Introduction: Create an Easter Box – Observe the 40 Days of Lent With Children

Easter Sunday is the culmination and highlight of the faith of Christians. Ever wonder how to practice this? This most important observance and time leading up to this celebration gets overshadowed by other cultural traditions. Here's a creative alternative. The celebration actually starts with Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, 40 days earlier. Why not turn Easter into a time of anticipation and observance for longer than a day or weekend as you learn more about the story daily, for 40 days. It’s a great time of learning, teaching and interacting with this holiday, especially with children.

Step 1: Select Treasure Holder

1st Read through this entire instructable! Then, collect a treasure chest or small container for your objects. You may alter this as you collect objects depending on the size you choose. I have chosen to keep mine small as we often travel around this time of the year.  40 plastic eggs are another way to hold the treasures and then reuse them for an egg hunt on Easter Sunday. I live in a foreign country, and don't have easy access to these so I went with this little holder instead.

Step 2: Collect the Objects of Symbolism

2nd Collect the objects, preferably ones you already have that you are going to use to symbolize the scripture during the 40 days leading up to Easter. There are 40 ideas listed coinciding with the scripture below. Your creativity will make this uniquely you. I happened to have old pieces of jewelry and little charms that worked for most of my objects. The others I stole from our board games. You could also draw these, use stickers, or other objects. (Note: These days do not coincide with the days of the liturgical calendar because there is much more to say in the last 3 days – Good Friday thru Sunday - that I have chosen to spread out the story over the course of a week. Although feel free to modify.) As well, I chose small symbols so that they can be carried with me in my pocket throughout the day. Also, at the end of each day each object can be added to a treasure chest or hung on a small tree throughout the period of lent for remembering. I have young children so I chose all of these symbols for them ahead of time. Although I anticipate in doing this project together, my 4 year-old will want to choose his own along the way.

Step 3: Choose How to Interact With the Symbols Daily

3rd Decide how you want to display or interact with the objects daily. Collect another small jar or container. My intention is to daily add the object symbol and the coinciding scripture into the small closed container to increase the element of surprise and anticipation. We will then read the scripture together and explain the reason I chose the symbol. Note: This may be altered depending on how often I forget to do it! Another option would be to have small bags put together for each day ahead of time. You could also read the scripture daily and chose the object as you go through your day.

Step 4: Print Out or Copy This List

*Key for book references in the Bible: Mt = Matthew, Mk = Mark, Lk = Luke, Jn = John, 2 Cor. = 2 Corinthians

Day: Object & Scripture Verse
1. A mode of transportation to represent Jesus entry into Jerusalem (a small car, train, donkey! is a modern day equivalent (Matthew 21:2-5)
2. Palm branch, small tree or a doll's coat represents the reaction of the crowd in Jerusalem (Mt 21:8-11)
3. Cross symbolic of being handed over to be crucified (Mt. 26:1-5)
4. Small beautiful object representing the beautiful gift of the anointing (Mt. 26: 6-13)
5. Silver coins or other money to represent Judas' payment for his betrayal (Mt 26:14-15)
6. A strip of fabric to represent the towel Jesus wore as he washed the disciple's feet or a symbol of feet, doll shoes, etc. (John 13:4-11)
7. A treasure chest or the word hope to represent Jesus comforting his disciples (Jn 14: 1-4)
8. A dove, small bird or angel to represent the promise of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:15-27)
9. A miniature cup or symbol for a cup to represent the Last Supper (Mt 26:17-29)
10. I have a small praying hands charm to represent the praying hands of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42)
11. A time-piece or watch to represent Jesus' question to his disciples about watching and praying with him (Mark 13:37)
12. A lock with a key (keep the key for later) or piece of rope to represent Jesus' arrest (John 18:12)
13. A feather, rooster or (leaf in my case) to represent Peter's denials (Luke 22:61)
14. A small weapon or leather strip to represent when Jesus was beaten (John 19:1)
15. A small piece of soap to represent Pilate washing his hands of Jesus' sentencing (Mt 27:20-24)
16. Flowers, thorns or a symbol of a rose bush to represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore (Mt 27:29)
17. A cross or two sticks to represent the cross Jesus carried and was crucified on (Jn 19:16-22)
18. Nails (or with kids could use a kid’s hammer or monopoly piece) to represent how Jesus was nailed to the cross (Jn 19:16-22)
19. A sign (“stop”, “go”, etc.) of any kind to represent the sign on the cross (Jn 19:19-22)
20. A toy soldier or dice to represent the soldiers who gambled for Jesus' clothing (Jn 19:23-24);
21. The something in the color black to represent the darkness that fell at noon (Lk 23:44-45)
22. A piece of sponge or a plant to represent the sponge on a stalk of hyssop plant (Jn 19:28-30)
23. A small spear, or tool, or toothpick-end dipped in red paint and dried to represent the piercing of Jesus' side (Jn 19:32-37)
24. Little doll or dog bone representing His humanity and miracle that not one of his bones was broken (Jn 19:33-37)
25. A small broken rock or piece of jewelry to represent the earthquake that occurred when Jesus died (Mt 27:51, 54)
26. At item in purple (such as cloth or jewelry) to represent the torn curtain in the temple (Mt 27:51)
27. Christian symbol (small rosary, key chain) proclaiming surely he was the Son of God! (Mt 27: 53-54)
28. Little people symbolic of the masses (Mt 27:54-56)
29. Doll clothes or strips to represent Jesus’ grave clothes Lk 23: 50-54
30. Spices or tiny bottle of perfume to represent the burial spices the women prepared (Lk 23:55-56)
31. Big stone symbolic of the stone that was rolled away  (Mt 27:57-61)
32. Key to unlock the lock and key to life (Mt 27: 62-66)
33. Empty egg or empty container to represent the empty tomb (Mt 28:5-8);
34. White object such as a flower symbolic of his clothes Mt 28:3
35. An angel or a gold stem twisted into a halo (Jn 20:12);
36. Peace, Love, Joy (symbols) for how the women felt (Mt 28:8-10, Lk 24:36-39)
37. A chick or a flower, butterfly to represent the new life we can have in Christ (2 Cor 5:17)
38. Treasure chest or jewels – when they saw him they worshipped him (Mt 28 16-17)
39. A heart to remind you of the love of what Jesus did (Lk 24:46-50).
40. Something symbolic of the nations, a flag, a coin, etc. (Acts 1:1-11)

Step 5: Write Out Scripture Verses to Match

4th - Finally write out the scripture reference or verses on small post-its or other cards to go along with the symbols

Step 6: Celebrate!

Lastly – Put out a treasure box daily with one item corresponding to the verse each day and enjoy the discussion it leads to. Happy Celebrating!

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