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Here's a recap of our January 10, 2023 Zoom Coffee Chat:

Favorite Lent and Holy Week Ideas and Lessons


During the live Zoom Chat
, our group of presenters featured their favorite Lent and Holy Week lesson ideas and resources, WHY they loved them, and how each could be adapted for at-home and church program use, in addition to using them in children's Sunday School.

Presenters: Robin Stewart, Cathy Walz, Neil MacQueen, and Amy Crane.

Our presenters' favorites are organized below in these four topics:

NOTE: in order to view some of the resources that we are sharing, you will need a FREE registered membership.

Other resources are available only to our Supporting Members.

Not sure if you are ready to spend $45 for a Supporting Membership? Take a look at our free sample Supporting Member only resource: The Writing Team's Jesus Is Born! lesson set. In it you will find seven creative lessons covering Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. Supporting Members also can download and teach with the 24 Sunday Software and EPC Bible software programs for children and youth, and provide the software to families in their congregations.  Take a look at the other great resources our Supporting Members have unlimited use of here.

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Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday Ideas and Resources

Whether your church celebrates Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, and whether or not your church has ashes at the Ash Wednesday service, we have ideas and resources that will help you shepherd children through these special days in the church year.

NEIL: Should children "give up" something for Lent? - a think piece with many different suggestions about how to give up something that can do something for others, and keeping our actions from drawing attention to ourselves.

AshWednesdayAshesGirlMinister



ROBIN: Create in me a clean heart soap project - a resource for a science lesson or part of a special Ash Wednesday family time.  This is a fun illustration of the serious topic of God sending Jesus to help us with our "heart problems."

soapHeart






  Check out these other resources to help you celebrate Shrove Tuesday (or Mardi Gras) and Ash Wednesday.

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Last edited by Amy Crane

Lessons and Resources for Lent

Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter. Lent is often described as a time of preparation and an opportunity to go deeper with God. It is a time for personal reflection and spiritual disciplines that prepare people’s hearts and minds for Good Friday and Easter. During that time, many churches offer special programs or at-home resources to assist families with their spiritual practices. Sunday school lessons also often focus on spiritual disciplines, particularly on prayer. We have a variety of resources to help you plan.

AMY: Sunday school lessons with Bible stories and themes for Lent - if your Sunday school follows the Common Lectionary (and even if it doesn't), we have creative Sunday school lessons (also useful for Wednesday night programs) that incorporate Lenten themes and Bible stories traditionally studied this time of year. This includes materials to help you disciple children in the practice of prayer. And be sure to take a look at the Writing Team's Lord's Prayer lesson set, which includes fun, easy-to-follow prayer lesson pdfs that you can give to parents to help them disciple their children in the practice of prayer.

LentStoriesLectionary



ROBIN: A "Weighty" Prayer Pretzel Workshop - at first consideration, making pretzels seems like nothing new or innovative. But when you look closer, you will find that this cooking workshop from our Writing Team's Jesus in Gethsemane lesson set is rich and deep and at the same time accessible for any group. The pretzel making is preceded by a physical demonstration showing that when you try to bear problems and issues by yourself (symbolized by stretching your hands to the side), you will fail. We all need help. But when you fold your hands together in prayer (like a pretzel), and share your burdens with God, you can handle more weight.  To help students remember this point and take time for prayer, make Prayer Pretzels.

pretzel-girl


NEIL: Temptation of Jesus Science (or Magic) Workshop - I love the pin-through-the-balloon demonstration (or magic trick) from the Writing Team's Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness lesson set. This is easy to do as a lesson or adaptable as a children's sermon. This object lesson is also is something kids can show family at home. "How does a good person 'resist' being popped/deflated by temptations?"

balloon



ROBIN: 40 day countdown to Easter Lenten Calendar - here is a tool you can give to parents to help them disciple their children in the traditional spiritual practices of Lent (prayer, fasting, giving/service, and study) with fun and easy to keep up with daily activities. We included a doc file so that you can edit the calendar to fit your community's needs and schedule.

Family2040






  Don't miss the other Lenten lessons and resources at our site.

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Sunday School Lessons for Holy Week Stories

Some churches teach the "Holy Week stories" (such as Palm Sunday, Last Supper, Crucifixion, Resurrection) in the weeks leading up to Easter, others focus on them on Easter Sunday and afterwards. No matter when you schedule these important stories related to Jesus' death and resurrection, we offer many engaging ways to share these stores with your students and families, including in our creative Writing Team lesson sets. All of our suggestions are appropriate for "traditional model" Sunday school churches (a different Bible story every week) as well as Workshop Rotation Model Sunday schools.



CATHY: Palm Sunday ~ Storytelling and Stone Art Workshop -  this creative art lesson from our Palm Sunday: Jesus is the One! Writing Team lesson set allows students to make the story personal and memorable as they create a "parade of stones" that "cry out" with the various types of responses and levels of faith people have in Jesus.

