“Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock.”
Holy Week Flag Art Project
This activity uses inexpensive supplies to created colorful, symbolic artwork as the stories of Holy Week are read. Making the flags becomes a formative experience in itself, as you tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection during each step of the flag-making.
Flags may be made on Palm Sunday (or earlier) and displayed Easter morning. The project is suitable for all ages and can be completed in approximately 45 minutes.
White, cotton fabric pieces, approximately 10 inches by 15 inches.
Gel glue, found in the school supply section
Liquid watercolors (if flags will be indoors) or fabric dye
Purple fabric strips torn into pieces, approximately 1 inch by 15 inches
Foam paint brushes
Table covers and smocks
Bible or printouts of scripture passages
Copies of black and white Easter symbols
If you will be stringing the flags, fold over and stitch a 2 inch channel for the string at the top. Sides and bottoms of the flags do not need to be hemmed. If you are working with younger children, you may want to draw the glue designs on their flags beforehand. Choose whether you will read the passages from a children’s Bible or retell them in your own words.
Directions for glue phase:
Draw a symbol of new life on the flag with the glue. Provide photocopies of images to place under the fabric to trace. Or, participants may draw symbols freehand. In the end, the glue will resist the paint and the glue design will emerge.
Take at least a 10 minute break to let the glue set. If you don’t have time it will still work, but the longer the glue dries, the clearer the symbol will be. Use this time to talk about Holy Week, have a snack or sing songs.
Directions Continued: Telling the Story
The learning power of this activity comes through what happens next. As participants do each step of the flag-making, you as the leader tell the story of Holy Week and Easter. Each step symbolizes part of the story. See below for the scripture passage citations.
1. Apply green paint
Read the Palm Sunday passage while the participants apply green paint. Remind them that there will be four colors to add so they will want to leave space for those.
2. Apply glitter:
Read about Jesus in the temple and pass around the glitter to apply to the still tacky glue. Suggest a number of shakes per person to avoid over glittering.
3. Apply additional colors:
Continue to read and apply blue, purple, and yellow colors while reading the scripture. Follow the list of scriptures below.
4. Add safety pin and cloth strip:
Provide one safety pin per flag and several strips of the purple cloth. These symbolize the sharp crown of thorns and purple robe. Place the safety pin with fringe anywhere you like on the flag.
5. Close eyes:
Have everyone close their eyes and listen quietly while you read about Jesus’s burial and the guard at the tomb.
6. Open eyes:
Open your eyes and see the transformed pieces of fabric. Discuss the symbols of the resurrection.
7. Dry and display:
Dry the flags flat so the glue does not shift. Find a place to display the beautiful creations for Easter morning.
Scripture Passages and Symbols
These are the Bible passages and the symbols that correspond to the steps above. For example, as participants apply green paint, you explain that green symbolizes the palm branches, and you read Matthew 21:1-11
• Jesus enters Jerusalem like a King: Matthew 21:1-11
Green for palm branches
• Jesus goes to the Temple: Matthew 21:12-17
Glitter for scattered coins
• The Greatest Commandment: Matthew 22: 34-39
Blue to remind us of the sky as Jesus taught outdoors
• A woman does something special: Matthew 26:6-12
Purple for royalty, anointing
• The Lord’s Supper: Matthew 26:26-30
Yellow to represent grain
• The soldiers make fun of Jesus: Matthew 27:27-31
Pin and purple fabric strips to represent the crown of thorns (pin) and robe
• Jesus is buried & guard at the tomb: Matthew 27:57-61, Matthew 27: 62-66
• The Resurrection of Jesus: Matthew 28: 1-10, John 20:1-18
Tips to Avoid Mess, and Create Clear Design
• Bring the paint to seated participants at the tables to avoid spills.
• Place only one color at a time on the table.
• Recommend that artists not over saturate the design with glue or paint.
• The colors will mix together on their own when you place them near each other. Layering them with the brush will result in a muddy color.
• Put the paint, in small dots, around the glue; not directly on top. This will keep your design crisp. The fabric will wick the color towards the glue.
Christine V. Hides is the Director of Faith Formation at Grace United Methodist Church in Lake Bluff, IL, a mother of two, and a student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She writes about Christian education at Bless Each One.
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