Updated: Apr 12
A Companion to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum
This post contains affiliate links for which I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Proceeds go to support this blog and my mission of inspiring parents of babies and toddlers to find quiet moments in the chaos to read to their children.
We've been using Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool for our homeschool preschool curriculum, but I thought we would take a week off for Holy Week and Easter to pair some bookish play and hands-on learning with some of the activities on Busy Toddler's website. If you've enjoyed my other Holiday Units, I think you'll love this one too.
Creating this unit really challenged me. As a Christian, Easter is not just another fun holiday, it is the crux of my faith. As a parent, I bear the responsibility of teaching my children about Jesus and the gospel. As a mom of a preschooler, I strive to combine reading and conversation with hands-on learning. As someone who creates things that other people will use to teach their children, I was really feeling the pressure to get it right.
But you know what? It got me in the Word. Instead of searching the internet, I opened my Bible (okay... my Bible app), then my children's Jesus Storybook Bible and I wrestled with how to simplify the significant events of Holy Week, the sacrifice of Good Friday and the triumph of Easter Sunday without "watering down" the Word. As someone who is not an expert in theology, it was intimidating, but I'm reminded of what God say about His Word: "It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." -Isaiah 55:11. So I've done my best and trust that He will do the rest.
My three-and-a-half-year-old is familiar with many Bible "stories" and the "person" of Jesus, but up to now, it's all been pretty G-rated. I designed this unit with him in mind, to introduce him to Jesus as the suffering servant and how the sacrifice and sadness of Good Friday make the Resurrection on Sunday even more important and exciting! My hope is that this will be the first Easter that he'll begin to grasp what Jesus came to do.
Author's Note: While this unit was inspired by my personal beliefs, I respect the beliefs and opinions of others. I recognize that holidays are celebrated in many different ways. I have made every effort to make this unit inclusive and adaptable to individual preferences for how ever your family chooses to celebrate Easter. There are religious and non-religious book suggestions and modifications as well as "bonus" days for substituting.
Introduction to Easter
Easter is a time when people celebrate Jesus’s resurrection. Christians believe that Jesus loved people so much that he gave his life to save them from sin. Also, Easter happens in springtime, when the world is full of new life!
Anticipating Easter Activity
Create a countdown to Easter to build anticipation and give children a concrete measure of time. How your family observes Easter and the events leading up to it will probably determine how (and for how long) you want to make this part of your morning routine. For many families, Easter begins with Lent. For others, it centers around Holy Week. For some, it's all about the big day, Easter Sunday. I’m offering up a few ideas, but I encourage you to find the one that works best for your family.
We used a Bible Verse Advent Calendar from Happy Home Fairy to count down to Christmas, and there is a similar one for Easter called 40 Days of Jesus’ Words for Kids.
We are going to start our countdown on Palm Sunday with a paper chain similar to Busy Toddler’s Kindness Countdown, but writing Bible Verses to read each day as follows:
Palm Sunday - Matthew 21:1-11
Monday - Matthew 21:12-13
Tuesday - Matthew 21:14-15 and Mark 11:18
Wednesday - John 8:12 and Psalm 119:105
Thursday - Mark 14:22-24, 32-36 and 43-46
Good Friday - Mark 15: 33-34 and 15:37-39
Sabbath Saturday - Exodus 20:8-11
Easter Sunday - Matthew 28:1-20
A Word About Books
When choosing books to read with your child about Easter, you will want to consider your child’s maturity, level of understanding and previous exposure to the events and vocabulary like Jesus’s crucifixion, death and resurrection. I would also mention that religious books may be harder to come by at you public library so you may want to check your church library or consider in investing in one or two for your home library. Here are a few suggestions to guide you:
Holy Week: An Emotions Primer uses verses from the Bible to tell the events of Holy Week and describes the emotional responses people had.
A Very Happy Easter also gives a very basic explanation of Jesus’s death but emphasizes the good news of his resurrection and different emotions.
Jesus Rose for Me: The True Story of Easter is a straightforward portrayal of the events of Easter, but could be a bit graphic for sensitive children (shows the nail in Jesus’s hand and drops of blood).
The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross is much more detailed and paints the bigger picture of God’s plan from the beginning and Jesus’s part in the salvation story.
The Story of Easter is my personal favorite as it encompasses the major events of Holy Week and features beautiful illustrations. (Note: on re-reading it more closely, I found an error. After Jesus’s body is laid in the tomb it says “the NEXT day” where it should say “the THIRD day”.)
