Easter is just around the corner and time is running out to plan and action a meaningful Easter celebration with my class of infants and toddlers. After all, what does Easter mean to them beyond lots and lots of chocolate?
While we are not all Christians with an unshakable faith in God, the stories in the Bible are still our stories. Everyone is aware of Easter, in fact we all get two days off in recognition of the event. I believe that if you asked a random sample of the population most people would know the highlights of the Easter story, Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. This story is embedded in our culture and whether you consider it fact or metaphor it still has significance, meaning and beauty.
So the question becomes, how can we share the heart of the Easter story with very young children, so this event, which we as a society recognise every year, is not solely about chocolate eggs and bunnies?
Our approach has been to read lots of Easter focused picture books, sing Easter songs and of course do some good teacher research on the subject. What is the big idea behind Easter eggs anyway? I always thought it had something to do with the arrival of the Northern hemisphere’s spring time, but after just a few minutes of online research I discovered something different.
According to http://www.topmarks.co.uk/easter/EasterEggs.aspx Easter eggs are a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection, as when they are cracked open they stand for the empty tomb. Makes sense. We will be celebrating Easter with our families with a pot luck dinner. I wonder if the symbolism of the Easter egg, could play a significant role in the context we create to celebrate in? This visible expression of Easter could then become a starting point for a good conversation about Easter and what it means to each of our families.
I drink a lot of Nespresso coffee and so have access to a lot of Nespresso capsules. Two capsules joined together could make a great Easter egg. I am a firm believer in starting from the raw material, so brought my spent Nespresso capsules into class to clean and prepare alongside the children. Jacob was my companion during this process. He appeared to thoroughly enjoy poking his make-shift tools through the foil into the coffee behind and in time pushing the coffee out. We have yet to transform the capsules into Easter eggs, but there is still a little bit of time left. I wonder if Jacob will remember more the work we have done in preparation for our Easter celebration or the celebration itself? Or perhaps the celebration will be all the richer for Jacob because he was able to contribute to its creation?
I do wonder what impressions of Easter our Children will be left with once we are done celebrating. When I think back to my early years, Easter does not feature, will this experience be one the children treasure and remember for years to come? I can’t know, but I do hope.
I would love to know how you intend to celebrate Easter. Is it a big deal or simply a well deserved long weekend? Maybe both? How much of the nitty gritty of the Easter story do you share with the children in your life, though your role as parent, teacher or Whanau member?