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Countdown to Easter: Helping Kids Understand the Easter Story

Countdown to Easter and help your kids understand the Easter story with this simple and fun activity! Cute free printables are included!

Countdown to Easter Activity for Kids

Happy almost Easter! I am always looking for fun ways to prepare my kiddos for Easter each year, and this simple activity is one of their favorites.

This post is kind of nostalgic for me because it was one of the first printables posts I put together when I first started blogging way back in 2013! I thought the idea of the activity was cute, but the printables and photos were in definite need of an update. So I completely revamped everything and wanted to share the new version with you today!

If you have kids in your house and want to get them ready for Easter in a way that is easy and memorable, this Countdown to Easter Activity is for you!

Countdown to Easter Activity for Kids

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Have you ever noticed that we tend to do a whole lot to prepare our kids for Christmas and not nearly as much for Easter? It’s not hard to understand why: it’s a lot easier to talk about a cute baby in a manger surrounded by cuddly animals than it is to explain the crucifixion to a preschooler or elementary schooler.

Even so, I’ve always wanted my little guys to have an understanding of Easter beyond candy and a bunny, so I set out to create an activity to help them get excited about Easter while becoming more familiar with the Easter story.

When brainstorming about this activity, I thought about how much they loved their Advent calendar at Christmas time. They got excited about opening the little doors, reading the Bible verse, and, of course, getting their piece of chocolate.

I decided to create this countdown activity which begins on Palm Sunday and walks them through Holy Week, explaining the events that occurred. Each day includes a scripture verse, a relevant symbol, and a little treat.

Here’s how to put together the Countdown to Easter Activity:

Step 1- Gather your supplies.

Most of the supplies for this activity can be found around the house (or created using items you already own).

Supplies for Countdown to Easter Activity
  • Paper bags (I used white bags, but the brown lunch bag type would also work.)
  • Ribbon and Hole Punch or Stapler
  • Activity Guide, Including Printables with Day and Verse
  • Hershey’s Kisses (optional)
  • Palm Branches (Mine are leaves from faux flowers.)
  • Small LED Light or Tea Light
  • 30 Silver Coins
  • Basin and Cloth (I used mini mason jar and a small piece of fabric.)
  • Communion Cup and Bread (I used a small votive holder and crackers.)
  • Small Cross (I made one out of scrap wood shims.)
  • Torn Piece of Cloth

Step 2- Put together the Countdown to Easter activity.

Assembling the bags only takes a few minutes. I put each day’s symbol along with a few Hershey’s kisses inside each bag. Then I folded down the top of the bag, folded the circle printable in half, punched two holes, and used the ribbon to secure it.

Countdown to Easter Activity Bag

The activity guide lets you know what symbol to use each day, gives a passage to read (feel free to read it from your Bible, a children’s Bible, or just tell it in your own words, depending on the ages of your kiddos.), and includes a short explanation and some suggestions for getting your little ones involved.

I am also including the info below if that would be easier!

Day 1- Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Bag and Symbol

Symbol: Palm Branches

Verses: Luke 19:28-44 (also found in Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, and John 12:12-19)

Details: Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey to a warm welcome. The people are shouting, “Hosanna! (which means “Save now!”) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” They wave palm branches and lay their cloaks on the road for Jesus to ride over. They think Jesus has come to save them politically, not knowing that what he is about to do is even more important–redeeming the sin of the world.

Make It Memorable: This would be a great part of the Easter story for your kids to act out. As you read about the Triumphal Entry, have them wave palm branches, lay out their coats on the floor, and shout “Hosanna!”

Day 2- Monday

Monday Bag and Symbol

Symbol: LED Light or Tea Light

Verses: John 12:20-36

Details: After the Triumphal Entry, Jesus tells his disciples, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light…Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” (v. 35-36) Jesus had already declared, “I am the light of the world” in John 8:12 and challenged them to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
In his last days, Jesus encourages his disciples to soak up all of his “light” that they can while he is still there in person so they can carry it on when he is no longer with them.

Make It Memorable: Go into a room of your house that has no light and turn on the little light from their bag or a small flashlight. Talk about how a little light can illuminate a large part of the room, just as we can affect those around us by showing Jesus’ light in us. Come up with a way you can “be a light” to someone this week.

Day 3- Tuesday

Tuesday Bag and Symbol, Pieces of Silver

Symbol: 30 Pieces of Silver

Verses: Matthew 26:14-16 (also found in Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:1-6)

Details: Judas agrees to betray Jesus to the chief priests for thirty silver coins, thus setting into motion the plan to have Jesus arrested and eventually crucified.

