At Home Family Easter Activity

Every year about this time, I like to share one of our Easter family traditions with other parents. Even though we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus every week, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of an occasion like Easter to reinforce important Bible lessons. (Likewise, you can do this activity with your kids any time – not just on Easter.)

(Since most of us have limited access to stores at the moment, this is posting earlier than normal to give you time to find egg whites or other ingredients you may need.)

Resurrection Cookies are a great way to review the story of Jesus’ death with your children. I got the recipe from one of my neighbors years ago and suspect it is one of those that has been passed around all over the country. I would love to credit the creator, but have no idea who that would be.

You will need a Bible, preferably an NIrV version for younger children. Preheat the oven to 300* and make sure it has reached 300* before you start cooking. Your bowl and beaters need to be grease free for this to work well. We have used pasteurized eggs (or the boxed egg whites) and they work fine, although it is more difficult to keep the yolk out of the whites. It is best to do this right before the children go to bed, but aren’t so sleepy they won’t enjoy it. It can take up to thirty minutes at night and about five or ten minutes the next morning.

For ingredients you will need: 1 cup of whole pecans, 1 teaspoon of vinegar (apple cider vinegar), 2 egg whites, 1 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. I am numbering each step with its scripture to make the recipe easier to follow with your children.

1. Read John 19:1-3. Place the pecans in a large baggie and seal it. As your children beat the pecans with a rolling pin, discuss how Jesus was beaten by the soldiers after his arrest.

2. Read John 19:28-30. Allow the children to smell the vinegar and taste it if they are brave enough! As the vinegar is placed in the bowl explain that when Jesus got thirsty on the cross and asked for something to drink, he was given vinegar.

3. Read John 10:10-11. Add egg whites to the vinegar. Explain to your children that eggs represent life. Discuss how by Jesus giving his life up on the cross, he gave us the hope of eternal life.

4. Read Luke 23:27. Sprinkle a little salt in each child’s hand. Let them taste it. Put a pinch in the bowl. The salt represents the tears of those who loved Jesus when they realized he was dead.

5. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16. Add the sugar. Tell your children that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because he loves us. He wants us to become Christians and spend eternity with him in Heaven.

6. Read John 3:1-3. Beat the mixture on high (stand mixers work best) for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed (when you turn off the mixer and lift the beaters it leaves stiff little mountain tops). Discuss with your children how the color white stands for purity. Jesus’ blood allows us the chance to be cleansed of our sins and be pure again.

7. Read Matthew 27:57-60. Fold in the pecans. (Optional ingredient, but still drop the mixture as indicated.) Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. Explain to your child that each mound represents the tomb where Jesus was laid.

8. Read Matthew 27:65-66. Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Let each child place a piece of tape on the oven door (or roll a large rock in front of it!). Explain how the soldiers sealed the tomb of Jesus.

9. Read John 16:20 and 22. As you send your children to bed, explain you know they may feel sad about leaving the cookies in the oven over night. Ask them if they can imagine how sad the followers of Jesus must have been when Jesus was sealed in the tomb.

10. Read Matthew 28:1-9. When your children wake up the next morning, allow them to open the oven and take out the cookies. Have them break open the cookie and see the empty air pocket. Remind them how surprised and excited the followers of Jesus must have been on that first Sunday morning after the cross when they found the empty tomb and realized Jesus was alive.

This is a fun reminder of the resurrection for any time of the year or you can make it an annual tradition. The goal is to create a memorable experience that will place the story of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection firmly in the minds and hearts of your children.

Using Board Games to Teach Character

There are a lot of different ways to help your kids develop godly character traits. Board games are a fun way to work with your kids on some specific character traits with which many children struggle. It’s important to remember though, whether you use board games or some other method, you want your kids to have godly hearts…not just godly actions.

As you play board games, you want to watch for the behaviors your kids display, for they often reveal a part of their heart. Remember though, that some kids have become very savvy. They know how to appear to be the most virtuous player ever…while also cheating or doing other ungodly things in secret.

In addition to behaviors, watch for the attitudes your kids are displaying. Are they revealing a godly heart or one that is still struggling with selfishness and other spiritual problems?

