Sure, yes, Good Friday is technically a holiday about death. So while it doesn’t call for “celebration,” per se, if you’re a practicing Christian it’s definitely something you’re going to want to explain to your kids — and honor alongside them. And the good news is that there are absolutely appropriate ways to discuss death and dying with kids, however young.
Jill A. Johnson-Young, LCSW, tells SheKnows that you shouldn’t necessarily tell a child that Jesus or a deceased family member is “watching” over them all the time. “That’s stalker-creepy, and they won’t shower,” she says. Good point. Instead, talk about death — in the context of crucifixion or otherwise — in relatable but matter-of-fact terms. Fran Walfish, PsyD, a family and relationship psychotherapist, tells SheKnows she suggests explaining to young kids that “all living things, including flowers, plants, insects, birds, animals are born and [eventually] die. Trees live a longer life, and then they die, too.”
While the Easter Bunny and egg hunts have become ubiquitous, the historical (darker, but more beautiful) legend behind Easter is a powerful message to share with children. As Easter approaches, you can definitely feel empowered to share the Biblical story behind the holiday with your little ones if it’s something that plays a role in your beliefs.
That said, honoring Good Friday doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. There are plenty of ways — from crafts and cooking to reading and gardening — to breathe some life into a day about death and sacrifice. Plus, you’ll get to spend some mindful time together with your family, too. From planting seeds to making Easter crafts, these kid-friendly activities below will help your family honor Good Friday.
Cook a Good Friday meal together
For many, Good Friday is a time to observe Lent and abstain from eating meat or red meat. As you adhere to this tradition, ask your kids to participate in making your Good Friday dinner. This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce children to vegetarian cooking while observing Good Friday. Plan the meal together, asking your kids for a lot of input so they feel involved. Try to prepare a meal that gets kids excited about going meatless. It could end up a tradition you continue once a week to teach your children about nutrition and healthy choices.
Make stained glass Easter crafts
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One of the images strongly associated with worship is stained glass. As you honor Good Friday at home with your kids, create tissue paper crafts that mimic the look of stained glass. Using basic glue or Mod Podge, adhere small squares or triangles of colored tissue paper to wax paper. Paint on a smooth layer of glue to seal. When it dries, cut the paper into shapes, such as crosses and doves, and hang them on your windows. If you’re a fan of decorative jars, try using the tissue paper on the outside of a jar to create a beautiful votive candle holder. Light it using a child-safe LED tea light instead of a flame.
Plant a tree to symbolize life
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As you talk about Good Friday with your kids, ease their anxieties by focusing on the Biblical story of the resurrection. To celebrate and symbolize life and miracles, plant a tree in your yard — or find out if an area of your community would like you to donate a sapling (it’s easier for children to visualize the promise of a full-grown tree if you begin by planting a sapling as opposed to a seed). Ask your kids to help, and encourage them to get dirty and dig. Participation will help them feel like they’ve contributed to the tree’s future. Next Easter, you and your kids can check in on your tree and see how much it’s grown.
Read books about Good Friday
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✝️Blessed Good Friday✝️ Today has been a very odd day indeed! We certainly miss being able to attend weekly services with our friends and family, but we are learning knew ways to connect, pray and learn about Easter and the Bible 💜 . We were lucky enough to watch a virtual service this morning! And then with the kiddos we enjoyed some read aloud time from our children’s bible and bible verses! . We also enjoyed some creative expression making sunset cross art to hang on our dinning room window! . These beautiful printables are available from @habitatschoolhouse and @fiddlesticks.education . . I wish you and your families a very blessed Good Friday and hope you enjoy your precious family time! 💜 . . . Playing along with #festiveplaynlearn #artyapril #creative_little_hands #kidsplaytruth #oursensoryspring #tfchallenge #easter_simple_play . . . #artworkbytinys #easter #biblestories #bibleverse #easterstory #goodfriday #learningathome #kidsart #watercolour #painting #meaningfulart #suncatchers #windowart #familytime #makingmemories #learningtogether #faithfulness #kidlit #kidlitart #habitatschoolhouse #printables #cndbezen .
The story of the days leading up to Easter is a somber tale that can make some young kids feel anxious. If you want to share the story of Good Friday with your kids, but you’re not sure how to tell it in a kid-friendly way, consider reading a picture book written specifically for children. The Week that Led to Easter by Joanne Larrison and The Easter Story by Patricia A. Pingry both share the story of Easter in a way that isn’t too scary for small children. As with any book that deals with serious subjects, read it first by yourself to make sure it aligns with what you’d like to share with your child.
There’s still time to snag some fun toys for your kid’s Easter basket, too.