Children may know much about Palm Sunday and Easter but less about the action packed days in between. On Palm Sunday, I wanted to have the children create a piece of art to represent the key events of Holy Week that would be displayed on Easter Sunday. I was really happy with both the discussion and the final product. We gathered some extra helpers and brought preschool-6th grade together for this project which we completed in 45 minutes.
- Fabric pieces (ours were made from an old sheet)
- Gel glue (regular glue doesn’t resist the paint)
- Liquid watercolors or fabric dye
- Safety pins
- Strips of purple fabric
- Foam brushes
- Table covers and smocks
A few ground rules to share with kids:
Let them know you will be bringing the paint to their tables to avoid spills. I suggest having just one color at a time on the table. Recommend that they not over saturate the design with glue or paint. The colors will mix together on their own when you place them near each other. Layering them with the brush will result in a muddy color. Dot the paint around the glue, not directly on top to keep your design crisp. The fabric will wick the color towards the glue.
If you are going to hem the flags for hanging on a string, do that ahead of time. I sewed a 3” hem on a longs strip of fabric and then tore the pieces to get the fringy edges. Our finished size was 9×12 inches. If you are working with younger children you may want to create the glue designs on their flags beforehand. Consider if you will read the passages entirely or retell them in your own words. We did a combination and allowed the kids to retell parts, too.
- Draw a resurrection image on the flag with the glue (we used butterflies). You may want to provide photocopies of images for kids to place under the fabric to trace. Or, you can let them draw freehand. In the end, the glue will resist the paint and the design will appear.
- Take a 10 minute or more break to let the glue set up. If you don’t have time it will still work, but the longer the glue dries, the clearer it will be. Use this time to talk about Easter symbols, watch a video or sing songs.
- Read the Palm Sunday passage while the children apply green paint. Remind them that there will be four colors to add so they will want to leave space for those.
- Read Jesus Clears the Temple and pass around the glitter to apply to the still tacky glue. We allowed two shakes per person to avoid over glittering.
- Continue to read and apply colors while reading passages or retelling the events of Holy Week: blue for the Greatest Commandment (I used blue to remind the kids that Jesus often did his teaching outside under the blue sky), purple for Jesus being anointed, and yellow for the grain that bread is made of for the Last Supper.
- Pass around one safety pin per flag and several thin strips of purple cloth. These remind us of the crown of thorns (sharp pin) and robe that they placed on Jesus to mock him. Place the safety pin with fringe anywhere you like on the flag.
- Have everyone close their eyes and listen quietly while you read Jesus is Buried and The Guard at the tomb.
- Open your eyes and see the beauty of Easter and the Resurrection. You may want to save this reading for Easter Sunday.
- Find a place at church to display for Easter Sunday
Passages and symbols we used:
Jesus Enters Jerusalem Like a King:
Matthew 21:1-11 – green
Jesus Goes to the Temple:
Matthew 21:12-17 – glitter
Jesus Teaches the Greatest Commandment:
Matthew 22: 34-39 – blue
A Woman Does Something Special:
Matthew 26:6-12 – purple
The Lord’s Supper:
Matthew 26:26-30 – yellow
The Soldiers Make Fun of Jesus
Matthew 27:27-31 – pin and purple fabric strips
Jesus is Buried: Matthew 7-61,
The Guard at the Tomb:
Matthew 27: 62-66 – close your eyes
The Resurrection of Jesus:
Matthew 28: 1-10, John 20:1-18 – open your eyes