Don’t you just love Easter? This past Sunday, my pastor preached on the final week before Jesus’ crucifixion. We finished with the words, “It is finished,” and I can hardly wait for Easter! But the children I teach on a regular basis look forward to Easter as the source of the Easter Bunny, a time of Easter egg hunting and chocolate. While these traditions are not inherently wrong, we need to be careful not to water down the true story of Jesus’ excruciating death and glorious resurrection. Do we as Good News Club teachers help our club kids anticipate Easter with great expectation? Here are some ideas for how to make Easter stand out in your Good News Clubs. The following suggestions are in outline form to give you an idea of the time frames and sequence of events (the whole program will take an hour). Of course, if your allotted time runs longer or shorter than an hour, you will be able to adjust the time however you deem best!
Introduction (5 minutes): As the children enter the room, describe to them what has been happening in Jesus’ life this past week: clearing the temple, Judas’ agreement with the Pharisees to betray Jesus, and Jesus’ awareness of His impending death. With that in mind, have the children walk over to the first station. (As the children arrive at each station, you will want to describe that particular event, and you may want to read some of the included Scripture verses.)
- Station One, the Passover meal (15 minutes): hand out matza or saltine crackers with grape juice. You may want to read or paraphrase Matthew 26:26-29 and explain the significance of Jesus’ words.
- Station Two, the Garden of Gethsemane (10 minutes): prayer time. Remind the children that during and just after Matthew 26:36 (either read or explain this), Jesus thought of and prayed for each of these children. Encourage them to thank Jesus and bring prayer requests to Him.
- Station Three, the trial & Peter’s denial (8 minutes): Cut out these roosters (like this one) ahead of time. Have the children color each rooster and then glue one goggle-eye to the rooster. Give each child a clothespin to attach to the bottom of the rooster as legs. Teacher, you may want to summarize Luke 22:55-62 so the children understand the significance of the rooster crowing.
- Station Four, the crucifixion & burial (7 minutes): Provide playdough so each child can sculpt the crucifixion and burial scenes. Read Mark 14:25, 34, 37-39, 46-47 (explain that Joseph, Mary Joses’ mother, and Mary Magdalene were Jesus’ close friends).
- Resurrection (15 minutes): You will need:
- tough styrofoam plates (the type with a “lip:)
- a picture of Jesus (such as this one)
- a brown paper bag to crumble
- scisors and tape
Cut one plate in half ahead of time, and cut a semicircle in one half to be the tomb’s entrance. Help each child tape the two plate halves together. Have each child color the picture of Jesus and tape this picture to the inside of the tomb. Crumple brown paper and place in front of tomb entrance as the rock that has been rolled away.
Teachers, this is the most exciting part! As you work through this craft with the children, read or summarize Luke 24:1-7. Let your excitement over Jesus’ resurrection be contagious! Then read John 20:31, explaining to the children that Jesus died and came alive for each of them to believe in Him to take away their sins. Invite the children to believe in Jesus for salvation if they have never done this before.
As we go into Easter, I am praying for each Good News Club teacher and child. I pray that this Easter will be about so much more than bunnies and chocolate. As we think about all Jesus has done for us and has promised yet to do, I pray that we will experience Easter with great expectation.