Taste and See: an all age event for Holy Week using our senses
This event was inspired by Sensory Good Friday
It took place on the Wednesday of Holy Week in the village Community Room, as part of our Footsteps series of events.
We used screens to divide the room up into ten stations - two for each of the senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell.
The children and families started with Palm Sunday and then progressed around the room.
There was a prayer/play/creative activity at each station. The pictures used included photos from the previous Footsteps event which had used freeze frame drama to tell the story of Simon of Cyrene and pictures taken during my recent visit to Jerusalem.
Once they had visited all the stations, there was an opportunity to make small Easter gardens, decorate Easter biscuits, make scratch art crosses or use art materials for a free response.
1 Palm Sunday: Sound
Setting:We hung willow branches around this space and on the cloth. The Godly Play wooden model of Jerusalem was placed at one end of a felt road, with baskets of wooden figures, including one of Jesus on a donkey, small pieces of cloth and leaves. There was also a basket of percussion instruments.
Words:When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey the people shouted:
"Hosanna to the Son of David"
"Here comes the King!"
The disciples brought the donkey to Jesus, threw their cloaks on it and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.
Activity:You may like to choose an instrument to make the noise of an excited crowd.
You may like to place leaves or cloaks on the road.
2 The Last Supper: Taste
Setting:We covered the table with a white cloth and placed on it: bread; artificial grapes; a chalice; a jug of juice (we would have liked to have used grape but ended up with mixed fruit!) and plastic cups.
Words:At his last supper with his friends Jesus took some bread and broke it and said, "This is my body given for you. Do this to remember me."
Then he took the cup of wine and said, "This is my blood that was shed for you. Do this to remember me."
After supper Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Activity:You may like to break off a piece of bread to eat and drink a small cup of grape juice to remember Jesus at the Last Supper
3 The Garden of Gethsemane: sight
Setting:We wanted to give the children the experience of being in the dark and alone so we covered a table with black cloths. We spread green cloths around and hung artificial ivy from the clothes line overhead (conveniently placed there by the local pre-school!)
Words:In the darkness, it was hard to see. Jesus threw himself on the ground and prayed to God. "If it is your will take this cup from me."
Jesus was on his own with God. Even his friends had fallen asleep.
Then the soldiers came to arrest him. They took him to the Jewish leaders who sent him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
Activity:You may like to draw or write about a place that is special for you...
You may like to go into the darkened space and be on your own, or with just one other person. What does it feel like? Do you like being on your own?
You may like to take a candle in with you.
4 Jesus and Herod: Smell
Setting:The idea behind this station was to contrast the luxury of Herod's life with the simplicity of Jesus. The screens were hung with purple and velevet cloths, and with fake fur.
The table was covered with a bright cloth and a golden platter of wooden fruit and vegetables.
To create smells we added real pieces of orange and passion fruit and a small table heavily polished with beeswax.
Words:Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, the Jewish ruler of Galilee, who had come to Jerusalem for Passover.
Herod lived a life of luxury.
He had heard about Jesus, the miracle worker from Galilee. Herod wanted Jesus to work a miracle for him. But Jesus just stood there quietly and did not speak.
Activity:Herod's life was very different from that of Jesus. Smell the richness of Herod's house and think about the contrasts with Jesus' life.
What kind of king (or ruler) was Jesus?
Make a crown to wear to symbolise Jesus the king. You could choose symbols to stick on or draw your own.
5 Pilate: Touch
Setting:We used blue cloths and organza to create a water effect, and added a bowl of water, a jug, towel, soap and shimmer stones.
Words:Pilate asked the crowd what to do with Jesus.
"Crucify him!" they shouted.
Pilate did not want to be part of this so he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands to show that it was nothing to do with him...
Activity:You may like to place a blue shimmer stone in the water and say sorry for all the times when you haven't done the right thing.
6 Jesus and the soldiers: Touch
Setting:The focus was the purple cloak and the crown of thorns, to which we added a centurion's helmet, red cloak and various swords and daggers.
