Sunday, March 29, 2015

An Easter Hunt With a Twist!

I wrote this last year just in time for Easter. I had planned to have it published a couple of weeks ago, but life got in the way of blogging. However, it's been popular on Pinterest, and I believe it's an idea worth thinking about and adapting for your family, Sunday School class, or children's ministry. I'm hoping to do it with my grandchildren again. --Sharon


When my husband and I had the opportunity to to go to Russia for ministry, I began reading about the country, it's people, and their traditional faith. One thing that fascinated me was the Russian Orthodox Easter service. 

From what I understand, at some point during the early Easter morning service, everyone files out of the church following the priest. They walk around the church. When they come back, the doors are closed. The priest knocks on the door. An altar boy is inside and opens the door and says, "He is not here, He is risen!" And everyone answers, "He is risen!" 

It gives me tingles to think about it. I would love to organize an Easter service like that! I guess that is part of my inspiration for this fun and meaningful Easter Hunt I made up for my grandchildren.


Perhaps you could call it "The Hunt for the Meaning of Easter" or "The Better Kind of Easter Hunt" or simply "The Easter Story Hunt".

I did this with my grandchildren last year. I had as much fun thinking about this and planning it as they had doing it. Here's how I did it.

Gather:

  • 4 very large plastic eggs, or medium sized Easter gift bags
  • a boot-size (or larger) box with lid
  • green tissue paper or one of those disposable plastic green tablecloths (that's what I used)
  • Fig Newtons (enough for each child to have at least one)
  • Small bread rolls and boxes of grape juice (one of each for each child)
  • Two boards nailed together to form a cross, two or three more nails, a hammer
  • an old sheet or rag torn into a long strip
  • a favorite stuffed animal
  • 3x5 cards or computer printed cards
Printables for the cards can be found here.

Once I had all the supplies, I put the Hunt together into the Easter gift bags.
Bag 1:  One folded piece of green tissue paper or pieces of tablecloth cut into large "palm leaves" --one for each child and one for me
On one side, the card in this one said: When Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey the people were excited and waved palm branches and shouted, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" Hosanna means 'Save us'. Why don't you pretend Jesus is coming? Wave your palm leaf and shout!
On the other side: The next item will be found ______. (My grandchildren are very small, so I told them exactly where to look. If your children are old, you can give them clues so they have to hunt.)


Bag 2: Fig Newtons for everyone
Side one of the card: A fig is a fruit that grows in hot climates. Jesus used a fig tree to teach His disciples a lesson. You can eat your Fig Newton while I read you the story--One day Jesus was hungry and saw a fig tree. He looked to see if there was fruit on it, but there was none, so He said, 'This tree will never again have fruit.' The next time Jesus and His disciples passed the tree, it was withered up and dead! The disciples were surprised. They asked Jesus about it and He told them, "Have faith in God. Whatever you ask of God He will do for you, even if it is hard, like forgiving someone." We know this was important because it was one of the last lessons Jesus taught His disciples.
Side Two: The next part of our Easter Hunt can be found _______.

Bag 3: Bread rolls and juice boxes
Side One: At the last meal Jesus had with His disciples before He died He gave them bread to eat and said, "This bread is to remind you of my body that will die for you." Then He gave them juice from grapes and said, "This drink will remind you of how I shed my blood for you. Remember Me." Eat your piece of bread and drink the grape juice and remember that Jesus loves you.
Side Two: The next clue can be found ___________.


Bag 4: The wooden cross with nails pounded part way in where the hands and feet would go and a hammer.
Side One: Soon after this all the people who had been so excited to see Jesus on Palm Sunday, were talked into asking their ruler to kill Him on a cross. Nails were pounded into Jesus' hands and feet. It sounds awful, and it was, but God had a reason for this. When Jesus died, He was paying what we should have paid. It should have been us, dying for our own sins, but God let Jesus pay for them so we could go to heaven if we would believe on Jesus. Can you pound the nail into the cross and think about how much it must have hurt Jesus to pay for our sins?
Side Two: Go find _(name of favorite stuffed animal)_ and then look for the next part of the hunt in a box in ___________.


