Skip to main content

In addition to these public lessons and ideas posted below, our Writing Team has been creating some terrific lesson sets for our supporting members that cover Holy Week stories. Here's the Team's link to the John 20 story of Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John meeting Jesus at the Empty Tomb.

Related Lesson Forums:
Road to Emmaus, Jesus eats breakfast, Feed My Sheep, Great Commission, Ascension

The illustration seen here is part of the Annie Vallotton Holy Week Collection at

Art Lessons, Ideas, Activities, and Resources for the Empty Tomb and Resurrection.

Including: Jesus, Stone rolled away, angels, He is risen, Mary Magdalene, Women at tomb, and related stories. Matthew 28:1-18, Mark 16, John 20:1-18, Luke 24, resurrection, etc. Bible lessons for the Empty Tomb and Resurrection -with Art, craft, painting, construction, drawing, etc.

Post your Sunday School ART lessons, ideas, activities, and resources for the Empty Tomb and Resurrection.

  • Please include a scripture reference, supply lists, sources, suggested age range. age modification, etc.
  • Photos are much appreciated!  Click "attachments" and upload to your post.
  • Please be careful not to post copyrighted materials. Excerpting and paraphrasing is okay. Include attribution.

Cross Art Project

One of our members came across this nice "cross art" project at and posted it. We've added some notes.

You buy the framed blank canvas, then the kids use masking tape to create the shape of the cross, then paint, then remove the tape.  Yes, you could have them paint on paper, but what are the odds of that painting making it out of mom or dad's car after church?? Create a hanging piece of art for the entire family.

Tip: use painter's tape that seals nicely. Brush a minimum amount of paint over the tape so as not to soak the edge in case the paint wants to run under the tape.

For teaching purposes:

The choice of colors, changes in colors, and changes in brush strokes can represent the Easter themes of dark to light, grey to colorful, sin to salvation, despair to hope, death to life.

These contrasts can be explored and discussed using paint on newspaper PRIOR to painting on the canvas. A teacher can paint an example and ask students "what part of the Easter story might be represented by grey or dark colors? By my bright color?

You could also invite your students to paint a tiny image of the Risen Christ standing with the student. Use the stick end of the brush to 'scratch' it into the existing paint before it dries.

As well, students could scratch-in meaningful words, such as, "Jesus is Alive," "He is risen" before the paint dries. (Scratching in allows for a more precise drawing on the canvas than attempting to paint letters or figures with the brush.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

The Resurrection

Art Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will use oil pastels to create a picture of the events at the empty tomb, the women discovering the news, or the disciples meeting Jesus in Galilee.

Scripture Reference:

Matthew 28:1-18

Key Scripture Verses:
Matthew 28:5-6a The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus who was nailed to the cross. He isn’t here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would.” (Contemporary English Version)

Memory Verse:  
“Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you.” Matthew 28:19-20 (CEV)


  • God raised Jesus from the dead.
  • Disciples believe that Jesus was crucified and then raised from the dead.

Lesson Objectives:

  • Learn that Jesus rose from the dead (this is the Easter story). God sent an angel to open the tomb, not to let Jesus out but to show that the tomb was empty. 
  • Understand that Jesus’ resurrection means that although he died on the cross, he now has new life, bringing hope, love and joy to people who believe. 
  • Know that the disciples had mixed feelings about Jesus resurrection. They were frightened, doubtful, excited and worshipful. They followed his instructions and as he foretold found him in Galilee.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture passage and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Workshop.
  • Prepare an opening prayer in case nobody volunteers to pray.
  • Check the art room to see what supplies exist. Make a sample of pastel blending – not an interpretation of the scene.
  • Prepare all the materials you will need for the creation process. Have the materials ready to go. There will be limited time for the creation process, so do everything you can to conserve time. 
  • Decide how you want to close the lesson. Prepare a prayer or use one of the group suggestions.

Materials List:

  • Oil Pastels
  • Pastels
  • 8” X 10” pastel paper
  • Illustration of a Roman guard

Lesson Plan


Welcome the children and introduce yourself. Wear your nametag. 

Start the “lesson time” with prayer. Ask for volunteers, but plan on praying yourself. A short prayer thanking Jesus for being a part of our lives always would be appropriate.


