How to Teach Kids the Events of the Passion Week

The Passion Week is usually referred to the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is nothing special or holy about these dates at all. We should celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus every day of the week!

The reason for this post is to help parents teach their children these events on any day of the year. You can use six items that you may already have at home: a sprig of herb or leaf, a piece of bread, a string or thread, a nail or three, a piece of white cloth, and a rock.

Leaf/Herb

I used a sprig of rosemary herb to signify the branches that people used when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem while riding a donkey. nA alternative is to use a toy donkey, if you have one at home. Read the passage from Matthew 21:1-11. Jesus was riding into the city as the king of Israel had always done when they came to the throne.

Bread

The bread represents the Last Supper as recorded in Matthew 26:17-29. The Passover meal with the disciples points back to the night in Egypt, and points to the time when God would send His own Son to die in the place of sinners like us. This meal shows us that Jesus was the Lamb, who came into the world to be slain for the sins of His people.

String/Thread

This piece of jute string represents the whip used by the Roman soliders to mock Jesus, as well as how Jesus endured the betrayal of his friends, particularly Judas. These events were written down in John 18:1-19:27. It was you and I who deserved to be beaten, ridiculed, and rejected because of our many sins. But Jesus took our place, and bore all this suffering for us.

Nails

I realized that using nails can be a bit dangerous for younger kids, so using screws without pointy ends would be better in this case. Making a small wooden cross out of two toothpicks put together would be another alternative. The three nails or the wooden cross signify how Jesus was nailed on the cross. You may retell the passage found in Matthew 27:32-56. Jesus gave His very life to pay for our sins. Jesus lived the life that we should have lived, and died the death that we should have died. And this same Jesus calls us to follow Him, trust Him, and love Him. Shall we not serve Him who finished the work of salvation for us on the cross?

White Cloth

Matthew 27:57-60 shows us the story of Jesus’ burial, and this piece of white cloth represents the clean linen shroud that was used to wrap the body of Jesus.

Stone

You could use a stone to represent the earlier point about Jesus’ burial or you could use it to illustrate this next story found in John 20. When Mary Magdalene and other women came to garden to visit Jesus, they found that the stone was already rolled away. And the angel told them not to be afraid for He is no longer there. He is risen! He is risen indeed! The disciples didn’t believe the story of the women. Their hearts were so sad with grief that they hardly realized what Mary was saying. They had not understood that Jesus is stronger than death itself. By rising from the dead Jesus brought eternal life to all who love and trust in Him.

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how to TEACH THE STORY

Some people like to use these items and place them inside plastic eggs. The seventh egg would be left empty to signify that Jesus is no longer in the tomb for He is risen. I love the idea of a surprise but since eggs do not have anything to do with the story of the resurrection, I would like to avoid it as much as possible. There are also pagan overtones represented in those eggs.

So an alternative would be a sensory activity (as pictured above) using a salt box or kinetic sand box.

  • Put all the items in a box with iodized salt or kinetic sand.
  • Ask the child to find all the items.
  • Retell the story by arranging the items according to their proper order.
  • For an additional activity or memory work, scramble the items and ask the child to rearrange them according to their proper order.

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You may also use the book The Donkey Who Carried a King by Dr. RC Sproul to share the story of the Passion week. An audio recording of the story book read by Dr. Sproul himself is also available for streaming at Renewing Your Mind.

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Another additional activity is to sing the hymn of the month suggested by Happy Hymnody, that is Man of Sorrows aka Hallelujah, What A Savior by Philip B. Bliss.

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless, we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full redemption—can it be?
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
To His kingdom us to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

I truly pray that you would find this resource useful and Jesus beautiful as you teach and train children about our wonderful Savior!

Please feel free to share how you will use these items to retell the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Children’s Catechism Lesson 1: Who Made You?

