Easter is another holiday, like Christmas, that often gets muddled together with commercialism. Don’t get me wrong, I love egg hunts and Reese’s peanut butter eggs as much as the next person, but that is not the reason we celebrate.
With these Christ-centered Easter activities, young children – including babies – can participate in Holy Week and acknowledge the sacrifice Jesus made for us all.
Feel free to mix in some bunny and egg activities in addition to the religious ones.
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This Christ-centered sensory bin is full of the colors of Easter. According to Southern Living, these colors include purple, white, red, black, gold, green, and pink. Then tie in some items that represent their meanings and talk about them as the children explore.
For the base, I used purple paper shreds and black star confetti as both colors are prominent during the Lenten season. Add-ins include gold crosses, white faux lilies, green grass squares, pink rose petals, and red gems. I also include tongs, scoops, tweezers, spoons, and mini buckets.
Babies can explore the sensory items in a gallon size zip bag. The paper shreds will make crunching sounds as it is manipulated and they can have fun discovering shiny crosses and gems.
Jesus Removes our Sins
Bring a little science into the story of Easter!
For this activity, you will need at least one white carnation, red food coloring, warm water, and a small vase.
Fill the vase with warm water about an inch and a half from the top. Add a drop of red coloring for every sin the children come up with. Examples include hitting a friend or sibling, calling someone a bad name, or being rude to Mom and Dad. Use at least 15 drops.
Trim the end of the flower stem and place in the vase.
The white flower represents Jesus’ purity. Within a day or two, the children will find that the flower has absorbed the red of the sins and is turning colors. Explain that Jesus takes away the sins of the world.
Empty the vase of the red water and refill with clear, fresh water. Replace the now red flower and wait another day. The flower will turn back to white. This is Jesus removing our sins, as he did on Easter!
Christ-centered Easter activities for babies are few and far between. While they may not understand the concept of Holy Week, immersing them in the story of Christ from an early age can give them the foundation to have a spiritual life.
Purple Scarf Play
As previously mentioned, purple is one of the main colors of Lent, symbolizing penance and the royalty of Christ.
Present your littlest one with purple scarves or garments to explore. Talk about the textures or shades as well as the meaning of the color at Easter. Having conversations, even one sided, can foster verbal skills in babies.
The Path of Jesus
This activity is better suited for mobile infants, but feel free to carry younger babies along the path.
Simply create a roadway on the floor with masking or painters tape. Line the path with palm shapes, donkey toys, or purple items. Encourage babies to enter and stay on the trail. Cheer for them as the people cheered as Jesus entered Jerusalem. Allow them to stop and explore the things they see along the way.
Last Supper Play
Gather some bread, fish, and fruit from the play kitchen and sit down with your baby. Name the item and share it with them as Jesus shared himself. Allow them to explore the foods as you massage their little feet, similarly to how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
Optional: Read to them “The Easter Story” by Patricia A. Pingry.
For Toddlers and Preschoolers
Lamb of God
Another way to show that Jesus takes away our sins is by representing Him with a lamb, as God gave Jesus to us to die for our sins.
For this activity, draw out a basic outline of a lamb. Write the word ‘sin’ in various spots over the body.
Next, children can glue cotton balls onto the words to cover them or take them away as Jesus did for us.
If this is too easy for your preschooler, add additional words onto the body of the lamb that also represent Jesus. Words include joy, peace, love, etc. Work with them to recognize sin and challenge them to only cover that word, as we don’t want to take away love or joy.
Crown of Thorns
A symbol of the suffering Jesus endured for us, the crown of thorns is an important icon during Easter.
To make one, have the children roll out a thick ring of play dough. Toddlers may need help with this part. Provide a lot of toothpicks and allow the children to poke them into the dough to create the thorns. This helps build fine motor skills in addition to understanding the suffering of Jesus.
Identify how uncomfortable and painful it would be to wear if you feel it to be appropriate.
Break & Share
To represent the Last Supper, this activity offers a chance to break bread and share with others.
If you are in a group setting, sit everyone in a circle. Depending on how many people there are, pass out breadsticks to every other child or one for every 2 in your group. I found these yummy sticks at the dollar store.
Read the passage about the Last Supper and as Jesus breaks and offers his bread/body, have the child also break and share their breadstick.