Bible Story:

  1. This is the Easter Story. Jesus resurrection proved that he was the Son of God. Holy week had just ended. Jesus had been betrayed, put on trial before the Roman rulers, crucified on the cross, died and was placed in a tomb carved out of rock. The entrance to the tomb was sealed tight with an enormous rock and soldiers were posted to guard the tomb to be sure that no one entered and took Jesus’ body away.
  2. It was the third day after the crucifixion. Early that Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and another woman went to see the tomb. Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and God sent an angel down from heaven. The angel rolled away the heavy stone and sat on it. He looked as bright as lightening and his clothes were white as snow. The soldiers guarding the tomb shook with fear and fell down on the ground. The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to the cross. He isn’t here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying.” Indeed, the tomb was empty!
  3. Then the angel said “Hurry, tell the disciples that Jesus has been raised to life and is on his way to Galilee. Go there and you will see him. That is what I came to tell you.” The women were frightened and yet very happy, as they hurried from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and greeted them. They went up to him, touched his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid! Tell my followers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.” When Jesus was at the Last Supper (Passover) he had told his disciples, “After I am raised to life, I will go to Galilee ahead of you” (Matt. 26:32). Now the women went to tell the disciples the same thing.
  4. Jesus’ eleven disciples went to the mountain in Galilee as Jesus had instructed. They saw Jesus and worshiped him. At first, some disciples found it hard to believe that he was really there. Jesus came to them and said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
  5. Take a minute to talk to the children about the creation they are going to be doing in this workshop. Tell them that they will be using oil pastels to illustrate one of the stories in paragraphs 2, 3 or 4 (above).


  1. Create! Have the children listen to the Bible story (1-4 above) and with their eyes closed, visualize the three different scenes. They probably know that Jesus, his disciples and the women wore long robes. Jesus is usually shown wearing white and the story says that the angel wore white. Show them a picture of a Roman soldier/guard in uniform but do not leave it out for them to copy.
  2. Tell them to choose one scene and depict it in a glowing picture done in oil pastels. These were special events and the joyous brightness of Christ’s resurrection should shine in their art.
  3. Steps: Pass out sheets of 8 x 10 pastel paper. Each child should print his or her name in pencil on the back. Sharing sets of oil pastels, they should work on their creation. The pastel results are best when large areas are done in shapes of one color. When almost complete, areas can be highlighted (brightened) with regular pastels.
  4. Clean up! Involve everyone in cleaning up so that you will have time to share together in the closing.


Ask the shepherds to pass out Journals and pencils/markers. The children should spend a few minutes reflecting upon the morning's lesson – Who was at the tomb? What happened? Who did Jesus appear to? What did he tell them?

Ask the kids to close their journals and prepare for the closing prayer.


Encourage the children to think about what resurrection means.

Tell them that their Pennies will be given to the Pentecost Offering to help the youth and young adult ministries.

Say the Key Memory Verse together (see above). You may want to have this verse printed on a banner and hung in the room, write it on the white board in the room, or have it on slips of paper that each child can take home.

Pray! Ask the children if they have any prayer requests. Thank God for giving us his Son Jesus to be with us always.

A lesson written by Catherine from Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church, 
Cary, NC

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

The Empty Tomb/Resurrection Appearances

Art Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will sculpt a 3-D Tomb scene.

Scripture References:

John 20:1-21, Matthew 28:1-15, Luke 24:1-12 and 36-44 (Not all passages used in all workshops. See specific lesson plans for passages used.)

Key Verse:
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Luke 24:5 NRSV

Rotation Objectives — children will learn:

That the women found Jesus’ tomb empty. That the stone was moved away not to let Jesus out, but so people could see Jesus had risen from the dead.

  • The resurrected Jesus appeared to his followers; first the women, then to disciples in a locked room.
  • Jesus was alive! Jesus was raised from the dead to give us new life.
  • The empty tomb and resurrection appearances help us believe in Jesus.
  • Older kids: where to find the story in the Bible.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Prepare an opening and/or closing prayer in case you need one.
  • Gather the materials.
  • Fill milk jug with warm water (our Art room doesn’t have access to a sink)
  • Cover the tables with newspaper.
  • Pre-cut some pieces of the Plaster Cloth.
  • For 1st and 2nd grade: Do some pre-construction on their “tomb” by taking crumpled up newspaper, covering it with one piece of foil, and stapling the foil to the wooden base. (It only needs about 4 or 5 staples. Plaster cloth will help “glue” tomb to base.) We found this step to be necessary as younger kids otherwise had trouble completing their project (too many steps).

Materials List:

  • Bibles for grades 3 and up.
  • For 1st & 2nd grade: a story Bible telling the story of John 20: 1-16
  • Wooden base (one per student)- we used 3/32 inch thick basswood which came 4 inches wide and 24 inches long- this was cut into 4 inch pieces. (So a wooden base was 4x6.) At Michael’s Craft store, each board is about $2.50. So each base works out to about 63 cents.
  • “Rigid Wrap” Plaster Cloth by Activa Products. Purchased at Michael’s.
  • Clean meat trays, Newspaper (lots!), Paper towel, Wet Wipes, Foil
  • Scissors, stapler, staples, pencils
  • Painting smocks, Acrylic paint, paint brushes- foam & small
  • Clean milk jug with lid, hair dryer
  • Sample empty tomb scene.
  • Older kids: Pipe cleaners, instructions on making Pipe Cleaner figures (see resources).

