Palm Sunday: Children can understand the joyful aspects of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.
- Have one palm branch for storytelling
- Each child must have something for waving during the procession, such as ribbons, crepe paper streamers or more palm branches. (They will be less likely to hit each other with streamers and ribbons than palms!)
- Have ready a cd player, a cd with appropriate music, or be prepared to lead the children in an appropriate song.
Jesus made many friends and taught even more people. When they heard he was coming to the great city of Jerusalem, a crowd of people went to meet him. They wanted to show their love and respect for him. One way was to wave something. They did this by cutting branches off trees. The trees were called palm trees and this is what a palm from a palm tree looks like. They waved the branches (wave the one you hold) and sang a song as Jesus, riding on a donkey, moved through the crowd.
Now let’s make our own procession, thinking of Jesus and how much we love him and he loves us.
Offer each child a palm branch, crepe paper streamer or long ribbon. Begin the music and lead a joyful procession around the room several times.
Holy Thursday: Young children can begin to understand the tremendous significance of the Eucharist.
- If possible, use a small table that children can gather around.
- Prepare the table so children will sense it represents reverence and a special event. (a tablecloth, small vase of flowers, lit candle if possible, etc.)
- Add a plate or basket containing a loaf of flat bread, such as pita.
- Add a clear glass, preferably a goblet with a small amount of wine or wine-colored juice.
Jesus and his friends met to have a special dinner together. Jesus knew that soon he would die. He wanted his friends and all people to remember him. He wanted all of us to know that he would always be close to us, even if we couldn’t see him.
At this dinner, there was bread on the table. (pick up the bread). Jesus said a thank-you prayer for the bread. Then he broke the bread (do so) and said, “Whenever you eat this bread, think of me.” On the table also was some wine. (pick up the wine/juice glass). Jesus said a thank-you prayer again. Then he said, “Whenever you drink the wine, remember me.”
When you are at Mass and people go up to receive the bread and wine of Communion, they are remembering Jesus and feeling close to him. Jesus is our friend who loves us all very much.
Good Friday: Children can appreciate the serious nature of this day through symbols.
- Choose a corner or space in your classroom that is out of the line of traffic or loud play.
- Place a small table there.
- Have ready a purple cloth, a plant, a stone (somewhat flat, about 2 inches big), and a simple cross.
Sometimes we get sad. There is one day in our Church when we are especially sad. It is the day that we remember that Jesus died. Today is that day. Even though we know Jesus came back to us after he died, we take a day to think about Jesus dying.
To help us think about this, we will make a quiet place in our room. (take children to the corner or space). We will use this cloth and plant to help us. (place the purple cloth on the table). Here is a cross. (put the stone on the table and then place the cross so the upper part rests on the stone).
Now we will sit here quietly and think of Jesus and be with our sad feelings for a few minutes.
Holy Saturday or Easter: As these two days are often filled with preparation and celebrations, incorporate the children’s experiences into knowledge of the symbols of Easter. In this way, they can develop a spiritual appreciation of the feast. It will be helpful to them in a few years when they are more capable of grappling with the death and Resurrection of Christ.
For now, simply point out the symbols and explain ‘what they help us think about.’
Children attending the Easter vigil will see the lighting of the Easter fire and candle, the blessing of the water, and participate in singing ‘Alleluia’ for the first time since Lent began:
Fire: We say Jesus is the “Light of the World” and on this holy night, the special fire helps us celebrate that.
Water: God gives us water so we can live. Water helps us think of the life and the love God gives us.
‘Alleluia’: This word means we are very, very happy. All during Lent, we do not say it until now, when we celebrate that Jesus with back with us again. Then we say it and sing it with greater joy than any other time!
Eggs: Eggs contain yellow yokes. The yoke helps us think of the sun. Without the sun, we cannot live. We say that Jesus is also the great Light. Eggs also give us new life—such as a little chick. At Easter, we celebrate the New Life that God gives each of us.
Lilies: People like to use lilies to remember that Jesus is with back with us again. These are beautiful flowers and help us make our church or home be lovely for Easter.