Teach My Peeps

Onward, Marshmallow Peeps!

On Sunday I told my Primary class (5 & 6 year-olds) that I would see them “in two weeks. On Palm Sunday. If you don’t know what that is, go home and ask your parents. And if they don’t know…” Then a precocious little one piped up with “Look it up on the computer.”

This recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune focuses on Mormons engaging with the events of Holy Week. As a convert to the church many years ago, I was startled to discover, that Holy Week wasn’t the big deal it was in my previous tradition.

I always liked the Palm Sundays of my youth, remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, waving of palm fronds and shouting of Hosanna – a break from our typically staid Methodist manners. I liked the solemnity of Maundy Thursday commemorating the Last Supper and the events of Gethsemane. Good Friday always struck me as a very poorly named day and gave me as a child my first exposures to the concept of grief.

I loved the smell of vinegar, the little pebbles of dye and the attention of my parents as we dyed eggs.

And then there was Easter morning! My sisters and I would get especially spruced up for church on Sunday (New dress. New shoes. That seemed to tie in to a vague concept of new life. A fancy hat was optional, and I recall no attempts at spiritual associations with them.) We also enjoyed bright Easter baskets full of goodies. Hiding and seeking our colorful eggs only happened some years. Baskets and egg hunts confused us about the point of the day…but in such fun ways. Often I sang in the children’s choir in our cool robes (covering our new fancy duds). Sometimes there were the hallelujahs of clashing cymbals. Always there was the scent of hope created by a sanctuary filled with the smell of lilies.

Now that I’m charged with teaching young Latter-day Saint lambs, I’m trying to recall how I taught my own children the true meaning of Easter. I remember that we had a dozen plastic Easter Eggs with tiny visual aids to represent aspects of Easter. I found a link to making such a set here.

My kids and I used to love to microwave two Peeps chicks with toothpicks stuck in them. As they cook, they become big fat sweet jousters with lances . If any of you can think of a spiritual connection there, let me know. Onward Christian Soldiers?

I visited the seasonal aisle at the drug store in pursuit of other teaching aids that might be available to help teach the Primary kids. The only thing I found that wasn’t an Easter bunny, egg, chick or generic flower was a chocolate cross to eat. Theologically that confused me, and it looked like that waxy tasteless chocolate anyway.

I have read about Resurrection cookies that stay in a closed oven (ie tomb) and appear tasty and empty as sweet little tombs the next morning. Won’t work for a 45 minute Sunday School class, but fun for families?

I imagine there are lots of creative LDS parents who have other ideas/links/suggestions to share. How have all you clever and creative Primary leaders and parents handled the topic of teaching Holy Week to children in satisfying ways?

About Linda

(Prose Board) splits her time between the mountains of Utah and the prairies of Illinois, generally confounding the postal service. She compiles inspiring collections of LDS women talking about topics dear to (or prickly in) LDS women's hearts (visiting teaching, Relief Society, motherhood, etc.) through Cedar Fort Publishing. Her forthcoming book "Candy Canes & Christmastime: Enhancing the Holidays in the Real World" is available for pre-order on Amazon! She also writes for children ("Come with Me on Halloween"), illustrates, writes poetry, plays with fabric and can be bribed with dark chocolate.

6 thoughts on “Teach My Peeps

  1. A few years ago, I bought a book called A Christ-Centered Easter. I can’t remember the author at the moment. It is chock-full of ideas for observing Holy Week as LDS people. Some years we have used it to do things every single day. Other years we have only done a couple of the activities. This year I have planned a whole week’s worth of observances for my homeschooled kids. For what it’s worth, we will also be doing plenty of fun spring-y Easter activities too–I have no problem combining the two. One thing we often do on Palm Sunday is make fake palm leaves from cardboard and green cardstock, then act out the triumphal entry. Our hands-down favorite activity,which we gleaned from the book and have done for the past 5 years now, is to hold a Jerusalem Dinner on the Thursday night of Holy Week (the night that would have been the Last Supper). We make an entire meal of foods that would have been eaten in Jesus’ time (recipes and ideas in the book). Then we eat on the floor, with no plates or utentils, eating from common dishes. I spread out a sheet or blanket on the floor and we eat laying down as the Romans did. This is a very fun activity, and my kids are already asking when we are doing to do it. I’m sure it’s not completely authentic, but it is fun and gets us all talking more about the Last Supper.

