Easter time is the holiest time for Christians. Most Christians teach their kids to pray and celebrate Christmas in a big way. But, it can get somewhat tricky to explain Easter. If you need some help explaining the Easter story to your toddler, you will find this article pretty helpful. Let’s begin with some tips to make the storytelling enchanting and unforgettable for the kids. We cover here stories on Easter for toddlers, preschoolers, young kids, teenagers, and children of all ages.
Tips to Make the Easter Storytelling to Kids More Interesting
Here are some tips to keep the kids interested and wanting more.
1. Use Art, Paintings, Music and Plays
Children especially learn and accept very fast when they hear music, see art pieces and paintings, or are involved in some form of interactive activities. It would be great if you could accompany them to watch the play Jesus Christ Superstar. It is all about the story of Easter and helps kids understand it without inculcating fear about death. Jesus is in art, paintings, music, and more. There are also beautiful renditions of songs like Sister Janet Mead’s ‘Our Lord’s Prayer’, and ‘One step at a time’ by Cristy Lane, which have been around for ages. These songs are truly inspirational while being fun and chirpy and make learning about Easter, Jesus, and His story easier for kids.
2. Keep It Simple and Short
The life of Jesus and the significance of the church’s depictions can also be inspirational for children. Encourage kids to re-tell the stories about the cross, about Jesus, Peter, and Paul and about the paintings of Michael Angelo. Use the Easter Hare, elephants, birds, or whatever allegory you wish to introduce the Easter story.
3. Go to Church
If your children are nearly or already teenagers, then perhaps you need to allow them to discover the Lent service and the story of Easter in the sombre surroundings of church ceremonies. Let them discover the myriad feelings of sadness, happiness, celebrations, and question you about Easter services. That’s when you can tell the Easter story.
4. Tell Biblical Stories
One way of ensuring children are not afraid of what seems fearful and terrifying for them is to explain the meaning of death, starting with the story of the ascension of Christ on Easter Sunday. Then slowly lead them through verses and stories that can prove that Jesus was and is our King, our spiritual guru, a Jew, and the Son of God who will come again as foretold by Elijah, King David, and the New Testament’s chapter on Revelations. And yes, stay positive and encourage them to question and discover.
Let us now move on to the Easter stories. Here are five great ones.
Amusing Kid-Friendly Easter Tales
The first story we should always start with is about Easter celebrations. So let’s begin.
1. The Story of Tulips and Easter Celebrations
Would you like to tell an Easter bedtime story that can help you explain why Easter is always celebrated in spring? Try the springtime tale of fairies and tulips.
The fairy tulips story is of an old nana who planted tulips in her garden. And, like all old ladies, the grandma in the ‘grandma spring and the fairy-tulip story’ wasn’t friendly and did not like anyone, especially children, touching her flowers. But at night, she could hear babies laughing and the soft sounds of a lullaby. One night, she looked out of her window, but she spotted no one. The next night again, she heard the singing and the gurgling sounds of babies. She strode out into the night to her tulip bed and lo and behold; she saw the flower cup had a mummy-fairy singing and rocking her baby-fairy to sleep with a soft lullaby.
Ever since that night, the old lady took very good care of her tulip garden, and in spring, there were many beautiful tulips in her garden. Each night she smiled when she heard the fairies singing. But she never plucked a tulip and never allowed anyone else to touch her flowers. A few years later, she died, and new neighbours came in. By then, the tulips had withered, and the lady of the house put parsley in its place. But the flower bed just would not grow. The old nana’s grave though had tulips, daffodils, and violets all around and they grew even without being tended to. Each night in spring and Easter time, if you go to her grave, people say they can hear the fairies singing their little ones to sleep.
This story will help your kids understand the cycle of birth and death, and life even after death. As they grow, you can let them know that Easter Sunday is the day when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and different people celebrate it in different ways. That’s why it’s important to explain to kids the Easter story and the various myths around Easter. While Christians have many denominations who celebrate with varied services in their churches, kids have a hard time to relate events with the Easter Bunny or the Easter eggs hanging on a plant. They do wonder about the crucifix and why one day is sad and another full of celebrations. So let’s explain some things right away.
