Teaching Children through Symbols: Easter Week, Plan B

IMG_1726                                                                                         As usual, Elf is eating more than she’s making, but good times non-the-less!

So do you ever have those days, weeks, months, when nothing goes according to plan? That was my week this week.

Mostly we just had some low-key days with Mom and kiddos needing to take care of their health. That meant kids were much more in charge of their homeschooling this week and we did not get out and about much at all.

It was still a good week, just definitely not what I envisioned. But I’m learning more and more that what I envision may not be what is best in the long run. 🙂

Over the past several years, we have really been striving to teach our children the symbolism associated with Christianity. Especially those in connection with holidays (you can read more about our Christmas traditions here)

We feel this aspect of teaching is important because it gives LIFE to tradition and causes the children to focus more on the activities. Don’t you find yourself more focused on an activity if you know WHY your doing/learning about it?

But perhaps even more so, we feel teaching our children symbolism helps them understand Christ’s teachings better. He taught through parables and symbols, in fact nearly all of his direct teachings in the Bible are taught in this way. Also, many books, especially Isaiah, cannot be fully understood unless one looks beyond the obvious and uses tradition and symbolism to interpret the full meanings.

Of course, we will always have the Holy Ghost to guide our insights in the Scriptures, but we feel that the Holy Ghost works better when he has more to work with (ie: a knowledge of symbolism and Christian traditions).

Like with Christmas, my mother gave us a book
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that helps act as a guidebook through the many symbols and traditions associated with Easter. We really love it because it includes all the main scriptural references to the major events in the last week of Jesus’ life, as well as the major traditions and symbolism associated with his time, culture, the Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. It has been a wonderful resource for our family!

We started the week with our Family Night on Monday. We talked about Palm Sunday and the significance of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the symbolism of the white donkey and the palms (Great article on sybolism of Palms here.)

We also told the story of Jesus last week on earth with symbols, hidden inside plastic eggs (You can find a link for telling a similar story here) We made it into a scavenger hunt this year and the kids had fun looking for all the “ingredients” for our Jesus’ story “egg hunt”.

IMG_1771                                                                       Just the unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and “wine” (aka:Acai juice) this year:)

We had our Passover meal on Tuesday. We did it “Mexican Style” this year, including the traditional foods with some homemade refried beans, guacamole, and veggies.

Usually we have a full Seder Plate, this also opens the door to discussions on Jewish culture which helps children understand the dynamics of Jesus’ day and the cultural and political events that helped lead to His Crucifixion.

But this year we stuck to the essentials that are mentioned in Exodus, during the first passover. Well, we just talked about the lamb, and we don’t drink wine so we used Acai Juice;) The kids were really interested this year in learning the symbolism of the Passover and I had to giggle when Fiesta asked, “But Mom, what does the guacamole signifize (aka: symbolize)?)

IMG_1730                                                                              Fiesta liked cutting up all the marshmallows for our Resurrection Rolls

On Good Friday we made our Empty Tomb Rolls (aka: Resurrection Rolls), discussing about how this day was in remembrance of the day that Jesus actually died and was put in the tomb.

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IMG_1742IMG_1743      Today I think we FINALLY (hopefully) wiped up the last of the flour that got scattered throughout the house;)

We covered them with foil and put them in the refridgerator so that we can bake them on Sunday morning and open them to find that the “tomb” is empty!

IMG_1748                                                                                 Button was trying to talk me into letting her go in the pool, “Poo, Poo Mommy!”

Today we did some of our normal Saturday cleaning in preparation for the Sabbath, but to make it a little different we also “purged” a bit of our excess. Each of the kiddos chose some toys (one for each year of life they have had) to give away to someone that could use it more than they.

I thought this was a good way for the kids to realize that Easter time is a time to reflect and renew, getting rid of things that are not in alignment with living a Christian life. Not that toys are bad, just a symbolic way they can look at their little lives and decide “I don’t really need this.” I’m hoping that we can discuss this some more tomorrow as we watch our traditional Easter movie.

We were going to go to a special park that is a ways from our home that has some trees that remind me of Olive trees, to talk about the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsamane. We did this a few years ago in Peru when we lived near a park with Olive trees and my son still remembers it. Unfortunately, Button had a fever and was NOT a happy camper, so we will have to save that outing either for tomorrow afternoon or sometime next week.

IMG_1752IMG_1758                                                                                  It turned out that some time in the pool with big brother was just what she needed to feel better!