PalmSundayParade



ROBIN: Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet science lesson - an engaging lesson that drew my attention as a sensory activity for kids. Not only do the kids experience walking on a variety of textures, they also create a take-away Epsom salt "foot soak" which will allow them to continue to share the story.

Jesus-20Feet



NEIL: Make a communion tablecloth - I like this art workshop from the Writing Team's Last Supper ~ Lord's Supper lesson set because it helps kids connect to the Holy Week "Holy Thursday" worship service. I would add an element of kids being invited to worship that evening to present their tablecloth along with other holy objects, such as carrying in the bread and cup.  I also like this lesson because the Communion cloth can be worked on by many different classes. This project has lots of options and could be intergenerational, including having participants help decorate the cloth in a fellowship meal leading up to the service.

LastSupperArt1



CATHY: Garden of Gethsemane Prayer Labyrinth - a Prayer Labyrinth is a pathway one walks while contemplating, and is perfect for a Lenten practice or a Holy Week lesson. This form of practiced or led contemplation dates back centuries in the Christian tradition. Labyrinths can be simple or big, and have stations/objects/prompts spaced at intervals. In this lesson, the five stations help the students explore different kinds of prayers.

CrossLabyrinth



NEIL: Jesus Christ Superstar's amazing scene of Jesus in Gethsemane - not only is this scene super-dramatic and emotionally powerful, but also it makes us deal with the essential truth of Holy Week that is often glossed over with kids:  Jesus is going to be killed. (As a Supporting Member benefit, access this complete outline and discussion guide to the entire movie Jesus Christ Superstar.)

JCS-Gethsemane-I-only-want-to-say



ROBIN: Two great videos for teaching about Peter's denial:

Crossroad Kids' Club, God's Story: Peter has a nice overview of who Peter was and what he did, and it includes references to his denial and restoration. I like this because it would appeal to almost any age child.

CrossroadKidsGodsStoryPeter



Meghan Adrian's video, Peter Denies Jesus, is a great example of how one of our Supporting Members created a great lesson and shared it on our site. The story is told and the concept of repentance is clearly explained, all in 6 minutes.

MeghanAdrianVideoPeterDeniesJesus



CATHY: Trial and Crucifixion Games Workshop - this relay game helps reinforce what the students have learned about the Bible story in an active way as they hop or skip or tiptoe to and from a basket with various symbols of the trial and crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. After retrieving a symbol, they identify it and how it relates to the Bible story.

RelayGame



IAN: A "Stations Reflection" Workshop - this unique lesson from the Writing Team's Jesus Goes to the Cross lesson set allows students to participate in three "learning stations" that take them through Mark's story of the Cross with a special focus on the meaning of the Cross for us today. It includes activities that incorporate two songs about the cross—one traditional and one contemporary—and a science experiment. One of the hallmarks of the Workshop Rotation Model is its emphasis on the importance of teaching scripture and life application through a variety of teaching media and learning senses.

sin.experiment1



AMY: Dish Garden Tomb - this art project from the Writing Team's Mary Magdalene: Meeting Jesus at the Empty Tomb lesson set is an example of the type of art project that our Writing Team strives to develop: a meaningful end product that children can create, that helps to tell the Bible story, that supports life-application discussions, and that will make it home (rather than being left at church or on the floor of the family van). And, as is the case for all of our WT lessons, this lesson also includes a variety of adaptation suggestions for those with less time and for younger children.

dishgarden



CATHY: The Road to Emmaus Computer Workshop - the Easter story doesn't end with the resurrection! We have creative lessons to help you teach about Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, including this one that uses the Jesus in Space Bible software that is FREE for our Supporting Members. Students re-create the story using snowmen and icy props, which helps them focus on the story. Playing it back provides the repetition needed for the story to really sink in.

JesusInSpaceEmmaus

AMY: Families Celebrating Easter and the Resurrection Stories at home and while traveling - many churches have families that travel during Easter (visiting Grandma or DisneyWorld). We have heard that Family Discipleship is important to you, and so we have a number of suggestions that you can send with your families – some are simple and easy to pack like a link to a video with discussion points and some are family lessons that will add an activity and Bible study to their time together away from home and church.

bulk-colorful-bright-plastic-easter-eggs-OrientalTrading






  We have many more lesson plans for the stories of Holy Week to help you teach about Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, the Resurrection (Easter), and more—including five extra-creative Writing Team lessons sets!

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  • PalmSundayParade
  • bulk-colorful-bright-plastic-easter-eggs-OrientalTrading
  • CrossLabyrinth
  • JesusInSpaceEmmaus
  • RelayGame
  • LastSupperArt1
  • JCS-Gethsemane-I-only-want-to-say
  • dishgarden
  • sin.experiment1
  • Jesus-20Feet: from the Annie Vallotton Bible Illustration Collection
  • CrossroadKidsGodsStoryPeter
  • MeghanAdrianVideoPeterDeniesJesus
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Holy Week Programming and Event Ideas

Many lessons at our site are easily adapted to be live performances, videos that can be shared during worship, or special events.

