Even at a young age, children can easily understand the facts of an empty tomb. Yet, teaching children what the facts of the Resurrection mean for daily life is a little more challenging.
Before Easter, I fell in love with this object lesson by Oh Amanda based on Ezekiel 36: 26. She had her children fill their Easter baskets with rocks (representing our sins), and then she replaced the rocks later with gifts (representing the gift of salvation).
So as a post-Easter activity, I revamped her idea to help my kids understand why we celebrate the Resurrection.
First, we read Ezekiel 36:25-26. I asked the boys to raise their hands when they heard me say the word ‘heart.’
“I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh…”
Then I gave each boy a small stone. (Before we started, I used paint pens to draw a heart on each rock, but you could instruct older children to paint their own as part of the activity.)
What does a heart of stone look like?
I wanted my boys to be able to describe a heart of stone, so we answered these two questions:
- Is your rock hard or soft?
Hard! A heart of stone is hardened by sins. Ezekiel says a heart of stone is full of sins (filthiness).
- Is your rock bendable?
Can you bend your rock? No! No matter how hard you press, it says the same shape! A heart of stone doesn’t do what God says or wants, it only does what it wants to do. Ezekiel says a heart of stone is full of idols & self-love.
We observed that all of us have hearts of stone. So, I let each boy write his name on their heart. (Oh Amanda had her children write specific sins or problems they struggle with. I love this idea for older children).
Next, we re-read Ezekiel 36: 26. I told them to listen for the ‘good news.’
“I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
They didn’t understand the ‘good news’ the first time. So, I explained that when Jesus died on the cross and rose again, all those who trust in him are given a gift!
I asked the boys to close their eyes and listen really hard to the verse again. Then I asked, what does God do?
(When their eyes were closed, I switched the rock with a small container of playdoh).
The boys both answered that God gives us a heart of flesh. When they opened their eyes to their gift they were excited. I told them to open their containers and shape a heart out of their playdoh.
As we worked, I repeated the gift we receive from Jesus’ death and resurrection – a new heart that is made out of flesh.
What does a heart of flesh look like?
I asked the boys to describe the heart of flesh (I asked the same questions we used to describe our stony hearts):
- Is your playdoh heart hard or soft?
It’s soft. Our new heart is able to LOVE like Jesus loved when he gave his life for us. We laughed over the thought of a hard hug from a rock!
- Is your playdoh heart bendable?
Yes! We agreed we could make any shape out of our playdoh! God can use our new soft hearts to shape us into whatever he wants. Our new hearts are able to obey God like Jesus obeyed when he died for the world!
27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
After reading Ezekiel 36:27, we repeated our main truths:
- Our old hearts are like hard rocks – full of sin, dirty, and disobedient.
- Our new hearts are like Jesus – loving and ready to obey with the Spirit’s help!
What happened when Jesus rose from the dead? He gave us a new heart! And until he comes again, he has given his Spirit to help us love and obey him.
To close, I had the boys shape their playdoh into a cross, but you could ask the kids to team up to make a tomb and stone as well.
I hope this lesson helps you lead your child into the glorious truths of the Resurrection and what it means for their everyday life.
For some more ideas, check out these great posts on the meaning of the Resurrection from some of my favorite sites:
Our Un-Easter Baskets (The original post by Oh Amanda on using rocks to illustrate Ezek. 36)
Because of Easter…I am reconciled (A great series starting this week over at Desiring Virtue on the meaning of Easter).
Easter Reading Picks (An extensive list of Easter-centered picture books for children by Redeemed Reader. I bought several off this list for my kiddos Easter baskets – including The Prince’s Poison Cup.)
Our Sins Nailed to the Cross (An vivid object lesson on forgiveness by Christina of To Show Them Jesus.)
I hope everyone had a wonderful Resurrection Day! What are you continuing to do all year long to lead your children into the truths of the Resurrection? Share your ideas!