Lent is a 6-week period from Ash Wednesday through Easter, including the activities of Holy Week through Easter Eve. To engage your little one, make Lent more accessible, relatable and enjoyable through crafts and activities to encourage your child to prepare for Easter. These elements won't be as fuzzy as the Easter Bunny, but they will explain Christian traditions.
The 6 weeks of Lent is a time of waiting and preparation. Begin an Easter garden on Ash Wednesday by planting seeds in a flower pot decorated with three stick crosses and a small papier mache tomb. Many flowers will begin to bloom near Easter Sunday. For another option, cut out a tissue paper butterfly and carefully accordion fold it into a small, thin strip and wrap yarn around the butterfly to form a cocoon. Your child can unwrap the butterfly on Easter. During Holy Week, let your child help you decorate Easter eggs for an egg hunt.
There are many traditional celebrations association with Lent. Begin by attending an Ash Wednesday service or by writing down sins, confessing, burning the paper and mixing the ashes with water to mark your child’s head after cooling. During Lent, your child can assist you with service projects such as raking old leaves out of the garden or carrying out trash during spring cleaning, or taking outgrown clothes to a local charity. For fasting, your child could give up television, video games or a favorite food. On Good Friday, you and your child can walk the Stations of the Cross or attend a Tenebrae candlelight service that ends in a semi-dark church symbolic of Jesus in the tomb.
Food plays an important role in some Lenten traditions. You could use a Christian Seder ritual to talk to your child about how Jesus fulfills the Passover sacrifice. Your child can make a Seder plate for use in your meal. For a shorter and less demanding preparation, your family can celebrate Communion together. On Easter Eve, your child can make forgotten cookies with you as a way to tell the Easter story. The cookies can be a part of your Easter breakfast or lunch.
Dramatizing various Holy Week scenes can help your child understand events that led to the Easter resurrection. For Palm Sunday triumphant entry, your child can make paper palm branches to wave before Jesus. Your family can dramatize the Last Supper using Seder or Communion elements. Other events to dramatize include Jesus before Pilate, Jesus walking the Via Dolorosa with his cross to Golgotha, Jesus on the cross and resurrection morning with Jesus and Mary Magdalene. You can use puppets, family members as actors, or you can watch dramatized versions on animated videos or movies such as “The Greatest Story Every Told” or “The Animated Passion for the Whole Family.”
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