Holy Week Activity Guide


Easter is not just something we learn, it is something we experience. This year we’ll be sharing an interactive activity for you, your family, and/or your small group. Each day there is an activity and response you can do with your family or group to retell the story of the last week of Jesus’s life.

The activity is built around a centerpiece you will create together. This idea comes from Lilly Lewin.

The centerpiece works a bit like a reverse advent wreath. Start with all the candles lit on Palm Sunday and Monday, and then you extinguish a candle each day and thus the centerpiece is dark on Saturday. And all candles are relit on Easter!

Begin with a plate or dish and 5 candles. Use a red candle for Good Friday and place it in the center - or you could arrange the candles in a row if you are creating this on an altar space. This can also created for your coffee table rather than your dining table.

Remember you don’t have to do all of this, just start. Do a couple of days. Do what works for you and your family/group. Feel free to modify the questions for the ages in your group. You will most likely remember much more of what you do together than what you hear. 

Rejoicing in the already but not yet!


  • 4 White Candles
  • 1 Red Candle
  • Dish or plate that will hold candles and be large enough for extra things to be added to it.
  • Pieces of fern or palm branches, size depends upon size of your table/centerpiece. I have a small table so we have a small centerpiece.
  • Optional: Cut out clothes/jackets either from magazines or run off outlines like paper doll clothes on 8.5×11 sheets of paper.
  • Coins …pennies or the plastic gold coins
  • Olive oil or bottle of perfume
  • Hershey kisses enough for everyone
  • Pieces of paper with a plate drawn on it to use as placemat, or paper place mats, enough for all members of your group.
  • Purple Fabric  cut into 3×6 inch strips, make a half inch cut in the short end of each strip
  • Piece of muslin or black cloth that will cover entire centerpiece.
  • Band aids. One for each person
  • Candles, one for each person in your group ( you can use small birthday candles)

DAY 1: Palm Sunday, April 13 

Pick a passage - Matthew 21: 1-10, Luke 19: 28-40, Mark 11: 1-11,John 12:12-19

LIGHT ALL 5 candles

Read the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem, and talk about what it would be like to be in the crowd when Jesus rode into town. What do you see, hear, smell? Are you excited, scared, angry like the Pharisees? Talk about this.

Add pieces of palm fronds or cuts of a fern to symbolize the entry into Jerusalem. If you have younger kids in your group or you are feeling artistic, run off some paper doll size coats, jackets and palm branches and color these and cut them out and place around the plate.

DAY 2:  Monday | Cleansing the Temple

Leave Palm Branches around the plate for a couple of days and bring a bowl of pennies/coins to the table.

Read the story  Luke 19:45-48, Matt. 21:12-17, Romans 8:35-39

LIGHT ALL THE CANDLES and have someone blow out one of them.

Pass around the coins and HOLD A penny/coin in your hand and think about the scene. What does it look like, smell like, what do you see?

The Money Changers were blocking people’s access to prayer & worship, especially the Gentiles.

What things block you from prayer?

What things keep you from worshipping Jesus?

What things (like the tables of the money changers) keep you from being with God? TV, Texting, Computer time, facebook, Sports, Video games, busyness, fear, worry, lack of trust, what else?

AS you hold your coin, TALK to God about these things. Then take time to talk about this as a group.

DAY 3: Tuesday | Anointing at Bethany  

LIGHT ALL CANDLES and have someone extinguish two of the white candles.

Read the passage. John 12: 1-11, Mark 14:1-9 Matthew 26: 6-13

The woman in the story gave Jesus her most valued possession. She honored him with this gift of expensive perfume.

What is your most valuable possession? It might be a material thing… It might be a talent that you have…It might be your life!

Are you willing to give this to Jesus to honor him?

Are you willing to give up your most valuable, most precious possession in order to honor Jesus?

Pass around the olive oil or perfume and a dab on your forehead as a symbol of your willingness to honor Jesus.

Day 4: Wednesday | Judas betrays Jesus

Light all the Candles and have someone extinguish 3 of the white candles.

READ one of  these: Matthew 26:14-16 ( 17-21) Mark 14:10-11,Luke 22:1-6

This week, Jesus was betrayed by two of his friends, Judas and Peter.  Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  Peter denied that he even knew Jesus.

Anyone betray you this week/month/year?

Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Take time to pray for the people who have betrayed you or people or groups that are your enemies.

What about you? Have you betrayed Jesus lately? With your actions or inactions?  Bad attitude, lack of faith, etc. Talk to God about these things.

Eat a Hershey kiss as a symbol of your willingness to forgive those who have betrayed you and as a symbol of your need for forgiveness.

Day 5: Maundy Thursday | The Last Supper

Light all the Candles and have someone extinguish 4 candles.

Pick one of these to read: Mark 14:12-26, John 13: 1-17 , Luke 22: 7-30, Matthew 26: 26-30, Luke 22: 14-21

Add a piece of purple cloth under the candles to form a cross. Have extra pieces of purple cloth, enough for each person in your family/group. (cloth pieces should be about 3×6 inches w cut in the the narrow side ) You will use these on Good Friday.

Placemat: Have a paper placemat for each person or have people create one before you begin.

READ the Passage: Imagine the scene. Picture the colors, the smells, the atmosphere of the room.

Consider that it was Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, his closest friends. If it was your last meal what would you be eating and who would be at your table?

Take time to write out or draw your menu for your last supper and name the people at your table on your placemat. Take time to Pray for the friends you have listed.

Day 6: Good Friday

Tonight, Light only the red candle.  Pass around pieces of purple cloth.

Read the story: Matthew 27: 32-54, Luke 23: 26-49, Mark15:21-33, 33-40….extinguish the candle. IT IS FINISHED.

After listening to the passage everyone will rip their pieces of purple cloth in half symbolic of the temple curtain being torn separating the holy of holies when Jesus died on the cross. When the candle has had time to cool, have someone cover the centerpiece with a cloth symbolic of Jesus’ burial.

Day 7: Saturday

All the candles are out. The strips of cloth are on the plate. Entire centerpiece is dark and covered with “burial cloth”

Jesus disciples, his friends have abandoned him and are hiding and afraid. His body is buried in a borrowed tomb.

How are you feeling today about the death of Jesus? What if you didn’t know that Sunday was going to mean resurrection?

Talk about this


Take time to pray for anyone you know who is suffering or sick or feeling afraid.

Pray also for friends who have suffered a loss or lost a loved one in recent months.

Place a band aid on your wrist as a reminder to pray for these people in the next few days.

Day 8: Easter Sunday

If you covered your centerpiece, uncover and re-light all the candles! Have all the candles lit before people sit down for the meal.

READ the Resurrection Story together! Choose one Matt.28:1-10, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24

Light your candles from the centerpiece as a symbol of Jesus resurrection and the Light returning to the World. Now we can share that Light  and his love with everyone we meet.


Pray for places around the globe that need the Light of Jesus. Pick a person and a country to pray for in the coming days.