Lesson Plan


Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the art workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.

For 1st & 2nd grade:
These students often need something active to do at the start of the workshop. If it appears that this is the case—see the suggested activity at the end of the lesson. (It is ok to ask the Shepherd to lead this short activity).

Say: Let’s begin with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Dear God, Thank you for wanting to have a special relationship with each one of us. At this Easter time we are reminded of the gift of your son, Jesus, who died and yet came back to life again. What a surprise it must have been for the followers to discover the empty tomb. We thank you Lord, for the empty tomb, because we know it means that Jesus is alive. Thank you for this wonderful gift. Amen

Pass around a basket to collect offering. Remind everyone what the current Missions & Me project is: Habitat for Humanity. (Share something you know about Habitat for Humanity.)
[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

Ask: What are some symbols of Easter? (allow a few answers: Easter eggs, butterflies, cross, flowers, etc.)

Show the sample, completed art project.
Ask: What about this as a symbol of Easter? (accept all responses)

Say: Today we’re going to learn how this scene is a symbol of Easter. You’ll each get to make one of these creations. The Bible tells us that Jesus was buried in a tomb and the tomb was closed with a large stone. In Jesus’ time, when people died, their bodies were often buried in a cave called a tomb. A large, circular stone would cover the entrance to the tomb. The stone rolled in a channel carved in front of the cave, so the tomb could be opened and closed.
Ask: Does anyone know what happened to that stone on the very first Easter morning? (it was rolled away) Was the stone rolled away so Jesus could get out? (no)
Say: The stone was rolled away so that the followers of Jesus could see that the tomb was empty! Jesus was alive! This is the reason why we celebrate Easter – Jesus was alive. We can talk more about this as we work. Let’s get started.

Start the art project:
For younger students:
Have the Shepherd help you write student’s first and last name on the bottom of prepared “tombs” (see preparations above). Pass them out to students.

For older students:
Give everyone a wooden base. Have them write their full name on one side (first and last name please!) This becomes the bottom of their creation.
Show the students how to take some crumpled up newspaper, cover it with one piece of foil, and staple the foil to the wooden base. (It doesn’t really need more than 4 or 5 staples. Plaster cloth will help “glue” tomb to base.)

For all students:
Have kids roll up sleeves and put on paint smocks.

Demonstrate for the students:

  1. Pour a little warm water into a meat tray.
  2. Take a piece of the Plaster Cloth, and dip it in the water.
  3. Lift out of water and allow it to drip for a few seconds.
  4. Apply it to their newspaper/foil “tomb”. Place pieces in such a way that they act to help “glue” the tomb to the board.
  5. Show them how they can smooth out the Plaster Cloth with damp fingers.
  6. Not too many layers (max of 5, but 2 is plenty). Not too wet!
  7. Add pieces of Plaster Cloth to cover tomb. Shape as desired.

Give everyone a meat tray and a few pieces of the Plaster Cloth. Pour a little warm water into each meat tray (doesn’t take much). Allow access to scissors for cutting smaller pieces of the Plaster Cloth. Let the creations begin!

Before being painted, the tombs need to dry a bit. Do a quick hand clean up so you can move on to reading the Bible story. Leave smocks on! Have kids wipe their hands with wet wipes and paper towel. (Try to avoid trips to wash hands in the bathroom, as it will take too much time. They are going to get messy again when they paint their creations.)

After a majority of students have finished with shaping their tomb, start in on reading the Bible story. First ask these questions:
Ask: What are the first four books of the New Testament? (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
What do we call these four books? (the Gospels, which means good news)
Say: Open your Bible to the Gospel of John.
Ask: Does everyone remember the quick way to find the New Testament? (Open the Bible at its halfway point. Take the back half and divide it in half – you will be at the beginning of the New Testament.)
What do the Gospels tell about? (stories of Jesus)
Say: All four Gospels tell what happened on the first Easter. Each of them tells the story a little differently; that’s because the gospels were written by different people. Let’s hear what John wrote.

For 3rd grade and up:
Have the kids find John, chapter 20, verse 1, in their Bibles. Going around in a circle, have kids take turns reading verses 1- 16, each reading one verse. (They may pass if they don’t wish to read.) Remember to encourage kids to bring their own Bibles.

For 1st and 2nd grade:
Read the Arch Book: The Story of the Empty Tomb. Show the pictures as you read. [Note that to follow our workshop objectives, the wording to this story has been modified. Read the post-it notes in the book as the story text.]

