How to explain Lent to children & kid activities for the Lenten season. PDF Print E-mail
Written by OHmommy   
Monday, 20 February 2012 00:00

"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven." - Matthew 6:1


I've said a dozen Hail Marys tonight (for my soul) while re-writing my Lenten guide from last year. "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners." I don't think the disciples of Jesus had the foresight to predict the over-sharing phenomenon of mommy bloggers while writing the New Testament. I pray that my helpfulness (to those who are having a difficult time explaining Lent to children) will overshadow my practicing "piety before others in order to be seen". I don't care "to be seen" but I do know how hard it is to explain to children what Lent is all about. Yes. I am over-sharing on my mommy blog but I think that Jesus, Mary and Joseph would be proud. I owe many of the following ideas to my daughter's PSR teacher.



What is Lent?

Lent is the season of preparation for Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter, lasting for 40 days (not counting Sundays). We prepare for Easter by fasting and practicing spiritual discipline during this time - to reflect on His sacrifices. Basically, Lent is a time for "spring cleaning" our lives while giving thanks to God and strengthening our relationship with Him.



What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Although not a Holy Day of Obligation, the faithful go to church to receive a sign of the cross on their foreheads from ashes (ashes from the blessed palms used on Palm Sunday). This mark is a reminder of our mortality and a call for repentance. The priest blesses the ashes and says,

"Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return".

Those words mean so much to me. The message of Ash Wednesday mass is, "Pray like no one is watching you. Fast like no one is watching you. Do good like no one is watching you. God knows." Something we strive for each and every day; but, it's highlighted on Ash Wednesday to set the tone for Lent.




Lent with kids.

Young children have a hard time understanding Lent. One way of explaining Lent is that it's a time to bring us closer to God. In our busy lives we fill our selves with candy, buy new toys, play video games and watch television which makes us happy but that happiness is temporary. During Lent we stop filling our lives with temporary happiness and make more room for God. The church encourages prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent as ways we can turn our hearts and minds to God. During this time we attempt to incorporate activities in our daily lives which will strengthen us. Many people "give up" something important to them for the 40 days of Lent. To learn how to sacrifice or give up things is a way of learning unselfishness.



Activities during Lent

There are many things that children can do during lent (pray, fast, volunteer).


1. The "Jelly Bean Prayer" for children is a sweet way of teaching children all about what Lent really means. Using various colors of jelly beans to describe a virtue, children are given a jelly bean for each good deed collecting them up until Easter.

Red for the blood of Christ (a sacrifice)

Green for the shade of the palm (doing a good deed).

Yellow for God's light (kindness to others).

Orange for prayers at twilight (good behavior at bed time prayers).

Purple for days of sorrow (apologizing to someone).

Pink for each new tomorrow (forgiving others).

Starting on Ash Wednesday, begin rewarding your child(ren) with a jelly bean of the appropriate color each time they do something that corresponds with an act. On Easter, allow them to receive all the jelly beans they have collected. Credit.


2. Children should be encouraged to pray during Lent. One simple prayer that we are adding to our morning routine this year is called, "My Morning Offering".

God, our Father, I offer you today

all I think and do and say.

I offer it with what was done on

earth by Jesus Christ, your son.


3. Almsgiving is tied closely to fasting. Whatever we "give up", the money we save will go to the needy. It is also considered that almsgiving is to give one's time and goods to those who are in need (I could use some help here - how can my three children 9, 7, 5 volunteer locally, any ideas are welcomed). Now that my three children are a little older and more understanding we will introduce and focus more on almsgiving during the Lenten season.



What is Easter?

Easter is the most important religious feast of the Christian year as it celebrates the re-birth of Jesus.



Polish Easter.

In Poland every item placed inside an Easter basket symbolizes something greater. It should come to no surprise that sausage represents God's generosity and that horseradish symbolizes the bitter in life. Hundreds of Polish people line up every 15 minutes in a Chicago church to get their baskets blessed before having their Easter breakfast. After fasting for so long the Easter "brunch" is unlike any other breakfast. Any Pole would agree. And with that, I can not wait for Easter to come.


Last Updated on Monday, 20 February 2012 08:26


# kasia 2012-02-20 00:44
What did the kids give up for Lent?
# Pauline 2012-02-20 08:28
They have until Wednesday to decide. We are still in discussion mode.
# Jamie 2012-02-20 08:42
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are very very proud of you. I struggle with this since my oldest is 5. I've never liked "Easter" the bunny version because it's truly a silly symbol but I've never been able to convince the Grandparents otherwise of it. I'm still looking for ideas to make it about the sacrifice ad not the basket. This is a good start to get me thinking.
# Pauline 2012-02-20 08:45
It's a hard concept for a 5 year-old to grasp. I feel like this Lenten season will be the first one that my children will really understand and I'm looking forward to our journey.
# Christine 2012-02-20 09:51
I think young children can benefit from volunteering at a retirement center. They often bring great joy to the elderly and they can learn a lot about what it was like growing up in years past (and usually in different cultures).
# Kim 2012-02-20 10:16
Lovely post! We have an organization here called Kids Food Basket, and they provide sack dinners for kids to take home after school. My kids volunteer there (5 and 7) - they do simple things like put trail mix into baggies and a sandwich into each bag, but it's very eye opening to them. Good luck!
# Marta 2012-02-21 15:42
Polish Easter is one of my favorite holidays and traditions to share with my kids. I can't wait!
# zoe lb 2013-02-03 13:18
I absolutely love the jelly bean collecting idea! Will be doing that this year for sure :-)
# Emily 2014-02-17 15:52
Your blog really helped me, I was looking for a way to explain this to 20 children... This is my first year volunteering as a catechism teacher and I love it but it can sometimes be challenging when it comes to explaining to kids.
# Nubia 2014-02-23 15:22
Thank you for this, I'm struggling on figuring out how to explain Ash Wednesday and lent season to my kids, this has helped me and given me ideas.

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Pauline Karwowski.

Is a self proclaimed globe trotting, minivan driving, SAHM stiletto ho.

Happily married mother to 3 Cleveland natives: Jay the son, Lola the daughter, and Fifi the banshee.

Now in Chicago, IL.

The content on this blog is the opinion of the blogger.


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