Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Mystery of Easter

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to The Mystery of Easter, our lesson for February 19.

This lesson gives us a wonderful way to help the children remember that Easter "turns everything inside out and upside down" and that as we enter Lent and study each Sunday who Jesus grew to be, we should be on the lookout for God to show us unexpected things. The Mystery of Easter reminds us that Easter, as our faith's biggest celebration, is full of God's mystery and joyful surprise.

Though it doesn't focus on a particular Bible story, I think it's worth giving this lesson a whole Sunday morning because it both signals to the children that Lent is beginning and reminds the kids what Lent is all about. When we announce Lent and usher it in, we allow the children to realize what an important time it is--and hopefully they'll wonder what they can do to make it special to them.

A great way to begin this lesson is by changing the color of the felt underlay underneath the holy family to purple, since this is the First Sunday of Lent. This also segues well into the lesson script, "Now is the time for the color purple..."

Ideas for the Make A Gift For God Time

Projects to Last Through Lent
I love the idea of individual or class projects that can be added to and worked on over the entire Lent period, allowing kids to go back to them each week as they like, in addition to any other projects they want to do on  a certain Sunday.

Here are two ideas for the whole season of Lent that I hope you might consider:
1. A Cross, with blocks to illustrate each week's lesson about Jesus

You could do this many different ways.

What I did here is to take the biggest construction paper we have ( 12" x 18", I think) and made a pattern of a cross, which looks uneven because the copier cut the top off. Sorry! Then I sectioned it off into blocks. The kids could make their illustrations on squares of white paper the same size of the squares and glue them on, or they could draw directly on the cross. I would suggest they use the white paper, so they don't have the urge to throw the whole thing away if they make a mistake or are unhappy with one block.

The words are just to show you where you might put the different lessons. The children could choose to write captions or not.

It would be really cool if the crosses could be in purple, and then on Easter they could make one illustration on a matching white cross and glue it to the other side. Then it would remind them of this particular lesson.

2. A Jesus Tree.
You might have heard of a Jesse tree, like this one here, sort of like our Chrismon tree which we use to celebrate advent.
For Lent, why not make a Jesus Tree, with ornaments representing our lessons as we get closer to Easter? It could be made from real branches in a pot of something like plaster of paris --or even just bricks- to keep it from falling over. Each weeks the kids could make ornaments for the class tree. (Or they could make one for the class tree and one for a tree at home.)
Want to look at an example? Check this one out.  Or this one, which is done two dimensionally as a banner, not with real branches. 

Here's some photos of the Jesus trees I'm making for some of our Sunday school classes. Keep in mind that yours can be smaller. I kind of got carried away!
First head to the woods and collect stray branches. February seems to be a great time to find them. As you can tell, I found more than enough!
Then find a container and make a grid with tape. Then start inserting your branches.

Once your tree is the size you like it (or you get carried away as I did and lose all perspective and make trees so large that only 2 at a time will fit in your van...) prepare the plaster of paris. It takes 2 parts plaster  to 1 part water. (For each of my containers I think I used about 2 cups water and 4 cups plaster.) Pour the water in a container first and then add the plaster and stir with a stick until smooth. Then pour into your tree's container. You can see that I got a little messy.

It sets up quickly but I recommend letting it set overnight before transporting it.

You can paint the tree white if you like or leave it as is.
I painted mine lightly. 
Now, the trees are only important because of the ornaments they display showing the life of Christ.

See examples of ornaments here and here and here.
If children need help thinking of what to make for their ornaments, here are some suggestions:

Feb 19, The Mystery of Easter: A cross
Feb 26, Jesus' Birth and Growth and Presentation in Temple: Doves, Manger, Holy Family, shepherds, angels, kings, donkey, etc
March 4, Jesus Lost and Found: scrolls, Temple, Mary and Joseph
March 11, Baptism and Blessing: doves, Jesus himself in the water, John the Baptist
March 18, Desert Experience: Bread, stones, an angel, mountains
March 25,Jesus as a healer and parable maker: person being healed, Jesus's hands, anything from the parables-bread, shepherd, mustard seed, the Good Samaritan, pearl, seed packets
April 1, Jesus Offers Bread and the Cup: chalice, bread, palms, table
April 8, Easter: Children could make a cross out of white construction paper and make it beautiful with illustrations or cut out pictures of flowers from magazines and glue it to the back of their cross. If they wanted to make ornaments for the Jesus tree, they could make crosses, or the stone from the tomb, or Easter Eggs. (Come to think of it, this would be a great time to do the Romanian eggs--or any kind!)

Projects Just for This Sunday

Children could make crosses.
Here are two kinds:
1. Mosaic Cross. Cut a cross from fun foam and then cut bits of fun foam of other colors to glue on the cross to create a mosaic effect.

2. Stained Glass Cross:
Using a pattern, have the kids cut two identical cross shapes from waxed paper. Then use a plastic knife and scrape old crayons into shavings of various colors. Spread the crayons on one of the wax paper crosses.  Then place the second waxed paper cross on top. Have an adult use a warm iron to press the two pieces of waxed paper together. Attach a hanger and hang in the sun!

3. Make a "Magic Cross" as shown here.

Hope this helps you. Enjoy!

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