Creating your own Hill of Calvary is a meaningful Easter activity that will teach the true meaning of the holiday. This grass garden features the hill where Jesus was hung on the cross and a small tomb where he was buried and rose again. It makes a very symbolic centerpiece for your Easter table and its an incredible teaching tool for your little sprout.
Note: It's best to start your Hill of Calvary at least 2 weeks before Easter.
- Potting Soil or Jiffy Mix--I do suggest picking up a bag of this. Wal-Mart carries it and it is super cheap. It is used to start seeds and has a good "mulchy" consistency that holds moisture well.
- A few small rocks
- 10-inch terra cotta dish
- 4-inch terra cotta pot
- 4-inch terra cotta dish
- Wheatberries for the grass--make sure they are organic and untreated. I got this big bag for under 2 bucks at Vitamin Cottage.
- A good spray bottle
- Sticks (for crosses)
- Hot glue gun
- Raffia or twine
Step 1: Lay the 4 inch pot on its side in the 10 inch dish. Use smallish rocks to hold the pot in place.
Step 2: Pour in a small layer of gravel for drainage.
Step 3: Make mud! The best way to apply the soil/dirt is by first making mud in a separate container. Just put your soil and water in a bucket of some sort and mix it up. Your kids will love the mud pie batter.
Step 4: Take handfuls of the mud and pack it all around the pot and in the dish. You will want to create a nice rounded hill.
Step 5: Spread a thick layer of seed over the ENTIRE soil area. You may have to kind of push it into the soil a bit on the steep sides. This is very important: Don't be stingy with the seed. If you want nice, dense grass, the seed needs to completely cover the surface of the soil. (Don't just sprinkle it.)
Step 6: Cover seed with a very thin layer of your mud mixture.
Step 7: Bring your dish garden inside and put it in warm sunlight. I put mine on a metal TV tray next to our sliding door. Having it up off the ground is a good idea when you have little tots running around. Remember, the terra cotta is porous so it's going to leak some moisture. Don't just set it on your coffee table! Put a tray, plate, etc. underneath it.
Step 8: WATER! For the first 3-4 days you will need to spray and water your hill three times per day. So if you are heading out for the weekend, wait to do this project until you get home. Before the seeds take root, the soil will run off pretty easily...(think erosion) so at first you will mainly need to rely on using a spray bottle to irrigate...
Once the grass takes root and matures, you'll be able to slowly drizzle water on it, without losing your hill. Now that my hill is fully mature, I stick it in the sink, turn the water on VERY low and then use my little sprayer hose to water.
Also note that when the seed first starts to grow, it will actually "push up" some of the soil as seen here. Check out the crack above. Just drizzle water, spray and gently press the soil back down. You don't want it to dry out and just fall off.
Step 9: Watch it grow! Within 2 days you will probably see small white roots shooting out.
Step 10: Make three crosses out of collected sticks. I used hot glue to hold them in place and then wrapped raffia around to secure it and hide glue. Note that the grass will grow faster and higher than you think. Make your crosses a little bit "jumbo" sized because they will need to be nestled down in the grass and yet, you still want to be able to see them.
Where is Jesus?
He has risen! He has risen, INDEED!
Lessons from the Hill of Calvary:
As you work on creating the project, watering, etc. talk about the Easter story with your child. This is whole Mustard Seed thing in action--planting God's truth--while you are literally planting.
Anne and I had a particularly good conversation as we made the crosses. She wondered why there were three crosses instead of just one for Jesus. We got to talk about how there where two other men who died on the hill with Jesus, but they had actually done some bad things. Jesus was pure and did nothing wrong. He died on the cross for OUR sins.
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21
Other questions followed:
Anne: "Why he didn't just get down? I would have helped him get down."
Me: "Well, he did it just for us. He knew what we couldn't be with him because of OUR sin, so he died on the cross for OUR sin."
Good, profound truth happens when you are gardening.
For printable instructions, growing and teaching tips, download this PDF.