Make It Memorable: Make it real for your kids by asking them what someone would have to give them in order for them to give up their mom or dad or someone else in their life who is important to them. Hopefully they conclude that no amount of money would be worth it!

Day 4- Wednesday

Wednesday Bag and Symbol, a basin and wash rag

Symbol: Basin and Wash Rag

Verses: John 13:1-17

Details: Washing guests’ feet was a job delegated to the lowest servant. Think about it: they only wore sandals, so their feet were exposed to everything, including mud, dust, animal droppings, and even raw sewage. No one wanted to be the foot-washer…can you blame them?!

By washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus, the only human who has ever been perfect, humbled himself to the lowest place and demonstrated that to be human was to serve others.

Make It Memorable: Get out a large bowl and cloth and wash your kids’ feet. If they want, they can also wash yours. Determine to try to serve one another, just as Jesus humbly served his disciples.

Day 5- Maundy Thursday

Maunday Thursday bag and symbol, communion cup and bread

Symbol: Communion Cup and Bread

Verses: Luke 22:7-23 (also Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26)

Details: “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, which means commandment, and refers to John 13:34 where Jesus commands his disciples to love one another. During the Passover meal, Jesus breaks the bread and tells his disciples, “This is my body given for you,” and the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

The parallels here are undeniable. They are sitting here celebrating the Passover, a feast to remember when God protected the Israelites during the final plague in Egypt (Exodus 11 & 12) by having them slaughter a lamb and paint the lamb’s blood on the sides and top of their doorframes so that they would be “passed over,” and their firstborn son would survive.

In the same way, Jesus’ blood is about to be shed so that all who believe in Him are “passed over,” spared from an eternity separated from God.

Make It Memorable: Have crackers and grape juice for a snack today and be thankful to Jesus for all that he has done for us.

Day 6- Good Friday

Good Friday Bag and Symbol, a cross

Symbol: Cross

Verses: Mark 14:43-15:32 (also found in Matthew 26:47-27:44, Luke 22:47-23:43, John 18:1-19:27)

Details: Good Friday commemorates the death of Jesus on the cross.  You may want to go into more or less detail about the crucifixion, depending on the ages of your children.

Make It Memorable: Make a crown of thorns out of play doh and some tooth picks. Talk about the fact that Jesus was willing to endure all of that pain and eventually death in order to save us.

Day 7- Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday Bag and Symbol, a ripped cloth

Symbol: Ripped Cloth

Verses: Mark 15:33-47 (also found in Matthew 27:45-61, Luke 23:44-56)

Details: After Jesus breathed his last breath, the curtain of the temple, which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple, was torn in two. Previously, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies into the presence of God once a year; the curtain denoted a separation between God and men.

Now that Jesus had given himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, there was no longer that separation. We can access God directly because Christ erased our sins when he died for us.

Make It Memorable: Hold up a sheet between you and your child, showing how people were formerly separated from God. Then drop the sheet so they can see how freely we can come to God because of Jesus.

Day 8- Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday Bag

Symbol: Empty Bag

Verses: John 20:1-18 (also found in Matthew 27:62-28:10, Mark 16:1-19, Luke 24:1-12)

Details: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Because Jesus left the tomb empty and conquered death, we can live for eternity in Heaven!

Make It Memorable: Go to church with your family and celebrate!

Are you still with me?! I know that was a lot! Just one final step…

Step 3- Display the Countdown to Easter bags in a place where your kids will see them often.

Countdown to Easter Activity Bags Displayed in Living Room

I put ours on the shelves of the entertainment center in our living room. They’ve been up for several days already, so the boys are getting excited to start opening them when Palm Sunday rolls around!

I hope this activity has given you some ideas about how to prepare your little ones for Easter. If you haven’t yet, you can grab the Countdown to Easter Activity Guide here.

I am looking forward to going through Holy Week with my boys and seeing their reaction to each of the days!

Easter Activity Bags Lined Up in a Row

What activities do you use to prepare your kids for Easter? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

If you want to save this activity to come back to later, be sure to pin this image:

Countdown to Easter Activity for Kids with Free Printables

Thank you so much for following along! Happy Easter!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Easter Activity for Kids

45 Comments

  1. I love this so much!! I was just thinking about wanting to do something like this. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Megan! I’m hoping the C’s will enjoy it! Thank you for reading!