Ever since I have been introduced to the Reformed faith, I’ve been wanting to write a catechism curriculum for children based on the First Catechism, an intro to the Westminster Shorter Catechism. That was almost a decade ago, and even though I was involved in children’s ministry I was not prepared to write a catechism curriculum. But having children of my own provided me with practical tools that could help me understand what it means to explain the beautiful truths of the Christian faith in a way that young children can understand. And getting to know more children with special learning needs has allowed me to discover various ways to explain these truths in a creative manner.

You can find a complete list of catechism question and answers at the Westminster Standard or through the OPC website.

Lesson 1

The first question and answer may seem too simple, even a small toddler can echo back the answer. But in the 21st century when evolution is a common thing, knowing the answer to the first question is essential to any young believer.

Q1: Who made you?
A: God.

Little Miss (now 5) only began echoing answers to this catechism question at age 3, and the Little Man (now 2) only parroted the answer when I taught him to answer “God” in a song-song manner. He started out answering “Amen” to the question when I reintroduced the catechism. Perhaps he associates God with prayer, which may actually be a good thing.

Lesson Plan

  • Topic: Who Made You?
  • Bible Passages: Genesis 1:26-30; Psalm 139:13-14
  • Big Idea: God created man out of nothing after His image.
  • Objectives: Children shall recognize that God was the One who created them. Children shall realize that God made them out of nothing and after His image. Children shall take comfort in knowing that they are wonderfully made by God.
  • Materials Used: Clay, Googly Eyes, Foam Stickers, Pipe Cleaners

Hook

Introduce the lesson by asking what the child’s name is, most toddlers are able to do that. An older child can write his name on a piece of paper. And then ask if he knows the story (i.e. meaning, history or reason for choosing) behind his name.
If your child is not yet ready for any of that, this is a great opportunity for you to practice saying or writing his name with him. Once or twice would be enough to start the lesson.

Transition to the next part by asking, “Do you know who made (Insert Child’s Name)? Let’s find out!”

Book

Read a story of how created Adam and Eve from a Gospel-centered story Bible or from the Bible directly. You could also use the first few pages of God Made All of Me by Justine and Lindsey Holcomb, which also addresses Q/A 1 and 2 of the catechism.

If older kids have questions regarding how God created us, you could look into Chapter 3 (“God Created Everything out of Nothing at All”) from The Oology by Marty Machowski (HT: Reformed Mama). You may also introduce the Latin phrase ex nihilo which means “out of nothing”. God did not use any raw materials to create man. Instead, He said it and it came be.

Look

After the Bible story, repeatedly practice the catechism question and answer.

  • Who made you? God.
  • Did God use anything to create man? No. God created man out of nothing.
  • How did God create man? God created man after His own image.

Took

Bring home the lesson by introducing another Bible passage in Psalm 139:13-14, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (ESV)

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Teach your child that all men are wonderfully created by God. Each of us are unique in the way our brains are wired, even how each of us are gifted differently. As God’s creatures, He has also given us emotions that could express how we feel. We can be happy by praising God who wonderfully made us. We can be sad when some people try to hurt others who are likewise created by God. We can be angry when some people try to destroy God’s original design for the male and female. You may use clay and other craft materials (optional) to teach your child about his body parts or different emotions. Teaching the importance of identifying or verbalizing emotions is an essential life goal for children with special needs. Non-verbal or less verbal children can learn by identifying pictures to convey their feelings.

Another alternative is to simply ask him to draw and color himself, if able. Make sure to add the phrase “God Made (Insert Child’s Name)” when done. You could then wrap up the lesson by singing “God Made Me” by the Cedarmont Kids:

God made me, God made me
In my Bible book it says
That God made me

Other Related Resources

 

Training Children through Song

I write this in the wee hours of the morning after preparing a Sunday School lesson for the kids in our church community. As I was searching for a few songs to teach alongside the Bible lesson, I happened to listen to a lullaby that transported me back to our old apartment more than five years ago, rocking my baby girl to sleep to the tune of “Jesus Loves Zacchaeus” by Rain for Roots. I have listened to their album, Big Stories for Little Ones for a hundred and million times until my daughter was about two years or so. Music has helped her calm down and drift to sleep all those years. I remembered the long nights, and it brought me back to the first few months of being a new mama.