Also, it is worth noting that most of the events of Holy Week will be included in your children’s Bible, but some are not. For example, the Jesus Storybook Bible does not include Palm Sunday or Jesus clearing the temple. For that reason, I have chosen different books that emphasize different events.
Easter Unit PREVIEW
Bible Verse (Matthew 28:6)
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”
The Easter bunny’s feet go hop, hop, hop
His big pink ears go flop, flop, flop
He is rushing on his way
To bring us eggs on Easter day
With a hop, flop, hop, flop, hop
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Jesus Christ is Now Alive (see video for hand motions)
(to the tune of “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive”)
1 2 3 4 5 Jesus Christ is now alive
6 7 8 9 10 He will never die again
That’s great we know it’s true
He die for me, he died for you
And now, he lives to be
The King of you, the King of me
“I’m An Easter Bunny” by Susan M. Paprokci
(To the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”)
I’m an Easter bunny, watch me hop
Here are my two ears, see how they flop
Here is my cotton tail, here is my nose.
I’m all fluffy from my head to my toes.
Butcher Paper or Cardboard
Paint Brushes or Sponges
Shoe Box w/ Lid
Coins (quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies)
Rice (5 lb. bag)
Egg Carton (dozen)
Pitchers and Cups
Optional Supplies for Bonus Days
Shredded Paper Filler
Jelly Beans and/or Foil-wrapped Chocolate Eggs
Dozen White Eggs or Dyeable Decorating Eggs
Marshmallow Peeps Bunnies (4 packs, 2 or more colors)
Whipped Cream/Cool Whip/Shaving Cream
Toilet Paper Rolls (6-10)
Miscellaneous Items Found in Nature
Floral Wire or Wire Coat Hanger
Introduction: What is Easter?
Shared Reading: The Easter Story - Pingry, Patricia
Talking Points: What do you know about Easter? What did Jesus come to do? We are going to be learning about Jesus and Easter! (Non-religious alternative: How do we celebrate Easter?)
Learning Activity: Make Busy Toddler’s Kindness Countdown chain together. Write Bible Verses on each slip of paper and let them help you tape or glue the links together. Tell them you’ll be reading stories from the Bible to learn more about why we celebrate Easter. (Alternative: Put verses in plastic Easter eggs and number them. Non-religious alternative: make affirmations to read together each day.)
Easy Activity: The cross is a symbol of Jesus and Easter. Make a cross similar to Busy Toddler’s Tape Resist Christmas Tree Art Activity. (Alternative: do it on a window with washable tempera paint for a stained glass look. Non-religious alternative: make a tape resist Easter egg instead).
The Story of Easter - Parragon Books
Holy Week: An Emotions Primer - Hitchen, Danille
What is Easter? - Adams, Michelle Medlock
The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross - Laferton, Carl
Jesus Rose for Me: The True Story of Easter - Kennedy, Jared
Jesus Love the Little Children (A Chosen Story) - Jenkins, Dallas and Amanda (an introduction to Jesus for children)
The Very First Easter - Miaer, Paul L. (lengthy book, for older children)
Easter - Gibbons, Gail (a non-fiction book that explains both the religious and non-religious aspects of Easter)
The Story of the Easter Bunny - Tegan, Katherine (non-religious)
Easter Unit - Get the Full Unit
Now you're all set to start your countdown to Easter. My next post will be the continuation of this unit and explains how to use the supplies and a day-by-day guide to teaching your preschooler about Easter.
Because of the time and effort I've devoted to making this a quality resource, access to this content will require a one-time subscription fee with no expiration. Here's what you'll get:
A curriculum for teaching about Easter in the style of Playing Preschool (see my Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler: Halloween Unit freebie for what you can expect)
A hand-picked list of suggested books with four or more substitutions for each
Guiding questions of things to talk about with your child
10 days' worth of low-prep learning activities + easy activities (7 Days for Holy Week + 3 Bonus Days of Easter/Spring Fun) with secular substitutions.
High-quality photos of activities and/or links for more examples
A printable version to download
Access the full Easter Unit: Click HERE to purchase
Note: If you have trouble accessing the blog post after you have purchased, you may need to log in and/or refresh you browser, then return to blog post to access it.
Visit my website to shop my Book Lists and discover more books based on your child's interest.