We finished off the day with some swimming as a family and Engineer made us a good hot-dog roasting fire and helped the girls roast (burn?) theirs, which also helped him sign off some of his Scouting assignments.IMG_1761                                                          You can’t eat hot-dogs at the dining table! Improvised picnic….

 

IMG_1772                                                                                        I’ll explain in a separate post how we’re doing the Boy Scouts of America program in Mexico🙂

He also helped Mom this week when she was mostly on the couch to take care of lots of domestic duties and even made a couple meals, which also helped him complete some Boy Scout activities…can we say win-win?

All in all it was a rewarding week and we’re looking forward to celebrating the Resurrection tomorrow as we attend our church meetings, sing in the choir, deliver Resurrection Rolls to friends and watch videos about the life of Christ together as family.

We will also enjoy a “Jerusalem meal”, that will include foods that were typically eaten in Jesus’ time, this will also be a scavenger hunt as I list off the foods and the kiddos can go find them in the fridge and cupboard to put on the table.

We hope that the peace, hope, and joy that comes from the celebration of Easter may rest in your homes as your celebrate with those you love 🙂

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Spring-y

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SPRING BREAK! This was such an adorable shot, had to snatch a memory!

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As you can see it only takes a moment for the perfect pose to break up 🙂

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Family Sand Castle! Hahaha! It’s hard to make the hang-loose sign AND smile at the camera!

So I’ve mentioned in past posts that we try to keep the mainstream North American “Easter” traditions (ie:candies, eggs, bunnies, chicks, non-religious “Easter” movies) separate from our actual Easter celebration. We still dye eggs, have egg hunts, some treats and use some of the cute movies and baby animals but we do that either on the first day of Spring or the weekend directly following it. We also use the beginning of Spring as a way to explain the symbolism of the Resurrection. That way there is plenty of time for the kids to enjoy but be ready for our more spiritual approach to the Easter Celebration.

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The sun was literally just coming up, which I’m assuming is why Fiesta looks so dreamy eyed;)

This year we had the opportunity to actually go on a family trip to the beach for our Spring Break and Spring Celebration. We mostly just enjoyed being together and having fun and enjoying the beauty of God’s creations. But we also had an egg hunt at the beach!

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A-HA! I SEE ONE!!!!! 

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Look what I found! 

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OOOOHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I found one tooooooo!!!!!! 

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First matching beach hats (Gotta love Mexico! About 75 cents each! 🙂

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Creative chaos….can you spot the Minion eggs?

When we got home we invited over some friends to decorate real eggs and had an egg hunt all together afterwards. The kids really had so much fun and as usual it was fun learning more about our Mexican friends Easter traditions and sharing ours with them. 

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I think the Moms had as much fun as the kids:) (so much fun I can’t take an in-focus picture, right;) 

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We kind of like glitter:)

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What? It’ll break if I play with it like a ball? 

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The hunt is on….as you can tell the boys are pretty serious about it;)

 

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Last egg found! Bittersweet victory….

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They didn’t even wait to get back home to start eating them!

Our kiddos had plenty of fun and were all ready when Palm Sunday approached to learn more about the events leading up to Easter. Stay tuned for my next post on our Easter week Celebration!:)

Celebrate Spring!

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We started our celebration of spring with a some “flower power” pancakes!Image

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we do a lot of the “traditional” Easter customs on the first day of spring to keep Easter a bit more sacred. This year, in an effort to be budget friendly and lower the sugar intake of my kids I opted for more fun activities to celebrate spring this year with just a touch of sweetness. This is the “marshmellow bouquet” that the kids made for their Dad (after eating theirs of course!)

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Can you see the egg? I thought I was so tricky but my son found even the most well-hidden eggs in our hunt this afternoon!

What is your family doing to celebrate spring?

Spring Eggs

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So, at our house, in order to keep Easter a bit more on the spiritual side, we do the more secular traditions in connection with the first day of Spring. Image

We dyed our eggs today and tomorrow the kids will get their fun chocolates and candies and we’ll hide and hunt for the eggs. The kids also like to watch an old clay-mation version movie of the “Easter” bunny. We’ve found this works well for us because then we can use the coming of spring to introduce Easter and the “New Beginning” we were all given in relation to those events.Starting with Palm Sunday on to Passover, Holy Week and Easter… we use plays, props, stories, scripture and even have a passover meal to help celebrate this wonderfully renewing time of year!

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