Some claim Easter is the festival of Ishtar or Ēostre the Goddess of fertility and spring. No one knows why bunnies are laying eggs, and why these coloured eggs are hung on plants! But, it is great fun for the kids, who love the chocolate bunnies, to search and find the boiled and coloured eggs or the Easter treasure. In Germany, the USA, and most of Europe, even Christians celebrate Easter this way! So speak the truth, and tell the kids it is just a fun way the older generation keeps kids busy during the Holy Week. Of course, they never explained how babies were born, that plants don’t grow eggs, and that rabbits have bunnies!
2. Brer Rabbit and the Way of the Cross Story
You could also tell stories of Brer-Rabbit (Issue 19 of Storytime), the mischief-maker who is well-known in American fables, which is an Easter story for preschoolers. A lot of animals live by the Brer pond. Brer Rabbit is the most frolicking and fun bunny who tricks Brer-Bear and Brer-Fox all the time. Other stories like the ones in Issue 12 speak of the story of the Rabbit Herder Hans. The German tale from the Grimm brothers as Hans wins the love and hand of the princess because of his determination, quick answers, and luck, make it fun for young children to connect the Easter Rabbit with Easter. From there, you can introduce an Easter story about the Biblical Stations of the Cross service in Catholic Churches. Once they associate Brer Rabbit with Easter and Spring, you can lead them to the story of Easter which plays out as below.
The Last Supper:
All Jesus’ disciples have the last Passover meal with Jesus. It shows kids how they must thank the Lord for food, and Jesus sets the example by breaking the bread. He tells the disciples that the bread was His body, which He would give up for them on the cross. Again after the meal, he offers thanks for the wine and reminds the disciples that this was His blood which He would shed on the cross for the disciples and all of us. The Catholic Church celebrates this sacrament of the Eucharist during every mass. The Last Supper was also when Jesus tells the disciples that he would be betrayed and disowned by them. He knew Peter would deny him thrice and that Judas would betray Him for 30 shekels of silver.
The Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus’ Prayers:
Immediately after supper, Jesus enters the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with His disciples. He pleads with His Father to take His sorrows away if that was His will! While many of them fall asleep, Jesus continues to pray for strength to face His crucifixion. Such is His agony that His sweat appears like blood droplets, and God sends an angel to refresh him and give Him strength.
Jesus Is Arrested After Judas Betrays Him:
Imagine knowing that you will be betrayed by a friend for just 30 shekels of silver! And feel the deceit of Judas Iscariot who accompanies the soldiers and identifies Jesus by embracing and kissing Jesus. Jesus never resists his arrestors and stops Peter who cut’s off a guard’s ear to prevent the arrest.
The Condemnation of Innocent Jesus By Jews:
Jesus is led before the council of elders or the Sanhedrin. Caiaphas, the Chief Priest of the Jews, wants Jesus punished because He had chased the money lenders functioning inside the Temple, He was giving a new version of the Jewish laws, He was breaking the Sabbath rules, He claimed to be the Messiah, and He could cause the people to revolt against the Roman rule.
Pontius Pilate’s Trial and Sentencing:
The Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, questions Jesus and finds Him innocent of charges. But the Jews refuse to accept the verdict and want Jesus to be handed over to them to be flogged, whipped and crucified. They set Barnabas, a known murderer and thief, free instead! Symbolically Pilate washes his hands and turns Jesus over to the frenzied mob of Jews. He is then dressed in a purple cloak and mocked with this for being the King of Jews. He is crowned with thorns, whipped with thongs bearing thorns at least 39 times as per the law, and finally made to carry the cross on which He was to be crucified up to Mount Golgotha aka Cavalry.
Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion:
Jesus Christ’s story up the Hill is remembered by the Catholic Church as the Way of the Cross. He was stripped of clothes, nailed to the cross, and left to die. The Jewish law did not permit executions. They also crucified two more thieves alongside Jesus. The cross is decorated with a slogan ‘The King of Jews”. The agony of Jesus on the cross and His Last Words is also a compelling story. Hours later, Jesus dies. Soldiers guarding the site, spear His side to find water and blood gushing out. His body is then handed over to be buried to Joseph of Arimathea.
