Friday, April 11, 2014

It's time to make the mountain!

Each year on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, when apricot blossoms are popping and tulip bulbs are poking up out of the ground, we make an “Easter mountain” at our house.  For my six-year-old, this will be the fifth Palm Sunday “Jesus" gets to ride up the hill on his donkey with all his disciples hopping along behind, waving blades of new spring grass for "palm branches".

In case you want to make an Easter mountain to help your little ones enter into the Easter story in a hands-on way, here’s our family's version (concept adapted from Noel Piper’s rich book Treasuring God in Our Traditions):

Make an Easter Mountain

Play Dough

8 cups flour {Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life!"}
3 cups salt {Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth!"} 
3 cups water {Jesus said, "I am the Living Water!"}
2 Tbs oil {Ps: 23 ”You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows!"}

Mix ingredients and knead.  Add small amounts of water as needed until the texture is moldable but not too soft.


  • two backyard sticks, about 1/2” diameter
  • twine or string
  • soup can
  • rock about the same size as the soup can mouth
  • toothpicks or a fork
1. Bind the two sticks together with twine to make a cross about 5-6 inches tall.

2. Using the soup can for the “tomb”, shape the whole lump of play dough into a mountain over the soup can, leaving the opening clear. 

3. Press the rock that will cover the tomb against the opening, to shape a better fit.  Set the stone aside.

4. Press the cross into the top of the mountain to form a hole deep enough to stand the cross in.  Make the hole a bit larger than the actual circumference of the stick because the hole will get smaller as the mountain bakes.  Set the cross aside.

5. Twist toothpicks into the dough or press fork tines randomly around on the hill to make “footholds” for pipe cleaner characters (I photocopied pages from our Bible Story Book, cut out the characters I wanted and taped toothpicks on the back).  

6. We poked two or three larger stick-holes to hold live twigs for “trees” in the Garden of Gethsemane, over our “tomb”.

7. Bake at 250 F (140 C) for 5-6 hours.  When cooled, color as desired with paint or markers. (We make our mountain in the morning after breakfast, let it bake all day, and paint it after naps.)

I hope these photos and ideas have inspired you to come up with some creative ways to make the story of Easter come alive for your kids.  Let me know in the comments if you tried making your own Easter mountain, and how your kids responded!  

I've created a document with the way we break down the Easter Story to use with our mountain each day of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday.  Email me at for a free copy to use with your family!

{Easter mountain idea adapted from Noel Piper’s wonderful book Treasuring God in Our Traditions}


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