Preparing children’s hearts for the agony, glory of Easter

Easter — the time each spring when we pause to remember Jesus’ agony and death, and celebrate His victorious resurrection — proves the very heart and foundation of our Christian faith. As parents and grandparents we can help spiritually prepare the hearts of our children for Easter in some simple, beautiful and creative ways.

Prayer is essential. Pray with your child regularly throughout each day. Teach children that conversation with God is essential to the Christian life. In the prayers ask God to help ready each child’s heart for Easter. 

Opportunities for prayer include:

In the morning. As your children are waking up ask God to protect them — body, mind, emotions and spirit — throughout the coming day.

At mealtime. Before eating breakfast pray your children will represent Christ that day in all their words and actions.

On the drive to school. Pray for teachers and classmates. Pray their minds will be focused on Christ and showing love to and compassion for everyone they meet.

After school and before supper. Take these afternoon and evening opportunities to pray for individual family members and friends, for their needs, safety, health and spiritual lives. Prayer walk your neighborhood. Showing love for others through intercessory prayers helps children understand Jesus’ command to love one another. 

Before bedtime. During the Easter season, take time to read  Easter-related Scriptures together and talk about what they mean. Before going to sleep and every time you share a quiet moment together say a “thank you” prayer to God. Remember to take time to sit still and listen as God speaks gentle whispers to your hearts. 

Once you have prayed for and with your children, consider these additional ways to prepare your children’s hearts for Easter: 

1. Read Easter-related Scripture: During Holy Week (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) read and focus on those Scriptures that describe the words, actions and events in Jesus’ life. Explain to your child what each Scripture means and what happened on that particular day (see ‘Holy Week,’ below).

2. Attend worship: Attend as many church and special services as possible during the Lenten season. After each service encourage children to retell what they learned about Jesus — His life, death and resurrection. 

3. Sing hymns: Before and/or after daily prayer times sing Easter hymns together, taking time to explain the hymn’s theology.

4. Read books: Find biblical, age-appropriate books on Easter for your children. Create special times when your family can read them together. 

5. Recount your Easter traditions and stories: Children love stories. Share meaningful stories of Easter from your childhood, describing older family members and significant Easter traditions. 

6. Engage in fun activities: Children love hands-on activities. Set aside time to dye eggs and write Scripture verses on each to read before meals. Or insert small symbols of Easter inside colorful plastic eggs and hide them. Allow children to find the eggs and then discuss what each symbol means.

Another good activity for young children is to make Scripture puppets with wooden popsicle sticks, pieces of fabric and markers. Encourage children to “perform” parts of the Easter story with their puppets.

Take advantage of sunny spring weather by planting an Easter garden. Prepare the soil, plant flower and/or herb seeds and keep the seeds watered. Talk with your children about how they also can plant “seeds” of Jesus’ resurrection in people’s hearts, introduce them to Christ and watch them grow in Him.

During this Easter season we have many teachable opportunities to help our children better understand Jesus’ love, life, death and resurrection. These moments help prepare young hearts to celebrate the victory of the resurrection, teaching them to love and trust the One who offers them a place forever in His family.


Holy Week Scripture readings

Palm Sunday

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:6–9). 

Holy Monday

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem (Matt. 21:10). 

Holy Tuesday

Jesus addresses false teachings as He speaks to the crowd (Matt. 23).

Holy Wednesday

Judas conspires with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus (Luke 22:1–6).

Maundy Thursday

Jesus and His disciples eat their last supper together (Luke 22:19). As a symbol of love Jesus washes His disciples’ feet (John 13:5). He also prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, is betrayed by Judas and is arrested (Luke 22:39–65).

Good Friday

Jesus is crucified on Golgotha (Mark 15:22–25). He dies on the cross, saying: “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46).

Holy Saturday

Jesus’ body is in the tomb, sealed and protected by guards (Matt. 27:57–66).

Easter Sunday

Jesus arises from the tomb — a victorious celebration of hope for all Christians (Matt. 28:1–10).

(Source: Denise George)