Guest post: A different Holy Week Box

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Naomi Elliott is helping children play as a way of learning and growing in their faith. She’s passionate about open-ended play (where children are free to create their own rules and meaning) and using natural and easy-to-come-by items rather than expensive, bought items.

In this post she shares about a Holy Week Box she’s created:

I love playful approaches to doing faith at home.

Have you heard of Holy Week In A Box? Not my own idea but one that appealed because of its simplicity and also as a practical option to deliver to church families during lockdown.

There are several versions but the main idea is that a small box is filled with objects that represent some of the different events of Holy Week to help a family explore those events in a tactile way.

Naomi is married to a vicar and has two boys, ages 5 and 7, and is always experimenting and creating ways for her family, and for the families in her churches, to engage with God in fun, hands on, meaningful ways.

Keen for the experience to be hands-on I’ve tried to supply props connected with each story that needed something doing to them. So I’ve invited the families to

  • cut the green paper into leaves for Palm Sunday and dress and undress their figures with the black cloaks,
  • fold the silver foil into coins for the Temple,
  • make something with plasticine that might feature at the Last Supper,
  • build trees, leaves or olives for the Garden of Gethsemane from the green plasticine
  • craft a cross and a crown from the pipe-cleaners for Good Friday
  • sprinkle the ‘spices’ on Jesus before wrapping his body with the white fabric.

The box itself can be used as a prop – be it the walls for Jerusalem, tables, a hill or a tomb.

I’ve supplied the stories directly from the Bible and each story is accompanied by some open-ended questions to discuss such as

  • I wonder what surprised you about this story?
  • I wonder why the crowds did this?
  • I wonder what’s not fair about this story?
  • I wonder where God was?

And of course the children are encouraged to play out the story, using the props. Although some families have added even their own toy figures (Lego/Duplo) to supplement the story-telling. Which is awesome. Yes, a zebra is a fine stand-in for the donkey!