Countdown to Easter and help your kids understand the Easter story with this simple and fun activity! Cute free printables are included!
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).
- 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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:
Thank you so much for following along! Happy Easter!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.