  2. This has been perhaps the hardest transition to Mormonism for me, the lack of Easter celebratory spirit. I’ve done things over the years for both my own kids and my Primary kids, including sunrise services, attending the Easter celebration of any big, local Christian church (the ones with big music budgets), reviewing Holy Week, day by day, using the pictures from the gospel art kit and others (this works well for Sharing Time and FHE), using palm leaves on Palm Sunday to reenact the triumphal entry (I’ll do that this year as Primary chorister or it would be a good FHE), having a Seder supper on Maundy Thursday and/or attending a local Protestant service that night (Mass might be good, too, with the stations of the cross and all), and lots of music! Our hymnbook has just 3 Easter songs in it, so we own quite a few other hymnbooks with more variety. Our ward choir is singing That Easter Morn for Sacrament meeting. A 12-year-old fellow choir member whispered to me at practice, “This song is so depressing — why are we singing it?” Sigh. I did push to get the Primary choir on the program singing Beautiful Savior, but the sad thing is I had to push. This post is a good reminder that if you really want to celebrate Easter as a church member, you’ve got to take it on yourself. So thanks for that, Linda.

  3. Oh, and we did take our Guatemalan-born daughters to Guatemala for Semana Santa one year, which provides a total immersion in the Easter spirit. That’s a big undertaking but worth considering.
    And really, a lot of hoopla doesn’t necessarily translate into any better understanding of the Atonement. That’s the real point, of course.

  4. I’ll be checking back for more ideas. We try to do a Passover celebration around Easter time and that has really been a high point of my Easter celebrations the last few years. I found a book: Celebrating Passover for Latter-day Saints by Marilynn Monson Burton. I pulled from her ideas and created our own Passover that works with our young children. If anyone’s interested, I’ll send you a copy. megan@buhlerfamily.org

  5. I love when General Conference falls on Easter Sunday. To me, that’s the best celebration of Easter. Especially if Elder Holland is speaking!!! I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, but, come on! ;) Elder Holland’s testimony of the Savior and the Atonement drives right to the center of my heart every time.

    In our family, I have done various things to make Easter a special, important celebration. The Resurrection Eggs is one. I also made an “advent calendar” of sorts. I figure if we do that for Christmas, why not for Easter?! I found some articles from the Ensign detailing the last week of Christ’s life, and used various aspects from that to do a “countdown” to Easter morning. There’s a scripture that goes with each one.

    As part of this, on Saturday night we’ve had “Dinner in the Dark” with a special meal, where we read about the Nephite account of 3 days of darkness while Christ was in the tomb. We talk about how dark life is (or would be) without Him, and what it feels like to be in the dark. (we do use candles so that we can actually see to eat, but we also read the part that says the Nephites couldn’t even light a fire) On Sunday morning, we have a special breakfast with fancy place settings and everything to commemorate the glory of Easter morning!

    One thing I use all over the place is a quote from President Hinckley: “Without Easter, there would have been no Christmas.” The full quote is from http://www.lds.org/new-era/2007/12/a-glorious-season?lang=eng&query=without+easter+no+christmas (under the paragraph “A Season to Remember the Savior.”)

    Also, I try to decorate the house almost as much as I do for Christmas. Paintings of Christ coming from the tomb, Easter lilies, lambs, etc. I don’t actually use any bunnies or chicks or anything so that I can focus on the symbolism of the lamb. or The Lamb.

    I’ve done the resurrection rolls that you mentioned here, but I only did it once because in the directions you’re supposed to “beat” the nuts (crush them) like Jesus was beaten. And that was so sad and hurtful (offensive, really) to me, that I really couldn’t bring myself to do the rolls again. I found a different recipe with a different focus that I like MUCH BETTER. The focus is more on treating his body with respect and anointing it with oil (butter) and spices (cinnamon) like the women did after his sacrifice was complete and he died. And this also has the benefit of not requiring an overnight! They can be done in like 20-30 minutes. You can see the basic instructions here: http://www.dltk-kids.com/recipes/resurrection_rolls.htm I’m sure you could add scriptures to it & etc. I did this with my Primary class several years ago (I think I had 8-year-olds?) I pre-heated the oven before class, and then we wrapped the rolls, put them in the oven, had the Easter lesson, and took the rolls out, talked about the marvelous miracle of the empty tomb, and ate the “empty” rolls. It was pretty cool, I have to say!

    Nice to get a discussion going here because there are so many great ideas out there. I also love your post’s title: “Teach My Peeps.”

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