Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season leading to Easter. Our three-year-old has been talking about the Easter bunny since January, when he finally understood that Christmas was over. While I’m happy he’s excited for the upcoming holiday, I really want to find some good, concrete ways to help him learn that this time of year is not only about bunnies and candy in eggs.
So, I’ve decided to come up with 40 ways to spend the 40 days of Lent with kids. Some of these will work better with older children, while others are great for the little ones, like mine, who are just starting to understand the seasons and holidays.
1. Attend Ash Wednesday services and receive ashes.
2. Make a Lenten countdown calendar. You can color in or put a sticker on each day as it passes.
3. Memorize a weekly Bible verse.
4. Look through magazines and cut out pictures of your Lenten sacrifice and glue them to a poster as a reminder for kids.
5. Make resurrection eggs.
6. Read a story together. This website has a list of 40 books perfect for Easter!
7. Bake pretzels as a symbol of arms crossed in prayer.
8. Give pennies for good behavior and help kids save them in a special collection jar for church.
9. Choose some toys to donate.
10. Make a prayer chain out of 40 strips of paper with something/someone special to pray for on each one. This website has a great printout to get your chain started.
11. Plant a seed and watch it grow.
12. Print coloring pages, like these, for kids.
13. Read about the Last Supper together.
14. Explain the meaning of the color purple during Lent.
15. Attend a fish fry.
16. Pray the Stations of the Cross together.
17. Bake resurrection rolls. This website has a simple recipe with great explanations for each step.
18. Choose some family members or friends to pray for during Lent.
19. Make a rosary and pray it as a family.
20. Fold your Palm Sunday palm leaves into crosses.
21. Exemplify sacrifice by giving up something as a family, such as candy or technology time.
22. Brainstorm ways to be more like Jesus and write them on a poster where kids will see it every day.
23. Watch an Easter-themed show or movie.
24. Make “stained glass” crosses to decorate windows, such as these.
25. Eat some jelly beans while reading the jelly bean prayer.
26. Talk about what it must have been like for Jesus to spend 40 days in the desert.
27. Go outside on a nice day and take in nature. Remind your kids that everything they see was created by God.
28. Do volunteer work with your kids. Pick up trash in the park or visit a nursing home.
29. Help your kids memorize the Lord’s Prayer by saying it each day.
30. Watch or read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and point out how Aslan sacrificed himself to save others the same way Jesus did to save us.
31. Pick a saint to learn more about together.
32. Let your kids choose a favorite meatless meal for Ash Wednesday or a Friday during Lent.
33. Read a daily devotion with your children. This one includes Bible verses and discussion points for each day.
34. Add more intentional family pray time to your day.
35. Print out worksheets to help kids learn more about Lent. This website has some fun age-appropriate ones.
36. Read the Beatitudes and delve into them further to help your children understand them. This printout has good explanations of each one.
37. Encourage your children to show one another more love and forgiveness during Lent. Remind them how Jesus’ sacrifice was for our sins to be forgiven.
38. Help your kids learn a song with hand motions. This one from Catholic Icing is fun and easy!
39. Attend Holy Week church services.
40. Attend the Easter vigil service together.
I’m looking forward to getting started and watching my son learn more about this special time of the year. What ways have you helped your children understand Lent? I’d love to hear them!