into individual triangles.
3.Mix together cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
4.Melt the butter in another small bowl.
5.Dip a marshmallow into melted butter, and then roll in sugar mixture. Place marshmallow into the center of a dough triangle. Carefully wrap the dough around the marshmallow. Pinch together to seal in marshmallow as it melts. Place on a baking sheet.
5.Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes
6.Let cool a few minutes before eating. When you open the roll, the marshmallow is gone–the “tomb” is empty.

Be on the lookout for more Easter ideas to do with your tiny tots this month–because Jesus is the reason for this season, too!