The season of Lent has begun! This Christian tradition begins on Ash Wednesday (March 9th, 2011) and ends on Holy Saturday (April 23, 2011) – the day before Easter Sunday. The 40 days of Lent (Sundays are not counted in the 40 days, because Sunday is the day of resurrection) reflect the 40 days that Christ was tempted in the desert, and are a time of preparation for Easter. The focus of Lent is on self-denial, sacrifice, and simplicity; a time when Christians reflect on all that Christ “gave up” by dying on the cross. Many Christians use this time for fasting and prayer; as a period of spiritual reflection, soul-searching, and renewal, and many choose to “give up” something as a personal sacrifice during this period. Homeschoolers can capitalize on the season of Lent to impart the history of this Christian tradition, to inculcate faith values, and to prepare children emotionally and spiritually for the coming of Easter.
For some Lenten devotions to use with the family, consider:
- Calendar of Devotions – One devotion for each of the weeks of Lent, culminating with Easter.
- Devotions by Kimberlee Conway Ireton – These excellent family devotions include a scripture reading, prayer, and reflective question for each day of Lent. Also includes a theme for each Lenten week and a candle lighting litany.
- Good Dirt – This pdf file of devotions by First Baptist Church, San Luis Obispo includes a devotion for each day of Lent, as well as lots of activities to do with children. Each devotion is based on the idea of tending the garden of one’s soul, with daily sections entitled “Till” (prayer), “Plant” (scripture reading), “Water” (a related activity) and “Weed” (reflection questions).
- Holy Spirit Interactive – These online devotions cover each week of Lent, as well as Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Each day includes scripture, prayer, and a suggested practice to encourage preparation for Easter.
Or check out these activities to do with children during Lent:
- “40” Activities – Did you know that the 40 is a popular number in the Bible? To help celebrate the 40 days of Lent, read passages of scripture related to other “40” references. Go to Sundayschoolkids.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page.
- Give up something – Lent is a time of sacrifice. Have each member of the family choose something they will give up during the season of Lent. Some suggestions: television, chocolate, a favorite toy, computer games, certain music.
- Stations of the Cross – These traditional Lenten devotions can be set up as stations within the home; one station for each of the events leading to Christ’s death and burial. Read the accompanying devotion with each station for a hands-on Lenten learning experience. Consider including this printable coloring book to accompany each station.
- Burnt Match Cross – With some burnt matches, children can create a beautiful keepsake that reminds them of the message of Lent.
- Make hope bags – Since Lent is a time for sacrifice, help children create hope bags for others. These are bags with non-perishable items that are kept in the car to give out to the homeless or to those requesting food on the roadside.
- Recreate the Passover meal – Help children experience the Passover meal that Christ partook with his disciples as the last supper.
- Lenten prayer pots – Children make small clay pots in which the children place small tokens, to remind them of good deeds to do for others during Lent.
- Lamb of God washcloth – This fun project helps children better understand Christ as the “lamb of God” who takes away sins, just as a washcloth takes away dirt from the body at bath time.
- Easter tree – Similar to a Jesse tree at Christmas time, the Easter tree is a fun way for kids to celebrate and learn about the different aspects of the Easter story by placing symbolic ornaments on a homemade tree.
- Coloring pages for Lent – A variety of Lenten coloring pages for children are available at catholicmom.com, and Holy Spirit Interactive.