Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Meaningful Lent, Part 4: Lent with Young Children

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.

(In an effort to give credit where credit is due, I have to say that the credit for this goes to someone else -- I just wish I knew who! I saw a very similar idea in a little newsletter years ago. They suggested gluing cotton balls on a paper plate lamb, but I made a wall calendar instead. So, whoever you are ... you inspired this wall calendar, and we thank you!)


*Sacrifice Jar

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!


Lenten Caterpillars

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
Coarse salt

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!


Anonymous said...

wow i love those ideas can i blog about them on my blog with a link to you? we are so doing this starting tomorrow after we get back from ash wednesday mass!!! thank you soo much!!!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Karen, super ideas. I'm going to link to here tomorrow as well. Hope you don't mind all the borrowing I'm doing. I love your Lenten sharing. The lamb calendar is adorable. I might do that too, if I can find the materials in the house. Thanks!

Karen Edmisten said...

Yes, feel free to link to them! Enjoy!

Karen said...

These are great ideas, Karen! I love the Lent count-down lamb. I think that will be our activity for tomorrow afternoon! I did the your suggested bean jar last year with my boys and they loved it.

We're in pancake frame of mind here today. Do you observe Shrove Tuesday with pancakes as we do? I've just made a quadruple batch of batter to be ready for flipping out tonight - haha.

Melanie said...

Dear Karen,

Thank you for the fantastic ideas. Here is our adaptation of the Lent calendar.



Charlotte (WaltzingM) said...

You can see this year's calendars here. Thank you for passing this idea along even if it was inspired by someone else!

Karen Edmisten said...

Yes, we had pancakes!

Your lambs are gorgeous!

Oh-so-cute this year!

Super Fun Mama said...

I love these, especially the jar and lamb. I've not visited your blog before and came over here from The Bookworm blog list. This is great.

Just Mom said...

Coming out of lurk mode to tell you that we're using your sacrifice jar idea. Thank you so much for passing that idea along.

Beck said...

I LOVE those ideas - especially the count-down lamb and the caterpillars! I do make pretzels with my kids every Lent, and this year I'm trying to figure out how to make them gluten-free so everyone can enjoy them. Great post!

Monica Crumley said...

These are some great ideas for Lent. I'm glad I stumbled on your blog. I also appreciate your sense of humor! You're welcome to visit us anytime...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful ideas! We decided to do the sacrifice jar, but I was out of dried beans, so I substituted a box of elbow macaroni. Now my three girls are happily making "macrifices" (that is, when they're not making a sacrifoni). Joy in suffering, indeed . . .

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you so much! I am feeling very prepared for Lent this year!

JulieDD said...

I loved your insights into Lent and especially your Lent with Young Children post. Recently, I wrote an article on Associated Content titled,
It's Lent! Activities to Celebrate Ash Wednesday & Lent in which I made a reference and linked to your blog-just wanted to let you know.

If you would like to read the article it can be found at http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2731149/its_lent_activities_to_celebrate_ash.html?cat=4.

God's peace!
Julie Darleen Durr

Karen Edmisten said...

Thanks so much!

Bonnie said...

Where did you get that crown of thorns?!

Karen Edmisten said...

Bonnie, in this post you can find some links for crowns of thorns of varying prices. I don't know for certain where mine was purchased, as it was a gift from a friend when I was received into the Church.

God bless!

Kaye Swain said...

What great ideas! I'll have to add these to my "Granny Nanny" list of fun and educational activities for grandparents and grandchildren. I'm always looking for ways to teach my grandkids the true meaning of Easter. I'm going to tweet this as well. Thanks for the tips. :)