There’s something about watching a bunch of three-and four-year-olds decked out in frilly dresses and bow ties, racing through the yard as they hunt for eggs and get distracted by bugs, airplanes, and…oh my gosh, there’s candy in this egg!

Easter and preschoolers…could there be a cuter combination?

Of course, when it comes to the actual Easter story—you know, the one complete with betrayal and gruesome death—this holiday takes on a decidedly darker look.

How can we share the good news of Easter without crushing our little one’s innocence? How can we convey the great love of God in a way that a preschooler will understand?

The answer: keep things on their level. Here’s what that might look like:

Start with a made-up story

Preschoolers learn best by putting things into simple categories. So, before you launch right into the four gospels, tell a tale to which he can relate. Maybe you’ll say:

“Think for a minute about your most favorite toy in the whole wide world. Can you picture it? Tell me what it is. Your dump truck? Yes! Your dump truck is the best! He can carry loads of blocks and balls and toy cars. He’s so strong!

Now, imagine for me that there was another little boy in another place far from here; and he had no dump truck. In fact, he had no toys at all. I wonder how he might feel? Yeah, he might be sad; or he might get really bored.

And what if you knew the only way he could be happy, the only way he could enjoy playing with a toy, is if you sent him your most favorite toy—your very own dump truck? Would you do it? Could you give away the best toy ever to make another little boy happy?”

Pause when you ask questions to give your preschooler time to think and respond. Listen as he shares his emotions and struggles with deciding what he would do.

Emphasize God’s love

While it’s impossible to skip over Jesus’ actual death, when it comes to preschoolers, be sure to keep the main thing the main thing. And the story of Easter? It’s all about God’s love for us.

He willingly chose to send His Son down to Earth and to certain death. But why? He did this so we could live a better life. He did this so we could live eternally with Him in Heaven. He did this not just for our happiness, but for our ultimate joy.

Revisit the scenario of your preschooler’s sacrificing his favorite toy. Ask him to remind you how that felt. Then say:

“God chose to give up His one and only Son. Jesus chose to give up His very life. He chose to die so that you and I can live. God loves you so much that He did the hardest thing ever–He gave up His Son. I can’t imagine doing that! And Jesus loves you so much that He did the hardest thing ever–He gave up His life. Can you imagine doing that?”

Above all else, be sure that the Easter story you share connects the heart of your preschooler to the heart of the Father.

Answer questions as simply as possible

You know what’s coming: “Why?” But don’t let that worry you. You can give short, simple answers to questions about Jesus’ death and resurrection. You can even say, “I don’t know. Let’s find the answer together.”

Get a resource to help explain the Easter Story

Looking for a resource that can help you explain the Easter Story to a preschooler? We’ve created an Easter Story board book specifically for that purpose.

The Easter Story board book is a must to introduce preschoolers to the wonderful truth that Jesus wants to be their Friend forever. Told through an engaging, easy-to-understand rhyme, the story begins with the Lord’s Supper and progresses through Jesus’ breakfast on the beach with the disciples.

Beautifully illustrated, this 16-page board book is durable enough for even the youngest First Look friends, and was designed to help young children remember key truths about the Easter story. It will be one they want to “read” again and again.

The Easter Story is part of the First Look Devotional Series, a collection of books designed to give kids a first impression of their heavenly Father.