For Christians, Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week, which leads up to the days of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. It celebrates the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey to great praise and adoration from the people. Whether you are teaching Sunday School or your own kids at home, you can help kids gain a better understanding of this special day through age-appropriate games.
Plan a Bible verse memory competition to see if the kids can recite the Bible passages that tell the story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, as depicted in Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-38 and John 12:12-19. Divide kids into four teams, and give each team a passage to study, for about 30 minutes. Each team must then work together to recite as much of the passage as they can. Or, divide the kids into teams of two and have the teams come up with creative, modern retellings of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Each secretly votes for his favorite retelling but cannot vote for himself.
One game that younger kids might recognize is "Pin the Tail on the Donkey." To give it a Palm Sunday twist, play "Pin Jesus on the Donkey" instead, where a child is blindfolded and tries to pin a paper cutout of Jesus on the donkey's back. The child who gets the closest wins. Talk to the kids about how the donkey was an important part of Jesus' visit to Jerusalem, as it was a prophesy he had to fulfill. For another activity, have the kids give their best donkey impersonations and try to get someone to laugh. Or, have them tell the story of His entry into Jerusalem from the perspective of the donkey; the goal is to get someone to laugh out loud in under a minute.
Triumphant Entry Race
Talk to the kids about how the people in Jerusalem were so excited to see Jesus that they laid clothing and palm fronds before His path to honor Him. Take the kids outside and put them into two teams. Each team will need a basket of palm fronds -- real or plastic -- and a basket of old clothing or rags. Use cones or tape to designate two long, winding paths. Each team must cover their path completely with the clothes and palm fronds. When it is finished, each team member must crawl on all fours from one end to the other to win. Use the constructed paths for other types of relay races as well, such as a basic foot race or a race where team members must stay connected to each other by holding palm fronds.
Palm Frond Games
Place a bunch of plastic palm fronds all around the house and send the kids on a treasure hunt to find them; the child who finds the most wins. Another idea is to write some of the praises bestowed upon Jesus that day on the palm fronds, such as "Hosanna," and "Blessed is the King of Israel!" To win, the kids must find one palm frond each with a different phrase of praise on it. You could also play "Praise Freeze Dance," in which the kids have to dance around waving palm fronds to children's praise and worship songs. When the song stops the kids must freeze; whoever is still moving is out for that round. For very young children, skip the competition element and just let them dance and freeze. For older kids, challenge them to compete to turn real palm fronds into a cross, as many churches commonly do. Whoever creates the best-looking cross wins.