This is a series of creative projects for exploring the themes of Holy Week with young children. We started working on it during the COVID-19 crisis, when we had the extraordinary experience of spending Pascha at home.
Holy Week is a topic that has been explored by a wide variety of Orthodox religious education sources, so we felt we wouldn’t really be making a valuable contribution by offering lesson plans like we usually do. Instead, we thought it would be more effective to focus on a collection of creative activities that can be done while discussing the themes of each day. In the “Background” section at the bottom of this page, we have collected many external resources for you to explore that can be used in addition to our creative projects for complete lessons on the explored themes.
We have created two different planners that can be used together with the activities to help navigate Holy Week. You can choose between making a flapbook or a wheel. They can be found in the printable packet below.
WAYS TO USE THIS MATERIAL:
– At home, one or more activities could be done each day, on the actual day they are planned for. The child could follow along using one of the planners.
– At a religious retreat setting, the projects could be done together, as a unit on Holy Week and Pascha. The children could first make one of the planners to keep for Holy Week, and then proceed to do a selection of the activities.
– At Sunday School, only making a planner while discussing each theme could in itself comprise a Holy Week lesson – without doing any of the other activities. The projects could be offered as optional resources for the children to explore at home during Holy Week.
Free Lesson Plans and Extra Activities
Specifically for Lazarus Saturday and for Pascha, we have also created comprehensive lesson plans containing material that you can use together with the creative projects. Please visit the web pages:
– The Raising of Lazarus
– Four Icons for Pascha
THE EXPLORED THEMES
On Holy Week, many services are performed in anticipation, before the actual day they belong to. So, for example, the Orthros (Matins) of one day usually takes place on the evening of the previous day. We find this too confusing to explain to young children, so we have designed our planners and activities to go along with what is actually happening at church on each specific day. This way, for instance, on Holy Monday, we are working on a theme that actually belongs to Holy Tuesday, because this theme is mentioned at church in the evening of Holy Monday.
Additionally, on most days, there are more than one themes celebrated. We have chosen to work on some, but not all, of the celebrated themes.
Holy Week Wheel
Holy Week Flapbook
THE CREATIVE PROJECTS
Explored theme: The Raising of Lazarus
Bible reading: John 11: 1-45
* In addition to the creative projects, we have created a full lesson plan on the Raising of Lazarus, that also includes background information and a variety of printables and activities – it was the very first page we worked on for Orthodox Pebbles. *
Explored theme for Palm Sunday morning:
– The triumphant entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem
Bible reading: John 12: 12-18
Explored theme for Palm Sunday evening:
– The withered fig tree
Bible reading: Matthew 21: 18-20
HOLY MONDAY & TUESDAY
Explored theme for Holy Monday evening:
– The parable of the ten virgins
Bible reading: Matthew 25: 1-13
Explored theme for Holy Tuesday evening:
– The anointing of our Lord with myrrh by the woman in the house of Simon in Bethany
Bible reading: Matthew 26: 6-13
– The Sacrament of Holy Unction
– Judas’ betrayal
Bible reading: Luke 22: 1-7
– The Mystical Supper
Bible reading: Luke 22: 14-23
HOLY THURSDAY & FRIDAY
– The Crucifixion
– The Lament
On Holy Thursday evening, the “Twelve Gospels” are read, detailing the Holy Passion.
The parts about the Crucifixion are:
Mark 15: 21-32
Matthew 27: 35-54
The parts about the burial are:
John 19: 25-37
Mark 15: 43-47
John 19: 38-42
Matthew 27: 62-66
– Celebration of the “First Resurrection”
Bible reading: Matthew 28: 1-20
HOLY SUNDAY OF PASCHA
– Pascha traditions
– The Resurrection
For the teacher
- Holy Week in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
- Holy Week, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
- Great and Holy Pascha, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
- Holy Week, Orthodox Church in America.
- Holy Week and Pascha resources, Orthodox Church in America.
- Brief description of events and services of Holy Week, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
- Be the Bee video series, Episode 68, Salvation in Christ, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
There is a number of great Orthodox Holy Week and Pascha educational resources available online. Below we are listing some that we have found very useful.
- Journey to Pascha FOCUS unit, Orthodox Church in America.
- Holy Week resources for families, Greek Orthodox Church in America.
- Holy Week resources for families, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
- Holy Week activities and crafts, Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, Austin TX.
- Holy Week resources for Sunday Church School teachers, Orthodox Christian Sunday Church School Teachers blog.
- Holy Week and Pascha resources, Orthodox Christian Education blog.