I also remember being a sleepy girl in a church sanctuary on a Sunday morning whenever I listen to Cedarmont Kids, and seeing my own mom right in front teaching all the Sunday School kids how to sing the songs with matching actions. Likewise, I remember being a carefree elementary student sitting in one of the pews inside the hot auditorium of my old alma mater and following along to the lyrics of Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em In Your Heart while the smell of ripe sugarcane permeates the air. I still remember those songs, and I remember the memories well. These songs have helped me in putting Scripture to heart, and the Spirit of God brings them to memory whenever I need them.

I grew up attending Sunday School all my life, and I am also thankful that my parents forced me to attend the Chinese worship service where they only sung hymns. This exposure to Scripture songs and old hymns during my youth has proved useful in the ministry even as I married a Reformed pastor. How wise is God’s providence!

From Music to Memory

The Reformer Martin Luther said it best: “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.” Luther always emphasized the importance of music in training people in the faith. He went on to writing many hymns, one of which is A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.

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Music is an able aid in memorization. Young children, particularly those in the Pre-Grammar and Grammar stage according to Classical Education, can absorb vast amounts of information when taught through song and rhyme. This old practice is often times neglected by modern education. Rote memorization and drill and practice aren’t to be abandoned. They are the essential building blocks of education.

Recommended Resources

If you want to train your children to learn Scripture and theology through music, I would like to recommend the resources listed below. Thanks to wonderful Internet technology, most of these are readily available for streaming on Spotify, Amazon Music or Bandcamp.

Ask Me Whooo

This is a recent discovery, and it easily became my favorite resource. These are beautifully written tunes sung by Diana Beach Batarseh, and are based on the First Catechism. Scripture verses are also recited at the end of each song. I cannot recommend this enough. DOWNLOAD. NOW.

Songs for Saplings

My preschooler started listening to their ABC memory verses album, and pretty soon she memorized them. They also have other music based on the New City Catechism.

Rain for Roots

The Big Stories for Little Ones album is based on Sally Lloyd-Jones’ Baby’s Hug-a-Bible, which in my opinion, is the baby/toddler’s version of the famed Jesus Storybook Bible. These are my favorite lyrics from the song “Jesus Is Born”:

Who was there when time began?
Who came to earth to live as man?
Whose cradle was a cattle stall?
Who is the greatest gift of all?

Judy Rogers

My favorite song is “What is a Sacrament?” from her album Why Can’t I See God? What a way to raise covenant children!

What is a sacrament?
It is a holy ordinance
Given by Christ unto believers
Showing His great love for us.

Baptism was ordained,
And the Lord’s Supper;
Jesus gave them to His church
To keep and to remember.

Sacraments, given us by Christ
To signify and apply God’s covenant to our lives.

Family Devo

These are also songs based on the First Catechism. They are more upbeat than the classic tunes of Ask Me Whooo, which may be more appealing to some people.

Sovereign Grace Kids

I always watch out for whatever new album that Sovereign Grace Music releases. One of my favorite albums from them is The Ology, a companion to the The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New, a storybook theology by Marty Machowsky. Here’s a lyric from the song called “All About Jesus”:

From Genesis to Revelation
There’s one story of Your great salvation
It’s all about Jesus, oh, it’s all about Jesus
Shoutin’ out from every page
There’s one Hero that’ll save the day
It’s all about Jesus, oh, it’s all about Jesus

Getty Kids

If you want your kids to learn old and new hymns, listen to Getty Kids’ albums. Like Sovereign Grace Music, they are blessings to the local church.

Other Classic Resources

What are some of your family favorites? Feel free to share them below.