What to do for Lent.

Like all good formerly-Catholic Methodists (and we are a mightier contingent than one might think), I can get a little finicky when it comes to the Great Big Liturgical Seasons. Lent, in particular, is tricky, since the alms/fasting/penitence of my Catholic training can easily become something that exists in a 40-day-long void, easily forgotten until Lent of the following year.

I offer this not as some sort of “how-to” guide, or the be-all end-all of moving through the Lenten season with children, but rather as a jumping-off point for folks who are looking for something (maybe anything) that will help impart the meaning of Lent to little people who aren’t yet ready for heavy devotionals or John Wesley’s thoughts on fasting.

I think there’s a lot to retain from Catholic tradition when it comes to this season of introspection and service, but I’m equally not going to co-opt spiritual practices in the interest of having a cute activity to do with the girls. So, I’ve been doing a little research. Here’s what I’ve got. You’ll notice it’s not a lot – this is intentional.


Lenten Calendar from Catholic IcingImage from Catholic Icing

In order to track the passage of time from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, we’ll be using this little coloring calendar from Catholic Icing. It does a good job of showing the 40 days of the season, with Sundays left unnumbered, and indicates each part of Holy Week, as well.

My plan is for us to color each day, and then take time to pray for someone/something in particular. We’ll start with our stack of Christmas cards, and then see where we go from there.

Jesus Storybook Bible

We’ll be reading the story of Jesus’s life from the Jesus Storybook Bible, my favorite Bible for the girls at this age. (IndieBound/Amazon) This version does a good job of tying the Gospels together in a coherent way, and also takes an age-appropriate stance when it comes to Jesus’s final days on Earth.


As we’ve done for a while now, I’ll plan for us to fast from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, and I’ll probably be taking on an additional personal fast, as well. Since the girls likely won’t notice our meatless days, I’ll decide whether or not to point it out when the time comes. I’d rather them think about fasting as a sacrifice rather than as a deprivation, so I’m still not quite sure whether or not they’re ready to begin to make that distinction.


We will be making sandwiches to donate to a church in our neighborhood that provides lunch daily to folks who need it. I’m also thinking that we will look for opportunities to serve our immediate neighbors, probably by whipping up something yummy to share. We may have additional service projects through our church, so I’m not over-committing in this area until I know for sure what that will look like.

We will also talk about the young man we sponsor through Compassion, write our regular letter to him, and include some special Easter drawings and cards.

Six Weeks of Lent

Finally, these are the things I’m going to try to give us the chance to do as a family during Lent. I found this on Pinterest, and the original Tumblr link takes you to a defunct website, but I think it’s from World Vision during Lent last year. I think each week’s emphasis can work for parents and young children alike, so hopefully we’ll be able to stick with it.

For more ideas, you might like this round-up at Aslan’s Library, or this one from Megan at Sorta Crunchy.

I’m sure some of my more astute friends might ask, “where are the books?” The answer here is simple: I don’t know of any. There are some great choices for Easter itself, and I even have one recommendation for Holy Week, but for Lent? Nothing.

The ones I’ve read are either so heavy-handed that they make a Jonathan Edwards look lighthearted, or they’re just trite and crummy. If you’ve got a high-quality suggestion, believe me – I’m all ears.

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