Box: cloth strip(s)
Side One: When Jesus had died, they took His body and wrapped it in strips of cloth and put it in a tomb. Everyone was very sad. They had thought Jesus was going to be their Savior, but now He was dead.
   Wrap _(stuffed animal) _ in the strips of cloth and put him in the box. Then put the lid on the box. Do you feel sad to think of _(stuffed animal)_ in the box? Remember, Jesus' friends were very sad, too. But there was something very good that they didn't know! It happened three days later. Run around the house three times to pretend like three days have passed.


Unless your children are old enough to run around your house alone, while you are running with the children, you need an accomplice to take the stuffed animal out of the bag and place him in a prominent spot nearby, fold up the cloth strips neatly, and place this note on top of them.




Celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive with your kids! Cheer and clap and jump up and down. Hug the stuffed animal and hug each other. Tell them this is the true meaning of Easter.


Links for Printables

For more ideas on how to bring the true meaning of Easter to your family in a fun way click here.




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Thursday, March 12, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Trivia Questions



This year on St. Patrick's Day I'll be in San Francisco...and Dallas...and Cedar Rapids, Iowa...and, finally, home. I hope to get home around 1 a.m. if all the flights are on time, thanks to a miles ticket to get me from my mom's house (where I've been helping her sort and pack to get her house ready to sell) to home. So I won't be doing my own celebrating, despite the fact that my grandfather immigrated to this country from Ireland, in fact, from the very county where Patrick is buried! 



However, I'd love to help you celebrate the day with your family. 

I know that the world thinks this is a day to drink (green) beer or Guinness, but then the world pretty much thinks that any celebration requires drinking, even to the point of getting drunk, but I really can't imagine that's fun. It's so much more fun to laugh and talk and connect with the people we love.



So my St. Patrick's Day gift to you is St. Patrick's Day Trivia Questions in the form of printable cards. You can take turns asking these questions to your family or friends around your table on St. Patrick's Day.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!
And don't forget to wear green.





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Thursday, March 5, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Idea Round-Up

I love a celebration.

When my kids were little, I celebrated everything I could think of--George Washington's birthday, Groundhog's Day, Valentines, St. Patrick's day...and on and on. Since we lived overseas, far from extended family, we celebrate all their birthday with a cake, candles and a song on the day!

Celebrations create joy, happy memories, and--usually--dessert!


So why not celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year? It not only adds to the fun, but there's a missionary story involved that's worth letting your family in on.

Here are some ideas I've found:

Breakfast
For the Littles (and not so littles): Green Milk--Every year when my kids were at home, we would have cereal for breakfast on St. Patrick's Day. Since our milk came in bags, I always poured it into a ceramic old fashioned milk jug. On St. Patrick's day I added green food coloring. The first one to pour them milk was usually surprised! I had fun watching their reactions. As they got older, they knew to expect it, and my oldest son repeats it with his children now.

Grown-Up: Shamrock Eggs--I tried this and it actually works! It probably requires a grown-up palate, but my husband and I loved it!


Snack Time
For the Kids: Lucky Charms and Green Milk--My grandkids love eating little snacks where you pick up one at a time, so how about serving Lucky Charms cereal in a muffin cup (extra points if it's green!) along with milk (maybe green, too)?

Activities
For the FamilyLeprechaun Photo Shoot--With these printables your family will have as much fun as a barrel of leprechaun's taking pictures together!

For the Bigger Kids: A Treasure Hunt! --When my son was a freshman in high school we hosted a St. Patrick's Day party that included running all over the neighborhood for a treasure hunt. This link has pre-written clues for an indoor treasure hunt. If the weather is warm enough, you can have the kids go further abroad. The prize? A "pot" of gold (foil covered chocolate coins). 

For the Littles: Shamrock Stamping--even my young granddaughter had fun with this one! When my kids were little I had them paint shamrocks on the kitchen window for me. They had a great time and washable paint is so cleanable.


Devotions
For the Family: The True St. Patrick's Story--My daughter-in-law wrote this story to explain who the real St. Patrick was to her preschool class. It is one of my most popular pins on Pinterest! But I think it would work with any family for a change of pace family devotion.


I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day.
As they say in Iowa:

Kiss Me
I'm Iowish


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