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Just for You > Everyday Godly Play Blog > Beyond The Calendar: Intentional Ways Of Preparing For Easter

Beyond The Calendar: Intentional Ways Of Preparing For Easter

Lent is a serious time, but all of it helps us come closer to the miraculous beauty of God’s love. When we actively prepare for Easter, we model the love and connection at the heart of our faith.
Easter Celebrations
Easter Celebrations

I have been known to say that I am not an Easter person.

This is the sort of thing you think about when you’re a church person, someone whose professional life is structured by developing and executing religious programming. Each season and holiday is weighed, its relative joys compared. As I think about Easter from my current perch, though, it occurs to me that while I may not be drawn to this season now, as a child, I did have a special relationship with Easter. Given Easter’s moving date on the calendar, my birthday and Easter sometimes arrived in the same week and at least one childhood birthday party included a backyard egg hunt. 

Whether it arrived at just the same time as my birthday or not, my mother’s choice of Easter clothing for me always made it feel like a special time – the one day a year I wore gloves and a fancy hat or carried a purse to church. Add the preemptive dying of eggs in the days prior, and Easter Day had a clear before and after, a tidy transitional mood.

Before & After: Preparing For Easter
Traditionally, in the life of the Church, preparing for Easter begins with Ash Wednesday and continues through Lent, but I know very few families who want to think about a 40 (plus) day span, especially with small children. It’s hard enough in my household, which features just two adults and a rowdy group of cats. Creating visual landmarks to structure this long season can help us journey through these weeks, while setting out clear activities to look forward to can make this serious time one that is also full of great excitement.

Start By Celebrating!
Have A Pancake Party: I don’t know many people who don’t like pancakes, and I think I know even fewer kids who would say no to pancakes for dinner. As it turns out, eating pancakes is one of the most traditional ways to prepare for Lent. If you’re really ready to amp up the celebratory mood, feel free to get out the masks, hats, or Mardi Gras beads!

Early Childhood (Preschoolers and Kindergarteners)
Create A Countdown: Lent is 40 days, except it actually isn’t because we don’t count the Sundays. This is hard enough for adults to understand and keep track of, nevermind young children who don’t have a strong grasp of time and numbers. Make the journey through Lent to Easter easier to conceptualize by creating a paper chain using one color for the counted days of Lent and a separate color for the Sundays. You might even color a special “Alleluia” banner to place in an envelope at the end, to be reopened on Easter.

Each day, as you remove a link in the chain and get closer to Easter, you might name one thing you are grateful for, someone you wish to pray for, or something you want to apologize for, ending with a simple prayer.

Older children may not need as concrete a representation of the time before Easter, but may want to look at how this time spreads out on the calendar and use that space to make plans for special pre-Easter activities.

Early Elementary School
Explore Different Stories: Children in early elementary school often have a baseline understanding of the stories related to major holidays like Easter. This makes it a great starting point for exploring stories, myths, and traditions.

“Rechenka’s Eggs” by Patricia Polacco is a popular story for this season and can launch a greater exploration of Easter Egg stories and related traditions, while “Sawdust Carpets” by Amelia Lau Carling introduces a unique Guatemalan Lenten tradition that’s particularly dear to my in-laws. Stories like these can sit alongside more traditional tellings of the Easter narrative from a children’s storybook Bible and may even inspire new celebrations.

Upper Elementary School
Reflecting On Disappearance: If I know a ridiculous amount about church traditions, my wife knows an overwhelming amount about animals (to be fair, she’s a veterinary student). This year, I’m excited to bridge that gap with Gayle Boss’s book, “Wild Hope: Stories for Lent from the Vanishing,” which uses stories of endangered species to help us navigate Lent; I’m actually using it to create Lent resources for my own parish.

This book is great for this age group because it’s designed in a way that pre-assigns animals to different points in the season, allowing them to explore within some established boundaries. It’s simultaneously complicated and elegant and also the kind of book that will have your kids running to you to share new animal facts. In Godly Play we are known to say that when something is both sad and wonderful, those feelings together can make joy and I think that sums up the tone of this book. 

All Ages
Look Toward New Life: Easter arrives as the days are steadily growing longer and celebratory images are often full of flowers and symbols of fertility like chicks and rabbits. We can all lean into Easter preparations by coming close to the earth by planting seeds. WIth young children, the simple act of planting and observing, of touching the dirt and watching how different seeds come to life may be enough. With older children, exploring unique plant traits, like the way perennials seem to die and come back to life, can shed new light on the mystery of the resurrection.

Prepare An Altar: An altar doesn’t have to be a fancy thing. It can be a little side table or a simple shelf. What makes an altar special is how we approach it. If you’ve never created a space like this at home, it can be a special way to express that this is an important time. An altar can be as simple as a scarf, a candle, and a special picture on a table or it can be an intricate, meticulously curated space. Let it anchor your stories, place one of the plants you grow there, or just explain that it’s a place to bring prayers and extra special things and see what happens.

Lent is a serious time and many parts of the Lent and Easter story can be scary and confusing – but all of it helps us come closer to the miraculous beauty of God’s love. When we actively prepare for Easter, when we plan activities, create traditions, and think about this as more than a day on the calendar when the kids might eat chocolate for breakfast, we model the love and connection at the heart of our faith.

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