Easter brings an endless assortment of candy, stuffed bunnies, elaborate cards and annoying plastic grass that shoppers encounter as they visit the supermarket or drugstore. Despite these commercial aspects of the holiday, it’s hard to get away from the Christian roots that underpin the Easter holiday.
We all know that Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Less well known, however, is how the Easter Bunny and the Easter egg are connected. Originally the Easter bunny was a hare not a rabbit, and the harewas thought to be capable of birthing baby hares without assistance of the opposite sex, hence its affinity to the Virgin Mary. The egg represented a new birth and became a traditional Easter symbol. The hare has morphed into a rabbit and the Easter bunny and Easter eggs are now widespread symbols of the celebration.
These suggested Easter activities for preschoolers do not refer to its religious aspect, but rather focus on how we celebrate the event in our own culture.
Easter Activity #1:
We are fortunate that as a nation of immigrants we bring different traditions to Easter. Talk to your preschoolers about how we celebrate Easter. They may remember past Easters but more likely will be aware of it through visits to the store, home decorations, coloring books and television.
Ask if they know where their parents and grand-parents (and great grand-parents) came from as they settled in the United States. Children will ask their parents where the family was originally from and what kind of activities they did at Easter. The children copy the name of the country on to an activity sheet and draw pictures of activities and bring it back to the classroom. The teacher will list the countries and graph how many children are associated with it. This is also a wonderful opportunity to look at a large map of the world. Ask the children to identify the United States and where they live and then point to the different countries. Have the children place pins in their ‘home countries’ and then string yarn from the home country pin to where they live. Take time to discuss different Easter traditions pointing to the country as they are described.
Easter Activity #2:
Easter egg hunting is a fun activity for children. Hide plastic eggs around the classroom and have the children hunt for them. As they sit with the eggs they found, graph the number each child found and the color. Who found the most eggs? What colors were the eggs in order of frequency?
Easter Activity #3:
Ask the parents or another adult to take their preschooler to the supermarket. Be sure to emphasize that this is not to buy candy but rather to complete a classroom project about colors. On the assignment sheet write out the colors you would expect to find. When visiting the store, focus on only one section of shelving devoted to seasonal items and note the color and type of candy. During class talk about what they found. What was represented most by candy (probably the Easter bunny). Were they surprised by what they didn’t find? Relate the discussion to Easter traditions that came from other countries.