These details are for Allie and for my own memory.
I got the idea of an Easter garden from Holy Experience. (Oh, I just noticed the link to what she was adapting from. There's even more there.) I combined it with what we did last year: an Easter mountain, which I read about in Treasuring God in Our Traditions. (I think it's in the third part there.) This year we made a salt-dough tomb. Jaan was a little disappointed that it wasn't a huge mountain like last year, but he liked the final result. We used a toilet paper tube inside of it, and that worked just as well as a can. Varnishing it was also new for us, but I think it was necessary, because it's sitting in a damp garden now; I doubt that the salt would be good for the plants or the dampness good for unsealed dough. So, that's the tomb.
We placed the tomb in a "garden." Ann V.'s is in a basket. Ours is just a drawer from an old refrigerator. For plants, our friends used cactuses and succulents, and theirs turned out lovely! Ours has a different kind of beauty: woodland beauty. We bought the bright green ferny plant, and added violets, veronica, a daisy and moss. They're not blooming much anymore, so I just sprinkled in some basil seeds for quick new greenery.
Throughout Holy Week, we acted out the big events in and around our garden. Noel Piper cautions against continuing a tradition like this once the children are older and can't handle it reverently. I loved the beauty and reverence of Ann's idea of placing a caterpillar in the tomb and replacing it with butterflies on the Resurrection morning. That goes right over our preschool heads, though, so we put our Jesus figure in the tomb and were thrilled to find that He had risen!
The Easter season continues on to Pentecost. In the past we've remembered that with a paper chain once and candles once. The candles were the favorite, so this year we've put those into our garden. It became a math lesson, too, since we can only easily fit in 10 at a time. Don't tell the children, but I don't quite have 50 candles, so we might just go to Ascension, and then find something else to mark the 10 more days until Pentecost.
I also just found another idea:
Jesus Appears after Resurrection:We did that for the first time yesterday, and they loved it! It was especially good, because since Easter Raia has been asking me, "Where's Jesus?" every evening when we light our candle. I know what she means, but I've been answering that He's both in heaven and with us. And then she says that she wants to play with "the purple Jesus" like we did during Holy Week. Hmm. I don't want to be irreverent, and I know that's not her intent, of course. Now we have something that combines a fun activity with "the purple Jesus" and Bible readings about the real Jesus.
Hide the Jesus figure in various places around your house. When your children find it, read one of the passages where He appeared to His followers (here in chronological order). Keep this up until His ascension, forty days after Easter.
Mary Magdalene – John 20:10-18
Peter in Jerusalem – Luke 24:34
Two Travelers – Luke 24:13-32 (Mark 16:12-13)
Ten Disciples – Luke 24:36-43
Ten Disciples and Thomas – John 20:26-31
Seven Disciples Fishing – John 21:1-14
Eleven Disciples on the Mountain – Matthew 28:16-20
Crowd of Five Hundred – 1 Corinthians 15:6
His Brother James – 1 Corinthians 15:7
Ascension (40 days after Easter) – Luke 24:44-49
Discussion point: After the resurrection Jesus' body was supernatural – God gave him a special body that could do things our bodies can’t. After we go to heaven, we will have bodies like Jesus’. Notice as you read the amazing things Jesus could do (eat food, be touched, walk through doors, appear, disappear).
I'm sorry this got to be so long! I wanted to record every detail. Did I miss anything?
(Pictures are from when we made our garden tomb and also from last night.)