Journeying through Holy Week with children can be a challenge. The altered schedule, additional services, and the overall intensity of the week are a lot for anyone to participate in and to fully embrace, regardless of their age. However, a little pre-planning can focus each person’s attention during the Holy Week journey, allowing for a beautiful and more peaceful experience for grownups and kids alike. We have gathered a handful of resources that may help. We have included ideas of ways that you can prepare ahead of time in order to be ready for the whole week, as well as ways to encourage children to embrace each day’s experiences and service(s). We hope that one or more of these will be helpful to you and the children in your care.
To Prepare for the Week as a Whole:
Here are ideas for learning boxes for young children to explore during Holy Week, offering a hands-on way for little children (or anyone who understands the world better through tactile experiences) to interact with the events of the week as it unfolds.
Find a variety of craft ideas and resources for engaging children in Holy Week.
Check out The Children’s Word, a free printable resource that is offered every Sunday (not just during Lent). It offers insights and activities for children to engage in, every Sunday, to help them better understand what they’re experiencing in the Liturgy.
The Center for Family Care of the GOA offers this guide to Holy Week that is helpful to parents and teachers alike. It includes an entire page of ways to prepare ahead of time, to enhance the experience of the week. It also has useful information about each service of Holy Week that can hone your focus.
Print and assemble a booklet for each child to take with them to the services of Holy Week. Each service’s activities are listed in order, with a pictorial listing included as well, to help the children follow along in the service. These free downloadable booklets are available in a variety of forms and languages.
Lazarus Saturday activities:
This Lazarus game uses pre-wrapped treats, passed around a small group of children, to illustrate a point. *Note: if the children in your care have allergies, please keep those in mind as you prepare the treats, or select small prizes that are non-food gifts.
Find several resources (including a book suggestion, craft idea, and even a recipe) for helping children learn about Lazarus Saturday in this blog post.
Practice folding palm crosses.
Palm Sunday activities:
Find a simple retelling of the story of Palm Sunday, an activity page, and even a lesson plan from OrthodoxABC.
Read the Palm Sunday story, written in easy-to-understand language.
Here you will find a printable guide to Palm Sunday and Holy Week for kids.
(Also, find Bridegroom Services info for older children and parents/teachers.)
Holy Week activities:
Here is a helpful webinar with ideas of ways to help children participate in Holy Week.
Find brief descriptions of the Holy Week services, written in a way that children can understand.
Find practical, hands-on tips for helping children to better experience Holy Week here: http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2010/03/holy-week-for-kids.html?m=1 and here: https://www.orthodoxmom.com/blog/2011/04/18/holy-week-activities-for-kids.
Find a fantastic selection of lesson plans, discussion ideas, and activity suggestions for helping children “Journey to Pascha”. The lessons are leveled by age group, so be sure to check out each lesson for the ages of your children! (There are also many printable pdfs including a “Guide to Holy Week” that children can take with them or read, prior to each service.)
Spend some time looking closely at the icons of Holy Week, and then talk together about these insightful questions related to each one.
Make a mural for the events of Holy Week.
Watch a 5-minute story, animated with Legos, from the Last Supper through the resurrection.
See the 25-minute animated story of Holy Week through the resurrection from The Beginner’s Bible.
Find printable coloring pages for Holy Week.
The Pascha Preparations page on the Sparks 4 Orthodox Kids site has a free Holy Week Coloring Booklet, a coloring page for “Lord Of the Powers” hymn, as well as a few craft ideas.
Holy Thursday activities:
Jesus washed His disciples’ feet word search.
Find a printable Holy Thursday notebooking page.
Read the Last Supper story written in easy-to-understand language.
Find the Last Supper icon to color from the OCA Department of Christian Education.
Find a printable, colorable icon of Christ washing His disciples’ feet, also from OCA Department of Christian Education.
Holy Friday activities:
Quiet activities for Holy Friday and Saturday.
Printable coloring pages for Holy Friday.
Read the story of the crucifixion written in easy-to-understand language.
Print the crown of thorns icon to color.
Print a colorable icon of the crucifixion.
Find a printable, colorable icon of the burial of Christ.