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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

At the Table with Kids - Creating an Easter Garden

I can't take credit for this idea - I saw it here on Happy Home Fairy.  I had never seen this before and thought it looked like such a special and memorable project to do with my boys!  However, I was able to share this with even more children by doing it in my Sunday School class.

We are doing a church-wide study called "24 Hours that Changed the World,"  about the last week that Jesus was on Earth.  I have the younger elementary children, and we had gotten to the unit on the Garden of Gethsemane.  One of the suggested activities was to make small dish gardens to remind us of Jesus going to the garden to pray.  Then I saw the Easter Garden at Happy Home Fairy and thought - why not have the whole class do one larger garden??  We can keep it in the classroom, and then I can incorporate the burial in the tomb and the empty tomb when we get to those parts of the study.

My version of this Easter Garden has three parts, so I typed the verses in word processing, printed it out, traced the circle (a tuna can was a great fit for a 4" terra cotta pot), and then laid them on a piece of clear contact paper.  I added a few paper punched flowers and a vellum dragonfly for decoration.  The I folded the other half of the contact paper over to "laminate" them.
I used glue dots to adhere "The Garden of Gethsemane" one to the topside of the terra cotta tray-thingy.
And more glue dots to attach the "He is Risen!" one to the bottom side, for when the "stone" is rolled away to show the empty "tomb" (the terra cotta pot).
The third one can be stuck on top of the Gethsemane one with a loop of scotch tape, when the "tomb" is closed and Jesus is buried inside.
I made these up ahead of time, and also found a plastic bin in the basement for the garden to be built in.  I put a layer of rocks in the bottom to help with drainage, and then got a few plants, sand, rocks, moss, twigs, and miniature garden items for decoration.

Plus a container of potting soil, a plastic cup, and a large spoon.

I took all this to class, and after our lesson portion, we all gathered around the table to create our own little Garden of Gethsemane.  I probably should have taken them outside for this - one pot of dirt + 7 very eager students created a *little* bit of a mess, despite trying to get them to take one turn at a time ; )

They each got to scoop a cupful of dirt into the bin.  Then I added the rest.  I planted the plants with the spoon.  We paused for clean-up of hands and the table, and then the kids took turns placing pinches of sand and rocks for a path, and adding twigs, moss, and little resin ladybugs and bees.  I handed out one miniature dove to each student and that rounded out the garden.  They loved making this!

Here is the finished garden...
 See the little well and wheelbarrow?
For part 1 - we have the Garden of Gethsemane....
For part 2 - we'll talk about Jesus being buried in the tomb, and I will tape on the second verse.
and for part 3 - I will turn the "stone" around and roll it aside to reveal the empty tomb.
This was so much fun!  I'm so glad I came across this idea and was able to adapt it for my class.  I think it would be a great tradition to make an Easter Garden every year with my boys.  I just love it!

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