As an evangelist specializing in costumed monologues, I know first-hand the power of drama to captivate people. When I began my ministry over 18 years ago, I had adults in mind as my primary audience – not children. As a preacher, that seemed to be the most logical audience. But increasingly, parents bustled up to me after worship to excitedly report that their kids paid attention when I entered as Lazarus, a cowboy preacher, or Peter the fisherman. One mother told me that her son put down his Gameboy when I launched into my monologue. “That has never happened before!” she chuckled.
With this in mind, why not harness the power of drama to teach the wonders of the resurrection this Easter? The resurrection of Jesus crackles with dramatic elements that would appeal to kids: heavenly angels, fainting soldiers, a heavy stone rolled away. Here are three ideas to dramatize the resurrection in your kids’ Bible class.
Act It Out
A fun and easy way to illustrate the first Resurrection Sunday is to have kids act it out as a narrator reads the story. Look over the resurrection accounts in Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-53; and John 20:1-29. Choose a scene and write your own simple script with parts for volunteers. You could read the play or choose a boy and girl to act as narrators. Costumes aren’t necessary, although pieces like headbands, toy swords and cut-out wings would add a little fun and flair.
The shyer children can even get in on this. Group them together like a Greek chorus and have them make sound effects for the earthquake or shout “Hallelujah” when the angel announces that Jesus has risen. These kinds of simple Easter plays can create memories that will impress this important story into the minds of kids for years to come.
Not all drama has to use spoken words. This “freeze-frame” exercise can be an easy way to introduce drama to children. Find pictures of the Easter story, such as the angel at the tomb with the Roman soldiers, Peter and John running to the grave site, or Mary talking to the risen Jesus in the garden. While teaching the lesson, display the pictures and ask the children to discuss the emotions that each person might have felt. Finally, ask for volunteers to pose as the characters in the pictures, imitating their stances and facial expressions. Take photos and print them out for display.
Modernizing an ancient story can make it relevant and enjoyable to children. Look over the resurrection reports in the Gospels and place kids in updated scenes that would make sense to them. For instance, you could present the Emmaus scenario as two soccer players walking to practice when Jesus shows up. Cast kids as a family, eating a sad meal after a funeral, when somebody comes to their door, excitedly announcing that the grave of their friend is empty. You could assign several of these scenes to groups of kids to present to the whole class. After these mini-plays, discuss them. Ask questions that tie the dramatic scenes back to their own lives: “How do you feel when you get good news?” “Have you ever had a surprise that changed a gloomy day into a happy one?” “How would news such as the disciples received on the first Easter Sunday change your life?”
Drama isn’t the only tool for children’s Bible teachers to use, and you wouldn’t want to incorporate it every week. However, drama can be an exciting change-of-pace for children. Give it a try and see what happens. The weeks leading up to resurrection Sunday offer the perfect opportunity to use the power of drama at Easter!