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Bible passage: John 20:1-18

Background: This story is filled with wonder and amazement, detailing a journey from utter despair to outrageous joy. This session encourages the children to physically participate in that journey as they empathise with those who witnessed events first hand, and experience for themselves the celebration Easter Sunday brings to all of us.



5 minutes

As you begin the session, invite the children to sit together in a circle and give out your refreshments. Encourage the children to share their stories and news from the week and celebrate special events that have taken place, such as birthdays. Ask the children to think about their best day ever. What made it so good? Do they have more than one best day ever? Invite them to share their stories and celebrate their happy memories together.



10 minutes

You will need: access to the internet, either during the session or beforehand if you learn the signs

Explain that we are going to be thinking about different emotions, so we are going to learn how to sign, using British Sign Language (BSL), some of the different signs for our feelings.

Use the online BSL dictionary, which can be found at to watch and practise the signs together, or rehearse them before the session, ready to teach them to the children yourself. Words used could include: sad, frightened, surprised, amazed and happy. Talk about each of the feelings as you practise them, checking that the children have a good understanding of what they mean. Invite them to briefly share their own experiences of these different emotions.



10 minutes

You will need: a garden space to retell this story or use potted plants and green blankets to create an appropriate space in your venue

Gather the children together at the edge of the garden space and explain that you are going to think about what happened to some of Jesus’ friends a few days after they had seen him die on the cross. You may want to find a space where you can sit together to tell the story, but it could work particularly well if you are able to move around as a group (as described below), linking movement to emotion so they can experience the story in a more direct way.

Ask the children how they think Jesus’ friends would have felt when they got to the garden, perhaps using the signs learnt earlier. Then say:

Very early on the Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb, as they would have done in those days, to treat his body with special oils. Tiptoe through the garden to an assigned place, perhaps a rock.

But when she got there she was amazed to discover that the stone had been rolled away. You could sign ‘Amazed’.

She ran back to find Jesus’ friends. Encourage the children to rush back to the garden entrance.

The friends hurried back through the garden to see what had happened. Run back through, showing how desperate Jesus’ friends were to see for themselves.

They couldn’t understand where Jesus had gone. Perhaps they were worried, or maybe they were confused. Ask the children how they might be feeling right now.

Jesus’ friends left the tomb to go and tell the others what they had seen. Mary stayed by his tomb. While she was there, two angels appeared inside it. They asked her why she was so sad. Mary was trying to explain to the angels that someone must have taken Jesus’ body away when someone appeared behind her. Involve the children in turning around, wondering who it could be.

At first, Mary thought it must be the gardener, but when he spoke she knew it was Jesus; not dead, but alive and standing right in front of her!

Jesus sent Mary to tell his friends she had seen him, so she hurried off once more. It really was the best day ever!



5 minutes

Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:

  • What is your favourite part of this story?
  • Was there anything you didn’t like about the story?
  • How do you think Mary felt when she realised it was Jesus?
  • Why do you think this was the best day ever?



15 minutes

You will need: trays; a selection of materials to create a garden (this could be playdough and artificial flowers or items collected from your time in the garden such as grass and stones; peg people; appropriate tools)

Invite the children to use these materials to create an Easter garden; either individually or working together to form one larger garden. Encourage them to think about what this place might have been like and what features to include, for example a tomb and a pathway. Provide blank peg dolls for the children to use as key characters in the story. As you create your gardens, talk about the story and encourage them to ask any questions they may have.



5 minutes

You will need: pens or pencils and paper; balloons

Tell the children you are going to celebrate Easter in your prayers. Give each child a small piece of paper and invite them to draw or write their praise or thank you prayers to God. It could be as simple as: “Thank you for Easter Sunday” or something specific they have discovered during the session.

Invite the children to put their prayers into a balloon, then help them blow up and tie the balloons. Play some praise music and invite the children to celebrate who Jesus is and what he has done, dancing and throwing the balloons around. When the music stops, pop the balloons and invite them to gather the prayers in the centre of the group. Pray over these prayers and over the children, thanking Jesus for what he has done for us.

(Some children may not like balloons popping, so have some scissors ready to cut the top off the balloons if necessary.)