Monday, February 27, 2006

Lent at our house

With Ash Wednesday just two days away, I thought it time to post some of the things we like to do to make this liturgical season more meaningful.

Lenten Caterpillar/Easter Butterfly
(idea from my friend H.)

Cut out 1/4 of a cardboard egg carton and have the children paint it for the caterpillar's body. Glue on "googly eyes" and use pipe cleaners for antennae and legs. Display the caterpillars throughout Lent. 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 Dad. Our butterflies have ranged from drawings, to origami to a picture downloaded from the internet (that was a hectic year) to fun foam and sequins. Spiritualize the symbolism with a note proclaiming, “Jesus gives us New Life! Alleluia!”

Lamb of God Calendar

On poster board, draw a large picture of a lamb. I have used, as a model, the clip art I found here. Divide the body into squares to make a calendar, covering the entire period of Lent. Each day, have your children glue a cottonball (or a few, depending on how big the squares and how eager the little hands) on that day’s space. This is a great way for little ones to count down to the great feast of Easter and it gives them a concrete picture of the length of the season of waiting.

Holy Family Meal
(this idea came from an article by Maryann Davis Cochran, which I read years ago)
Show your kids how Jesus and His family would have eaten. Sit on the floor (only wealthy people had chairs...) and serve 1st century fare. Fill pita bread with your choice of salad greens, onions, garlic, parsley, cucumbers, cheese and fish (I have substituted tuna for smoked fish or sardines ... my kids aren't that culinarily adventuresome.) Remember -- they used plates, cups and knives, but not forks and spoons! For dessert, Jesus might have eaten a mixture of figs, dates or apricots, raisins, walnuts and honey. Eating this sticky mix with a knife or fingers will leave an impression on your kids. For the beverage, serve grape juice. Before and after the meal, read from the Old Testament, as the Holy Family would have (a good reading is the “Shema”, an ancient Jewish prayer from Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

(The following ideas have been collected from a variety of sources, and I'm not sure where credit properly belongs, as variations on these ideas are found in a number of places):

Sacrifice Jar

On Ash Wednesday, put out an empty jar and a bowl of kidney beans. For every sacrifice, prayer or penance performed, the children place a bean in the jar. On Easter morning, your children will find the beans have been replaced with jelly beans, M & Ms or other favorite candy, reminding them that the rewards of Heaven will be sweet.

Lenten Chain

Make a chain from purple construction paper. Each day of Lent, each family member writes (on a purple strip) an intention for the day: a prayer, sacrifice, or penance they intend to carry out. Every few days, glue or tape them together into a chain, and keep in a prominent place, reminding all of the spirit of Lent.

Jelly Bean Prayer:

RED is for the blood He gave.
GREEN is for the grass He made.
YELLOW is for the sun so bright.
ORANGE is for the edge of night.
BLACK is for the sins we made.
WHITE is for the grace He gave.
PURPLE is for His hour of sorrow.
PINK is for our new tomorrow.
A bag full of jelly beans, colorful and sweet, is a prayer, is a promise, is a special treat.

Various crafts can go along with this prayer. Jellybean bracelets, mini-baskets, jelly beans wrapped in cellophane and given to friends as gifts ....

Have You Ever Wondered Where the Easter Bunny Comes From?

This little booklet, subtitled, "a Children’s Tale of the Passion, as told by Radix" is a wonderful story that places the “Easter Bunny” at the Cross. Unfortunately, Radix no longer publishes this coloring book, but check out what else the Radix Guys have to offer.

A Sacrifice a Day

Sometimes, for very little people, the idea of giving something up for six weeks is quite daunting. An alternative is to do "a sacrifice a day." From a central source, let your child choose what she will give up each day. The central source could be a list of ideas, posted in the kitchen. Or, you could cut that list into strips, place them in a jar and let the child choose one at random each day.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 pkg. yeast
1 tsp. salt
4 c. flour
Coarse salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tbsp. vinegar
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 standard 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.

That's a beginning. And for other ideas, check out, Catholic Culture , Fr. Victor Hoaglund's pages, and see EWTN for a history of Lent.


Anonymous said...

These are great idea.
Thank you!

Friar Suppliers said...

Thanks Karen! I love all of these ideas.

Alice Gunther said...

Karen, these ideas are brilliant. Thanks so much!

Rebecca said...

Thanks for posting all these great ideas, Karen. I'm looking forward to trying some out this Lent!

Anonymous said...


What a treasure trove of ideas! Thank you.