3. The Easter Bunny Miracle
Tell your preschooler an Easter Bunny story. In ‘How the Rabbit Got His Long Ears’ (Issue -3 Storytime), you can tell your toddler about how the American rabbit got his long ears because of the fun and trickery he is constantly involved in. Or you could try Marjery Willaim’s story of ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ (Issue-9), who is so lovable and like your child’s toy. Pique their interest and help them bond with their toys and church services too! Telling toddlers these stories helps them build the right memories and associations as they grow. Do introduce the Easter Story from the Bible with a focus on the ascension as they grow. Jesus’ parables can also be told. Here are the best ones.
Raising the Dead Son of a Widow:
Jesus performs this miracle in a small village called Nain, in Galilee. He raises from the funeral pyre the only son of the widow who appeals to Him. The crowds are jubilant when they see the dead son alive.
Feeding 5,000 With a Basket of 2 Loaves and 5 Fishes:
Jesus is followed by a crowd numbering over 5,000 persons into a remote deserted area and is told that the masses are hungry. He asks his disciples to seat the people in smaller groups and after thanking God for the food, feeds the masses with just 2 loaves of bread and 5 fishes. He then asks His disciples to collect the leftovers which amount to 12 baskets of leftovers. The crowd thinks of Moses and how God fed the Israelites in the desert with manna. They recognise that Jesus is God’s favoured Son.
Jesus Walks on the Sea of Galilee:
After feeding the crowds, Jesus asks the disciples to return. He does not accompany them as He goes up the mountain to pray. Later that night, there is a strong wind, and the disciples cannot row the boat against the winds. That’s when Jesus walks across the sea and asks them to have no fear. He joins them in the boat, and all is calm again. The disciples think of Joshua, who won Galilee and Judah from the oppressors and Moses, who freed the Israelites. Joshua and Moses were thought of as God’s favoured people.
Turning Water Into Wine at Cana:
Mary and Jesus were invited to a wedding at Cana, and they run out of wine. On Mary’s request, Jesus turns the filled jars of water into the best of the house wine. He also reminds Mary that His time had not yet come.
Casting Out Demons and Healing the Sick:
Jesus performed 35 such miracles where He healed the deaf, blind, lame, the demon-possessed, the sick, and impure. His miracles made the sick and possessed free from the impurities, and they could then enter the Temple again in consonance with the Jewish laws of the time! It reminds us that despite all our sins and impurities, we too can be healed by mere faith in Jesus Christ.
Stilling a Raging Storm:
Jesus was sleeping on one of His many trips across the Sea of Galilee. A huge storm strikes them and the disciples fearing that they would drown, wake Jesus up for help. He asks them why they were afraid and of such little faith. In another parable, He says if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you too can ask the tree to fall into the sea, and it would obey! All one needs is faith in Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ’s Resurrection:
This is the story of Easter where Christ rises from the dead on the third day and appears to His disciples. A story of promises fulfilled by Jesus Christ, for those with faith, offering them hope, everlasting life, and salvation.
4. The Easter Donkey’s story and the Easter Celebration
A very appropriate story for preschoolers is The Easter Donkey is a tale about Drupelet, the donkey. He is chosen to play the part of Jesus’ donkey for Palm Sunday celebrations. He is the witness of Jesus’ story from Palm Sunday to Easter, also called the story of Easter. Let us look at the main elements of this story. Now, this is the actual story of Holy Week you will tell your kids.
Lent is the forty days starting with Ash Wednesday when Christians fast and pray from Biblical days excluding the Sundays. The festival of Easter falls on the sixth Sunday during this period. It is also interesting to explain that Easter is always the first Sunday of the spring season, since people in olden times, followed the Jewish calendar, which depends on the lunar and solar cycles. The Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday when Jesus rode in on a donkey.