Words:Pilate had Jesus whipped.
Then the soldiers dressed Jesus in a purple robe and placed a crown of thorns on his head.
They jeered at him, "Hail, King of the Jews."
Activity:You may like to take a piece of string and tie knots in it to think or pray about people you know who are in pain or who are suffering.
An adult may let you touch the thorns very gently to feel how sharp they are...
7 Jesus is put on the cross: Sound
Setting:The next two stations were set up each side of the cross (originally made from the church Christmas tree), which was draped in red organza and bore the placard "INRI".
The board for hammering nails had been pre-prepared with holes for the nails to be placed into.
This station was manned and it was made clear to the children that hammering nails required adult supervision.
For younger children we had a pinboard with shapes to hammer on to it.
Words:The soldiers led Jesus through Jerusalem.
The Roman soldiers seized Simon of Cyrene and made him carry the cross. When they got to Golgotha, the place of the skull, they nailed Jesus to the cross.
Activity:You may like to hammer nails into the wood or a shape onto the board...
You may like to think or pray for people who are persecuted for their beliefs and place a wooden person at the foot of the cross...
8 Jesus is thirsty: Taste
Setting:We placed a sponge on a stick next to the cross and added a small table with vinegar and bread sticks.
Words:When Jesus was on the cross he said, "I thirst" and a sponge soaked in vinegar was held up to him. When he had drunk it, Jesus said, "It is finished." Then he died.
Activity:You may like to use the bread sticks to taste the sour vinegar.
9 The tomb: Smell
Setting:We created the empty tomb by throwing dark cloths over a table and placing a neutral coloured cloth inside. (I did try folding linen for the grave clothes but it did not seem to work well visually.) It was draped with trails of artifical ivy and roses.
To one side was placed the large picture of the Risen Christ and on a table were baskets of spices and herbs - we used rosemary, cinnamon, cardamon seeds and cloves.
We provided small organza bags so that people could collect herbs and spices to take away.
Words:After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea took his body and put it in a tomb in a garden.
Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped his body in linen strips with herbs and spices as was the Jewish custom.
Then they rolled a great stone in front of the entrance...
Activity:Would you like to collect a little bag of herbs and spices to take away with you?
10 Easter morning: Sight
Setting:This station was set up on the other side of the empty tomb. We provided golden suns, gel pens and jewels for the activity.
Words:Very early on Sunday morning some of the women went to the tomb. When they got there the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. Jesus had gone.
Two angels told them, "He is not here. He is risen!"
Activity:Can you think of a time when you felt really joyful?
You might like to write or draw it on a golden sun and put it in the tomb, or decorate a golden sun to put in the tomb.
We provided round foil dishes, moss, sticks, stones, shells and fir cones for the children to create small Easter gardens. (They were very creative using string and sellotape to create crosses that stood up.)
Easter biscuitsEgg shaped biscuits, icing in squeezy bottles, star, flower and glitter sprinkles
How well did it work?
We felt the event went really well.
The stations were laid out around the room and the craft tables were in the centre – this made for a very peaceful atmosphere as the children became absorbed in the craft. It also meant that no area was overcrowded.
Some children went round very slowly while others whizzed round and went almost straight to decorating biscuits and making gardens.
This didn't seem to matter and as we did not put on any pressure we found that the children often went back to various stations.
Hammering nails was very popular, but all the stations were well visited.
The idea was that the children would read the words on the boards; while some did I think several ignored this altogether.
However, almost all the children who came had had a lot of recent input into the Easter story – through R.E, collective worship, and our Footsteps event on Simon of Cyrene.
We had also held a school event in which the youngest three classes had heard the Easter story from the perspective of Mary, Peter and the Roman centurion.
The scratch art crosses and the decorated suns offered some thoughtful responses.
In the picture the words on the cross are "We all have a second chance" and the words on the sun are "Peace is the key to everything."