This year I decided to prepare for Easter, much as we prepare for Christmas by doing Advent activities. Lent is the official season of preparation for Easter, but since our church doesn’t observe Lent, and we’ve never really observed Lent in our home, I wasn’t prepared for a full-blown observance of Lent this year. My favorite church seasons book, Celebrating the Christian Church Year with Young Children, suggested using the story of the Good Shepherd throughout Lent to help small children prepare for Easter.
This seemed doable for us, so I used the book’s template to make paper Good Shepherd and sheep figures for each of the girls, and then gave them each a sheepfold made from a shoebox. The girls are enjoying playing with their sets. I have told them the story of the Good Shepherd, quite casually, a few times, and we’ve sung some hymns/choruses about Jesus-as-Shepherd. I think for the 3yo especially, this approach will work much better than others we have/might have tried.
Next year I’d like to implement some of the other Lenten observance suggestions from our book, but for this year the Good Shepherd story is going to be the extent of it. However, I do plan to also stretch Easter out for at least part of the official 50 days of Easter, so that our observance of Easter is not compressed into three days as it usually is.