Make a piñata
OK, maybe not strictly speaking a traditional Easter activity, but you can have a lot of fun making an egg shaped piñata, it’s a great hands-on thing for kids to do, it does take a bit of planning though:
Blow up a balloon to look like an egg (which balloons usually do anyway)
Cover it with layers and layers of paper mache (use newspaper and wallpaper glue if you can, or watered down PVA white glue)
When it’s dry and hard, you can either cut a hole or cut it round the middle, take out the balloon, fill it with sweets then seal it up with more newspaper and cover it with coloured paper or paint it to finish it off in a suitably artistic/fancy manner
Hang it with a ribbon, and take it in turns to whack it with a stick and enjoy the sweets when after three hours of hard labour you manage to crack it open!
Educational Egg Hunt (parents LOVE this kind of stuff!)
Instead of chocolate eggs, hide egg-shaped pieces of card each with a letter drawn on it, or you can put letters inside plastic eggs (going cheap in your local drug store). After the kids have run around and found them, they can make the letters into words by lining them up. You could include the letters for relevant things like ‘easter’ ‘egg’ ‘chick’ the children’s names or just lost of random letters. Any number of word games can follow, putting them in alphabetical order, making a long word and seeing how many small words you can make from it, playing Boggle/Bananagrams type anagram games. You could give different letters different points value like Scrabble and get all competitive.
For tiny kids, just having them tell you which letters they have found will be fun and this kind of thing is a great start for reading. This ‘learning by doing’ type of activity is a physical way for kids to make the connection between a squiggle and a sound. I think this type of learning is called ‘kinesthetic’ learning and ‘analytical’ leaners like this kind of stuff too. All good to know, right? – you are an educator after all! Oh and a warning, tell your kids there’s no chocolate involved in this one! Maybe reward good spelling with a sweet reward. Or follow it up with a traditional egg hunt with good old non-educational chocolate.
Easter Egg Trail
Make an Easter trail and put a clue in a plastic egg that leads to the next clue in the next plastic egg – this can be done inside if the weather’s bad! You could even get your kids to make a trail for you to follow, but make sure you point out to them that there should be some form of Easter treat for you at the end!
There aren’t that many classic movies with an Easter theme but Hop and Rise of the Guardians are two good ones. You might be able to find Easter versions of Bugs Bunny, Tiny Toons, Scooby Doo and Winnie the Pooh. See if you can find the classic It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown! on DVD (retro I know, but I’m biased, I love Snoopy). There’s also a really ancient film called Easter Parade which you might have heard of, kids sometimes like these old fashioned films where there’s lots of singing and dancing. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a great way to show a bit of British culture to your American hosts through the medium of Wallace and Gromit! Not exactly an Easter film, but loads of bunny action, so to speak.
Make Hot Cross Buns
Apparently these are a British thing, so not common in the USA. Don’t let anyone tell you that cinnamon rolls are hot cross buns! Don’t get me wrong, cinnamon buns are very nice in their own right, but hot cross buns they are not.
I don’t even know if this is really a ‘thing’, but let’s just say it is. I knew one family that used to do this every Easter – it’s mad enough to be a traditional British Easter custom even if it’s not well known: decorate a hard boiled egg (after it’s cooled) then find a good hilly spot, climb to the top and then roll your eggs down the hill and run after them. They will break open and then you can eat them, or if you’re a bit too health and safety conscious, just enjoy squidging and stamping and smashing them, just remember to pick up the bits afterwards. If nothing else, at least you’ve all had a good hilly walk out in the fresh air. Good British fun, we call that.
Get in the Kitchen
Boil an egg – make it scientific, crack a raw egg to show what it looks like, then hard boil another one and peel it and compare the two. Tell the kids it’s magic (because it is, isn’t it?) or explore the science bit together if you’re more sensible and literal than me. If they are old enough, teach them how to make an omelette, or pancakes, or scrambled egg or meringue or pavlova even and think up irritating egg puns to describe lunch: ‘egg-squisite’, ‘egg-cellent’, ‘egg-stremely nutritious’. You can make chocolate nests using shredded wheat or corn flakes and fill them with mini eggs for dessert. Oh yeah. Or make cup cakes with pastel coloured icing. Yellow, pink and light green seem to say it’s Easter.
Kids love making cards. Experiment to see if you can make one that has a chick opening its beak inside, or use a bit of an egg box to make a yellow daffodil on the front. Paint or draw spring flowers. Use stickers and stencils. Go mad with rabbits.
Have you ever emptied an egg without breaking it? Make a hole in both ends and blow hard into one end, the egg will eventually squeeze out the other end, usually with the yolk intact. You can then wash the egg shell (carefully) and then paint it or draw on it, or if you haven’t done enough paper mache, cover it with coloured paper, add ribbons, feathers, googly eyes, and make it into a chick, a rabbit or an Easter egg (you could even leave it undecorated and put it back in the box to see if you can trick someone into thinking it’s a normal, full egg). If you make a whole clutch, you could decorate an egg box or make a nest to present them in. Or you could go for a walk and find a branch to bring home, then see if you can hang the eggs from it with thread or ribbons. Don’t chuck the egg bit away though, you are halfway to lunch already!
Make an Easter Bonnet – no rules, any crazy old hat loaded up with scraps of material, coloured paper, flowers, leaves and sticks will look fabulous. Or how about a crown with bunny ears, or a bunny mask using a paper plate (pipe cleaner whiskers and a pom pom nose). While you have all the stuff out, cut egg shapes from card and cut out stripes, dots, zigzags etc then stick tissue paper on the back and hang them in the window.
Did you know that aliens hatch from eggs too? You could make and hide big green eggs outside (using the piñata egg making method), let the children find them and tell them they are alien eggs waiting to hatch. See how the kids respond and decide what happens next, see how long you can sustain the illusion! One of the teachers did this at my kids’ school and thought up a whole term’s worth of activities getting her class to wonder what was inside, where they had come from, what they would eat etc. They wrote poems, songs and letters and filmed each other as newsreaders telling the world they had found alien eggs. They made menus of things for aliens to eat, drew what they thought the aliens would look like, tried to decide which planet they had come from and made up an alien language. They kept count of the days and took photographs to see if they’d moved and noticed when they started to crack (!). Eventually, because it had to end at some point, the teacher sneakily smashed the eggs up after school one day and added a bit of goo so it looked like they had hatched and run away (don’t tell anyone I told you this, if anyone asks, they were real alien eggs, right?). She told them the aliens had been transported back to their home planet because their alien families wanted to see them again (nobody wants a homesick alien pining away, you must have seen the movie ET?). I think the baby aliens left the class something nice like green jelly beans and messages written in alien code to say thanks for taking care of them, so everyone was happy. The kids sent farewell messages and photos of themselves to Jupiter and I believe some of them remain in close contact by email to this day. If aliens don’t do it for you, there could be dragons, dinosaurs, pixies, monsters, unicorns or fairies in there – because they all come from eggs too you see.
Whatever you do, set a good eggs-ample, be egg-stravagant and come up with your own egg-ceptional ideas! Go on, go to the egg-streme and make Easter egg-straordinary for your kids! Don’t use any cheep puns though.