On Maundy Thursday, Jesus had His ‘Last Supper’ with the 12 Apostles. He knew that Judas Iscariot would betray Him. So during supper, Jesus washes and wipes the feet of the disciples (called the Pedilavium), breaks bread symbolising His body, and offers a sip of wine to them symbolising His blood. This explains why the Catholic churches follow this ceremony and also why Lent is a time of reflection if we have been untrue to our faith and Jesus Christ. Maundy means the Lord’s mandate to love one another.
Good Friday is the day Jesus was betrayed with a kiss by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane by identifying Him for a sum of thirty pieces of silver (Mathew 26:15). He was then led before Pontius Pilate who is forced to hand him over to the Jews to crucify even though he found Jesus innocent of charges. Jesus was beaten at least 39 times with a scourge of thorns, and medieval texts claim Jesus had at least 5,466 injuries! Then He carried the cross via Dolorosa to Mt. Golgotha outside Jerusalem and was crucified and died hanging on the cross around 3-4 pm. So why is it good? Because Jesus dies for our sins, and it is okay to cry. It is a sad day. But He rises on Easter!
Holy Saturday was the day when Jesus was buried in a tomb, and a big rock rolled across it. This is followed by Easter Sunday. Many Christians keep vigil and reflect on the fact that Christ rose from the dead at midnight. A paschal candle is lit outside the darkened church and carried in during the vigil.
Easter Sunday is the day Jesus’ disciples find his tomb untouched but His body missing. Jesus appears to the women and lets the world know He rose from the dead on the third day after the crucifixion, just as He had promised. Do take some time to read His Last Words in Luke 23:34, 43, John 19:26-30, where He forgives those who kill Him.
5. The Hare-Elephant Story and the 7-Last-Words of Jesus
The Hare and the Elephant story is also a very interesting readout. ‘Elephant’ was big, slow-thinking and full of pride. Hare showed Elephant his new pair of iron shoes. Elephant wanted the shoes very much, and Hare tricks him into wearing the shoes and standing on the fire. After much pain to get a unique pair of shoes, the Elephant has his feet burned and jumps out of the fire. That is why Elephants have flat feet and are so slow! This story is very interesting and helps children understand the virtues displayed by Jesus, who went through so much pain and carried his cross along the Way of the Cross.
The Way of the Cross:
- It starts with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36-41)
- He is then arrested by the Jews when Judas betrays Him. (Mark 14: 43-46)
- The Council of Elders or Sanhedrin condemns Jesus for saying He is the Son of God. (Luke 22: 66-71)
- Peter, the disciple, denies being with Jesus. (Matthew 26: 69-75)
- Jesus Christ is then led before Pontius Pilate. (Mark 15: 1-5, 15)
- Jesus is tortured with a crown of thorns and scourged. (John 19: 1-3)
- Jesus begins carrying His cross to be crucified. (John 19: 6, 15-17)
- Simon the Cyrenian helps Jesus carry the cross. (Mark 15: 21)
- The daughters of Jerusalem mourned and wailed for Jesus. (Luke 23: 27-31)
- The crucifixion of Jesus. (Luke 23: 33-34)
- Jesus’ reaction to the two thieves crucified with Him. (Luke 23: 39-43)
- Jesus speaks His last words to Mary. (John 19: 25-27).
- Jesus dies. (Luke 23: 44-46)
- Jesus is entombed by Joseph of Arimathea. (Matthew 27: 57-60)
One can also visit Jerusalem in Easter and walk the way of the Lord Jesus via Delarosa. Did you know that the city of Jerusalem has changed very much and many parts of this way are now underground? There are a lot of resources on the internet, which can virtually take you through these Stations of the Cross. Kids will enjoy the story more with a virtual visit to acquaint them with the setting of the story of Jesus, especially the story of Ron Wyatt’s discoveries of Noah’s Ark. His discoveries of other Biblically mentioned places can kindle deep faith in children.
May you have a trustful Holy Week, an enlightening Good Friday and a very Happy Easter! May you always walk in His light and tell His Easter stories. Even in these hard times and all your troubles, know that He will never forsake you and is in charge of everything.