Monday, March 7, 2011

Lenten Ideas for Littles

When I was in college, studying to be a teacher, I remember almost every one of my professors saying, at one time or another, that "Great teachers are excellent thieves".

What does this have to do with Lent?

Well, what was meant by that phrase is that as a teacher, in most circumstances, one does not have to come up with brand new ideas...the majority of the time, one has only to look at what another has already thought up and tweak it to ones liking. I decided to take my professors' word for it and become a "thief" of ideas.

That being said, I have "stolen" a fair number of these ideas for lent from others. The ideas listed below are not a conclusive list of every great idea I have come across, but merely the things that my Mr and I will incorporate into our home this Lenten season to use with our littles (specifically our 2 and 3 year old).
#1. Liturgical color wheel Craft (Sun/Mon before Lent)
Idea: Talk to your littles about the liturgical seasons and the significance of the liturgical colors. Explain that we are currently  in "ordinary time" but in the next couple of days we will be beginning the season of lent. Make a separate wheel for each child and let them turn the wheel to the appropriate season (this is something you can re-visit each day/week before going to mass - explain that the priest will be wearing purple, the altar will be decorated in purple, etc and them point out the colors and talk about their meaning when you get there)

(What exactly DO the liturgical colors symbolize/mean? Find out here.)

     This wheel is quite simple...perfect for little ones (bottom piece)     

(top piece)
(click to enlarge)
This wheel is a little more elaborate and more appropriate for older children. (click to enlarge)
* This idea was originally taken from Catholic Icing, but I can't find the post to link it to. If you find it, let me know!

#2. Salt Dough Crown of Thorns (Tuesday before Lent)
Idea: This is a wonderful visual for littles when explaining the suffering of Christ. Each time your littles perform a good deed (share without being told to, help their siblings or friends, etc...) they get to take out a "thorn" (toothpick) from the crown. When all the thorns have been removed, the crown can be painted gold or decorated as you like, and used as an Easter decoration. Get direction on how to make this craft here.
*This idea was taken from Catholics United For the Faith Website

#3. Merciful Cross (Tuesday before Lent)
Idea: This activity is quite similar to the crown of thorns activity in that it gives a visual reminder to little ones that their actions are directly united to the cross. Instead of pulling a thorn from the crown, your little gets to stick a flower to the cross each time they perform a good deed. I'm planning on making LARGE flowers and a small(ish) cross to make sure it is completely covered by Easter.

*See the original post by Kimberlee over at Pondered in My Heart here.

#4. Lenten Sacrifice Boxes (Ash Wednesday - Fasting)
Idea: Talk about the meaning of sacrifice with your littles. Also talk to them about Jesus' Sacrifice of Love. Have your littles choose a few items/toys to "give up/sacrifice" for Lent and put them in a box. Put the box of   out of their sight until  Easter.

"Good-bye for Lent...see you at Easter!"
*See the original post by Lacey over at Catholic Icing here

#5. Stations of the Cross for Littles (to be prayed on the Fridays during Lent)
This is the BEST idea I've seen so far when it comes to praying the stations of the cross with little ones. It even has MANIPULATIVES! (If you haven't noticed...I'm a pretty big fan of manipulatives). You'll have to visit Kimberlee's blog to appreciate just how amazing this really is.
I am not quite sure if my littles are ready for this yet but we're gonna jump right in and give it a try...if it doesn't work this Lent, than it'll be something to look forward to next year.

Stations to color...

...and manipulatives to go with each station! Genius!
*See the original post by Kimberlee over at Pondered in My Heart here.

(I have to say that I just love this woman's blog. She is beautiful, intelligent, a first rate "thief", and oh so CREATIVE!)

#6 The ABC's of Lent
Idea: Make a new Lenten poster/picture each day to go with the "letter of the day". Write the "letter of the day" at the top of the picture, have the littles color the picture, talk about the picture, review the letter sound, and have the littles try to "draw" the letter several times.

Our two little boys are both learning their letter sounds and are VERY excited about letters right now so my Mr and I came up with these earlier this week.

A - Ashes, Alms giving
B - Bread, Blood
C - Cross
D - Divine Mercy
E - Eucharist
F - Fish, Fast
G - Give, Good Shepherd
H - Holy, Hope, Heart
I - I.H.S.
J - Jesus
K - King
L - Love (Jn. 3:16), Last Supper
M - Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene
N - Nails
O - Offering
P - Penance, Prayer
Q - Quiet
R - Repent
S - Sacrifice
T - Twelve Apostles, Tomb (ideas for "t" and "u" were contributed by Caroline, one of my readers)
U - Ubi Caritas (hymn traditionally sung on Holy Thursday)
V - Vinegar
W - Water
X -
Y -
Z -

#7 - Read!
Idea: Read as many age appropriate, Lent/Easter books to your littles as possible! I have listed two that our littles love below. (Please let me know if you have a favorite lent/Easter book...I'm always looking for great books that revolve around the liturgical seasons)

This historically accurate book is an adaptation of the award winning The Very First Easter and fills in the gaps left by other Easter books. It presents a fresh insight into Holy Week and Easter from both the Scriptural and secular contexts. Recommended for ages 4 and under.

Featuring the wonderful illustrations of Tim Jonke, this best-selling children's book tells the Easter story from a new and unusual point of view. Three trees on a mountain dream of what they wanted to become when they grew up. One wants to be a treasure chest, another an ocean-going boat, and the third a signpost to God. Their wishes come true in a way they never expected. Children will be deeply touched as they understand, perhaps for the first time, the significance of Christ's life and his atoning sacrifice on the cross. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

*descriptions taken from

#8 - Sing
Idea: Sing as many of your favorite Lent/Easter songs with your littles as possible! We have 1/2 hr set aside each day for music time, so we'll just focus this time on songs for the season.

#9 - Pray
Idea: Pray a short morning offering with your littles each morning. We are also going to pray a decade of the rosary with them when they wake and one decade before bed using the rose counters and cards mentioned in this post.

This is the morning offering that we put together and will use with our littles:

Jesus, In my heart I believe in your tender love for me. I love you and give you all my thoughts, words, and actions today.


#10 - Plant Seeds/Bulbs
Idea: Flowers/plants are a sign of new life. Plant flower bulbs in a bowl of soil, covering halfway. Leave bowl in a dark closet for two months, keeping soil moist (a process known as forcing bulbs). When shoots appear, let them bask in the sun. Leave one bulb out as a reminder of how they began.
NOTE: If you plant your seeds/bulbs very soon then you will have some beautiful flowers for the Easter season.

#11 - Almsgiving
Make a little box with your littles and cut a slot in the top. Have them collect spare change throughout the week and empty the contents into the collection basket each week, or donate the money to a specific charity of your choice. Explain that they are helping to provide for those less fortunate/those in need.

find these and other ideas here

This sums up the main ideas that we'll be using at our house this lent. I hope that you'll be able to use some of them with your littles too!


  1. ABC of Lent:
    I'm not sure what Letters you have filled in that were left blank but my husband and I was talking (our children's names) and when I saw this... My first thought was that

    T - Tweleve Apostles / Tomb
    U - Ubi Caritas (Hymn, often sung during footwashing [could be used as image to color] on Holy Thursday)

    X,Y, Z - Only ideas I had was a Saint then talk about how their life is a good model for the season of Lent (prayer, alms giving, and fasting)...

  2. Caroline, Thank you so much for your awesome ideas! I'm going to edit my post right now to include them. <3 b

  3. A,

    Glad you like them! My kids are loving all of the little projects and I'm starting to think they "get it"...we'll see.