NEIL: Seder-like "Story of the Cross" Scripted Meal - most "Seders" or Passover/Last Supper scripts are focused on the story of Passover and the Last Supper, but in this cooking lesson from the Writing Team Jesus Goes to the Cross lesson set, the Writing Team and Cathy Walz developed a "Seder-like" interactive meal that tells the story of Jesus' Crucifixion. Their script can easily be used in Sunday School or as an all-church meal.

WT-CrossLogoHeart



AMY: Easter Egg Hunt Ideas - Easter Egg Hunts are often a chaotic candy grab and sugar rush. But if done with some thought, they can be a great way to invite children and families to your church and share the Gospel message of Christ's death and resurrection in a meaningful and fun way.

EmptyTombTent


CATHY: even if you are focusing on a specific event in Holy Week, it can be nice to have a workshop that helps the students see how everything flows together. This Events of Easter Week Lego workshop by Luanne Payne was an adaptation of Creative Carol's Events of Holy Week photography lesson.

EasterLegoWorkshop.JesusArrest

JesusLastSupper.PhotographyWkshop

Creative Carol's Holy Week photography lesson also inspired Jaymie Derden to create this Shadow Drama that you can use as a class activity which can later be shared with the congregation, either recorded or live.






AMY: I am going to wrap up our "official" sharing with a great resource that doesn't fit into any of our categories—or actually, it fits into all of them: The Annie Vallotton Bible Illustrations Collection. Don and Pat Griggs commissioned these illustrations of Jesus' life from noted Bible illustrator Annie Vallotton; her work should look familiar to those of you who have used the American Bible Society's Good News Bible. Of particular interest today are the illustrations of Jesus' Last Week & Resurrection. These illustrations can be used for newsletters, slides in worship, lessons, and more!

MaryMAndJesus






Take a look at our resources for Palm Sunday, Easter egg hunts, and more, and share how you have adapted lessons and resources into programs for your congregation.

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"After Chat" Coffee

Additional resources for Lent and Easter shared by participants who stuck around after the event

  • SparkleEggBookHeather Margerison recommended The Sparkle Egg, by the same author as The Sparkle Box, which was recommended in our Advent resources. The Sparkle Egg link includes a copy of the book so you can preview it and also has discussion questions (for children and adults) and activities to go with the book.  (Dana Jackson also gave the book a —she has used it for a children's message.)
    You can also check out how Board Member Luanne Payne used this book along with dissolving paper-see details here.

  • Mary Abe shared that she used a Stations of the Cross artwork lesson from our site. It was well-received as an intergenerational Lent program. (She did not remember exactly where she found the lesson, and I have not found it yet, but here are a number of creative ideas for Stations of the Cross. If you find the lesson she is referring to, please share a link below. Thanks!)

  • Barbara Fitzsimmons used the Hands on Easter Story, which is a prayer station walk through Holy Week from Flame Creative Children's Ministry last year, and she recommends it.

  • Cindy Yanchury has used Flame Creative Children's Ministry materials also, and they offer many free lessons and handouts. She particularly recommends the Play Dough Mats. Here is an example of one for the Last Supper:

    last supper mat

  • Neil MacQueen recommended JustWatch, a guide to where you can find movies streaming. For example, you can currently find Jesus Christ Superstar streaming on a number of platforms, but nowhere for free.

  • From Marcia Smith: In the fall of 2021, our elementary students explored the sacrament of Holy Communion. At the close of the unit we used canvas fabric squares and fabric crayons to make a Communion cloth. We presented it to the congregation in worship one Sunday. It was a very meaningful activity for our students and a touching one for our adult congregation, as they saw the children change the Communion table cloth and re-place the candles, pitcher, plate and chalice. (These pictures are parts of the cloth.)

    communionCloth1communionCloth2



We are grateful that several participants hung around a bit after the Coffee Chat to give us some feedback.

  • Michael Tracy said he likes the adaptability of what we offer, as everyone has different space, size, and resources.
  • Mary Ann Johnson says, "Rotation.org is wonderful for small churches - it is adaptable and affordable."
  • Robin Stewart's 40 Day Countdown to Easter Lenten Calendar received high accolades for its adaptability as well as its creativity.
  • Suzanne Garcia, a new Supporting Member from the New York City area (Long Island), said she'd love to connect with people doing Workshop Rotation Model in the NYC area for ideas, support, and encouragement. Please reach out to her if you are in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, or that area (or let us know and we will put you in touch with her).

We encourage you to spread the word about the creative resources available here at Rotation.org and invite a friend or fellow teacher to join you at our next Coffee Chat!

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