This post is from one of Red & Honey’s new monthly contributors, Marissa of Becoming Kindred! She’ll be sharing an awesome post every month. Welcome Marissa!
We are an outdoors loving family and it is common practice throughout the year to bring pieces of nature in doors to be admired and enjoyed. While I’ve always loved the idea of a nature table, it’s not something that works well for our family and so the center of our dining table has been unofficially designated our “nature spot”.
Usually, there is a bowl or a plate that holds glimpses of the season as well as whatever treasures may have caught a little ones eye. Whether it’s a feather from one of our chickens, an ocean washed rock or a small stick, my girls enjoy adding their bits of beauty and I am often inspired as I see creation through their eyes.
Last year, as we moved through the season of Lent, Palm Sunday, and then the Easter week, I wanted a visual marker that would draw us to the death and life of Jesus. It was actually as I was preparing some potting soil for seeds that I saw that creation offers itself in the telling of the truth of Jesus, and for us this fits much more naturally than many of the crafting options I had found.
The specifics of what you use to tell the story of Easter is very flexible but I’ll share what we do.
Lent & Jesus in the Wilderness
Because the season of Lent is too long for small children to really grasp, about a week prior to Palm Sunday, I started by simply placing a plate of dirt (although sand would be even better) in the center of the table. As I expected, the girls were inquisitive and so we talked about how Jesus was in the desert for 40 days.
After a couple of days, I added a stone which led to talking of Jesus’ hunger in the desert and how he was taunted with the lies of Evil.
When Palm Sunday arrived, we took a walk to find ferns that resembled the Palm branches that were laid before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. How they loved to talk about the excitement as everyone called praises! It works well to keep some ferns or branches in water to refresh the plate through out the week.
For Passover and the night Jesus was betrayed, add a piece of towel and small cup of water. This is a good way to talk about how Jesus served others and leads into his love for us.
As we moved into the crucifixion, I really struggled with how to present it in a way that would be age appropriate and yet honest. We added a crown of thorns (a rose bush or any prickly bush works) and talked about how Jesus was hurt and made to wear a crown like that. We also added nails but simply said that Jesus died on the cross and instead focused on why he did that in his great love for us.
On Easter Sunday, I laid a white cloth for that which was left in the empty tomb and little sprouted eggshell seed starters as a symbol of life because Jesus is Alive!
Later in the day on Easter Sunday, the plate was again filled with the wine and bread (or in our case grape juice and gluten free rice crackers) that we shared in remembrance and thanks.
Originally, when we decided to do nature plate for Easter, it was for our daughters, but I found myself more contemplative as my eyes were drawn to it again and again. I found my heart being probed and changed as we took our walks to add pieces and I understood the love and the giving of God differently as we talked with our children.
What are some ways that you share the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus with your children?
While learning to live a simple farming life in rural Nova Scotia, Marissa finds home wherever her beloved, Dan and three darling daughters are. She writes about her journey of life as a wife, mother, woman, novice farmer, homemaker, & Christ follower at www.becomingkindred.com. and on facebook. When she finds spare creative moments, she also adds wool felted crowns, finger puppets and other goodies to her store Chickadee Swing. You can also find Chickadee Swing on facebook.
I love this idea. I am going to use this for Palm Sunday, I think mainly because I already have easter plans. The kids will be able to be involved and we will all be able to tell the easter story today. I am so excited for this! Thanks for sharing.
I love the idea of the gradually changing centerpiece, and all the things you thought of to symbolize the various events.
Here’s how I told my child the Easter story. I think a vague explanation is often more frightening than a clear one, and although I avoid exposing my child to violent scary stories in general, this one is central to our faith. It may also be less scary when you learn about it from an early age, than if you are sheltered for a while and then it comes across as a horrible revelation. Maybe you can tell them a bit more each year.
I agree with you that a vague explanation is often more frightening…and I think with the Jesus’ story it is so very important to clearly share the details, and so we try to do that in a way that is the language of children. i.e how bady it hurt him, his life left his body. I also want it to remain powerful to them as they learn and mature, meaning that we don’t want it to become so routine that it no longer grips them with the depth of what Jesus has done. Does that make sense? We actually really like using the Jesus Storybook because it is so gripping and moving both for them and us.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I look forward to reading your post, I just opened it and saw the lines for “Lord of the Dance”, my girls love, love, love that song!
I LOVE this idea! I’m a little late with this but I think I’ll still start this tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.
I hope that it was meaningful for you and your family!
What a great idae! I’ll definitely try this when my little one gets older
I actually realized that it didn’t work for us to do this year because my 15 month old kept grabbing handfuls of the sand so waiting until your little one is older is probably a good idea!:)