      ~Abby =)

  2. Wow! This is seriously so awesome! I don’t have kids yet, but I have thought before about how I would decorate for Easter. Would I use eggs and bunnies? Probably not – that doesn’t really have anything to do with why we celebrate Easter. I love this idea and all the teaching possibilities! Thanks for sharing, Abby!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you, Ashley! It’s always a challenge to keep the real reason for Easter at the forefront, but I’m hoping this will help! Thanks for reading!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Martha Dranzik says:

    This is a really creative idea, Abby. Love it! Even though Ben is quite a bit older than your boys, I think he will enjoy the idea. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you, Martha! I hope Ben has fun with it, too! Hope you guys are doing well!

      ~Abby =)

  4. katiegolds says:

    What a fantastic way to count-down and help the kids remember what the season is all about! Thanks so much for sharing it at Monday Funday!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much, Katie! I’m so glad you popped over from Monday Funday!!

      ~Abby =)

  5. Lydia Schmitt says:

    I love this idea! I have to share it. What a wonderful way to share what Easter is all about!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you so much, Lydia! It was fun putting it together! Thanks for reading!

      ~Abby =)

  6. Mariel @ Or so she says... says:

    So great! Thanks for linking it up on ‘Or so she says…’. I’ll actually be featuring it over the weekend. Stop back, check it out, and share some more! Have a great night. 🙂

    Mariel @ Or so she says…
    http://www.oneshetwoshe.com

    1. abbylawson says:

      Miss Mariel, you just made my day!! Thank you so very much for choosing my project– I’m honored! Have a great weekend!

      ~Abby =)

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  8. I am so glad to find this. It is so good, that it made me cry. Thank you. ~ C

    1. abbylawson says:

      Aww, thank you, Christie!

      ~Abby =)

  9. Julie Lambert says:

    Hi Abby. We are a Christian family too and celebrate the Easter week with our two children. It’s hard to sidestep all the fluffy bunnies and chocolate in the weeks before Easter Sunday!!! So I absolutely love this idea for a countdown to Easter retelling the Easter story! Well done! Your boys are very lucky to have you as a mama! x

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you so much, Julie! It certainly is a challenge to keep them focused on the real meaning of Easter. I’m hoping this helps! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Blessings! says:

    Hello. I posted about this on my blog and linked back to you so I thought I would let you know. *smile* I really like this idea, thank you very much for sharing it. Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much! I’m honored! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  11. I’m a Family Life Minister at my church and would love to share this idea with my families! If I give you and your blog credit, may I share the PDF for this project?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Absolutely! That’s what it’s here for! Thanks so much for checking out my blog, Abi!

      ~Abby =)

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  13. This is Amazing!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. This is so cool!! My kids would love this. And it’s so true… it’s hard to explain the crucifixion to a 4 year old, but it is so important! Thank you for sharing this fantastic idea~

  15. This is GREAT! I have been looking for something like this! It is so hard to find activities like this to explain Easter, and I want to make it special for the kids and not just focus on the commercial part. While they are great, its not the real reason we celebrate. We have so much to be thankful for because of Jesus! <3

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  18. This is incredibly awesome! I’d love to share the idea in my church. But – I’m from Finland. Would it be ok if I translated this and linked it back to you, with all possible credits and thanks going to you? 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Absolutely! Glad it will be helpful, Nana! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Thank you so much! 🙂

  19. Marilyn Adutwum says:

    This is very cute!. I am going to try something similar with my dear ones.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Marilyn! Happy Friday!

      ~Abby =)

  20. Lindsay Heidbrink says:

    Thank you so much for this Easter advent calendar guide! I made some modifications here and there but relied heavily on what you supplied, I’m so excited to do this next week with my kiddos! I have three aged 4 and under and I love sharing the gospel with them in fun ways that are easier for them to understand 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful for you, Lindsay! Have a wonderful Easter with your kiddos! <3

      ~Abby =)

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thanks so much, sweet friend! Hope you have a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  21. Crystal Young says:

    What an exceptional idea!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thanks so much, Crystal! Hope you have a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  22. This is incredible! Thank you so much! I am going to do this for my grandchildren!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      So glad it will be helpful! Enjoy Easter with your grandchildren! <3

      ~Abby =)

  23. Hi Abby,

    I actually used this idea with teens, aged 16 and 19. It was a fun way to review the easter story over Holy Week. We read the scriptures for the day together, opened the bag and talked about the significance of the items. We also did a quick review of the previous days so we could understand the series of events Jesus went through. Thanks for this resource.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Awesome! So glad to know it was helpful with your order kiddos too! Thanks for sharing, Amber. Hope you’re having a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  24. Thank you so much for this fun Holy Week worth of activities and scripture. I can tell that it certainly helps my 3 and 5 year old grasp the stories. Thank you !! I so appreciate it

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      I’m so glad! Have a wonderful Easter, Lindsey!

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