Friday, March 25, 2011

Making Lent Meaningful For Young Children

This is an activity/craft that we started last year. It takes a few simple, inexpensive items from the craft store.
  • toothpicks
  • a 10 inch foam wreath
  • foam block
  • a wooden cross
  • brown acrylic paint

This is pretty inexpensive, but very visual and meaningful to children.
You begin by painting the wreath brown. Let it dry, then poke holes in it with either a small nail or some other thin, sharp object. I made this little makeshift gadget and it worked okay. It's just a large, bent paperclip with tape around the "handle" so it's more comfortable to use.

Poke holes in the wreath all over in no particular pattern. Then fill those holes with toothpicks that have been broken in half. Put them in with the "pokey" side facing out.

This resembles or at least reminds us of the Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore. It is a physical reminder of His suffering and sacrifice.
I put this on our family altar, now that Evan is almost 5. When he was younger, I had to put it up higher for safety.
How it works:
Very simply, I read this story to Evan

and explained, as gently as I could, what Lent and Easter are all about. And how Jesus loves us so much He died for us. And because He did that, and rose again, we can enter Heaven when we die. And that we do still make mistakes and make wrong choices sometimes, but as long as we're sorry, we will be forgiven.


I showed him the crown of thorns which he recognized from the story. I explained that our sins are hurtful to Jesus, but in the same respect, our good actions (sharing, helping, cooperating, etc) make Jesus happy. So every time he does an especially good deed, he gets to take a thorn out (and throw it away promptly, so it doesn't end up in someone's foot).
On Easter:

He awakens to find all the holes that originally held "thorns" now hold flowers and in the center is a cross that says "Alleluia", sitting atop a flowery base. It's a very recognizable change from the cold, harsh crown of thorns.

Evan is doing well with his good deeds and sacrifices. And when he does an especially good deed, he asks to take a thorn out, then says, "There ya go, Jesus!" :)


Hope your Lent is bringing you and those you love closer to Jesus.




Grandma Jo said...

What a terrifically great idea!! I'm sure you told me about this before but seeing it in pics really makes it come to life! Love this idea! Can I use this next year with the parents of my students? I could introduce it at our Open House and have one there already made so they can see a visual of it. It is really a wonderful idea. Hope Mike can go with it. But he needs to read this blog, too. LYAB!

Tina said...

Thanks, mom, and of course you can use the idea. :) But I can't take full credit for it. I've seen something similar on various blogs, but they always seem to use bread dough, which is great, but this was just simpler for me. And I wanted it to be something I just pull out every year and don't have to make new. I'm sending all the instructions with Kyra's "kit" for this, so I'm sure it will work ok.