Mini Prayer Garden
The Garden of Gethsemane is the place where Jesus went to pray the night before his crucifixion. With a range of materials, children can create their own special place to find solitude and pray.
- Tray or shallow pot
- Floral foam, clay, or play dough
- Base elements (moss, gravel, sand, etc)
- Floral picks and rocks
- Fairy garden elements (bench, path, etc)
To build, fill the bottom of the tray with the floral foam or clay.
Children can cover it with the base of their (or your) choice. We used two types of moss.
Next, they can poke in and arrange the picks and rocks how they would like and add in any elements to make their peaceful garden.
Find the Empty Tomb
This game can be played much like the shell game with cups and something to hide under them. I used little cross charms.
Instead of only hiding one item and trying to find it, hide the item under all the cups except for one. This will represent the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter.
Simple play can be achieved by using three cups and swapping them around to find the empty cup. To make it more challenging, place several cups around the room or yard and allow children to search for the empty one.
Resurrection Scavenger Hunt
Instead of, or maybe in addition to, an Easter egg hunt, try looking for elements of the Resurrection.
- Bread (from the play kitchen)
- Cloth to represent the shroud that covered Jesus’s body (I used a large coffee filter)
- Rock to represent the large stone closing the tomb
- Empty plastic egg to symbolize the empty tomb
After reading an Easter story such as “Lift-the-Flap Easter Stories for Young Children” by Andrew J. DeYoung, present the children with a list of items to be found. Toddlers may need one item revealed at a time. Send them off to search for the symbols of Easter that have been hidden. Talk about the importance of each item as they collect them.
Christ-Centered Easter Art
Welcoming Jesus on Palm Sunday
- Green, red, white construction paper
- Coloring utensils
Start by tracing both of the child’s hands on the green paper. Draw a heart on the red paper and write the word Jesus on the white. Cut out everything. Encourage preschoolers to do as much as they can without help.
I wrote the letters in block form and let the children color them. This can also be a letter forming activity by having them write over the white space.
To assemble, glue the bottom of the hands together.
Glue the heart onto the middle of the two hands.
Last, glue the word Jesus onto the heart.
You now have the children’s palms welcoming Jesus with love in their hearts!
Stained Glass Cross with Crayon Shavings
- Wax paper
- Old crayons
- Hand grater or crayon sharpener
- Construction paper
- An iron and an old towel
If you are comfortable with it, allow older children to grate the old crayons into shavings.
Present the shavings to the children and encourage them to place them onto the wax paper with a cross drawn onto it.
Cover the shavings with another piece of wax paper and the towel. Press a warm iron firmly onto the shaving covered area, checking often to see if they have melted.
Next, cut a cross frame from construction paper and attach with a stapler. For the size that we did, I was able to use a sheet of paper and fold it in half. Trim away any excess wax paper.
Hang in a sunny window!
- White construction or water color paper
- White crayon
- Water color paint with brushes
Start by writing a message or making a picture onto the white paper with the white crayon. Examples are “He is risen,” “Jesus Loves You,” a cross, or a heart.
Give the paper to the child and allow them to paint all over.
The paint will soak into the paper, but not where the crayon was used, revealing the message!
Easter Lily Painting
- Easter lilies (faux may work better here)
- Black paper
- White paint
This simple art project uses Easter lilies as a paint brush or stamp to bring purity, new beginnings, and hope to the darkness felt after Jesus’ death.
Three Cross Puffy Paint
- White glue
- Shaving cream
- Food coloring (yellow and red make a great sunrise!)
- White paper
- Black paper
- Paint brushes
First, you will need to mix the puffy paint. To make two colors, you will need two small bowls.
In each bowl pour in about ¼ cup of white glue and ¼ cup of shaving cream. You can make more or less depending on how many children you are working with. Just be sure to keep these two amounts equal.
In one bowl put in a few drops of yellow food coloring. In the other, put a few drops of red. Mix well.
Allow the children to use both colors to paint all over the white paper, focusing mostly on the top.
In the meantime, cut three crosses on a hill from the black paper.
When the children are done with their painting, allow them to place the silhouette on top and press it into any raised foam. Allow to dry fully before hanging.
Whether you choose to do all of these Christ-centered Easter activities or just one, I hope you have a blessed Easter!