For all students:
Say: I’m going to have you start painting your tomb. While you’re painting we can talk about the story we just read. (Note: It is possible to paint the tombs even if they aren’t completely dry. Try a hair-dryer on any that are really wet.)

Work some more on the art project:
Supply acrylic paint in small puddles on meat trays. Have the Shepherd help you dispense paint. The foam brushes work best at applying paint; a dabbing motion works better than trying to swipe the paint on. A little paint goes a long way! Show them how to use several colors for a more natural effect.

Additional Discussion (While working, bring up any of these topics):
Say: Mary Magdalene went to the tomb on the first Easter.
Ask: What did she find? (stone rolled away, empty tomb)
What was Mary’s reaction? (surprise, fear, thought body had been taken away)
Say: Mary went and told Peter and John, and they went to look at the empty tomb.
Ask: How do you suppose Peter and John felt? (confused)
I wonder why Jesus showed himself to Mary at the tomb, but not Peter?
Why didn’t Mary recognize Jesus? (allow all answers)

Say: Jesus had told his disciples many times that he would be killed but on the third day, God would raise him from the dead.
Ask: Why were the followers of Jesus surprised to find that Jesus had risen and was alive? (they forgot Jesus’ promise or maybe they just didn’t understand what Jesus had been saying)

Say: We hear the words “resurrection of Jesus”, what does resurrection mean? (literally means "rise again")

This empty tomb scene isn’t your typical symbol of Easter. Most symbols of Easter are bright and colorful (think butterflies, flowers). What is it about the empty tomb that still makes it an important symbol for Easter? (the empty tomb means Jesus is alive!)
Say: The empty tomb and Jesus appearing to his followers, helps us believe in God’s power. God promises us new life if we believe in )

[This topic good for older kids]
Say: At Christmas time we have manger scenes – crèches – to remind us of Jesus’ birth. This empty tomb scene is sort of like a crèche for Easter.
Ask: What is it about Easter that gives us a reason to celebrate Christmas? (God using his power to raise Jesus from the dead shows that Jesus was God’s Son, we thus have a reason to celebrate his birth)

If there’s additional time (option for older students): [Note: this activity may be too difficult for younger students.]
If students get done painting and have time to create some “people” for their scene, show them how to make pipe cleaner people. Use the printed sheet from Family Fun magazine (see resources for link).

Say: Today you created a wonderful symbol of Easter. When you show this to your family you can say: The important message is that the tomb was empty! Jesus’ death was not the end; it was a new beginning. The empty tomb reminds us of the new life that God has promised each of us. Jesus is alive!

Encourage everyone to come back next week for another workshop, and to invite friends to come too!

Resources for this Art Lesson:

  • MacQueen, Neil. An an art idea previously posted here at
  • Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church, Cary, NC. “ Resurrection”
  • “Easy Pipe Cleaner Pals” by Amy Ward from the Family Fun Magazine - supplies pipe cleaners, beads, plastic drinking straws.
  • The “busy” activity for 1st and 2nd graders was a song with motions from Cokesbury’s curriculum - “Exploring Faith: Early Elementary Spring 2002”.
    (which cannot be reproduced here for copyright reasons).

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First UMC
Ann Arbor, MI 

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Looking ahead for Easter/Resurrection, we will probably plan to have our "traditional" workshop make a garden tomb...with the stone rolled away!


I will plant the rye grass early enough in large shallow pans so the kids won't have to wait for it to actually grow. We will use a clay pot saucer/base and build up a mound from there with potting soil (so they can transplant the rye grass,) We will use a small clear or brown solo type cup on its side, 1/4 buried on the mound of soil, then cover the top of the cup w/ more soil. We will place a few smaller stones in and around the "hillside" and a larger flat rock leaning beside the cup/tomb opening for the rolled away stone, after they transplant the grass. I will help them gently scoop up a thin layer of the pre grown grass, and they will transplant it all over the potting soil areas. So they are left with the cup, on its side serving as a tomb in the hillside, but all covered with grass.


I will probably paint the inside of the cups a gray stone color in advance. We could even place a small battery powered tea light in the back of the cup. What a great nightlight! Probably have to do a slightly modified and smaller version for the youngest kids. I will send pics as soon as I can! 

Add Reply

Post a New Topic
Lesson or Resource Inc. is a volunteer-run, 100% member supported, 501(c)3 non-profit Sunday School lesson ministry. You are welcome to borrow and adapt content for non-commercial teaching purposes --as long as both the site and author are referenced. Inc reserves the right to manage, move, condense, delete, and otherwise improve all content posted to the site. Read our Terms of Service. Get a free Registered Membership or become a Supporting Member for full access to all site resources. is rated 5 stars on Google based on 51 reviews. Serving a global community including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, and more!
Link copied to your clipboard.