As you notice concerning behaviors and attitudes, you will have a decision to make. Some things need to be corrected in the moment. Other issues, particularly heart issues, you may choose to address in a heart to heart conversation at a later time. You will need to understand your kids’ personalities to know which methods will most likely result in their spiritual growth.

So what are some of the character traits you can work on with your kids while playing board games? Here’s a partial list. Bear in mind, that some games won’t help with certain character traits. Thinking about the possible game play in each game, however, should alert you to the traits for which that game may provide practice.

  • Patience
  • Perseverance
  • Honesty
  • Self control
  • Gentleness
  • Kindness
  • Joy
  • Humility
  • Love
  • Encouragement
  • Serving others
  • Goodness
  • Contentment
  • Decisiveness
  • Forgiveness
  • Wisdom

So pull out all of those old board games and have a family game night. Your kids may learn how to be more godly without even realizing it!

Fun Ways for Kids to Serve Neighbors During COVID 19

Your kids are probably homeschooling now, regardless of their regular school situation. Contact with others outside your home is strongly discouraged. In most places though, we are still allowed to walk in our neighborhoods and do things in our yards as long as we don’t come close to others.

Your kids can use this time to reflect God’s love to your neighbors. There are quite a few things they can do to serve and encourage the people nearby. Encourage them to be creative, but here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Chalk sidewalk art. Send a neighborhood email and offer for your kids to decorate the sidewalk near their mailbox or their driveway with colorful chalk drawings. Remind neighbors to stay inside while your children work. If you have public sidewalks in your neighborhood, most localities allow chalk drawings which will wash away in the next rain. Encourage your kids to come up with cheerful designs that point people to God in some way.
  • Mailbox art. Have your kids make works of art and tape them to the mailboxes of neighbors. Once again, encourage the use of cheerful colors and finding ways to incorporate scripture or point people to God in some way.
  • Encourage a neighborhood cheer project for the kids in your neighborhood. Have your kids make fliers and distribute them in your neighborhood. Encourage neighbors to put a specific type of object like a stuffed animal or a drawing of a giant Easter egg in the window of their home where it can be seen by children taking walks with their families. Encourage the families with small children to go on a “treasure hunt” to see how many of the chosen objects they can see in the windows of homes while they are walking with their parents.
  • Design work out stations. Have your kids design a special workout families can do at certain spots on their family walk in your neighborhood. Space the ideas far enough apart and make them quick enough so families don’t risk exposure to the germs of others. For example, draw a hopscotch board with chalk on a corner sidewalk and tell families to hop rather than walk that distance. Or at a certain landmark, jump up and down ten times. Be creative and distribute the ideas to everyone in your neighborhood digitally or otherwise.
  • Share Spring. If you have flowers or shrubs blooming in your yard, share them with those in your neighborhood who can’t get out at all. Have your kids decorate containers to put the flowers in with a little water. Then put them on a doorstep of a neighbor, ring the bell and run far enough away to not spread germs when your neighbor opens the door.
  • Offer weekly check in calls. Have neighbors sign up to receive a weekly video call from your family. Encourage your kids to come up with stories to tell, a song to sing or other things to fill the time after making sure the neighbor is fine.

There are so many ways your kids can use this time to be creative in the ways they serve others and share their faith without endangering themselves or others. Take advantage of the opportunity to teach your kids how God wants them to live their lives.

3 Easy Crafts to Help Your Kids Grow Spiritually

You probably have some basic supplies at home your kids can use to create crafts that will help them develop habits to encourage their spiritual growth. If you don’t have the materials listed, get creative and use what you have on hand.

Paper bags can substitute for regular paper. You can make natural dyes to substitute for paint using things like onion skins, hot water and vinegar (Just make the consistency much thicker than you might use to dye eggs.) Paint brushes can be made from attaching a pencil with a rubber band to things like a piece of sponge. Encourage your kids to look around and use their natural creativity.

Here are three great crafts to get your kids in the habit of doing things that will help them grow spiritually.

