Holy Week Bookmark

Matthew 21-28

Two and a half weeks till Easter, but only one more Sunday school class. Hmmmm...how am I going to pack so much material into one lesson? Well, certainly, I can't. Holy Week alone could be eight different lessons. Although my lesson plan this week focuses on events that happened prior to Holy Week, it just seems wrong to completely ignore such a significant time (the most important event on the Christian calendar) just because we will not actually have class that week.

When I was a child, Holy Week meant very little to me. I heard the adults talking about various events, but I couldn't absorb it for the growing anticipation of Easter. There was only so much my young brain could focus on, and sadly, the Easter basket weighed heavily in my thoughts. Everything else skipped across my consciousness like a stone across a pond. 

One of my goals as a Sunday school teacher is to help children see the chronology of biblical events. I especially would like them to have a deeper understanding of Holy Week. 

My third and fourth graders have a good grasp of The Last Supper and of Jesus being crucified, but what about the other events leading up to all that? They know Judas betrayed Jesus at some point, but when I briefly talked to them a few weeks ago about this, I saw blank stares when I referred to Judas as a spy. "A spy? Why is he a spy?" they asked. Often, I think we use the same language over and over to describe something (e.g., Judas betrayed Jesus), and the children get used to hearing it, perhaps can even regurgitate it back to us, but they don't always understand what we are saying. After I explained the Judas-spy relationship, I began wondering how much of the whole Holy Week concept do they really get? Individual events? Mostly, I'd guess, with a few blurry details (e.g., Judas was a spy). What other details are unclear? Do they understand how these events are related? Do they see the chain of events in order? I feel I should spend some time discussing Holy Week as if it were a movie, in today's kid-friendly language, so they can see exactly how each event led to the next, rather than studying eight individual incidents thereby disconnecting their relationship somewhat. And that is how the Holy Week Bookmark idea came about. 

As we glue each day onto the bookmark, I will retell the story in a movie-style format. Hopefully, open discussions will occur, so any unclear points may be addressed. Then, they will have this nifty little bookmark to refer to from now on to help them remember the relationship and order of the Holy Week events. 

On to the craft....

Now, I won't lie to you--the method I used for the bookmark was time consuming. But, don't fret, I am going to tell you how to do it more efficiently! :) First, let me explain why I did this the hard way. I mentioned that I am trying to pack a lot into this lesson, right? Well, I had already decided to make the Easter Egg Toss Game above. I think the kids are going to love that game, so I didn't want to scratch that idea to replace it with the bookmarks. Ideally, I would spread these two things out over two class periods, doing the bookmark one week, and the Easter Egg Toss Game the next week; but, since I don't have that option this year, and I'm determined to do them both, I had to do most of the work on the bookmarks myself.

So...here's how to make the bookmarks the hard way (and the easier way is in parenthesis):


Paper Cutter
Card Stock
Fine Point Sharpie
Paint Swatches
Glue Sticks or any child-safe adhesive

Optional: Ziplock baggies for organizing chips

At Home Before Prep:

1) Cut out each paint color into squares. Our bookmark will cover eight days--from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. I could not find paint chips with eight colors already on one card, plus I thought the kids might enjoy mixing their own color combinations, so I decided to individually cut out the colors. This took much longer than I expected. (To make this fast and easy, use the paint cards with several colors on a card and let the kids glue together as many cards as they need to make eight days. Depending on the number of colors on the chips you find, they may not even need to cut any off.)

2) Next, using the paper cutter, cut out a bookmark for each child. The actual size will be determined by the size of your paint chips. Be sure to lay out eight color chips in a row to get an accurate measurement leaving extra space along the side/top to write "Holy Week" as a header if desired. I cut my bookmarks 8" x 1 3/4".

3) Because we will be pressed for time in class, I wrote on all the chips myself beforehand. This was a last minute decision or else I would have printed the info. on clear label sheets and cut to fit. That would have given a much cleaner appearance. (But preferably, if time allows, the kids could do all the writing themselves, and if larger chips are used, they could also draw a palm leaf on Palm Sunday, a fig tree on Holy Tuesday, etc.)

Class Instructions:

1) As you talk about each day, give the Holy Day name(s) (some have several), what happened on that day, and any other tidbit info. you like about the day. Have the kids glue that day onto the card while you are talking. Start with Palm Sunday and have them place it snuggly at the bottom left corner of the card (if orienting your cards as I did). Then as you go in order of the week explaining, it will be easy for them to line up each day squarely. (If you are using the paint strips straight from the store without cutting, glue them onto the card stock until you have eight colors in a row. The kids can write the day of the week and draw a picture for that day while you are talking about that day.)

2) Lastly, have them write "Holy Week" across the side/top of the card.

In an attempt to make this project as streamline as possible, I put each day in a separate snack-sized baggie. I will simply hand out each baggie with the instructions, "Take one, pass it down," as I'm talking about that particular day.

After we finish the bookmarks, we will move right into the Easter Egg Toss Game. And how great is this...? The bookmark activity will be the perfect review for the questions we will use in the Easter Egg Toss Game, so the kids should not have any problems answering the questions! 

What a great class. Please also read my update at the bottom of the East Egg Toss Game post above. The extra time I spent preparing this craft was well worth it. I'll do the Holy Week Bookmarks and the Easter Egg Toss Game, perhaps every year from now on, just like I did it this year (both in one day).

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