Easter Information and Activities
When is Easter?
Easter is always the first Sunday following the full moon on or after the spring equinox (the first day of spring). The earliest date is March 22 and the latest date is April 25.
Why the Easter
The hare is a symbol for the moon (Egyptian mythology). The Easter date is associated with the full moon, as stated earlier. Over many, many years, the term "rabbit" has come to be associated with Easter, and today we know this rabbit as the Easter Bunny.
Have students make fuzzy-looking Easter bunnies by using small sponges and tempera paint. Encourage them to make their hand "hop like a bunny" with the sponge, as they create their rabbit shape (two circles, a tail, and two long ears). If they do make the sponge hop up and down on the paper, the effect is light and airy, rather than heavy like a thick elephant line.
The Easter Egg
The egg is a symbol of life. At one time, Chinese parents sent a red egg to relatives or friends when a baby was born. This was like an announcement card. Many of our Easter greeting cards are shaped like an egg. Students can have fun making an egg-shaped card for Easter greetings. In the Ukraine, eggs were popular gifts to exchange at Easter, and young girls rubbed their cheeks with the red-colored eggs when they found them to give their cheeks a rosy glow after a long winter.
The Traditional Easter Parade
There are many Easter parades with people dressed up in new clothes, marching along the street to welcome the spring. In England, it was once considered bad luck to be seen on Easter Sunday wearing old clothes. Today, people wear old and new clothes for Easter, but many still buy a new Easter outfit. In the United States, there is the traditional New York City parade along Fifth Avenue, and another famous one along the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Does your city or town have an Easter parade? Why not have a classroom parade to celebrate spring?
An Easter Nest
In Germany and Switzerland (locate these countries on a map or globe), children make nests of grass in the garden in order that the Easter Bunny may fill them with eggs. Our green "grass" (or purple, yellow, or pink) that we buy for Easter baskets may have been handed down from this custom.
The Chocolate Egg
In England, children receive chocolate eggs wrapped in fancy paper. Make a giant egg shape on butcher paper and have students decorate it with fancy art using colorful felt-tip pens. This can be cut and used as a tablecloth at a gala party, or it can be hung on the door as a decoration.
The Easter Egg Tree
This tradition first started in Germany. Eggs were colored and tied to the branches of a tree to herald the spring season. An Easter egg tree can be madein the classroom-adding a fresh look to the classroom setting!
The Easter Egg Roll or Easter Egg Hunt
In the United States, children gather on the lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., and take part in rolling Easter eggs on the lawn. In many European countries, eggs are hidden inside and outside in the garden and, at a given signal, children carefully hunt for the eggs. "Finders keepers!"
Hide a colorful hard-boiled egg in the classroom and have students go on a hunt for it. Or, have one student leave the classroom and step out into the hall. Hide the egg so that everyone else knows where it is. When the person is invited back into the room, have children thump on their desk with their forefinger if the student seeking the egg is quite close, and thump thump if he or she is practically on top of it.
The Rabbit Hid Them
In the classroom, students can make Easter baskets from cardboard containers, strawberry baskets, or construction paper. These can be filled with colored paper that has been cut into strips for grass, or commercial grass can be purchased for the baskets. When students go to lunch, have the baskets removed from the classroom (and filled with jelly beans or other treats). Ask the class aide or older students in the building for assistance with this activity. When the class returns to find the baskets missing, it means that the hunt is on at a designated time that afternoon. This can be a part of the Easter parade, with the finding of the baskets as the culmination. Sometimes they end up in the office cupboard or in the library or in the principal's office or in the media center. There is no telling where that rabbit will hide these baskets! Students at this age giggle with glee and get caught up in the excitement of the hunt – and they are engaging in a tradition that is centuries old. This is just one way that the schools transmit the cultural heritage of the people.
Excerpted from First Grade Teacher's Month-by-Month Activities Program.
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