  • Prayer container. You can use any container, making sure there are no sharp edges or it’s unbreakable for younger children. Have them decorate the container by covering it in any decorative materials you have or let them get creative and use unusual items to decorate it. Then have them cut slips of paper that they can also decorate on one side. On each slip, have them write the name of someone they know. Place the slips of paper in the container. Encourage them to pray independently at one or more set times each day. Before they begin praying, they can draw some names to mention specially in their prayer. The activity can be adapted to include slips of paper with topics they can pray about if they are struggling with what to say to God. Have them place the completed prayer jar where they can see it and be reminded to pray.
  • Gratitude journal. Take a blank notebook or some card stock to create a cover and paper for the pages. Encourage them to decorate the cover with images of things for which they are grateful. On each inside page, they may choose to add a verse of scripture about being thankful and a border or small design. Encourage them to take a few minutes before bed each day and write down or draw three things for which they are especially grateful that day. Have them thank God specifically for those things in their evening prayer. They may want to place the completed journal next to their prayer container so they will remember to use it each day.
  • Bible bookmark. You can use a piece of card stock or the cardboard that often comes with clothing. Cut it to the size of a large bookmark. If you have crayons, have your child color various parts of the bookmark in different colors. Make sure they bare down, so the colors are vibrant. Once every part of the bookmark is randomly covered in color, have them color over the entire thing with a black crayon. The layer needs to be thick enough for a design to be etched in it. Encourage your kids to etch a design using a stylus, the handle of a spoon, a paper clip or something similar. Have them create a design that reminds them of God. They can “polish” the design using waxed paper or a plastic bag. You may want to cover the bookmark with clear tape (not cloudy) to protect it and the Bible. If you don’t have crayons, they can decorate their bookmark using homemade natural dyes and paintbrushes, markers, colored pencils or anything else you have in your home. If you have ribbon or yarn, your child can use a hole punch to punch a hole at the top of the bookmark and add the ribbon or yarn. Have them place the bookmark where they are reading in the Bible.

Have your kids make these crafts. Then encourage them to use them to get in the habits of praying, expressing gratitude to God and reading the Bible. They are habits that can help them stay strong spiritually for the rest of their lives.

Are You An Engaged Parent?

You’ve probably heard about all types of parenting styles. Some help children, while others hurt them. Unfortunately, many young people today are suffering because their parents aren’t truly engaged with them. Oh, they will swoop in and project manage their kids when they feel it’s necessary, but parents having a real relationship with their children is becoming increasingly rare.

Merely spending time at home with your kids is not necessarily the answer. You can be in the same room as your children for hours without any meaningful interaction. In fact, your children may feel more hurt because you aren’t even engaged with them when you are physically present. Your kids may feel as if you have a constant “Do not disturb” sign hung around your neck.

How do you know if you are truly engaged with your children or merely co-existing or project managing them? How would your kids answer these questions about your interactions with them?

  • When your child needs to get your attention, how long does it take you to notice and acknowledge them?
  • When your child has something important to share with you, how willing are you to put down whatever it is that your are doing and listen to them (fully)?
  • When your child is telling you a story or something that is important to them, do you actively listen by looking them in the eyes, making gestures and facial expressions that indicate your interest and asking appropriate questions?
  • Can you name your child’s friends and teachers?
  • Can you name several concerns your child has at the moment?
  • Do you know your child’s hopes for the near future?
  • Do you know your child’s dreams for the future?
  • Do you know what questions or doubts your child has about God, the Bible or Christianity?
  • Do you know how God has gifted your child to serve Him?
  • Do you know what one thing your child wishes you would do to help him or her navigate some aspect of his or her life?
  • Can you name one aspect of his or her spiritual life with which your child needs your help and guidance?

Why ask your child’s opinion of how you should answer these questions? Because often our perceptions of our behavior and attitudes are very different from that of the people we are impacting with our choices. You may think you are fully attentive, while your kids can’t remember the last time they felt as if they actually had your undivided attention.

So ask your kids to help you take this quiz. Then make any needed changes. Your kids need an engaged parent to help them grow to be the person God wants them to be.