Engaging the Easter story with play — Weekly Christian ed lesson

On Easter morning, we’re encouraging caregivers and children to "play" through the Easter story at home.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Lesson background

During Advent, many of us put out a nativity scene to remember and honor Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day. This year we encouraged children to use their family’s nativity set or to create one of their own to “play” with the Christmas story at home on Christmas morning. On Easter morning, we’re encouraging you to do the same. Since most families do not display a set of Easter figurines, we’re including a downloadable template for your children to make their own. It’s our hope that your children will develop a deeper connection to and understanding of the remarkable story of Jesus’ resurrection by imagining events surrounding this miraculous event.

You will need

  • A set of cut-out Easter story characters. You can download and print these templates on cardstock for your children to make their own. Alternatively, children can draw and cut out their own characters or they can use toy figurines they have at home. The Easter story (as told in the Gospel of John) includes these figures: Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, another disciple, two angels, and a risen Christ.
  • A Bible (NOTE: You may choose to share a retelling of the Easter story in a children’s Bible. The characters listed above are those who appear in John’s Gospel. If you read a version based on one of the other Gospels, the characters may not line up.)
  • A die (optional)

Ways to play with the Easter story

Explore the story of Jesus’ resurrection through one or more of these interactive activities.

  • Read aloud the story of Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:1-18) while your children move the figures around enacting the story. If your children are unfamiliar with the characters, spend some time introducing each figure before you tell the story.
  • Using Legos or some other set of building blocks, create a “set” for the scene. Discuss what the setting would have looked like. How would it be different if the story took place today?
  • Ask your children to pair up different figures from the story. Imagine conversations the two characters might have with one another. For instance, what would a conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter be like? How would Simon Peter react to Jesus’ resurrection? Some pairings you might like to try include:
    • An angel and Jesus
    • Jesus and Simon Peter
    • The other disciple and an angel
    • Mary Magdalene and an angel 
  • The story ends with Mary Magdalene telling the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” Imagine conversations between the disciples after Mary shares this shocking news. What would the other disciples say? How would they react? Would they believe Mary? Why or why not? 
  • Have each of the characters retell the story from their perspective. How would Simon Peter tell this story? How would the angels share it? What would Jesus say if he was telling the story? Compare the different versions.