Some of our favorite things:
The Lamb of God Calendar
On poster board, draw a picture of a lamb. (I drew this one freehand, but based it on this one.)
Divide the body into squares to make a calendar, covering the entire period of Lent.
Every day, Ramona glues a cottonball on that day’s space. This is such a great way for little ones to count down to Easter and it gives them a concrete picture of the length of the season of waiting. When Easter arrives, we replace the little Lenten notes (click on the picture for a larger version -- you'll see the notes, which say things like, "Pray ... fast ... give ... Love") with big, colorful "Alleluia!" notes. We've been doing this one since Anne-with-an-e was little, and all of my girls have loved this activity.
There are different versions of this all over the place, but here's what we do: We place an empty jar next to a bowl of dried beans. For every sacrifice, prayer, act of kindness or penance performed, a bean goes into the jar.
On Easter morning, the beans will be replaced with jelly beans and M&Ms, reminding us that the rewards of Heaven will be sweet!
This idea is from my dear friend, Holly, godmother to all of my children.
Cut out 1/4 of a cardboard egg carton and paint it for the caterpillar's body. Glue on "googly eyes" (or paint them on) and use pipe cleaners for antennae and legs (or toothpicks and tiny pom-poms.) When Holy Week arrives, wrap your caterpillars in paper or coffee filters (their cocoons.) On Holy Saturday night (after kids are in bed) tear open the cocoon and replace it with a butterfly.
The butterfly will depend on the artistic skills -- or lack thereof -- of Mom and/or Dad. Our butterflies have ranged from drawings, to origami, to a picture from the internet (that was a hectic year) to fun foam and sequins. Add to the symbolism of rebirth with a note proclaiming, “Jesus gives us New Life! Alleluia!”
*Homemade Soft Pretzels
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 pkg. yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
4 c. flour
1 beaten egg
Measure warm water into large (warm) mixing bowl. Sprinkle on yeast and stir until it looks soft. Add salt, sugar and flour. Mix/knead dough. Shape dough into the usual (or your own special) pretzel shapes.
Grease cookie sheets and lay pretzels on them and brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
I always choose a new prayer for us to learn during Lent. We say it nightly, at bedtime prayers, and memorize painlessly. (We do this at other times of the year, too, as a way for all of us to learn various prayers.)
More ideas to come!