Friday, April 18, 2014

An Easter Lesson for Young Children

My husband and I were officially called and sustained by members of our church congregation last Sunday to be in charge of the Nursery in our ward.

The Nursery is a class  in our Primary organization that teaches and cares for the children of our congregation that are ages 18 months to 3 years of age.

Our ward already had a GREAT Nursery in place. They haven't had leaders in months, but the workers have worked hard to maintain the structure that the previous Nursery Leaders implemented. The only thing that our Bishopric felt was lacking and asked us to pray about changing was the implementation of a short gospel lesson for the little ones so they can start learning and having gospel principles reinforced by more than just what they get from their parents at home. We absolutely agreed that this needed to happen and made a plan to make it happen.

I still need to get the Nursery workers' names and phone numbers so we can start a lesson rotation, but was very excited and happy to come up with a lesson plan for this Sunday. I was planning on starting with lesson one of the manual that the church has published for use in the Nursery class, but, realizing it was Easter, decided to start with one of the supplementary lessons for Easter. I liked certain ideas from the lesson but after praying felt strongly that the most important part of the lesson that needed to be conveyed was the Easter story and WHY we celebrate Easter.

Having had education classes for elementary and pre-K students, I knew that the lesson had to be presented in a hands on way that would keep their attention. What better way than telling the story in a simplified version with a story board and allowing the kids to take turns adding characters to the story?

I searched the internet for Easter clip art to use and came up feeling wanting...I just couldn't find pictures that I felt were worth printing. So...I decided to draw upon my strengths and do something I haven't done in AGES...I decided to freehand some of my favorite artwork inspired by the Precious Moments universe.  I haven't had a chance to draw anything like this in a while, and while it was difficult with two toddlers running around, I found time to write my story, poem, draw characters to be added to the board and create the board.

Since I went to all this work, I decided it would be worth sharing...Maybe you're preparing your lesson for a group of small children for Easter Sunday? Maybe you're trying to find a fun way to present Easter and the concept of the Risen Christ to your small children in a way that involves the bible but doesn't leave their minds to wander?  Well, my work may very well be your gain.

I am going to attach the text for the story/poem that I wrote to use and the jpg files of the characters. I drew a large tomb on a piece of poster board (I am attaching a picture of the poster board for you to see) as the background for the story. If you don't have art skills the Behold Your Little Ones lesson manual has a jpg you can print. It won't be large, but I'm sure you could blow it up somehow and glue it to the board to use as part of your lesson. The link for that can be found HERE . Also, I didn't freehand a Precious Moments version of Christ. I have a 5x7 picture of Christ that I am opting to use instead, so you will need to find an image of Christ you'd like to use. Fortunately, the Behold your Little Ones link also provides a drawing of Christ that you can print out.

Here is the story/poem:

Three days after Jesus died, Mary, one of Jesus’ friends, and her friends went to his tomb to finish cleaning his body.
Two angels were there. They had moved the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. They said that Jesus wasn’t there, he had risen.
Mary’s friends left, but Mary was very sad that Jesus’ body was gone and didn’t know if she could believe he was really alive.  She started to look for Jesus all around the garden where the tomb was.
The sun was shining in the sky, but where was Jesus?
The clouds were floating way up high, but where was Jesus?
The trees were towering in the sky, but where was Jesus?
The butterflies were flying by, but where was Jesus?
The flowers were growing from the ground, but where was Jesus?
The bees were buzzing all around, but where was Jesus?
The birds were singing in the trees, but where was Jesus?
The squirrels were chasing around the bees, but where was Jesus?
Let’s all look to see if we can help Mary find Jesus!
(after the kids look for a while have one of the nursery leaders pull Jesus from behind their backs and hold him up, bringing him up front)
Mary didn’t know it was Jesus at first. She thought it was a gardener and asked him where Jesus’ body was so she could take him back to his tomb. Jesus finally said her name, and she recognized his voice
(Nursery worker)Mary. (put Jesus on the board)
The prophecies had come true. He was alive! He had been resurrected.
Mary fell to her knees and cried because she was so happy.
Because Jesus died for us, we can be forgiven of our sins and because He was resurrected, we ALL get to be resurrected after we die and live with Heavenly Father again in heaven. That is why we celebrate Easter.
That should make us all happy too!

and here are the jpgs of my freehand drawings. (P.S. Decided AFTER I colored them that I was going to upload this to the blog...I promise, I'm not trying to kill your color ink supply. If I decide to upload anything like this again, I will remember to wait to color it in until I've copied the drawings.)

 Here is a jpg of the board that I drew. You may be able to print this off and use it...but if not, I gave you another option above. :)

And, finally, what the board COULD look like after the kids have finished adding the characters to it.

 We have a LARGE nursery class (17 kids that are in our ward boundaries and several visitors weekly) You can choose to use as many or few of the board characters as you'd like.  I just wanted to be sure that we would have enough for every child in the Nursery to be able to have a part in putting the picture together.

And...there you have it. 

I know Christ lives. I know he suffered for me and by His grace, we are freed from the weight of our sins as long as we are willing to repent and draw nearer to Him. I know that He gave us the perfect example of how to live our lives and that if we draw upon His example and work to become more like him, we will slowly but surely be perfected.  I know that because He lives we will live again, and through our works, will have the opportunity to dwell in His presence and the presence of our Father in Heaven, that we will become as they are: Gods with a perfect knowledge of the eternities. I know Christ loves us. I know God loves us. I know that they want us to return to them and that Christ wants to share His inheritance of eternal life with us. All we need to do is open the door. He is knocking. Let Him in.

Happy Easter.

Hugs and Loves until next time, darlings.

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